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Upholstered Headboard With A Wood Frame

When I was trying to finalize the design for the upholstered back on my banquette seat, I spent about two hours one evening looking at headboards online. Upholstered headboards are so incredibly popular right now, and while I knew that, I was still a bit surprised at how many different styles there are available today. Of course, most of them also have a pretty high price tag.

Since I needed a non-standard size, with custom colors–and my budget is miniscule–I naturally had to make my own. The one that influenced my design the most was this one I found on Overstock.com.

Of course in the end, I ended up doing my buttons and tufting a bit different from the ones shown in the picture, but the overall look is still very similar.

Edit:  Here’s an updated view of how this looks in my breakfast room.  As you can see, headboards can be used for more than just beds!

So would you like to make your own? Here’s how:

(Note: This headboard is made to hang on the wall. If you do not have wall space to hang the headboard (i.e., your bed is in front of a window), you will need to modify the design by adding legs to the finished headboard.)

Just a note…headboards can be used for more than just beds! I actually used this particular headboard as the back rest on my built-in banquette in my breakfast room.

Tools & Supplies:

  1. 2 pieces of 3/4″ MDF, cut to the desired headboard size;
  2. Piece of 1″ thick foam, large enough to cover the MDF board (this foam can be pieced together);
  3. Polyester high-loft batting, enough to cover the headboard size with two layers of batting;
  4. Fabric, leather, or vinyl, enough to cover the size of the headboard, plus approximately six to ten inches in each size. (width of headboard + 10 inches; height of headboard + 10 inches)
  5. Buttons (I used seven 1.5-inch half ball cover buttons available at most fabric/craft stores. You can use as many buttons as you like, in any size you like.)
  6. 1″ x 3″ lumber, enough to cover the width of the headboard on one side, and the height of the headboard on two sides. (I used pre-primed MDF 1 x 3. I find that they’re more consistently straight than are solid wood lumber. However, if you’re going to stain your frame rather than paint, you will need to select solid wood 1 x 3 lumber. Just be sure that you check each piece to be sure it’s straight and not warped.)
  7. Wood glue;
  8. 1 1/4″ wood screws;
  9. Paint or wood stain;
  10. 1/16″ polyester drapery cord.
  11. Miter saw;
  12. Drill with drill bits & screwdriver bits;
  13. Staple gun and staples;
  14. Electric sander;
  15. Paint brush;
  16. Sharpie marker
  17. Wooden skewer or thin screwdriver;
  18. C-clamps;
  19. Embroidery needle or upholstery needle (needs to be at least around 2″ long with a very large eye);
  20. Hammer.


1.  Begin with a piece of 3/4″ MDF cut to the desired headboard size. If you purchase your MDF at a home improvement store like Lowe’s or Home Depot, they will cut it for you.

2.  Using a miter saw, cut a piece of 1″ x 3″ lumber to the exact width of the headboard, mitering the corners at a 45 degree angle. Check for fit.

3.  If the cut is accurate, apply wood glue to the board, and clamp in place at the top of the headboard.

4.  Cut two more pieces of 1″ x 3″ lumber to complete the frame on both sides of the headboard. Note: Only the sides and the top of the headboard will have a frame. There’s no need to put a 1″ x 3″ on the bottom since it won’t be seen. On the two side pieces, only one end will be mitered. The other end will have a straight cut.

5. Verify that the cuts are accurate, then glue and clamp in place.

6.  Once the glue is dry, use an electric sander to smooth the edges where the 1 x 3 and the MDF meet.

7.  If needed, use caulk to fill any small gaps on the edges and where the mitered cuts meet.

8.  Cut a second piece of MDF to fit inside the “frame” on the headboard you just created. Make sure that there is about a 1/4-inch clearance on the sides and the top for batting and fabric.

9.  On the smaller, unframed piece of MDF, mark the placement of the buttons. Start by marking even, horizontal lines. Then place marks on the horizontal lines for the equally spaced buttons. (Lines have been computer enhanced on photo below.)

