An easy and custom DIY headboard

February 27, 2018

Well hello! It's about time for some DIY up in here! I'm in the mood to start tackling the bigger projects in this house and this was a good start!

You may remember our son's room I shared last week:
red and blue boy room

I told you then I have big plans in here -- especially on this wall. The first thing I wanted to get finished was his headboard, for comfort reasons and just because it's one of the easier projects. ;) He had one in the old house but the fabric was bleached from the sun. We knew we were getting him a bigger bed too. 

I've been making my own headboards before this blog was a twinkle in my eye...this is a totally doable project, even for the novice DIYer. I promise! I shared a very detailed tutorial years back complete with a list of the items you'll need -- be sure to check out that tufted DIY headboard post here. I will go through the basics in this post but that one is more detailed. 

I spent $20 on a piece of 4x8 wood at the hardware store, and then had it cut down to the size I needed for the headboard (they will do it there). I can use the remaining pieces for future projects (already have one in mind). I had this cut to 32 by 60 inches:
How to make a custom headboard

This stuff is pretty thin -- I usually go with something thicker, but I realized there's really no need. This was even easier to work with too. 

Foam from the craft store is NOT cheap. However the egg crate toppers you get for the bed aren't too bad for smaller sizes, so I always use them for this project!:
Affordable foam for headboard project

I ordered from Amazon because I didn't feel like going to the store again. ;) This is what I used and I was VERY happy with it. Leave it out for a good hour or two to fill up and get it's shape. I spent $20 on this but have some extra I can use for a bench. (Side note -- it feels like the stuff they use for the squishy toys. You know the stress ball things? I may have to DIY a few with my scraps!) 

Lay your board on top and then cut out the size you need: 
Headboard tutorial -- easy DIY project!

I doubled up on our king headboard to make it extra cushy, but I was using really inexpensive foam (you can find these for cheap at back to school sales -- they go on clearance after college starts). This one was plenty soft as is. 

Quick tip:  If you do choose to go with thicker foam from the craft store, you can cut it like buttah with an electric carving knife. ;) 

I had some scrap muslin for this part, but any cheap fabric will do. Don't spend a lot here. You'll start wrapping your board (with the foam on the other side -- bumpy side facing the board):
How to make your own custom headboard

I used a staple gun I've had for years. I actually bought plug in version years ago but this works WAY better in my opinion. You gotta put some muscle into it but it's cheap and I've used it countless times. 

I forgot to share this part, but I happened to find some extra batting I had as well, so I ended up using that over this muslin. Batting is just another layer to make it softer and it also softens the edges a bit too. (More of a concern for your fabric if you use something thin that may break through at the corners eventually.) I cut down the corners on this wood ever-so-slightly so they weren't super pointy. But it's not necessary. 

The corners can be tricky sometimes, but you start by pulling the fabric back in the middle, secure with the staple, then pull one side over and secure, then the other:
How to cover corners on headboard

Cut away any excess fabric after you add a staple. I don't recommend cutting away before you start a corner, just in case you cut it too short. Then you're kinda screwed. ;)

I shared how to (very easily) cover buttons yourself in that original post as well. They just add a nice, inexpensive detail:
How to cover buttons yourself

The tufting part is easy too -- the only difficulty comes in figuring out where you want your buttons. I go over that process as well! 

I went with four buttons on this one because the top is the only area you can see when the bed's made. Pick your battles folks! I added more to our master headboard but that one is bigger:
Custom navy tufted headboard

I just had a thought that I may add four more to the bottom so I can flip this eventually and prevent the sun damage on this deep color. 

Hanging a headboard is easily the hardest part! I attached D-ring hanging hardware to the back -- three across the back at the same distance from the top. Then I used a level to mark where the rings were to hang it: 
Custom navy tufted headboard for boy's room

I purchased nailhead trim to use around it, but thought it looked great without! So that will go back. I have more plans for this wall so I may add a wood frame around it later:
DIY headboard with lights above bed

I love how tall it is! I went a bit bigger than I originally planned and love it. It will grow with our boy. :) 

The red and white bedding is from Pottery Barn Kids but they don't sell it anymore. I did find this star bedding option which is even cuter (love the stripe underneath) and for sure cheaper. Kind of love that one. They have it in blue too. (It's on sale right now.) I can't remember where I got the duvet cover but I think it was HomeGoods. 

The sheets are from Target and are super soft and also on sale right now. They are a really fine navy stripe: 
Bookcases around bed with lights

Can't wait to tackle the other projects in here! This is a great start! I did the whole thing for less than $70 and it's the exact size and fabric I wanted. (His bed is a queen size.) Plus I have extra wood, foam and fabric to use for other projects. I did look into some headboard options online but they were at least double the price and were all so thick! His bedroom isn't huge so I didn't want to take up even another five inches. 

Here's a reminder of how this space looked last week:
Bed between bookcases with lights

By the way, yes the lights are different heights. I still need to fix that! 

And how it looks with a custom DIY tufted headboard! Be sure to check out that link for more detailed instructions if you want to tackle this one:
Custom DIY tufted headboard for boy room

You know what's cool? That original post has been viewed more than three million times! Wow. And when I was looking into ordering the foam mattress topper I saw that someone used the same stuff to replicate our master headboard. (They added a pic and it looked GREAT!) That just tickles me to no end -- how fun. 

If you have any questions let me know! Again, make sure to check the tufted headboard tutorial for all the details. 

Affiliate links included for your convenience! 

Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. Such a genius DIY! I love how comfortable the headboard looks and what a big change it makes to the bedroom. 👍🏼

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. OMG This actually looks like something that I may be able to do!!! Eeek! I'm showing the hubby so we can try!

  3. it looks so good! and comfortable. I wonder if you can find some sort of fabric spray/protectant for the sun damage?

    1. I was wondering if there is such a thing - I'm going to check!

  4. After you get all the parts in one place, how long does it take to make the headboard? It looks like the actual assembly takes less time than getting the board, padding, fabric, etc.

    It also seems that once you have the parts, you can easily change out the fabric every few years,as tastes change or wear & tear impacts the look. So, if someone wants to do this project for a child, they don't have to stress about having a "permanent" look.

    Are you planning to do something with the hanging cords? You usually like to hide cords, right?

    1. For me (I've done it a few times!) about an hour, maybe 90 minutes? Those cords don't bother me as much cause they're really cute. ;) But we'll have to see when I finish the wall.

  5. Love the color scheme of your son's bedroom, and nice job on the headboard. Don't forget, an easy way to prevent sun damage is to add a protective film to the inside of the window. At your home it would be a DIY project, and would add protection to everything in the room. Just a thought.

  6. Wow, that looks really nice, Sarah!

  7. Can you tell me about the light fixtures attached to the shelves?

  8. I think a dark coordinating quilt wrapped over the box spring would be a really nice addition. I did that in my girls’ rooms. They didn’t want any bed ruffles (they’re more sporty, not girly girls). I bought the quilts at Home Goods fairly inexpensively, but it looks like a million bucks. I really want to try this headboard idea too!

  9. That headboard looks amazing, Sarah! It really finishes off the room perfectly - your son must love his new room, and he can definitely grow into it!

  10. For hanging big stuff like this that's such a pain, I love using french cleats! It makes it so much easier! You can buy the premade metal ones at the store which are nice because they come with a level, but you can also really easily make your own by cutting a 2x4 at an angle. It's a game-changer!

    1. I didn't know they sold them ready-made! I will have to check that out!


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!