Even the most rudimentary headboard gives a nice finishing touch to a bed.

How to Make a Headboard for a Children's Bedroom

by Benna Crawford

Kids grow up fast, and their tastes change quickly. Spending a lot of money on bedroom furniture for a fairy princess or a bunkhouse cowboy proves to be a bad investment when the princess goes horse-mad and the cowboy embraces recycled trash treasures. Customize your children's beds for pennies with headboards you create yourself. Paint, fabric, glue, beach-finds and outgrown sports-gear transform ordinary objects into original headboards to top off the sweetest dreams.


Paint a headboard that you can change with the flick of a brush. Contrasting color makes your "headboard" stand out from the wall and helps to create the illusion that it is real. Measure a symmetrical design as wide as the bed frame, using painter's tape to mark the outline, or to hold a traceable cardboard form or paper cutout on the wall. Be daring and paint a tree-of-life over the bed, with a few bright songbirds perched on the branches. Create an arch of glistening, breaching whales and flying fish. Make the arch a fairytale rainbow with multi-hued butterflies fluttering over the bed. Or paint sheep jumping over a fence or a cow jumping over the moon. Whatever magic appeals to you and your dreamy kid makes the perfect headboard. And, when a new fancy overtakes you, just paint over your original and start again.

Padded Pattern

A little dexterity with a jigsaw, or an obliging hardware store, gives you a scroll-topped headboard shape from 3/4-inch plywood. A piece of your favorite designer fabric does the rest. Pad the plywood with upholstery foam or egg-crate foam covered tightly in cotton batting. Use spray adhesive to stick the foam to the right side of the headboard and tack the foam and batting all the way around with upholstery tacks or a staple gun. Lay the headboard face-down on the fabric, pull the fabric snug and tack it down on the back of the board. Trim any excess fabric and padding, but don't trim too close to the tacks. Fasten the padded headboard to the wall behind the bed. Go crazy with the fabric for this one; use embroidered brocade, heavy Chinese silk, cartoon superhero prints on light canvas, "faded" distressed velvet or patchwork denim.

Snowboard Wall Wheelies

Your youngest could not care less about the snowboard obsession that gripped his older brothers. Re-purpose those colorful snowboards into a cool headboard that brightens up the young tennis pro's bedroom. Attach four to six snowboards -- for a twin or double bed -- vertically to a board and screw the board to the wall behind the bed. Position it high enough to expose a foot or two of snowboard above bolsters and pillows. Pick up colors from the snowboards in throw pillows, bedding and accessories for the room. Feature the occupant's favorite sports gear on another wall -- a mirror and clothes hooks fitted to a beat-up wooden tennis racket frame or a rack to hold his prized surfboards. A shelf over his desk displays trophies, pigskins or signed baseballs. Wall mounts cradle his guitar collection.

Beach Board

Your tween-age mermaid will enjoy drifting off under a weathered headboard of beach treasures and driftwood. Collect silvered and salt-bleached driftwood, battered wooden boards with faded, peeling paint and pails of large, unbroken shells. Sand any rough places off the motley assortment of wood and boards and build a headboard by assembling the pieces vertically. Once you have fastened them together securely, slick one or two coats of matte finish over the front of the headboard to prevent future splinters. Decorate it with strung shells, sand dollars, fishing bobbers and other gifts from the sea, and attach the headboard to the wall. Stencil a leaping dolphin or a mermaid on the wall over the tideline finds, and embroider a bedspread with iconic ocean images: sea stars, fish, seahorses and sailboats.


  • The Wabi-Sabi House; Robyn Griggs Lawrence

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images