10.  Verify that you like the spacing of the buttons by placing the actual buttons on the MDF.

11.  If you’re satisfied with the placement of the buttons, drill a hole at each mark.

12.  On the framed MDF headboard, put a coat of primer on the frame. Be sure to get into all of the corners, and onto the MDF backing an inch or two to ensure complete coverage.

13.  Once the primer has dried, follow up with a coat of paint.

14. Cut a piece of 1-inch foam to the size of the smaller MDF piece. (Tip: the best tool to use for cutting foam is an electric turkey knife.) Foam can be pieced together if needed.

15. Adhere the foam to the MDF using spray adhesive, regular glue, craft glue, or hot glue. If you’re using a regular glue or craft glue, let it dry before moving to the next step.

16. Working on a large surface, such as the floor, spread out the fabric (or vinyl/leather) with the right side facing down. On top of the fabric, place two layers of polyester batting. Then place the MDF, foam side down, on top of the batting.

17. Beginning in the middle of the top of the headboard, pull the fabric taut, wrap it around to the back side (the side facing up) of the MDF. Using a staple gun, secure with one or two staples. Repeat in the middle of the bottom of the headboard, and in the middle of each side. Continue stapling each side, ensuring that you pull the fabric taut. Staple to within about 3 inches of the corners.

18. To complete the corners, first trim the fabric. This will ensure that you don’t have to staple through a tremendous bulk of fabric.

19. Pull the fabric in the middle and staple.

20. Then fold one of the sides over, covering the first staple, and secure with a staple. Repeat with the other side.

21. Cover the buttons according to the package directions. (It is possible to cover these buttons with vinyl. It takes a little more work, but it’s possible.)

22. Using a wood skewer, a screwdriver, or another long, thin item, place it through the button hole in the MDF, through the foam and batting. Using a Sharpie marker, place a dot where the skewer hits the fabric. Using a Sharpie marker, place a dot on the front of the headboard to mark the buttonhole. Repeat until all of the buttonholes are marked on the front.

23. Cut a 12-inch length of drapery cord for each button. Thread the cord through the eye on back of the button, and tie a double knot in the end (A). Tie a single knot around the eye of the button (B & C). Thread the other end of the drapery cord through the needle (D).

24. Using the pen marks as guides, place the needle through the face fabric and through the button hole in the MDF.

25. Pull the cord taut to create a slight indentation on the front with the button (A). Using a staple gun, secure the cord with a staple. Use a hammer if necessary to ensure that the staple is secure (B). Create a “switchback” with the cord, and secure with another staple (C). Create several more “switchbacks”, securing each with a staple. Use a minimum of five staples on each button, and hammer each staple thoroughly if necessary to ensure that it is holding the cord firmly.

26. Repeat this process until all buttons are attached.

27. Place the upholstered MDF button side down on the floor, and place the framed MDF on top, framed side down. Once you’ve ensured that the upholstered piece is fitted properly inside the “frame”, use your drill (with a screwdriver bit) to secure the two layers of MDF together with wood screws. Use 6 to 8 wood screws.

28. Your headboard is finished! Hang and enjoy!

Click here to see my absolute favorite hardware for hanging headboards, heavy artwork, and mirrors. Available at Lowe’s and online!

**Note: Because this headboard has two layers of MDF or plywood, it will be HEAVY. Be CERTAIN that the hanging hardware is installed into studs in your wall.


1. If you want a stained wood frame, use real wood lumber (instead of primed MDF), and then add another strip of decorative wood moulding around the outside of the headboard to cover the MDF backing. It’ll add an extra decorative detail, and leave no MDF showing on the finished headboard.

2. You can use any variation of tufting in this project. A more traditional deep diamond tufting would add a nice juxtaposition to the more contemporary frame.

This project was for my condo breakfast room makeover. Click here to see the whole before and after of the breakfast room makeover.

Or click on the thumbnails below to see other DIY projects that I did for my condo breakfast room makeover.

