Keep it sleek with a headboard painted directly on the wall.

Painting Headboards on the Wall

by Benna Crawford

No need to sink a fortune into elaborate bed frames when you have a paintbrush and a good imagination. If you paint a headboard right on your wall, you can change headboard styles every time you redecorate the room. Design a dramatic, amusing or unconventional backdrop for your toddler, teen or your own personal retreat with a few inspired dabs of paint on the wall over the bed.

1. Simple Stencil

A stencil provides a cleaner, more symmetrical design than a free-form sketch. Use a half-stencil and then flip it to mirror the design and create the entire headboard. Headboard stencils come in pre-cut basic patterns, but you can make your own if you fancy a particular period. Trace half of a headboard you like on a big sheet of craft paper, then cut out the shape and trace the outline on the wall before filling in with paint. Or, find a picture of a headboard you like, enlarge it on a copier, and place it against grid paper to calculate the proportion of the lines. Measure and draw a grid lightly on the wall over the bed and copy the design into the grid from your model before painting your headboard.

2. Custom Kidboard

Brighten up a child’s room with a fun headboard painted to order. Paint cheerful, colorful balloons with painted strings hanging down below the pillow line. An arch of rainbow or night stars outlined with leaping sheep is a clever headboard shape. A painted headboard composed of large, multicolored, irregular letters spelling out the child’s name designates who sleeps where in a shared bedroom. A fancy, cartoon-tall white and gold wrought-iron “headboard” capped with a gold crown is fit for a princess. A foursquare painted grid of colored blocks containing icons for peace, love and a teen’s favorite activities -- a sailboat, soccer ball, pointe shoes or a tennis racket -- is graphic art and headboard all-in-one.

3. Chalk It Up

Chalkboard paint is headboard heaven. Trace or stencil an outline for a headboard on the wall over the bed in a color that complements your decor; fill in the outline with custom-tinted chalkboard paint. Mount a gilded picture frame made from lengths of molding over the bed; paint the wall inside the frame in chalkboard paint; and write changeable, favorite sayings in chalk. Keep it minimalist with a plain rectangle of chalkboard paint the same width as the mattress. Print a quotation in chalk higher than bed pillow-height such as this quote from Rumi: “Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart.” Spray clear fixative over the chalked quote to protect it.

4. Hint of a Headboard

An urbane teen or a Moderne devotee may be happiest with an abstract design in place of a headboard. Pull a pattern to highlight from the bedding or furnishings: a scrolled outline of leaves and vines, a silhouette of a city skyline or an iconic building like the Eiffel Tower, or a Cubist abstraction of overlapping geometric shapes. In a Mondrian-style bedroom, an explosion of brightly painted squares mirrors the colors of a rug or the bed quilt. Create a "vanishing headboard." Paint a bed frame on the wall, such as a simple iron bedstead -- but paint sections of the frame solidly; lightly sponge others, so some paint adheres to hint at the form; and leave some stretches blank, as if the bed is as ephemeral as dreams.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images