LOVE that classic look of an upholstered headboard, but not crazy about the price? You’ll never believe how easy it is to make your own DIY Upholstered Wingback Headboard for just a fraction of that cost!
You may remember this little thing called the One Room Challenge that I can’t seem to stop talking about – you know, when we almost got in over our heads agreeing to transform a plain, outdated bedroom into a rustic boy bedroom for our little man.
In the end, we did manage to pull it all off somehow and I really couldn’t be happier with how it came together! We filled the room with a ton of work, love and of course DIY’s and, though this rustic plank wall seems to be the star of the show, that gorgeous headboard standing in front of it comes in at a very close second if you ask me. In fact, I’ve had more comments and questions about where we found that headboard than anything else in the room and let me tell ya, I have a ton of fun telling them that we actually made it ourselves! And today, I’m thrilled to finally be showing y’all how we did it!
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one: We started with a big ol’ piece of plywood, which we cut down to fit the width of our double bed (54″ gave us a bit of extra on each side). We wanted the overall height to be 5 1/2′, but, since we wouldn’t need to have the plywood running all the way to the floor, so we cut it to rest a few inches lower than the top of the mattress knowing that the legs would hold it up to the right height. Speaking of legs, while we had the saw out we chopped down a couple of 2×4’s and 1×4’s to 4′ to make the wingback legs. Because the profile of the 2×4’s seemed a little too thin on their own, we decided to screw them together with a 1×4 to make them look a bit more substantial.
We also framed out the back to leave room for the hanger to attach without making it stick out from the wall.
Tip: the rest of these steps are most easily carried out with the headboard laid out across a couple of sawhorses with the front facing up. Not only does this save your back from working down on the floor, but it ensures you have access to both sides.
two: To ensure clean, crisp edges, we decided to frame out the top and bottom of the plywood with some simple 1×2’s stacked 2 layers thick, we didn’t bother with the sides since they would be framed with the wingback legs anyway. *See photo in step six*
three: The next step was figuring out where we wanted the buttons to be. It might seem a little premature, but we wanted to drill some holes in the plywood to fish the string through now before it was covered in layers of fabric and foam. I played around a bit with some buttons to see what look I liked best and decided on using eight buttons – four across the top and 4 more along the bottom. I also decided to leave the bottom quarter of my headboard out of my calculations since it would be covered by pillows, which might mess with the look of the spacing. In the end, I ended up splitting the headboard into 5 sections across (making 4 evenly spaced lines) and 4 sections up (making 3 lines, but then ignoring that bottom one). Wherever these lines intersected was where we would place our buttons, so we drilled some small holes through those points.
four: I used an inexpensive foam mattress topper that I found at Walmart to pad the headboard. If I remember right (keep in mind this was a whirlwind of a six week challenge!), the topper was 1.5″ thick and I think I had to buy it in queen size to make sure it would fit our headboard dimensions (see similar here). Purchasing it this way was so much less expensive that buying it from the fabric store! After cutting the foam down to size, I used some spray adhesive to attach it to the headboard so that it wouldn’t shift around while we were working.
five: Next, we draped a layer of batting over the entire thing. This would act as a cushion around everything including those 1×2’s we had used to frame around the batting. We only had a few scraps left after covering the headboard, not nearly enough to cover those wingback legs, so I had to get creative and actually ended up using an old fleece blanket to wrap the legs with. Honestly, it worked perfectly and if I was to do this again, I would just pick up an inexpensive fleece blanket to use as the batting and save myself a few more bucks (every penny counts – am I right?). Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any pictures of this genius idea, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
six: We then threw that gorgeous grey canvas fabric over the batting. I was crazy excited about this fab find from Fabricland (my fellow Canadian readers will appreciate that!) – I mean how often do you really find EXACTLY what you had pictured in your head?!
