How to Decorate a Headboard

An old, scratched, or missing headboard can be an eyesore in your bedroom. The headboard is the centerpiece of your bed and can pull your whole room together, so you want it to reflect your personal style and complement the rest of your room. You can decorate your headboard by painting it, using fabric, or adding other unique details.

EditSteps

EditPainting Your Headboard

  1. Clean the headboard to remove dirt and dust. Use a microfiber cloth and soapy water to wipe down the headboard and get it ready for sanding. This is especially important if it was in a dirty or dusty area like an attic, basement, or storage space.[1]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 1.jpg
    • Dish detergent is normally gentle enough for washing most furniture, but if you’re concerned about the material of the headboard, you use oil soap which is furniture safe. You can find oil soap at most craft stores.
  2. Sand with a medium-grit sandpaper to remove the glossy surface. To give the paint and primer a foundation to “stick” to, you’ll need to remove any of the previous coating on the headboard. Sand only until the surface of the headboard looks dull.[2]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 2.jpg
    • Medium-grit sandpaper ranges from 60-100 grit and is available at most hardware, home improvement, and craft stores.
    • If your headboard isn’t coated or is already dull, it’s safe to skip this step.
  3. Apply primer to prepare the wood and remove discoloration. Primer removes most discoloration in the headboard and gives you a blank canvas to work on, resulting in more vibrant colors. Apply a coat of primer like you would regular paint, making sure the entire surface of the headboard is covered.[3]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 3.jpg
    • It’s not necessary to make the primer look perfect, so don’t worry about seeing brush strokes.
    • Primer comes in different forms, like traditional paint, spray paint, and oil-based. All are safe and work well for furniture.
  4. Sand lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper to get an even finish. Go over the surface of the headboard with the sandpaper once, using long, gentle strokes. Using a finer grit will remove bumps and imperfections in the primer and give you a smooth surface to paint on.[4]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 4.jpg
    • Fine-grit sandpaper ranges from 120-220 grit and can be found at most hardware, home improvement, and craft stores.
  5. Paint the headboard. First, use a paint brush to reach tighter places on the headboard, such as scrollwork or edges. Then, apply an even coat to the larger areas with a roller. Alternatively, use furniture spray paint for quick results.[5]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 5.jpg
    • Select a paint color that complements your room if you want your headboard to blend in.
    • For a more refined and contemporary look, try painting your headboard black or white.
    • If you want a pop of color, select a vibrant blue, red, pink, green, or yellow.
    • For a bold look, you can “color block” the headboard by taping the furniture into halves or thirds and painting one section at a time, using different colors for each section.
  6. Sand with fine-grit sandpaper and apply a second coat. Sanding between coats gives an even finish and will make your headboard look professionally painted. Apply the second coat just like the first one, using a brush and then roller.[6]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 6.jpg
    • Two coats of paint is normally enough for darker colors, but lighter colors might require a third coat. Make sure you sand in between each coat!
  7. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours. Paint takes at least 24 hours to dry in a cool, dry area. If you’re painting in a warm or humid area, you’ll need to add a few extra hours to your drying time.[7]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 7.jpg
    • During this time, keep the furniture out of the sun and in a well-ventilated area.
  8. Seal with polyurethane or furniture wax. Use a polyurethane seal if you want a glossy finish, or try a wax seal if you want your colors to appear richer. No matter what seal you choose, apply it with a brush or roller directly onto the headboard.[8]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 8.jpg
    • Allow 4-5 hours for polyurethane to cute, and 24 hours for wax to cure.
    • Polyurethane needs to be reapplied once per year, while wax should be reapplied once every 3-4 months.

EditUsing Fabric

  1. Upholster your headboard with foam and fabric. Cut an old foam mattress topper to size, and cover it with enough fabric to wrap around to the back of the headboard. Choose a sturdy, tear-resistant fabric like linen or burlap, and make sure to completely cover your foam mattress. Then, use a staple gun to attach the fabric to the back of the headboard.[9]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 9.jpg
    • This is a good option for a rectangular headboard, because it’s easy to cut the foam to size and secure the fabric. With other shapes, the fabric may bunch and fold.
    • You can create a tufted look by pre-drilling holes into the headboard and foam, and attaching buttons to the outside of the fabric, securing them with heavy twine through the back of the headboard. Staple the twine in place on the back of the headboard.
  2. Drape a rug or cloth over the headboard for a less permanent change. If you don’t want to or can’t upholster your headboard, you can still cover it with fabric temporarily. Look for large statement rugs or dynamic printed fabric. Simply drape the rug or fabric over the headboard and position it to your liking.[10]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 10.jpg
    • This is especially useful for brass or iron headboards with rungs, because it’s more difficult to paint or upholster those.
    • If the rug or fabric falls, you can secure it to the back of your headboard using mounting strips to hold it in place.
  3. Use curtains to elongate your headboard. Regardless of whether your bed is positioned in front of a window, you can hang a curtain rod and curtains to create or cover a headboard for your bed.[11]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 11.jpg
    • Make sure you purchase a curtain rod that extends to about the width of your bed, if not a bit longer. This will make the bed and curtains look coordinated.
    • Purchase curtains that are long enough to fall behind your bed to avoid seeing the bottom hem.
    • You can string lights over the curtain rod for a more whimsical and fairytale-like look.

EditAdding Details

  1. Apply contact paper for a quick, easy, and temporary color change. Contact paper comes in a variety of patterns and colors, from marble to wood grain to solid colors like black or white. Select your favorite, measure the headboard, and cut your contact paper to size before applying it.[12]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 12.jpg
    • Before working, clean the headboard with a mixture of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water to remove dust and allow the paper to stick.
    • To apply the paper evenly, peel off the protective paper on the back and apply small sections at a time, smoothing as you work.[13]
    • Use an X-acto knife to cut out details and trim your paper after it’s applied.
    • When you’re done, run a credit card over the surface of the paper to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles.[14]
  2. Apply washi tape in repeating geometric shapes or abstract designs. Washi tape is a repositionable paper tape that comes in different colors and patterns. You can apply the tape in whatever pattern or design you want. Popular options include repeating geometric shapes, like triangles and diamonds, or abstract stripes and shapes.[15]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 13.jpg
    • If you’re doing a geometric design, it might be helpful to measure and trace the design on the wall in pencil before cutting and applying the tape. Crooked pieces will stand out, especially in a geometric design.
  3. Paint the trim or stencil a design on the headboard. If you don’t want to paint your entire headboard, you can use a stencil to paint a design onto the headboard. You can find large stencils at most craft stores. For a bold and eye-catching look, only paint the trim of the headboard a bright, contrasting color.[16]
    Decorate a Headboard Step 14.jpg
    • When using a stencil, work on small sections at a time and make sure you are aligning the stencil each time you move it.
    • Chalk paint is great for stenciling and painting small areas because it dries quickly and won’t require sanding or sealing.

EditThings You’ll Need

EditPainting Your Headboard

  • Soapy water
  • Cloth
  • Medium and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint brush/small roller
  • Paint
  • Polyurethane or furniture wax

EditUsing Fabric

  • Mattress pad
  • Fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Buttons (optional)
  • Twine (optional)
  • Curtain rod
  • Curtains
  • Rug or large piece of fabric

EditAdding Details

  • Contact paper
  • Washi tape
  • Credit card
  • Chalk paint
  • Paint brush/roller

EditSources and Citations

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