I Turned a Bathroom Staple into the Maximalist Headboard of My Dreams

published Sep 27, 2023
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If you’re a millennial or Gen X-er, you might remember the floral-on-floral trends of the 1980s and 1990s that involved matchy-matchy rooms with coordinating upholstery, linens, borders, wallpaper, pillows, and more. Well, you know what they say: Everything old is new again. Those old-school florals are gaining popularity again through trendy takes on maximalism and cottagecore, and I wanted to bring that look to my home’s guest bedroom with a surprisingly DIY-friendly upholstered headboard.

When I painted the guest bedroom a soft green (Benjamin Moore’s Hollingsworth Green) and stumbled upon a Laura Ashley — yes, that Laura Ashley, of the famed 1990s matching florals — duvet cover that matched the color perfectly. I’d originally planned on sourcing a wood headboard for the bed, but once I saw the duvet print and the walls next to each other, I had another idea.

I was reminded of the famous print-on-print paradise that is The Greenbrier resort, which was given its maximalist look by iconic interior decorator Dorothy Draper. I wanted to pull a Dorothy and try to squeeze every last drop out of that print with a DIY upholstered headboard.

Credit: Heather Bien

I initially planned on buying a second duvet to use as my upholstery fabric, but I realized Laura Ashley made a shower curtain in the same print and that seemed like a more durable option for this use. It was also way, way cheaper, at about a third of the price.

For the actual headboard, I took to Facebook Marketplace. Because it was only serving as a foundation, it didn’t need to be attractive — it just needed to be affordable and in decent condition (and sans bed bugs).

I looked specifically for a headboard that had a simple silhouette with a little bit of an arch or curve, and that didn’t have tufting. A flat surface would make this project as beginner-friendly as possible.

Headboards aren’t hard to find on Facebook Marketplace, and I found multiple options that could have worked by searching “queen upholstered headboard.” My shopping tip: I gravitate towards listings with good photos and seller reviews, particularly if I’m buying an upholstered piece. I also always check to see how long items have been listed to see if I have any negotiating power.

Eventually I landed on a solid gray, slightly arched headboard listed for just $60 that had been up for several weeks. I was able to talk the seller down to just $45. Win!

Credit: Heather Bien

To pull the project together, I used a staple gun and batting in addition to the headboard and shower curtain. I initially cut the batting to roughly the size of the headboard, then stapled it taut around the entire perimeter of the headboard. It’s an easy one-person job, especially if you’re not using the highest-quality headboard (which means it will be lightweight!). You can do one to two rounds of batting depending on how padded you want the headboard to be.

Credit: Heather Bien

With the batting in place, I did a rough trace of the headboard onto the shower curtain, then repeated my process of stapling it around the headboard. Fortunately, this isn’t a DIY that requires perfection. Even if your corners aren’t exactly straight, that’s OK — printed fabric hides a multitude of sins!

Once the headboard was complete, I gave it a coat of Scotchguard to help protect it from stains. All that was left was attaching it to the bed frame. The result is a luxurious-looking headboard that only I (and now you!) would ever know is a budget-savvy DIY. The whole thing cost only a little more than $100 to create.

Every time I walk in this room, I’m delighted by the calming color and the elegant style of all the green prints on the duvet, the pillows, and the headboard. It’s matchy-matchy in a way that would make Dorothy Draper proud. As she once said, “Decorating is just sheer fun.”