Anyway, back to that headboard. We didn’t bother securing anything here as I wanted to leave things loose to create the deeper creases for the tufts, but if you were going for a more tailored look, you’d want to secure each layer down now before moving on to the buttons.
seven: It’s button making time! Did you know you can make your own custom buttons with any fabric you choose, because I had no idea! Well, I shouldn’t say any old fabric because that would be incredibly misleading! We actually had a heck of a time making our buttons because the canvas upholstery fabric I had chosen was just a little too thick for the kits that I purchased. What a headache that was!!! Thankfully we took that battle on the night before starting the rest of this, so we had given ourselves some extra time to trouble shoot – here’s what we came up with:
Now you might be asking yourself, is he hammering the wrong end of a nail and if so, you’d be right! We really had to get creative to knock this one out and even then, I wasn’t thrilled with the result. What did I learn? Well, first of all you’ll want to make sure you buy more than one kit, not just the extra replacements because when you break that one little pusher piece (technical term for sure), you’ll be screwed. Second, don’t use thick fabric – I’m sure there are other ways to make your own buttons with thicker fabric, but this is NOT it. And third, throw a dot of glue on the inside of your button before attaching the back, which will help make sure the button doesn’t pop apart while you’re pulling it through your headboard (ask me how I know!). This button making part of things was definitely full of lessons learned the hard way, but somehow we managed to knock out (or preserve) the eight buttons we needed to make our headboard.
eight: Feed those
damn buttons (as they so lovingly came to be known) through the headboard. Starting with one of the top, inside buttons, I fed some waxed thread that I had looped through a giant upholstery needle through the drilled hole on the back of our headboard, through the layers of foam and fabric, all the way to the front. I then threaded one of those damn buttons onto my needle and sent it right back through it all to the back of my headboard again. After tying a couple of knots in the string, I pulled everything tight while hubs nailed the tails of the string to the back of the plywood to hold everything in place. We continued on this way, working our way out until each of those damn buttons was attached. I was also sure to create some folds between the buttons and leave some extra fabric as we moved along to really emphasize the tufts (see photo below). Again, if you’d like a more tailored look, you would skip this part.
nine: FINALLY, it was time to secure all of that fabric. We started with the layer of batting underneath pulling it tight around to the back and securing it with some staples along the way. It was easiest to secure the center of each side first and then work out to the corners, which made sure nothing was pulled out of it’s alignment. We did the same with the fabric layer on top taking care to keep those folds in place along the top. Although we covered the wingback legs separately, we didn’t want things to be too tight for them to fit flush with the back of the headboard, so we held them in place over the layers of fabric as we worked down those sides. I also wrapped those wingback legs with fabric from top to bottom too. *I totally forgot to snap pictures of this part, but once we got going, we just didn’t stop.*
ten: The very last step was to attach those wingback legs. This was the part I was most excited about because I think it’s what brings this DIY headboard to a whole new, ultra-sophisticated level. As you can imagine it was a pretty simple task. We lined up the tops of the wingback legs with the top of the headboard and the outside edges of the legs with the outside edges of the headboard on each side and secured them in place with some plastic clamps that would be easy on the fabric. Once the legs were secure, we flipped the headboard over so that the back was now facing up on the saw horses, which allowed us to work more easily from the back. Pulling back the batting and fabric, we screwed the legs into the back all the way down the headboard.
It was time my friends to lift this baby off and see how it turned out. Now, let’s be honest here – I was more than a little worried after putting in all of that work, and leaving it right to the very last minute to boot, that this headboard would be a hideous disaster. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised! It looks absolutely amazing! I couldn’t help but be incredibly proud of what hubs and I had created for our little guy!
This had been one of those projects I’d been dreading right from the start, but, as it turns out, it was SO much easier than I thought it would be, aside from those
damn buttons anyway. The hardest part was probably carrying this bad boy up the stairs!
We mounted it using the same method we had used with our Rustic Wood Plank Clock, which made things incredibly easy and super secure (can’t have that heavy thing falling on C while he’s sleeping!!!).
I couldn’t be more in love with the end result! Each and every time I walk into his new room, I can’t help but smile at how well this DIY wingback headboard turned out!
I’m so, so thrilled with the sophistication it brings to this rustic space! Don’t miss the full reveal here!
Below, you can find links to all of the DIY projects made for this Rustic Boy’s Bedroom as well as a source list. I’ll be sure to update this list as new tutorials are posted:
I’d love to hear about any projects you’ve been wanting to tackle, but just haven’t been able to muster up the energy to take on!
Wishing you SUCH a lovely day!
PS. You can find me sharing here and Savvy Southern Style.
I can't wait to hear your thoughts!