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DIY Upholstered Otomi Headboard

by Grace Bonney

for the past four years i have been pining over this incredible headboard featured in a 2005 issue of cookie magazine. it not only ignited my love for upholstered headboards, but sparked my interest in textiles from mexico, south america, india and uzbekistan. this particular type of textile, mexican otomi fabric, is handmade by the otomi indians of central mexico. i love the variations found throughout the style and the way that the animals seem to dance around in circles. so four year laters, i decided to bite the bullet and create the headboard i’d been dreaming about for what seemed like ages.

[Today’s video is brought to you by HomeGoods. Find your personal style by taking the HomeGoods Stylescope Quiz. Join the discussion at HG Openhouse.]

today i’m sharing my full steps below the fold, and in the video above. i shot this video in my bedroom yesterday by myself, so i’m living proof that this project can be done in a few hours, with little help. the final cost of the project depends on the source of the fabric and the shape of your headboard, but will always come in under the budget of a pre-made or professionally upholstered headboard (i called and got estimates from upholsterers ranging from $750-$1200!). i hope you’ll enjoy this project and consider creating your own variation; it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the artistic heritage of many world cultures- don’t be afraid to try this with indian block printed textiles, suzani or ikat fabrics from uzbekistan.

CLICK HERE for the project steps (update: including the headboard template!) after the jump!

[The headboard that inspired my project, from Cookie Magazine 2005]

Grace’s Upholstered Otomi Headboard

What You’ll Need:

-Wood for your headboard (I had mine cut by a local craftsman (download the template HERE) but depending on the shape you want, you can either buy a pre-cut piece of plywood at Home Depot in a rectangle, or trace a pattern and cut it with a jigsaw to fit your desired shape)
-Foam (I used foam that was 2 inches thick)
-Batting (standard quilting batting is great)
-Fabric (I bought my Otomi fabric at Jacaranda Home)
-Utility knife
Staple Gun
-Flush Mount for attaching the headboard to the wall
Spray Adhesive

*I hired a great local craftsman named Kevin Grevemberg for my headboard- there was no way I could get away with sawing a huge piece of wood in my tiny apartment.

*UPDATE: CLICK HERE for the wooden headboard template created by Kevin Grevemberg above. Thanks for sharing this with us, Kevin!*


1. Place your piece of foam on the floor and lay your headboard over top of it. Trace the outline of the headboard with a marker and then cut to size with a utility knife or electric knife if you have one- they work really nicely for foam.

2. Repeat this step with your batting, cutting 4-5 inches wider than the headboard wood, all around (you’ll be pulling this over the wood and stapling it so you need a little extra to make it stretch)

3. Repeat this step with your fabric, cutting 4-5 inches wider than your headboard wood, all around (you’ll be pulling this over the wood and and batting so you’ll need a little extra to make it stretch)

3. Spray the foam with spray adhesive and attach it to the front of your headboard. Note: spray adhesive is pretty toxic so you’ll want to wear a mask and open your windows while you spray. Spray in short spurts and let your room fully air out before proceeding.

4. Lay your batting on top of the foam once it’s dried and flip the headboard over so the batting is on the floor, followed by a layer of foam and then your wood facing up.

5. With your staple gun, staple the batting securely to the wood, pulling the batting taught so it’s not loose.

6. Once your batting is secure, lay your fabric over top (be sure to iron your fabric first!), centering it if need be (I used plastic clamps to hold it in place while I stapled). Flip the headboard over so the fabric is on the floor and then staple gun the fabric into place, pulling taught so you get a nice wrinkle-free finish.

7. Once your fabric is attached, you can cut any excess from the back (this project leaves the headboard unfinished on the back so you can attach it to the wall) to neaten up the edges.

8. There are a number of ways to attach your headboard to the wall or bed, but I prefer using flush mounts (just ask for them at your local hardware store) to hang the headboard from your wall. They’re easily screwed into the back of the headboard and wall so you simply slide the headboard into the mounts of the wall and voila! Your headboard is attached- make sure you ask for mounts that can hold the weight of your headboard. Most flush mounts will hold at least 75 pounds- just be sure to ask.

9. If you’d prefer to stand your headboard on the ground and use the weight of your bed to hold it in place, I’d advise making a solid headboard, rather than one with legs like I made above- that gives your bed more to push against. I’d still advise screwing it into the wall or the base of your bed frame for safety- you don’t want that falling down on you.

Once your headboard is safely secured you’re all set!


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  • Love, Love, Love this! How big was the fabric that you used? and did you pay a ton for it? I’ve been looking and came across Spoonflower. Have you heard anything about them for fabric?

    • hi hideko

      i mentioned the size in the post above (6 feet), the price is on the site (it varies by size).

      and yes, spoonflower is great. although i haven’t used it for upholstery weight fabric yet.


  • Hi Grace!

    This looks lovely! My husband and I are 95% done with ours and we are totally stuck on how to finish the legs. we have the top and sides staples…but can’t figure out how to upholster around the 90 degree turns for the inside of the legs and the bottom of the headboard (does that make sense?)

    Can you tell me how you did it? I thought maybe cutting a straight line at a 45 degree angle that meets in the very corner and wrapping the side around the leg and the rest around the bottom of the headboard but I think that you will be able to see a little bit of the batting and material underneath in a gap?


    Totally Stumped in Cincinnati!

  • Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

  • Hi Grace,

    Absolutely love your headboard! It turned out so great! I am looking into doing the same thing for my bed and I want to have a local contractor build me the wood frame like you did. If you don’t mind me asking, how much did you pay him to do the woodwork? I am trying to get a good idea of what to pay someone. Thank you so much!


  • Didn’t think I’d be able to pull this off, but the video made me feel more comfortable in trying and the step-by-step tutorial helps also. Wish me luck!

  • Just got an estimate from a local re-upholstery company and they wanted to charge $750 for a basic job! That didn’t even include designer tacks. Those cost extra. I’m so going to consider doing this as a DIY.

  • Hi there – thanks for this great post. Just one question: where are the measurements? What size bed is this for?: King, Queen, Full? For the provided template, what size bed is it for? How should we adjust it to create each of these size category beds? Thank you!! Great post:)

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