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fabric headboard

An interchangeable fabric panel lets you change your look without changing your furniture. Photo: Gina Provenzano

I've been decorating and crafting for magazines, websites, ads, TV, friends and family for more years than I care to say. I've spruced up every room inside and outside the home, including countless bedrooms, turning each from a plain white box into a beautiful retreat. Yet, in all that time, I cannot believe it but I have never made a headboard for myself.

Maybe it's a city thing (I'm a New Yorker). I find myself moving often and, each time, trying to minimize the clutter -- "trying" is the key word here. The more likely reason, though, is that I see so many home furnishings I like and I can't seem commit to the same thing for very long.

So I had this idea for a DIY headboard that gives me the freedom to change my mind. I can change the headboard in an instant, with a flip of fabric. Now we're talking! For those of you other crafters whose tastes seem to change with the seasons, here's a DIY headboard project that changes with you.


(Note: Materials and instructions are based on a full size headboard. Linear feet of 2" x 2" will change depending upon the bed size, as well as the size of the double-sided fabric panel.)

For Headboard Frame:
-(2) 4" x 4" x 48" Fence posts (untreated wood) (actual size is about 3 3/8" L x 3 3/8" W x 48" H)
-(2) Fence post caps (untreated wood)
-2" x 2" piece of wood (actual size is about 1 1/2" x 1 1/2") Cut into four crossbar pieces, each 50" in length
-Tape measure
-Drill with bits (extra-long 1/4" and extra-long 1/8" sizes)
-3/4" Flat-bladed borer attachment; buy singly or as a set at Home Depot
-Screwdriver, cordless
-1/4" Square socket adapter
-7/16" socket
-(8) 3 1/2" Lag screws (1/4" D)
-(8) 1/4 " Washers
-Box of nails (about 1" long)
-Rubber mallet
-3/4" wood dowel
-Hack saw
-Box of wood screws (#8 x 3/4")
-(3) Sheets of sandpaper (#200 grit)
-(8) 2" x 2" or 2" x 4" Three-sided fence brackets; they look like these
-(4) Open-end hooks (3/4" x 1 1/4")
-Tube of wood glue or Gorilla glue
-Gallon of white latex paint (eggshell or semi-gloss are easiest to clean)
-Container of furniture wax or latex sealer

For Double-Sided Fabric Panel:
-1 1/2 yards of fabric of your choice (can use fabric or sheeting); check out
-1 1/2 yards of contrasting fabric
-Sewing machine and matching thread
-1 1/2 yards heavy flannel lining or quilt batting; buy it at Michael's or online at Amazon
-Measuring tape
-5/8" Grommets
-5/8" Grommet Setter

Bed Size Chart:
Twin 39" x 75" 41"
Full 54" x 75" 56"
Queen 60" x 80" 62"
King 76" x 80" 78"

DIY fabric headboardGina Provenzano


1. Sand all wood pieces until smooth. Wipe clean with a dry cloth.

2. Measure and mark the inside of each post for the placement of the horizontal crossbar supports. You'll make 8 markings total, for the top and bottom of each bar. Make the first mark 3 1/2" from top, the second mark 5" from the top, the third mar 13" from the top, and continue as follows: 14 1/2" from the top, 22 1/2" from the top, 24" from the top, 32" from the top, 33 1/2" from the top. You should have 14 1/2" remaining at the bottom. Center markings from side to side on the post.

3. Place a fence bracket at first crossbar mark
so that the extensions are at the bottom and at the back. There are two holes in the bracket, a small one and a larger one below it. Hammer a nail into the smaller top hole. Use drill and 1/8" drill bit to make a secondary hole through the metal bracket diagonally above the first one. Hammer another nail into this hole to secure bracket in place.

4. On a well protected surface and with a piece of scrap wood below, drill a 1/8" pilot hole through bottom larger hole of bracket and straight down through post. Repeat for each crossbar bracket, and for second fence post.

5. Turn post to opposite exterior side. With boring attachment and using the pilot hole as your center placement guide, bore a hole about 3/4" down into post to countersink lag screws.

