This post has taken me so long to put together for you guys, but it’s finally here!! First, thank you so much for all the kind comments on my DIY upholstered bed. We are truly so in love with it! If you missed the reveal, be sure to check it out here. Today I want to share with you how to build an upholstered bed if you are wanting to create something similar in your home. A list of sources for this project are included at the end of the post.
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Before we get too far into this I have some explaining to do. I had the greatest of intentions of photographing every single step of this build so that you would have the most thorough of tutorials. When I started the build I did so in our garage, in the middle of July, with a bad shoulder injury. What was I thinking?!! Temperatures in the garage were well over 100 and I was in A LOT of pain. Detailed photos quickly went out the window in favor of finishing the project quickly. It’s surprising how much longer a project can take when you stop to photograph and document every step.
Having said that, I will still be giving you all the information you need to recreate this on your own according to your own measurements/mattress size/fabric width/preference. FOR REFERENCE, OUR BED IS A QUEEN, ADJUST ACCORDING TO YOUR BED SIZE. Let’s get into it!
Frame Building Supplies
- miter saw
- safety glasses
- bracket kit
- 4x8x0.5 plywood
- 4×8 hardboard
- wood glue
- sewing machine
- upholstery fabric (7yds. of 56″ wide fabric)
- upholstery weight thread
- flannel fabric for back of headboard (4yds. of 43″ wide fabric. You could also use the same upholstery fabric, but adjust yardage)
- muslin fabric (5.25yds. of 90″ wide fabric)
- batting (12yds.)
- velcro (3yds.)
- iron on hem tape
- staple gun & staples (I started using a pneumatic gun, but later switched to a regular staple gun since the head of the staples were larger and better at holding the fabric)
How Build the Headboard Frame
The beauty of building your own bed is that you can customize ALL of it. Want a taller or shorter headboard? Don’t want the headboard as thick looking or maybe you want it to appear thicker? It’s all up to you! I wanted the appearance of a thick, plush headboard. To do so I built a frame out of sturdy 2×4 and then added 1×6 around the tops and sides to give it more depth.
2×4 board cuts:
- Two vertical side pieces – 54.25″
- One vertical support – 37.25″
- Top piece – 65.5″
- Bottom piece – 62.5″
2×6 board cuts:
- One top piece – 67″
- Two side pieces – 55.75″
Position the 1×6 so that it is flush with the front of the headboard. The extra depth goes toward the back of the headboard. The 1×6 boards attach to the 2×4 frame with wood glue and screws.
How to Build the Side Rails and Footboard
4x8x0.5 plywood sheet cuts:
- Two side rail pieces – 81″ wide by 16″ tall
- One footboard piece – 67′ wide by 16″ tall
Note: Plywood can typically be cut down for you at the hardware store if you don’t have, or don’t want to use, a table saw.
2×4 board cuts:
- Two side rails pieces – 81″
- One footboard piece – 67″
- Six “leg” pieces – 15.5″
2×4 boards are glued and screwed into the plywood pieces.
Headboard and Footboard Brackets
I wanted to make this bed easy to put together and take apart. Think about this now should you ever want to move the bed or need to take it apart to change out a rug that sits underneath the bed. I used this bracket set.
For the headboard I attached it so that the bracket claws on the side rail pieces pointed downward, hooking into the headboard. For the footboard I attached it so that the bracket claws on side rail pieces went upward, allowing the footboard to slide down onto the claws. This way when you’re putting the bed together the side rails would hook into the headboard first, then the footboard would hook into the side rails. When taking it apart you would remove the footboard first, then the side rails.
1×2 board cuts:
- Two side rail pieces – 76″
This next part will completely depend on whether or not you have a box spring for your mattress as well as how deep you want your mattress to sit inside the bed (or in other words, below the top of the side rails). We have a SleepNumber bed. It has a support system that acts like a box spring. I also knew I wanted no more than two inches of my mattress to sit below the top of the side rails.
You’re going to attach a 1×2 along the inside of the side rails with wood glue and screws. It will later have 2×4 spans resting on it which will support the box spring and mattress. Where you place the 1×2 will depend upon this formula:
Box Spring Depth in Inches + Inches of Mattress Sitting Below Siderail Top + 1.5 inches = How Far Down You Attach Top of 1×2 to Side Rails
In my case my box spring is 8 inches deep and I wanted 2 inches of my mattress below the side rail. So, 8+2+1.5=11.5. The top of the 1×2 is attached 11.5 inches down from the top of the side rail.
