The size of your head board should be in line with the edges of the mattress, don’t be tempted to extend it by a few centermetres. Image via Pinterest.

A gorgeously layered bed can look a little lonely without a headboard to frame it, and a custom upholstered headboard design is stylish way to add height, warmth and showcase your personal style. Aside from style, there are practical reasons for a fabric headboard: great for resting up against, fabulous for reading, they offer comfort that a bare wall simply cannot! But there are a few things to be wary of when it comes to designing your fabric headboard.

I’m sharing my design tips below, so you can avoid mistakes that are commonly made when it comes to creating a custom bed head.

Before we get into what NOT to do – consider your options, there are many shapes to choose from! Headboards don’t just come in rectangular formats. And they aren’t always plain and flat! Consider whether you would like any curves, wings, piping, panelling, buttons (when choosing the amount of panels or buttons include, think: are you an ‘odd’ person or an ‘even’ person)? The shape and style you choose will have an impact on the overall feeling in the bedroom.

Read on for tips on what to avoid when it comes to designing headboards:

Mistake #1
Beware of deviating from ‘standard’ measurements

Conversely, an over-sized headboard works when it extends past the bedside tables. Image via Apartment Therapy

If you’re designing a headboard for a single bed, stick to the single bed width measurement, so that the headboard does not overhang the sides of the bed. Same for double, queen, king and super king bed, it’s always best to match the headboard length to the short side of your mattress.
It may seem tempting to make the headboard a few cm or inches larger to ‘allow’ for duvets or blankets, but this can make your headboard appear unbalanced. It also creates problems with bedside tables, if your headboard extends too far at the sides that means your bedside cabinet can’t be as close to the bed and this can cause discomfort when reaching for things from your night stand.
You can still go as high as you like, however, just ensure the headboard doesn’t dominate your bed!

The exception to this rule is if you are intentionally making an over-sized headboard that is also going to accommodate your bedside tables, extending beyond them entirely (see emerald green headboard image).

Mistake #2
Bedside cabinets that are too low

While we’re talking about bedside cabinets, this is another area that can be overlooked. The height of your bedside drawers should be at a similar height to the top of your mattress. Any lower and the cabinets may appear overshadowed in comparison to the bed and a statement headboard will draw attention to any imbalance. You can get away with a lower height if you are repurposing a small table or chair instead of the traditional bedside drawers.

Deep buttoned velvet is classically luxurious, consider what type of fabric is right for you. Image via Pinterest

Mistake #3
Selecting an unsuitable upholstery fabric

Not every fabric is suitable for upholstery, and some upholstery fabrics may not be suitable for your lifestyle. Learn about fabrics and their pros and cons, and the Martindale (abraison) rating, ideally you’ll need a material which can withstand some friction.
Velvet and synthethic velvet-type fabrics look luxurious and have a nap in which the fibre piles lie, which can show if it’s brushed in the opposite direction (avoid the “shiny” velvets for this reason, unless you plan on stroking them often! If you’re not sure whether a material has a shiny nap, take a quick snap of the fabric sample with your phone. If the material has a shine this will be reflected and you’ll see it in the photo).
Wool is a lovely natural fibre but may not be suitable for those with allergies.
Using a fabric with protection against dust-mite pathogens, scratch resistance, colour fastness and stain repelling properties might interest you. Suede, linen, silk and leather can be options too.

Mistake #4
Ignoring the fabric repeat in patterned fabrics

Common headboard interior design fails
Mistake #5 small prints can lose definition on a large headboard. Image via Adairs

Pattern repeats are important to consider as you’ll want to ensure you have enough fabric, otherwise you may end up with the pattern not lining up correctly in panels and seams. Some fabric patterns (like stripes) are also railroaded which can affect the quantity of material required for your project.

Mistake #5
Not taking pattern scale into account

When choosing a patterned fabric consider the pattern scale, is it right for your headboard size? For example a very small ditsy-floral pattern could get lost on an extra large headboard. Conversely, an oversized pattern may be cut off on edges.

Mistake #6
Forgetting to measure the room

Consider access into the room (and whether that is via stairs). Measure the height of skirting boards so they can also be incorporated into the headboard design, this is particularly appropriate for villas and bungalows that have large trim.

Mistake #7
Don’t forget the bed base!

Consider the base of the bed and whether this can also be upholstered to match the headboard, or a bed skirt (valance) could be custom made.

Mistake #8
Installing the headboard incorrectly

Common custom upholstered headboard interior design mistakes
Mistake #8 don’t leave a gap between the headboard and mattress. Image via Booking.com

Headboards can be wall hung, floor standing, or directly attached to the base of the bed. These options depend on the style you choose and can affect the height of the headboard. With wall mounted headboards there shouldn’t be a gap between the top of the mattress and the bottom of the headboard, as this creates an awkward looking disconnect between the two.

I hope you’ll never encounter these headboard design issues! If you have a headboard that’s not quite right, I can help. If you have any questions about custom headboard design or if you’re interested in a designer upholstered headboard, please feel free to send me a message, I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly xx

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