One Room Challenge Week 3: DIY Upholstered Beds with Nail Head Trim

We’re in week three of the One Room Challenge, and I have finally finished off the kids’ beds that I started upholstering months ago. See my progress so far here: Week 1 // Week 2

This is not my first rodeo with upholstering beds – I hacked an Ikea one here too. These are a little more technical than that one, but still pretty straightforward.
I spent a while searching for bed frames that had straight lines and no foot board, and were cheap (we’re on a budget here, people). I’m not linking to the ones I chose, because I don’t recommend them (more on that next week). They cost me £75 each with free shipping (they’ve since gone up to £90).

They worked out fine, but I will say that the wood is very soft and, while that made them easier to work with, it also means they damage quite easily. Ikea’s Tarva bed frame would also be perfect for this.


1. Bed frame
2. Wood for framing headboard extension (to match supports on your existing bed frame)
3. Metal braces (like these)
4. Angle brackets (like these or these)
5. Wood screws
6. Particle board
7. Wood trim
8. 1″ thick, firm density upholstery foam for headboard*
9. 1/4″ or 1/2″ thick, medium density upholstery foam for foot and side boards*
10. Wadding (I used 6 oz polyester wadding)*
11. Fabric – I used 2 1/2 yards for each bed (similar fabric here)
12. Upholstery nail stud strips

*I got my foam and wadding from this eBay seller


1. Staple gun with long staples
2. Hand saw
3. Hammer & nails


The foot posts of my bed frames weren’t level with the foot board, so I sawed the tops of the legs off and sanded them smooth. They still weren’t perfect, but the foam and wadding would hide that later on.

Figure out how tall you want your headboard to be and build it up, gluing the wood together and securing it with metal braces. I just used long ones on the sides, but an extra set on the back would make it even stronger. I used angle brackets on the inside corners.

Cut a sheet of particle board to cover your frame, but have it finish above where the mattress will sit, otherwise the mattress won’t fit on when you’re done. Nail it to the frame.

Trim it out with thin wood trim. I think mine was 1″ wide and maybe 1/4″ thick. This is what you’ll be securing your nail heads to later on.

Next I cut a piece of 1″ thick foam to fit inside my trim, and attached it with spray glue. This is just to hold it in place so you can get the wadding on.

Speaking of wadding, that comes next – stapled around the whole headboard.

Cut the corners once the back is stapled on so there aren’t any lumpy bits.

Staple under the foam too, just in case that spray glue isn’t strong enough to hold it forever (it probably won’t be).

Once that’s secure, drape your fabric over the top and start stapling again.

Fold the edges to keep them looking clean.

Turn the frame on its side and wrap the feet in fabric, folding it under at the edges, then staple it on. Keep the stapled edge to the least visible side of the legs (the inside edge, under the bed).

You’ll end up with a little gap in the fabric, which you’ll cover later on.

Headboard done, for now.

Next up: the sides. Cut a length of the thinner foam and staple it round each side.
Make sure the ends line up exactly with the bed legs. You don’t need a tonne of staples in at this point, because you can secure it more when you add the fabric.
Again, wrap it in fabric. At the foot end, tuck the fabric under the foam. I had a staple in the end to hold it which I removed later. Leave enough excess at the head end to wrap around to the back of the bed frame.
This is where you’ll cover the gap you left earlier. I’m sure the pictures will explain better than I can, but you’re going to carefully cut the fabric in line with the headboard, then fold those flaps under and staple it behind the headboard.
Once you’ve stapled the excess around the side, you’ll be left with a lovely, clean join.
On to the foot board! It was super late when I was doing this bit – my photos are pretty horrible. You’re basically repeating the process – staple foam around, cut exactly to the width of the foot board.
I added wadding to beef it up, bringing it more in line with the legs and softening the hard edges.
On the last bit, you’ll ideally have more fabric to play with than me – I cut it a bit short. Fold the edges over (ignore that staple – again, it was just holding it in place temporarily) and staple on the inside of the side boards.
You’ll be tidying it off with trim later, but for now, the whole bed should be upholstered. Woot!
This is how both my beds sat for a good while. This photo, by the way, is a much more accurate depiction of the colours than the ones above.
We moved house before I finally got around to adding trim, which meant unpicking a bunch of staples, disassembling the bed frames and then putting them all back together again, which actually didn’t take long.
I bought 5 meters of this trim, which was just enough to go around two headboards with a little left over for the legs.
I didn’t take photos of the process here, but you’re nailing the upholstery tacks into the wood trim you built around the foam on the headboard – you can feel it through the fabric to line it up neatly.
I just added a smidge around the tops of the legs at the foot board, rather than at every seam, because those were the only parts that weren’t dead straight. If I’d had more, I might trim the bottom of the legs too, to pull the fabric taut.
And that’s it, my friends. Both kids’ beds are done!
Next week – a homework station and pegboard storage. See you then!
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  1. April 21, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    The bed looks great! I see those beds at thrift stores all the time. Now, I'll look at them differently!

  2. April 21, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    Wow! You really transformed that bed. That's a tiny little room but it's going to be a jewel. You've obviously put so much work and detail into it. 🙂

    We'd love for you to link up this post with us at Thoughts of Home on Thursday. Our readers would enjoy seeing your progress.

  3. April 22, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Thank you – your ORC is awesome – can't wait to see how it turns out too!

  4. April 24, 2016 / 6:31 am

    This is a great idea! Very cute

  5. April 24, 2016 / 6:31 am

    LOOOOOVE your new headboard…I've never been brave enough to upholster by myself but you made it look easy enough 🙂 (famous last words, right?!) I love the sheets too-super cute! Kristin @ Postbox Designs

  6. April 24, 2016 / 6:31 am

    How beautiful it looks. I love the colors and fabulous idea by adding extra pieces of wood to create a taller headboard. Now as designitvintage

  7. April 27, 2016 / 4:50 am

    What a fabulous idea and it looks so professional too!

  8. April 27, 2016 / 9:39 am

    I like how you used your resources! The bed looks great!!!

  9. April 29, 2016 / 8:59 am

    Lizzie, I'm so glad you joined us today. How's the progress going? I'm off to look for a new post. 🙂

  10. May 3, 2016 / 6:05 am

    Wow what a fantastic color and technique. I am a bit late to the TOHOT party this week due to my college semester finals but I'm so glad that I didn't miss this. Have a wonderful week.

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