5 Gorgeous DIY Headboards Made with Unexpected Materials

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close-up image of a floral upholstered headboard

Want more DIY tips, tricks, and inspiration? Check out more stories featuring the 2023 Apartment Therapy DIY Collective. This content is presented in partnership with The Home Depot; it was created independently by our editorial team.

From packing tubes to old bookshelves, some of the best embrace unexpected materials to create very chic results. “A DIY headboard is the perfect opportunity to transform unwanted items because its shape lends itself to using up old wood or wooden items,” says U.K.-based interior stylist and DIY expert Claire Douglas.

For example, she says you could easily adapt any of the following into a characterful rustic wooden headboard: salvaged floorboards, dismantled old pallets, a tabletop, the top of an old coffee table or an old wooden door. Add upholstery foam and almost any fabric — such as bedsheets with a pretty pattern — and you can create a softer look. 

The secret to success? Planning ahead, using simple woodworking tools, and being open to the endless possibilities available for the size, shape, texture, and look of your new headboard. These expert DIYers used upcycled materials and creative design choices to make these gorgeous headboards — all without breaking the bank.

An Old Bookshelf

DIYer Ashley Poskin, a member of Apartment Therapy’s DIY Collective in partnership with The Home Depot, knows that using as many found materials as possible can help keep a project under budget: for example, for this colorful headboard, she purchased foam and batting on sale, and also secured the fun designer fabric she used at a 90 percent discount from a local interior designer. But her budgeting prowess also fueled her creativity.

“The wild card was that I used the wood from an old bookshelf that was headed for the alley instead of purchasing new plywood from the hardware store,” she says. “The bookshelves also happened to be the perfect length and width for the headboard, so I spent very little time rounding out the corners with a jigsaw — which made this project not only budget-friendly, but fast!”

Credit: Anika Gandhi

Leftover Building Materials

When Cypress, California-based DIYer Anika Gandhi began decorating her primary bedroom, she knew she wanted to bring in warmth with some wood tones. Though she was tempted to do something with upholstery, she was even more eager to use some leftover high-quality plywood and a gel nutmeg stain to make a more rustic headboard.

The result is both chic and unique — and it only took about three hours to complete. “There are many great materials that can be used to make headboards — from paint, plywood, or fabric to sisal, jute, and wallpaper,” Gandhi says. “You might already have the material you need in your living room!” Once you’ve chosen your material, she adds that most headboards can be built with simple woodworking tools like a power drill and saw.

Layers of Linen

If you’re looking to add more texture to your bedroom, Douglas recommends using naturally occurring materials like jute, seagrass, wood, and linen to make a chic statement headboard. “A bed is the perfect place to layer up textures with cushions, a duvet bedspread, bedside rug, and bedside tables,” she says. “A DIY headboard can be the star of the show.”

Fluted Wood

For another minimalist or Scandi-inspired option, U.K.-based DIYer and interiors influencer Jasmine Gurney says you can skip a headboard altogether and instead set your bed against a paneled feature wall. “This can have a big impact on a small space and actually make the room feel bigger!” she says.

Gurney, co-founder of The Female DIY Collective, says that another easy option is mounting a curtain rod on the wall and using leather straps to suspend cushions for an instant upholstered headboard.

…Anything at all

All of our DIY experts agree that almost anything can be used to make a chic headboard if you open your mind to what’s possible. “The possibilities for materials to create DIY headboards are virtually limitless,” says Vermont-based lifestyle expert and DIYer Garrett Anderson. “One enjoyable game I often play is having a friend or family member select an object, and then I take on the challenge of transforming it into a beautiful headboard.” 

Anderson says he’s used various unexpected materials, such as old belts, yarn for crafting pom-poms, repurposed snow shoes, and unique guitar finds from thrift stores. “The process of exploring and incorporating unconventional materials adds an extra layer of excitement and enjoyment to the DIY experience,” he says.