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  1. Kristi – you're amazing. What a beautiful job! Thanks so much for sharing in the DIY Project Parade! You're so inspiring!


  2. I am just in love with this whole area. I am including a link in my Inspire My Saturday post today for both the bench and the table. Please feel free to stop by and check it out if you get a chance.


  3. I loved that you decided to go for a more simple design on the headboard. It makes everything looks so clean and so homey at the same time! I just looked at your post on the banquette seat in progress, and I must say that the final outcome is really the best among your other choices.

  4. I loved that you decided to go for a more simple design on the headboard. It makes everything looks so clean and so homey at the same time! I just looked at your post on the banquette seat in progress, and I must say that the final outcome is really the best among your other choices.

  5. Hi, I am interested in tufting my headboard, but I would like to use shank diamond rhinestones. It is sooo hard to find them though- where else should I look?

  6. I'm not quite sure how that happened!  I've fixed the link now.  Thanks for letting me know it wasn't working!

  7. HI Kristi!
    I love this headboard idea and would love to try it. I clicked on the instructions link and was sent back to this page??

  8. I’m definitely going to use this soon.. Would there be a big difference if I skip the batting and just get on to the foam?

    1. If you’re using fabric, I would definitely recommend keeping the batting. But if you’re going to use vinyl or leather, I think you could skip the batting.

  9. I love love love this head board and Im doing this for my Master bedroom…Thank you so much for your details on how to…They were very very helpful!!!!

  10. I totally love banquettes and if I figure a way to get one in my bay window I am all for it- the windows are tall and I can’t figure how the seat will look from the outside- maybe have the banquettes on each side of the rectangular table and a bench in front of the window or 2 wingchairs- maybe a love seat in the window? My table can be square or rectangular with the leaf in- french country basic Sam’s kitchen table- but still in good shape. I have 4 ladder back chairs- and would like to add wing backs with the rectangular or a love seat might work- with legs?

    See I am so confused- but getting more ideas helps! Thanks for posting such an involved tutorial on your project! I would not have the time or the patience! It looks so good though! I always enjoy your blog!

    The Curtain Lady

  11. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I have an old twin bed that I am repainting, but I felt like the headboard needed a little something more. The current headboard is a frame with a back. I’ve been worried about attaching the board with the fabric.

    Questions: 1. What length screws did you use to add the fabric covered board to the rest of the headboard? 2. I only have about 1/4 of an inch frame overhang. Do you (anyone) thi k it would be okay to use 1 inch foam (another blogger used mattress pads?) and a layer or two of batting?

    I appreciate any feedback!

  12. Hi, I’m new to your blog and am loving it!

    I am making an ottoman and using a lot of your tips for upholstering. I am using the same type of thick, vinyl fabric that you used here, and I just cannot get it to work to make the buttons. In this post you say it is possible with a little work… how did you do it?!?! Please share your trick! Thank you so much!

  13. Omg, I’ve been searching the internet on how to make a banquette w/built in storage plus the back headboard just like yours & you had it this WHOLE time!!!! Your website, home, projects are not only beautiful but helpful to other people, esp me! Thank you so much!!!!

  14. thank you for sharing all of your amazing ideas. my husband and i are planning to downsize within the next year and the thought of starting in a smaller space was concerning. after looking at all of your wonderful ideas i am more than a little excited. you’re not in florida by any chance, are you? i could use your help!

  15. Thank you for sharing this post. I really want to add an upholstered headboard to my bedroom. Do you think it would be possible to add a nailhead trim to it?

  16. The link to your favorite hardware at Lowes no longer works.
    Trying to figure out what to buy. Thank you so much for the

  17. After marking the board applying foam rubber and Decron with 8 inch diamonds What size do you mark the material to form the pleats to get the fold around the buttons

  18. Excuse my ignorance BUT, what does “MDF” stand for? I’ve seen this several times and I don’t know what it is.

  19. The link to your favorite hardware at Lowes no longer works.
    Trying to figure out what to buy. Thank you so much for the
    Instructions, can’t wait to try it!