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Vintage Headboard Makeover: Make an Upholstered Headboard

This is an old project, but a good one. For some reason, I didn’t blog about it at the time.  I also didn’t take good pictures of the process.  Sorry about that!

Anyway, I had been searching for a queen sized headboard for a LONG time, and one day at the Goodwill, I saw  one for $25.

headboard makeover
Then, I put it through a two phase makeover to make it a custom upholstered headboard!

Phase 1: I simply spray painted the medium colored, “fly-poop” speckled wood a much darker brown.

(I’d like to clarify – the headboard was not actually covered in fly poop.  But that’s how I lovingly refer to that 80s finish with all the little dark splatters.  Fly poop. Amiright?)


This was the project that made me realize my deep love for Rust Oleum Ultra Cover 2X Spray Paint spray paint.  It is still, two years later, my favorite spray paint, and really the only one I’ll buy.

And that tool on top of the can?  That's a spray can grip that attaches to the top of your spray paint and makes the job a LOT easier.  No more painted, cramped finger on the top of the can. :)

best spray paint

spray painted headboard

For a few months, I left the headboard propped against the wall behind our bed, even though it was woefully short.

painted headboardimg_6971

Then, one beautiful summer day in 2013, I took the headboard out to the shop and upholstered it.

upholstered headboard

Upholstered Headboard Tutorial

jig saw
spray adhesive
drill & screws
staple gun & staples
1 – 2 inch foamas big as the headboard
heavy quilt batting – enough to cover the headboard
1/4 inch plywood as big as the headboard
fabric for upholstery

How to Upholster a Headboard

First, I used my jig saw to cut out the center pieces from the backside.  (No pictures of that part, sorry!)

Then I traced the headboard (on the outside) onto a piece of 1/4 inch plywood.

I cut along the inside of my lines, again using the jig saw.  (By cutting along the inside, I made sure that the plywood wouldn’t hang over the edge of the frame when I was done.

Then, I cut out 2 inch foamin the shape of the INSIDE of the opening and used spray adhesive to attach it to the plywood, testing it with the headboard to make sure everything was spaced properly.

Then it was time for the staple gun .  I used some heavy quilt batting and stapled it around the edge of the foam (not over to the backside of the plywood, though.)

I followed that with my red fabric (which was actually a curtain from Target.)

**If you have weak hands or wrists and using a staple gun is difficult for you, you NEED this one!  It is so much easier to use!**

Finally, I screwed the plywood to the headboard frame from the backside.

(Need pictures of this process? CHECK OUT THIS TUTORIAL from Shanty 2 Chic.  Whitney did a great job with step by step pictures, unlike me, who apparently miserably failed in that department. Our projects were very similar, except mine had all those curves.)

navy and red bedroom

One more tip – notice how the headboard is much taller than it was before? I actually used bicycle hooks, screwed into the wall, to hang it.  I simply screwed in two hooks (the ones you would use to hang a bike in a garage) below that window and set the headboard in the hooks.  Maybe not the way the pros would do it, but it works for us!

upholstered headboardred headboard

Shared at: Talented Tuesday, Furniture Feature Friday, It's Overflowing, Savvy Southern Style

Check out more pictures of our master bedroom here.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I would love to do a project like this. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. I would love to do a project like this. Thanks for the tutorial.

  3. Gorgeous! Really great makeover.

    What is that tool you have on the can of spray paint?

  4. Oh yes, I know the fly poop specked finish you're talking about! Lol! Your headboard turned out so pretty, great job!


  5. Whether it is a headboard of the bed or the bedroom itself, makeover is very necessary. Home makeover is a great way start our year that's why it is very important to keep a plan in doing so. Hanging shelves and wall shelves can serve double-duty as a piece of decor and also have functional furniture purposes. Cascading floating shelves down the wall of a stairwell or on an empty wall are easy on the eyes and can also be used to display photographs and collectibles. Smaller shelving units serve as valuable space savers in a small office or bedroom.