I have been wanting to do an upholstered headboard bench for years. Since I really didn’t know quite how to do it, I did as I normally do—I just jumped in and started.
I got this headboard from my friend Cathy after she couldn’t sell it at her yard sale a couple of years ago.
Materials needed for standard headboard bench assembly
For the frame of the headboard bench I used two 1x6’s and one 2x2 (found at Home Depot in the hardwood dept). Because this bench will be made without a foot board, the first thing I had to do was to decide what I'll use for the front legs.
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Begin assembly of headboard bench with pocket holes
I assembled the bench as usual using pocket holes made with my Kreg Jig. Because I was using 1x6’s, I made one pocket hole on the left, shifted the board to make one on the right, then shifted the board one last time to make a pocket hole in the center of the board. Generally I use 1x4’s for headboard benches, but because this is a full sized headboard, probably holding more weight, I used 1x6’s.
If you don't have a pocket hole jig, you can use "L" brackets. However, if you do a lot of projects, I highly recommend you investing in one of these jigs. For more details see my post How To Use A Kreg Jig
Basic frame to make a headboard bench
You can see how I built the frame that I will be attaching to the headboard (background)
Attach frame to headboard
Using clamps and a level makes it easier to get everything straight. Although I drilled ¾’ pocket holes on the 1x6 sides, I used 2” pocket hole screws to attach the sides to the headboard because they were going into the thicker bed post.
Notice the smaller board on the original headboard. It’s not quite large/strong enough to help out with the seat, so I will need to add a brace board in the back.
In addition to pocket holes and screws on either end, I used a couple of these wood screws to connect the new board to the original board for extra strength.
This bench went together so quick and easy. It’s the first double bed I’ve used for a bench in a long, long time. The bed is a little different in the fact that it is solid, without spindles. Because of that, I decided to do something different. NOTE: bed posts on left and right
Paint tufted headboard bench frame
Trace headboard pattern onto foam
Here’s the plan…upholstery! I am not the best at it, and I tried to find an upholstered headboard bench online, and couldn’t find one to help me figure this out. I traced the shape of the headboard onto a piece of memory foam, then cut it out with some scissors.
Spray foam with adhesive
Because I wanted to do two layers of memory foam, the first layer had to be pieced. I used some spray adhesive to secure the first layer to the headboard and the second layer to the first one.
The first layer only covers the front portion of the headboard. The second layer was cut large enough to wrap around the sides of the headboard.
Using a bed sheet for batting
Since I didn’t have enough batting for this project, I used ½ of a sheet I picked up recently at Vendors’ Village.
Time to make a minor adjustment with the saw
As I began covering the foam with the sheet, I realized that I should have cut the bed posts off even with the top of the headboard. I got my saw back out and quickly took care of that!
This photo is with two layers of the memory foam and the sheet stapled in place.
As I said earlier, I’m not an upholsterer. I really think I should find a local class for beginning upholstery.
Patience is the key to upholstery when you don't know what you're doing
I’m just winging it here, and now realize that I probably did this all wrong. You might want to consider this a tutorial of how NOT to upholster a headboard bench.
I worked my way around stapling the drop cloth material to cover the sheet and the memory foam layers.
Designing the upholstered headboard bench button tufting
Thinking outside the box, I used stickers to try to figure out the button placement on the upholstered headboard bench back.
Easy upholstery using screws
I decided to use the same method of using screws that I used on my upholstered corner bench. To do so, I used 1 inch screws with small washers to do the button tufting.
I measured from the bottom and the middle and made tiny dots with a sharpie, then put a screw and washer in each of those spots. After doing this, I looked on pinterest and saw that people who do diamond tufting do the buttons (screws) before pulling the fabric and stapling it. To-do list—find an upholstery class.
This is where I really start making it up as I go along. For a short time I considered cutting a piece of thin plywood and painting it to cover this mess. But I already have a lot of money tied up in this bench (in lumber). That’s okay if you’re making one of these benches for yourself. I think it’s worth the money—but I am going to flip this so every penny counts.
Drop cloth upholstery is a thrifty alternative
Because of the curves of the headboard, I knew I needed to cut the back to have a similar shape. I laid the fabric down, and then hoisted the bench onto the table. It’s up against the diy picket fence because the table tried to get away from me as I was shoving the bench onto the table. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Using a drop cloth hem as piping
I love the look of the shape of this headboard bench.
I stapled the drop cloth fabric all around the back of the headboard bench. I’m about to use this Quick Dry Fabric Fusion, but I forgot to show you how I’m going to cover up all those staples.
Drop cloth frays very easily, but I have found this Fray Check to work really well. I applied it all around the hem of the piece that I cut for the back of the headboard.
After applying the gel, I snipped off the hem of the drop cloth as close to the stitch as possible.
I don’t know a LOT about upholstery, but I do know that people use piping to cover up staples. Because I didn’t have piping and I didn’t want to MAKE piping I chose to use the original drop cloth hem instead.
I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not you like it. I think it does the job, and I’m not sure piping would work any better in this circumstance, but the staples HAD to be covered somehow.
Upholstered headboard bench seat
Remember when I talked about how much lumber I already had tied up in this bench? I prefer to run my seat lengthwise as “planks”. But that would have been another $33 in lumber for three 1x6’s. Cutting the boards this way used one full (new) board, and a lot of scrap pieces I had leftover from other projects. This is a dry fit before I notched each board on the end.
This may be the easiest and nicest notches I’ve ever done.
I stained the planks with Minwax Dark Walnut Stain.
Minwax Polyurethane was used to seal and give some shine to the seat. I did this while the planks were raised on scrap boards—not while it was attached to the bench.
Buttons to cover tufting on upholstered headboard bench
I bought this button kit from Amazon and covered them with scrap drop cloth pieces. Because the dents on the upholstery are already secured with screws and washers, I used my hot glue gun to attach the buttons.
I had tried larger buttons (1”) and the fabric glue but it didn’t work at all. These smaller ¾” buttons look so much better. Gotta love Amazon Prime with 2 day shipping!
Using the Kreg Multi-Mark allows me to make sure I hit my mark with the Ryobi Air-Strike nail gun.
Are you ready for the big reveal, or have you skipped down to see the “after” already?
DIY Upholstered Headboard Bench
This is a very large bench! It was difficult for me to move it by myself to get some good photos of it.
This was one of the very first items to sell at Glendale 2016.
Here’s a shot of the back of the upholstered headboard bench, which I’m guessing will probably be against a wall.
Those of you who do upholstery, I would appreciate your honest, constructive criticism so I can learn what I should have done differently.
I may never do another one, but you never know.
See my favorite Mission Style Headboard Bench with Storage-The Complete Tutorial See Remodelaholic for more inspiration
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.