DIY: Fabric Headboard with Nailhead Trim

By Kate Riley 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.


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

  2. 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!

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

  4. 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?

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

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

  7. 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!!!

  8. 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! :)

  9. 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!

  10. 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?

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

  11. 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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