2×4 board cuts:
- Three span supports – approx. 66″
- Six legs for span supports – Mine were 4.5″ long (This will depend on the height you placed your 1×2)
The 2×4 spans are left unattached to easily assembly and disassemble the bed. Though you could screw them into place once you’ve moved the bed into your room if you want.
Ok, here’s where the heat and shoulder injury started getting the best of me. You will need to attach a piece of 3/16″ thick hardboard over the front of the headboard. I don’t have photos of this part.
- 67″ wide by 41″ tall
- Note: This facing piece should cover the entire width of the headboard and down to the bottom support where it meets up with the side rails right above where the bracket is placed. Mine was several inches further down because I didn’t want to make another cut with my shoulder hurting (and I later regretted that decision).
When screwing the hardboard facing to the headboard frame make sure you not only screw it in around the top and sides, but also along that middle and bottom support.
Ok, that’s it for the frame build!! Now on to adding the batting and upholstery.
Wrapping Side Rails and Footboard with Batting and Muslin
- Side rails – Four pieces (two for each side rail) 81″ long by approx. 23″ tall
- Footboard – Two pieces 71″ long by approx. 23″ tall
- Side rails – Two pieces (one for each side rail) 81″ long by approx. 4″ tall
- Footboard – One piece 67″ long by approx. 4″ tall
- I was generous with the amount of Muslin needed to wrap around the batting. You want to cut a piece large enough that you can staple it completely covering the 2×4 along the top and sides, and then around to the inside of the bottom.
The smaller 4″ tall strips are going to be folded in half along the top of the side rails and footboard. This will give you four layers of batting along the tops after the larger two pieces of batting are wrapped around it. I would suggest lining up the 4″ strip along the inside edge of the rail and stapling one layer of it to the outer edge of the rail so that the other half of the strip folds over the half you stapled down. That way, when you wrap the larger two pieces of batting around it, that first strip along the top stays put. Cut off any excess around the brackets. In the photo below it shows the footboard before the Muslin fabric was stapled in place. The footboard is the only one that will have batting wrap around the sides.
For the side rails, you don’t want the batting to wrap around the bracket sides, just the Muslin to hold the batting in place. Make slits in the fabric as you are wrapping so that the bracket claws can come through.
Wrapping Headboard with Batting and Muslin
- Four pieces approx. 20 inches wider and 10 inches taller than your headboard. Remember it doesn’t need to go down past the hardboard and brackets on the front.
- Eight smaller pieces (four for each leg) to fill in the space along the bottom sides of the legs. You don’t want batting over the front of the legs because this is where the rails will attach.
- A generous cut giving you enough fabric to wrap around the headboard and batting. You can trim off any excess.
Part of DIY is figuring it out as you go. There will always be things you do differently a second time around. I want to show you what I did with the headboard and let you know what I would have done differently to save myself time and extra work.
Remember when I told you that I didn’t cut down the hardboard facing, and that it extended lower than it should have? You can see it in the photo below. It would have made much more sense to have it cut shorter (you can see where the bottom of the batting is which is where the hardboard facing should have also ended).
Another thing I ended up having to do later was removing the batting from the front of the headboard legs. It ended up being too thick in that area to attach the side rails into the brackets. Speaking of the brackets, they are hidden behind the Muslin fabric in this photo. I had yet to cut a slit exposing them and stapling the Muslin fabric down around the edges of the brackets.
The Upholstery Cuts
Upholstery Fabric Cuts
- Front headboard – one piece 2yds x 54″
- Side rails – two pieces 2.5yds x 27″
- Footboard – one piece 2.5yds x 27″
- Headboard edges – three pieces 2.5yds x 7″
How I Planned My Upholstery Cuts
Sewing the Headboard
Sew the three headboard edges together with a half inch seam allowance, and then top stitch the two seams. Using the headboard as your form, pin the front headboard piece to the side pieces and stitch in place. Once stitched you’ll top stitch over those seams.
