I have loved the look of upholstered headboards for quite some time, but was always detered by the price tag so many of the designer looks carry! I especially loved Ethan Allen's Allison Queen headboard, but couldn't bare the thought of spending $1,400 for the complete bed. So I decided to get the same look for less with a little DIY. I was able to get a similar look for just a little over $250. Not bad eh?
Step 1 - Build Headboard Frame
Luckily, I have a very handy and talented brother-in-law who made me my headboard frame for me. Sorry I don't have pictures of just the frame, but you get the idea from the photos below. He took some ply-wood and framed it out with some 2x4's to make it 3D. All I can say is this headboard is HEAVY! At least I know it's durable though and well-built.
Step 2 - Attach Foam to Frame
I bought 1 1/2 inch foam from Home Fabrics (cheapest place to buy foam!) to help add depth to my headboard around the nail heads, and to make it "comfy". I used just a spray adhesive and glued the foam to the headboard. Then I used a razor to cut about 4" in around the head board. The foam actually sticks pretty well with just the adhesive.
Step 3 - Round Foam Edge
This is where all the real fun begins...if you use a power stable gun that is! I bought this Stanley Electric Staple Gun because there is ALOT of stapling...and I knew my hand would get way to tired if I used a hand gun. Just staple the very edge of the foam to the surface of the headboard (about every 1/2" or so). This gives your foam a finished curved look, which not only looks nicer but it actually helps guide you later on when you're hammering in the thousands of nail heads.
Step 4 - Apply Batting to Frame
Because the foam was more of less there for depth, the batting is added to for extra softness to make sure your headboard edges still have some fluff to them. I used just a basic 1/2" quilting batting. Lay your batting out across the front of your headboard, overlapping a couple of inches on all sides. Make sure it's smooth and any big kinks or wrinkles are rolled out.
Starting in the center of the headboard, staple the batting to the backside of the headboard. I started and the top and did a couple of staples, then pulled the batting taught (but not tight) at the bottom and stapled to the backside. I did the same with the horizontal plane and then slowly made my way around the headboard. The Bell Grave corners are a little trickier, you just have to make sure you pull the batting taught around the corners so you don't get too much volume.
Step 5 - Apply Headboard Fabric to Frame
This step is basically the exact same as when you applied the batting...now you're just doing it with your fabric. I used an upholstery grade suede fabric for durability and comfort (also found at Home Fabrics). You can see my headboard was a little too tall for my fabrics width. I later just stapled on a strip to the bottom, which really wasn't a big deal considering that part would all be hidden underneath my mattress anyway.
The Bell-Grave corners are REALLY tricky to staple the fabric on. I first did the sides and then saved this lovely task for last. Starting in the center of the curve, cut your fabric is small strips that are close the edge, but not too close that your snips tear through to the front. Starting with the center strips, tightly pull the fabric against the curve and staple on the back. Do the same with all the other strips, pulling in all directions, until you get a smooth curve. Don't worry if it's not perfectly smooth, the nail heads will fix any little puckers you might have.
Step 6 - Apply Nail-Heads to Headboard
I was really nervous for this part. I considered just buying the strips of nail head trim, but after doing some research I really didn't like the way those looked. Not only do you get a little sliver of metal between each nail-head, but the nails that you tack on the strip with are slightly off in color from the rest of the trim, which makes every 6th-or-so nail head stand out. So, I took the tedious way of doing things and bought the individual nail-heads. I bought a 3 lb. box of antique brass nail-heads online which was a lot cheaper than buying a hundred tiny little packages that can be found at local craft stores.
Anyhow...this really was the trickiest part for me. I was super scared that I wouldn't be able to keep my nail-heads in a straight line or that the spacing wouldn't be even between each nail-head. Once I got started though and figured out a rhythm it become much easier. I started in the center on the top, following the line that I created earlier with my curved foam. I followed that same line to do the curve on the corners and then made my way down each side.
After you have the first inner row or nail-heads completed, start on your outside edge. This row of nail-heads is ALOT easier. Not only because you have the actual edge of the headboard to follow, but also because you don't have the bulk of the foam in the middle to interfere.
And Voila! The front of your headboard is all complete! Those nail-heads seriously are a major pain in the butt, but they are so worth it. The finished result looks fantastic!
Step 7 - Adding Backing
This step definitely isn't necessary, but I didn't like the raw look of the back of my headboard, so I just bought a couple yards of Muslim lining and stapled it to the back to cover up my snipped corners and wood-frame. This also prevents any dust from settled on the innards.
And there you have it...you're DIY upholstered headboard!
Now I mentioned that I wanted a full bed, so I also had my brother-in-law make me side rails and a foot rail, as seen in the photos below. I simply just upholstered them with a layer of batting and then the same fabric used on the headboard. We used "L" brackets to then screw the side rails into the headboard and footrail. I then bought some curved bun feet from Home-Depot, had them stained, and screwed them into the bed-frame.
I love having a complete bed! Just a few things to finish up the bedding and I'm one happy girl!