6. Turn back to interior side, and using the 1/4" bit, drill straight through bracket and post, enlarging metal bracket hole and pilot hole. Repeat for each bracket.

5. When all brackets are secured, set crossbars in place. These steps will require another person's help. Using 1/8" bit and going through outside of post, drill a pilot hole into the crossbar. Next, change to the 1/4" bit and enlarge pilot hole in crossbar by drilling only about 1/4 inch through. This will prevent the crossbars from cracking.

6. Sand around the bored holes in the post and wipe clean with a dry cloth.

7. Applying pressure at both ends, screw lag screws into post and crossbar using washers and cordless screwdriver with socket adapter and socket. Do not tighten until all crossbars are screwed in. Then tighten to secure with ratchet.

8. Cut a 6" piece of dowel. Using a rubber mallet, hammer into bored, countersink holes. Using the hack saw, saw off as close to the post as possible. Sand smooth and wipe clean. Repeat for each hole.

9. Use wood glue or a tiny amount of Gorilla Glue (it expands generously!) to adhere caps to the tops of each post. Allow to dry.

10. Paint headboard with white latex paint, allow to dry. Apply additional coats as necessary, allowing to dry between coats.

11. Apply a sealer or furniture wax according to manufacturer's directions.

12. With pencil, mark a spot 3/4" up from top of first crossbar and flush with front of crossbar. Repeat on other post. Next, mark a spot 3/4" from bottom of lower crossbar and flush with front of crossbar. Repeat on other post. Screw a hook into each marking for attaching fabric panel with open end of hook facing back.


1. Measure and mark a 32 1/2" x 50" rectangle on wrong side of one of the fabrics. Lie both fabrics with right sides facing on flat surface. Pin 1/2" inside from measured marks and cut through both layers of fabric at the same time.

2. Sew around rectangle using a straight stitch and with a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving a 12" opening along one long side. Clip corners and turn so right sides face out. Press along seams.

3. Cut lining to 31" x 48 1/2" and insert into panel. Pin open edge closed and pin lining in place. Sew lining in place by sewing around panel about 3/4" from edge.

4. Measure and mark a dot 1" in and 1" down from each corner. With X-Acto-knife and on a well-protected surface, cut a small "x" through all layers of fabric. Trim around. Insert a grommet face into hole. Place a grommet back on grommet setter and secure grommet by either hammering or squeezing setter tool. Repeat for each corner.

5. Attach fabric panel to headboard by inserting grommet onto each corner hook.

To switch the look, simply unhook the panel and flip it to the other side. If your feeling ambitious, make an additional double-sided panel for the remaining seasons -- 2 double-sided panels for all four seasons!

The steps used to attach the headboard to your bed depends upon the type of bed frame you have. Most often you can use washers and 3" lag screws, screwing through the metal bed frame and into the post. Use two lag screws for each side of the frame. Remember to first mark the placement of the frame and drill a pilot hole.

Sleep tight!

- Watch a
video on how to make an incredible upholstered headboard featured in the late, great Cookie magazine! (Design Sponge)
- Read about how to
create a DIY Tufted Headbooard (Apartment Therapy)
- See 6 Inspiring Bedroom Makeovers (ShelterPop)

  • shelly

    Looks like something a 12 year old came up with.

  • robert

    add handcuffs to spice it up.

  • steve

    Ugly as hell.

  • Bonster

    The best "headboard" I've EVER had is simply a twin size mattress, on its side, leaned up against the wall with changeable fitted sheets. It makes a great backrest when sitting up in bed and stays put with the support of the bed itself.

  • D

    This will tear so easily when you try to sit up in bed and read or watch tv, or even when your sleeping, it will pull down. It's too complicated, and to easily ruined. I got my headboard at the Salvation Army thrift store on half price day , it cost me $10 and I'm going to paint it to coordinate with my bedroom ( a quart of paint from Walmart s only about $6. Not a bad investment for a great looking STURDY headboard.

  • 5 Comments / 1 Pages

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