DIY Upholstered Wingback Headboard

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If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably seen the room reveal that I recently did of our garage to master bedroom. Today I’m sharing all the details of how we made our king sized tufted wingback headboard. This is your chance to learn from my mistakes…because I definitely made a few mistakes! It isn’t perfect, but I’m really proud of the way that it turned out and it was definitely a learning experience.

Step 1: Make a Plan

We have a king sized bed with a platform frame, and getting very specific measurements is key. The bed frame is 78 inches wide, so the headboard needed to be one inch wider in order for the frame to slide comfortably inside. This is the drawing I created of the plan.

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Step 2: Gather Materials
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This is a picture of the day I went to home depot on my lunch break for lumber in heels and a dress and got a lot of strange stares. Why can’t a girl in a dress buy lumber and know what she is doing? I digress.

So, here was my full materials list.

(1) 4×8 piece of 1/2 in plywood (I ended up getting MDF instead and regretting it)
(1) 10’x2’x6′ piece of lumber
(1) 10’x1’x6′ piece of lumber
(1) 10’x1’x4′ piece of lumber
4 yards of fabric
4 yards of batting
30 buttons
Approximately 500 nailheads
1.5″ foam
Upholstery thread and upholstery needle

Step 3: Draw A Grid and Build a Frame
First, I very specifically followed my pre-determined plan and mapped out the tufts on the mdf. I decided to do a grid tufted headboard as opposed to diamond tufted. I did 9 buttons on each row with just three rows.
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After I drew the grid, I pre-drilled all the holes. Then I created a frame using 1″ boards and reinforced the center. I used wood screws to drill the boards in from both sides. It is helpful at this point to pre-drill holes in the sides for the arms (see below).
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Step 4: Cut Foam to Fit

Foam can be a very expensive purchase, so I scoured all around for a cheaper alternative. Here is my suggestion: a memory foam mattress topper! This was around $30 at Walmart and more than enough foam to cover my king sized headboard.
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I had to cut it into two pieces, but I was able to cut it to fit and used a few drops of craft glue to allow it to stick while I flipped it over in order to do the batting.
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Step 5: Batting

I didn’t get pictures of this process, but I covered the whole thing in batting and stapled tight.

Step 6: Tufting

This is definitely the most daunting part. After covering 27 buttons with fabric, this was certainly a two person process. Jeremy sat on the back side of the board while I sat on the fabric side. We loosely wrapped the fabric around but did not yet secure it. Jeremy used a large upholstery needle and threaded it through the pre-existing holes from step 3, and I caught it on the other side and threaded it through the button. Jeremy caught the string and needle on the other side after I pushed it through and stapled it. Be sure to pull tight to avoid unnecessary fabric bunching…something I did not successfully accomplish.
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The problem we encountered is that MDF would not allow the staples to insert firmly, and we had to staple it to the nearest piece of wood and then fill the holes. This made me wish we had used plywood instead of MDF!
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Finally, tightly secure the fabric to the back of the headboard using as many staples as necessary.

Step 7: Install Arms

This can be a complicated process. I started by screwing together a 1″ piece of wood and a 2″ piece of wood to make a 3″ arm. Then before the fabric is secured
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Then I used 4 inch wood screws to adhere the wooden arms to the main base at a 90 degree angle through the batting and fabric already placed.
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Then the fabric must be wrapped around tightly, folded on top, and secured to the back.

Step 8: Nailhead Trim

After securing all of the fabric and cutting off excess, it came time for the nailhead trim. The bane of my existence!! I purchased 200 nailheads and soon realized it was going to take hours, never look perfect, and take far more than 200 to complete the project. So, I bought a roll of pre-assembled nailhead trim as I have seen so many bloggers use, and I was very disappointed in it. It looked cheap and very DIY in my particular situation.

So I bought 300 more nailheads and spent the length of several movies and gilmore girls episodes nailing each one into place in as straight a line as possible.
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And I’m so glad that I did.

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Finally, after much frustration and many promises never to attempt such a large upholstery project again, I called it done. And I’m so glad I did it!

It’s a perfect statement peace for our bedroom. To see more photos of the whole room, click here.

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Budget Breakdown:

Fabric (4 yards from Brentwood Interiors) – $38.25
Batting – $13.18
Foam – $29.98
Cover Buttons (Walmart) – 10.02
Thread & Needle – $4.05
MDF Board – $24.47
1x6x10 – $11.91
1x4x10 – $7.61
2x6x10 – $7.80
Upholstery Tacks – $37

Total: $184.27

Compared to this one for $511 and this one for $700, I feel pretty good about that price! It definitely isn’t dirt cheap. There are a lot of materials that go into it. Am I happy with the way it turned out? yes. Is it perfect? no. Would I do it again? Maybe.

Now is your chance to learn from my mistakes. Here are the things I would do differently next time around.

1. BUY Plywood and not MDF!!!
I made a gametime decision at the hardware store to buy mdf, and I regretted it. Mostly during the tufting process as the composition of mdf is not conducive to upholstery.

2. Put glue in the buttons before installing the backs.
I have had a couple of buttons come apart after the fact, and I wished I had put a spot of glue in each as I prepared them.

3. Pull material tighter while tufting.
This was my main regret. I smoothed the fabric as I went along, but I didn’t pull the fabric tight enough to keep the fabric from bunching a bit where I wished it hadn’t.

In the end, I’m proud of this project and I absolutely love the way it fits in our bedroom.

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