This is where I changed my plans on how I was going to upholster the headboard. Initially I was going to have the side edges wrap around the back and be stapled into place. I wanted a snug fit and was concerned there would be too much pulling in areas where the staples attached and that it wouldn’t give me a nice, smooth finish. I changed directions and decided to add fabric across the entire back so that it would fit over the headboard like a slipcover. This gave me a much smoother fit.
To add the back fabric piece, turn the front cover inside out and place over the headboard so you can pin on the backing fabric. Stitch in place. There’s no need to top stitch this part. Flip it right side out and slide down over the headboard like a slipcover.
Note: I used a black flannel material for the backing because the store I was at didn’t have a color closer to the upholstery fabric. It worked fine, but if I could do it a second time I would have searched for a closer match or purchased more of the upholstery fabric.
Notice how the bottom of the front doesn’t go completely to the floor? I knew my fabric wasn’t long enough, but I really wanted those extra couple of inches in headboard height so I left it exposed. The exposed part will not be seen once the side rails are attached. Just make sure the side fabric is plenty long enough like I did here. You will then hand stitched the hem in place for that small side piece to avoid removing it again.
Notice how I still have yet to cut slits and expose the brackets where the rails attach to the headboard? I did that at the very end to make sure everything was in alignment first. To do so, use a clean box knife and cut a vertical slit just larger than the bracket. Roll the excess fabric underneath and staple it down along the sides of the bracket. I don’t have a good photo of the finished bracket, but you can see it exposed in this photo as I was setting up the bed.
Sewing the Skirt
My goal with the skirt was to make it look like a blend between a slipcover and upholstered rails. I also needed it to detach so I could take the bed apart and put it back together. I decided on one long piece that would Velcro onto the side rails and footboard to keep it in place. I don’t have photos of sewing the skirt together because I was moving so quickly to get this project done! In this video I shared to Instagram you can see how it lays over the rails and footboard before the velcro strips were added to the inside. You want to have enough fabric on the inside so the Velcro can be placed at the bottom of the 2×4. I’ll explain those Velcro strips in a second.
Cut the fabric so that there is one piece for each side rail and one piece for the footboard. Sew the three pieces together so there is a seam at the two bottom corners of the bed. I sewed two faux seams over the top of the side rails and footboard. Those create what appears to be a strip of fabric over the top of the rails and foot. I then top stitched over my seams the same way I did on the headboard.
I then mitered where the two corners meet for a nice, flat fit. Iron on hem tape is used to finished off the hem.
Attaching the Skirt to the Bed
I used a total of three yards of sew on Velcro, cut into several 6″ strips to attach the skirt to the bed. The rough hook side is stapled onto the bottom of the 2×4 that runs along the top of the side rails and footboard. The soft loop side is sewn to the inside edge of the skirt. Now the skirt can easily be removed to take apart the bed.
Here’s my inspiration bed so you can see the similarity. I really couldn’t be more pleased with how this turned out!
Assembling the Bed
Here’s how to assemble the bed. Remember I wanted it to be easy to take apart should I change the rug out or move the bed.
Special Thanks to my Mom!
This project wouldn’t have happened without the help of my amazing Mom!! She is the one who taught me how to sew at a young age, use power tools, and to DIY in the first place. My mom was so excited about this project that she came down to Texas to help me with it. Her extra set of hands and knowledge was invaluable to me. Especially since I was down one arm at the time! Thank you, mom! I love you!!
Cost to Build
My inspiration bed was $5,100 before tax and shipping. I built this bed for $459! The key to keeping my cost to build down was purchasing my upholstery fabric and batting on sale. Even if you have to wait a few weeks for the next sale to cycle through, I believe it’s worth it. Speaking of fabric, an upholstery weight fabric is more expensive, but it makes a huge difference in the outcome and longevity of your project. Don’t skimp on your fabric.
- Grey upholstery fabric – I have also found it here if unavailable at Hobby Lobby.
- Muslin fabric
- Black flannel fabric
- Iron on hem tape
- Bracket kit
Is this DIY bed is something you want to try for your home? Let me know your thoughts on it! And please tag me on social media if you try it out so I can see your project!
I also have another DIY bead I created for my daughter’s bedroom. Her bed was a much simpler project, but came out equally beautiful. You can check out her DIY French Seam Bed here.