DIY: Fabric Headboard with Nailhead Trim

February 28, 2009

I have long been in love with fabric headboards, whether tufted, trimmed in wood, or trimmed with nailheads. I really wanted one for my master bedroom, with the perfect combination of feminine fabric and the masculine effect of nailhead trim. For the longest time, I thought I’d have to save up for one of those beauties from Restoration Hardware or Williams-Sonoma Home, which cost in the neighborhood of $1,000. (Yes, there are alternatives less than $500 online, but I don’t trust the quality…)

Here is the Restoration Hardware version:

And the Williams-Sonoma Home version: This DIY project is not complicated at all. It just takes a few supplies and an afternoon. Here is my final product. I am loving this look for our bedroom !


1.5 inch thick plywood cut to specifications (best to have a carpenter or someone handy with skillsaw do this, especially if you want some curvature.) (Cost: $25 for plywood + $35 labor)

Fabric of choice that is railroaded (to avoid seam down middle), or fabric with repeat that runs both horizontal and vertical. Purchase enough fabric to cover the entire headboard with at least 6 inches to spare on each side. [My fabric is Isaccs in Canvas, from Calico Corners. It is a neutral velvet with subtle diamond pattern sewn into fabric.] (Cost: $70)

Batting (Cost: $10)

Staple gun and staples

Nailhead trim kit (Cost: $12)

Rubber mallet (Cost: $6)

Interlocking brackets for wall hanging (Cost: $7 for 2 brackets)

Instructions: Begin by having plywood trimmed to your specifications. I gave my carpenter the exact width of my mattress, because I knew the batting and fabric would add 1/2 inch on each side. I drew a diagram of the curvature I desired, and he cut it to my specs.

Next, iron your fabric if necessary to remove any wrinkles. Lay the fabric down on a large, flat surface (like your dining room table). Lay the batting on top of the fabric. Lay the plywood on top of the fabric.

Next, pull the fabric and batting until it is smooth and tight (but not taut). Staple the first side with the staples about 8 inches apart. Avoid the corners for now. Move to the other side of your headboard and repeat. Make sure your fabric pattern repeat is lining up correctly. Now staple the bottom with staples about 8 inches apart, again avoiding the corners. Once you confirm your fabric pattern is straight, you are ready to move on to the corners and the top.

For the upper corners, pull the fabric so that it is smooth in the front as it curves around the corner. You will have to use the staple gun to overlap your fabric on the back in order to ensure a smooth rounded corner. Repeat on the other upper corner.

The hardest part of the whole project is getting the fabric just right around the top rounded edge. If you’ve chosen a flat top headboard, without any curve, you’ll not have to deal with this headache. Pull the fabric in the very center over the top and secure it with one staple. Gently work the fabric one side at a time from the center staple to the upper corner, smoothing and securing with one staple at a time. At first, staple every 6 inches or so, then come back and fill in when you have the fabric smoothed just right. You want to avoid any creases or fabric overlap from the front. Your fabric will be bunching on the rear side, but no one will see it so no worries.

Flip your headboard over in order to trim with nailheads. Walk your nailhead trim around the headboard, gently pounding in the nailheads with a rubber mallet. You cannot use a regular hammer since the metal head will destroy the delicate nailhead. I chose to use a trim kit that only required a nail every 5 spaces, making life a lot easier.

Have a a friend help you secure the interlocking brackets to the back, and the other bracket to a wall stud. Hang headboard behind bed.

Voila ! A wonderful headboard in just an afternoon. My husband loves it and still can’t believe I did it myself. Even my mom has asked me to do one for her guest room. Total cost: $165.

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24 Responses to “DIY: Fabric Headboard with Nailhead Trim”

  1. G+D says:

    Beautiful results! I love the nailhead trim! My blogging buddy Emily recently did a DIY upholstered headboard w/nailheads, too. She used burlap and it looks fabulous! You can check it out at if you’re interested!

  2. Gentile says:

    Fantastic & professional looking job,,it just goes to show you how far a little ingenuity will go..

  3. :The Grizzles: says:

    I hope you don’t mind, but I posted a link to this fabo project on my blog today ( Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas!

  4. Mary Ruth says:

    I am going to post a link to your project on my Blog as well ( GREAT instuctions and Idea! Who doesn’t need a new soft headboard!

  5. Debilou~Mississippi Mama says:

    love this headboard,, i want to try and make one,, one of these days!

  6. Allee says:

    i have an upholstered headboard already and just want to add the nailhead trim…would that work? where can you find the nailhead trim kit?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Love your room!!! So elegant! I was just wondering…where did you buy your beautiful bed skirt???

  8. Tonia Hobbs says:

    Love the room too! Funny thing is I was wondering where you bought the bed skirt too!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Your blog definitely does inspire!!! I'm new to DIY-ing and I have completed a couple pieces, but you have so many ideas! Thanks for helping get my creative juices flowing!!!

  10. Amy says:

    Ok Kate, here’s my version! I had so much fun, and referred to your blog. I wanted to remind you, THIS project is how I found your glorious blog in the first place.

    I kept my square, and in between the Restoration Hardware and West Elm version.

    Take a look when you have a second.

  11. Molly says:

    Quick question–I’ve just decided to add nailhead trim to the headboard I made. I bought the same kit you used, but when I nail it in, the trim falls right out. It’s as if since I’m nailing it into fabric and batting, it has nothing to hang onto. Should the nails be going right into the wood? I’d love any advice on how to get the trim on there! Thanks! :)

  12. […] long time readers have seen this fabric covered headboard with nailhead trim before.  I made earlier this […]

  13. micah says:

    I am using your tutorial to make a headboard… Can I ask where you got that security hanger thing? Been looking all over and can’t find one. I’ll share the result when I’m done… Thanks!

  14. jennifer says:

    i love this project and a few other ideas i wish to us for my bed and breakfast.

  15. Ashley says:

    I love this tutorial. I made 2 headboards from it today- thanks for posting the details!

  16. Jana says:

    I loved your tutorial! I used it to make a headboard for our master bedroom. I also featured your DIY instructions on my blog

    Thanks for the great ideas!!

  17. […] few upgrades in our master bedroom ?  It all started with wanting to lighten the fabric on the headboard I made last year.  I also wanted to change the shape of the headboard, and paint the walls a deeper hue with […]

  18. […] with nailhead trim, so much so I had to have one of my own for my master bedroom.  I made another version earlier in 2009, but then later tweaked the design and replaced the fabric.  I did manage to reuse the same […]

  19. laura says:

    Hi !! Your headboard looks so amazing.

    I was wondering if I could use foam AND the nailhead trim?

    Or would the foam be too thick for the nailheads?

  20. Autumn says:

    I just re-did my own fabric headboard!! I love the nailhead look, maybe that will be done on my next project!

  21. Karen says:

    how do you get the nailheads straight if you dont use the trim nailheads?

    • CentsationalGirl says:

      Hi Karen, I use pliers to hold them in place and a mallet to gently pound them in.

  22. Lisa says:

    What happened to the play-by-play pictures? Is it just my computer that’s not showing them or did you remove them?

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