Headboard upholstery projects for the newbie

By Rebecca Hermance
For the Journal

Ready to give your bed a fresh new look?  Make the bed the focal point of your room by adding a cozy headboard. Headboards are a favorite starting point if you are looking for a beginning upholstery project, as they can be an easy and inexpensive DIY. 

A few years ago, I made my first headboard by covering a piece of plywood with two-inch foam and then wrapping it with a large-patterned black and white floral print. The only tool needed for that was a staple gun, and the whole process took about 20 minutes! We attached our headboard to the bed frame with two thin boards screwed into the back.

Recently, it was time for a bedroom update and a new headboard was on the to-do list. We loved the padded backrest that we had with our previous headboard, but wanted to make it look more elegant by adding tufting. I chose a woven upholstery fabric with a mix of brown, black, gold and cream. In retrospect, it would have been a lot easier if the fabric was a solid color.  When tufting, it is difficult to make everything look even when your fabric has lines or a pattern of any kind.  Two yards of fabric was more than enough to make a headboard for a queen sized bed.

To make a tufted headboard, cut a piece of plywood that is the width of your bed. You can make it as tall as you want, but I recommend keeping it at least six inches shorter than the width of your fabric. I made mine 60 inches wide and 24 inches tall. 

Next, figure out how many tufts you want.  Look at images online to see what look you like best.  I made three rows with seven tufts on the top and bottom row and eight tufts on the center row. 

Once you figure out how many tufts you want, mark it all out on two-inch foam. After it is marked, cut holes at each mark with scissors or a knife. I cut mine in a cone shape so the fabric has room to fold nicely. 

Now mark and drill the same exact holes on your plywood backing. This is where you would typically thread your button through and pull to make it tufted.  But, instead of  using a needle and upholstery thread, I read that you could just drill a screw through your layers and then attach your button with permanent fabric glue. (http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2014/08/an-update-on-my-diy-tufting-technique.html) It was an immense time saver and you really couldn’t tell the difference.  Of course I had to try it out!

After drilling pilot holes, spray your plywood with adhesive and attach the foam to the plywood, making sure the holes line up. Follow with a layer of batting and then your fabric. I neglected to use batting, and I really wish I had. It would have made the tufts stand out a bit better and look more cushy. I used one-inch wide-head screws and carefully drilled through all of the layers into my pilot hole. I worked from the center out and for the most part, the diamond shapes naturally worked into place. When all of the tufts were shaped, I pulled and stapled the edges of the fabric to the back of the plywood. I purchased a button making kit, and made fabric buttons to match the headboard. Making buttons was the most frustrating part, hands down.   

To finish the headboard, I glued the buttons onto the tufts with permanent fabric glue. A year later all twenty-two buttons are still there! This same technique can be applied to chairs, ottomans, benches, you name it. 

I have my eye on a storage ottoman begging for a tufted velvet top…

Rebecca is a local interior designer, educator and all-around fun mom. Check out more of her projects at UniquelyYouInteriors.Com.

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