Upholstered Headboard with Nailhead Trim, Revisited

December 27, 2010

Greetings!  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  I can’t tell you how nice it was to take a few days off to just enjoy this beautiful season with the family.  I did things I don’t often do, like sitting still.  Ha!  Some of you may be taking some well deserved time off this week, and truth be told, it’s going to be a slower week around here too. However, I am very excited for what the New Year brings and I already have a few home improvement project in the works.  One is a good friend’s master bath remodel, currently underway.  I can’t wait to share the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ with you come January!

While reading some emails yesterday, I came across this question from Andrea:

“I have recently been working on my master bedroom and the last piece of the puzzle is a fabric headboard.   My husband wants to just buy this one from West Elm for $449, but I like to do things myself for much less money!

west elm headboard
I have been begging him to let me just try to make a fabric headboard with nailhead trim.  I saw one on your blog that you’ve already done.

Here are my questions:  1) How do you know how wide/tall to have the plywood cut?   2) I am willing to spend more on fabric since I’m doing it myself, so what texture do you think will hold up/look the most expensive?  I like the natural fiber look but I also want it to be comfy!  3) Did you mark where the nailheads go before starting them, or did you just follow a straight line as you went along?”  ~ Andrea Larson from LoveLifeLarson blog

Andrea, I love upholstered headboards 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 nailhead trim with this newer version by oh-so-carefully removing it from the original.

Making an upholstered headboard for your own room, your child’s room, or a guest room is one of the easiest projects you can tackle, and you can certainly achieve the West Elm ‘Look for Less’ in an afternoon.

You savvy readers and DIYers know there are quite a few tutorials online for this project.  Here is my own version and the steps how I made this headboard with nailhead trim for my master bedroom.


1) How do you know how wide/tall to have the plywood cut?

Before you begin, make sure you have the proper supplies for your DIY project.  For me, that’s a piece of plywood (½” to 1” plywood cut to size, see below), 2-3 layers of batting, a staple gun and staples, needle nose pliers, a mallet, ‘D’ ring hangers or interlocking brackets, and a nailhead trim kit.

My favorite source for nailhead trim kits is Beacon Fabric, and you can buy either the French Natural or Pewter color for $20.

nailhead trim kits


When it comes to measuring a specific width, there is no magic formula in my book. I simply measured the width of my mattress and added an inch to both sides.  Keep in mind your fabric and batting will add maybe ½ inch, but not much more.  If you want the simple rectangle shape, have your plywood cut at your local home improvement store.

If you want to add a curve or notch out the sides, that can be done with a jigsaw.  The height of your plywood for a rectangular headboard should be at least 36” inches so you allow for room to lay your pillow shams up against your frame, but also have it attached to your wall below the top of your mattress.  For curved or detailed headboards, allow for 40 to 48” in height depending on your design.

To create my own shape for my new and improved’ bedroom headboard, I created a template for the curve with a simple piece of paper, then traced it directly onto my plywood.   Out came my jiggity jigsaw to make the cuts to form the new shape.

curve and cut

Once you cut your first side you can flip your notched plywood to form the design for the other, just to keep things perfectly balanced.   The reason you see staples is because I’m reusing my plywood from the original headboard !

second cut


2) What texture will hold up and look the most expensive?  I like the natural fiber look but I also want it to be comfy!

Many fabrics run 54” in width, so you can choose any fabric that you love as long as the pattern repeat will work when you lay it horizontally on your frame.  If you seek the West Elm look, choose a good quality jute fabric available at a fabric store.  Personally, I prefer an upholstery grade fabric for thickness, softness, and durability.  For my own headboard, I ordered two yards of a Textured Weave fabric by Robert Allen in the color ‘Snow’ (on sale) because of the neutral color and subtle woven pattern.

For added softness, I layered my plywood with three layers of batting but no foam.  Several layers of batting allows for that slight ‘pouf’ surrounding the nailhead trim, and also softens the solid wood frame.  Skipping the foam allows for your nailhead to secure to your plywood, but a 1/2” layer of foam would work too.  I just didn’t want to spend the extra $$ since my plywood was already 1” thick.

three layers of batting


With your staple gun, attach your layers of batting and fabric to your plywood.  Start at the top in the middle, and work your way around to the sides, smoothing the fabric as you go.

3) Did you mark where the nailheads go before starting them, or did you just follow a straight line as you went along?”

Working with a trim kit makes it so easy to do this project.  To attach the nailhead trim, I simply layered the strips on top of my stapled fabric, starting at the bottom of one side.  You only need to hammer a nail in every fifth spot (you can see the holes for the hammered nails below).  To stabilize each individual nail, use needle nose pliers then gently hammer it into your plywood.  Be sure to use a mallet ~  a standard hammer would destroy the delicate surface of your nailhead.


nailhead trim pliers mallet

To turn your corners, clip your trim with your pliers.

turn corner


To secure your headboard to your wall, use either ‘D’ ring hooks or interlocking hanging brackets secured to wall studs, both found at any home improvement store.

d rings and interlocking brackets



My project cost me a bit more ($70) because I fell in love with a designer fabric (even though the fabric was on sale).  Plywood will run you between $15 to $25 depending on your region, and the trim kits retail for $20.  If you find quality fabric that you love for a reasonable price, a nailhead trim headboard can be yours for between $50 to $100.





Tags: , ,

70 Responses to “Upholstered Headboard with Nailhead Trim, Revisited”

Leave a Reply