DIY – Upholstered Headboard With Nailhead Trim

Way back in another lifetime I built my headboard out of MDF and 2″x2″ pieces of wood and then covered it with a couple of layers of cotton batting, and a piece of inexpensive white fabric. Fast forward quite a few years, and I was no longer thrilled with my headboard. The fabric had gotten rather dull looking, and I wished every time I saw it that I had something just a little more sophisticated.

My headboard before

You may recall that I have a serious love for the Collete Bed at Crate&Barrel. A while ago when I was at King Textiles looking for some velvet for my mirror framing project, I spotted some fabric in their clearance section that sparked an idea. After quickly Googling on my phone the dimensions of a double bed I purchased several yards.

The back of my headboard

I put off this project for a couple of weeks as I was a little worried about pulling out all the staples that attached the original fabric to the headboard. Even though it was years ago, I still remember how cramped my hand got from using the staple gun, and I had visions of pulling staples for days. I needn’t have worried – the staples came out quite easily with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

High-Tech Tools for Removing Staples

As I wasn’t going to replace the batting, my next step was to lay out the new fabric, and make the necessary cuts to remove the extra. Next I started stapling.  My method was simple – a couple of staples in the top in the middle, and then pulled the fabric tight and stapled at the bottom in the middle. I then did the middle on each side. This ensured that fabric was tight in both directions before I stapled the rest of the top, bottom and sides. The top corners gave me a little trouble as I wanted to make them as smooth as possible. After some trial and error I ended up cutting out a triangle of fabric at each corner before folding it over and stapling. This would probably have been easier if my fabric wasn’t so thick, but as it’s a woven wool it got quite bulky in the corners.

Once the stapling was complete I flipped the headboard over, and started on the next phase of the project.

I had seen individual nail head tacks at Home Depot on several occasions, but the thought of having to nail in several hundred tacks kept me from recovering my headboard a long time ago. While perusing the Lee Valley Tools website one day I saw these nail head strips, and they were what I used. The beauty of this product is you only have to nail in every 5th nail – the rest are fake.

Laying out the Nail Strips

The next part required a bit of math as I wanted to ensure the nailhead trim detail was equally spaced across the top (to ensure that a real nail ended up at each end), but once I had that figured out the rest was fairly easy.

Here’s the finished product:

My Recovered Headboard

Nailhead Detail

The finished Product

Here’s what this project cost:

For a total cost of $45.43 (tax. incl.) I’m quite pleased with the transformation.

Don’t my Rewired Lamps look Great Next to it?

Mine doesn’t have the fancy curved detail that the one at Crate&Barrel does, but given how much it cost to make I can overlook that little detail. What do you think? Is it almost as nice as the original?

Linked to: The Shabby Nest, Meg & Mum’s, Polish the Stars, Home Stories a2z, Crayon Freckles, Mod Vintage life, Primitive & Proper, {Primp}


  1. says

    Very cute and classy redo of the headboard. I’m starting to like nailhead trim more and more. Might have to try it myself sometime! :D

    Smiles from Miss Mustard Seed’s linky party,
    Suzanne at WhyCuzICan in NW Illinois

  2. Roxie says

    Your head board is very pretty. It looks like some I have seen on TV that go for big dollars.
    My own head board is a king size 6 panel door from an old library. I love it. Over the hole where the door knob goes is a sign that says “always kiss me good night” and it is so sweet.
    In the winter months I made a slip cover for the bed from an old quilt I had in the closet. I just made an envelope to slip over the head board. Now I have 2 looks for my bed room.

  3. says

    I love the new look! I have seen those nail head trim strips used but didn’t know you could get them at Lee Valley… will be going there for sure as this is a project on my list for 2012!! Thanks for the inspiration… I love the material too by the way. Found you over at Primp. I’m a new follower. :)
    Would love for you to pop by and visit sometime!

  4. Adrienne says

    I love this and have been wanting to do the same thing – very similar style. I have a king size bed, I’m struggling with the dimensions. Could you share the height of your headboard? And maybe the actual part of the headboard that is padded (without the legs). I would be grateful! Love your blog!

  5. Laura says

    I have been looking for a DIY headboard like yours! Love it! I was just wondering what size legs/framing did you use?

    • Michelle says

      Hi Laura,

      It’s been a few years, but I’m fairly certain the framing is 2″ pine. The rest is simple MDF. I held it together with carpenters glue and nails. I’ve seen a few tutorials where plywood was used for the whole thing – no need to construct a frame. I do think however that my method is much lighter.

      Hope that helps!


  1. […] While the studded appearance of nail heads have been a main feature of furniture for decades, today’s DIYs are giving the technique a modern twist. Bold patterns and textured fabric bring the design trend into the 21st century, appealing to young and seasoned decor lovers alike. Though the look is a hallmark of luxury, it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to replicate. This DIY by Michelle of Sweet 10. […]

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