Make a Headboard Cheaply, or for Free

Dress Up Your Bedroom With These DIY Headboard Ideas

Pillows on Bed
Sarah M. Golonka/Photodisc/Getty Images

One of the easiest ways to dress up your bedroom is to add a headboard, and our creative ideas won’t keep you up at night worrying about your budget. It’s possible to make a headboard for cheap or free, and with the plethora of projects available, you’re bound to find something you like.

If you’re not especially crafty, don’t panic. Even beginning do-it-yourselfers can complete these easy projects listed below.

Be sure to click on the links for how-tos and inspirational photos.

Bookshelf or Shelving

Create a functional yet beautiful headboard from an old bookshelf or wall-mounted shelving. To avoid a sore noggin, just be sure you don’t hang the shelves too low over your bed.

Building Materials

The sky is the limit when crafting a headboard from new or reclaimed building materials. An old gate, door, shutter, screen, or even a fireplace mantle can become a new-to-you headboard. Whatever “headboard” you choose, use proper mounting hardware. To avoid a rude awakening, be sure to attach your headboard to wall studs and not simply to drywall.

Carpet Tiles

You can usually get sample squares for free from you local carpet store. Use a utility knife to cut carpet tiles to the desired size and/or shape. Get fancy by cutting tiles and inlaying with an alternating carpet color or pattern. You can glue the pieces to a backing of thin plywood or chipboard, or apply directly to your wall.


Upcycle old clothing into a fabulous headboard. Old scarves, neckties or other clothing items can be transformed into beautiful and earth-friendly headboard decor.


Window or no window, a wall of curtains adds a sophisticated backdrop behind any bed. Hang from ceiling to floor for an elegant look.


Decoupage, oh how I love thee! Anything can look chic with a bit of deco, and decoupage is easy (and almost free!) to do. Use black and white illustrations (find them free at, retro valentines or cool cutouts (or anything) to make your own headboard. Decoupage your items to plywood or chipboard, or deco directly onto your wall.


When using fabric as a headboard, ideas are unlimited. Drape fabric from a hook, wreath, loop or frame hung over the bed to impart elegance and romance. Create fabric panels with nothing more than plywood squares, fabric, batting and a staple gun. Hang curtain rods from the ceiling to make a canopied headboard. Even a custom upholstered headboard is easy and affordable when you do it yourself.


For a romantic (or trendy) look, create a floral headboard from a bunch of felt, paper or fabric flowers. Staple or pin the flower heads to plywood or directly to the wall. This headboard can be especially frugal if you use old wool sweaters and felt or make your own.


Love to read in bed? A horizontal lighting fixture mounted sideways or sconces mounted on glazed or painted plywood can make fabulous (and practical) headboards. Rope lighting mounted in a border behind thin plywood or other material can set the mood.


For a sophisticated look, use a large mirror or group of mirrors to give the impression of a headboard. If mirrors aren’t in your budget, any reflective surface, such as CDs or DVDs, can impart a coolness factor.

For a dramatic headboard, fake a paneled wall behind your bed with beadboard and/or molding. Paint to match your decor or bedding.

Paint or Decal

Who says you need the real thing? Stenciling or painting a faux headboard is a very economical way to create a custom look. It can be as simple as a solid color rectangle on the wall above your bed, or as fancy as a mural that flows from pillow to ceiling. Decals are another option, though they are usually more expensive than paint.


Comfort reigns when you use pillows as a headboard, and throw pillows are easy to find on a budget.

Just sew a small strip of ribbon or drapery rings to each corner. Hang the pillows from wall hooks, a mantle, molding or a curtain rod.

Plywood Cutout

It doesn’t take a large amount of skills (just a scroll saw), to cut plywood or masonite into any shape imaginable. To create an ultra-cool headboard, trace your design and cut it out, then sand, paint or stain, and attach to your wall. Done.

Rug or Blanket

A knotted rug or beautiful blanket or quilt can make a unique behind-the-bed wall hanging. It also provides a quilted spot for your back during bedroom reading. Use a curtain rod and clips to hang.

Stretched Canvas

Artwork looks beautiful anywhere in your home, but it can also make a stylish statement as your headboard. For an especially unique look, paint, decoupage or cover your own.


Ceiling or floor tile can be an inexpensive yet unique alternative for a headboard. If you plan to use ceramic tile with mortar, be sure to attach the tile to concrete board. For a mortar-less headboard, gluing tile directly to plywood or to your wall should do just fine. Tile can be heavy, so be sure to properly attach your headboard to your wall.​


I love the look of high-end wallpaper, but who can afford to do an entire room (or even an accent wall)? Create your own headboard by wallpapering a headboard shape above your bed. If you like a classic look, you can stick (no pun intended) to the basic headboard rectangle with your wallpaper. For further refinement, finish the edges with painted molding.