How to Build a Custom Headboard with Arms {Sarah M.Dorsey Designs}

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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

learn more about ME + MY BIZ

If you missed all the amazing projects of our first annual Creating with the Stars, be sure to check them out below!


Sarah is back today with another awesome tutorial from the home decor project that won her the grand prize in Creating with the Stars. I love the way she built this headboard and broke it down for us- it makes any custom headboard within the realm of possibility! Plus, it looks unbelievable with that grasscloth and nailhead accent wall!

To complement the accent wall, we wanted to create a headboard that wouldn’t compete yet wouldn’t get lost against the nailhead and grasscloth.

We made a plan and gathered our supplies.
1/2″ plywood (1 sheet cut to width of bed frame, ours was 62.5″)
2×8″ (x2)
1×8 (x2)
1×3 (x4)
heat n’ bond
I drew a few diagrams for the basic construction and dimensions of the headboard. See below for some the specifics on the upholstery. Measurements are for a queen bed frame. Note: make sure to measure your bed frame first, in case yours is different! You want to make sure that the frame will fit inside of the arms.
For the arms, we screwed a 1×8 and a 2×8 together, measured and drew the circle with a lid. We then followed the line with a jigsaw to cut it out (we did remove any screws that were in the way first!).
For the foam, we cut a 3″ camping pad in half and attached to the plywood with spray adhesive.
Next we upholstered the back piece by wrapping in batting and then fabric. To make sure that the top was pulled evenly, we attached a thin strip of scrap wood and pulled tight. This made it much easier to get an even look!
Next, we cut the fabric to wrap around the entire arm, starting at the inner part of the arm, we put a few staples in (on the inside so it stays in place while you attach the arm), we cut little holes in the fabric at the pilot holes (where arms attach to the frame). We then installed the arms with heavy duty screws (we used cabinet anchors) and attached it to the 1×3 frame.
Then we finished upholstering! We pulled the fabric tight around the arm and stapled, leaving it loose at the top. We cut the angles, almost to the edge, but not close enough so that it frays to the side of the arm, pull tight and staple. It doesn’t have to be pretty on the top because that will be covered next. We cut a band of fabric the total height of the arm (accounting for the bends) plus a few inches and the width (2.5″) of the arm plus enough fabric to fold under (at least .5″ on each side, so at least 3.5″ total). We folded the raw edges under and pressed with a hot iron so that the edges were crisp and attached the band to the arm with no-sew adhesive (my preference is Heat n’ Bond) and a hot iron, staple to secure the ends.
That’s it!
I finished the bed off with a few DIY pillows. The euro pillow shams are made from a white table cloth and a scarf from World Market. Since the scarf was translucent, I doubled it up with the white table cloth. The throw pillows are white shams from Ikea, I then painted a border using painters tape and latex paint with fabric medium. The bolster pillow is a kitchen towel from World Market and the left over headboard fabric.
I love how the grasscloth slightly shimmers depending on the lighting.
The nightstand is from World Market, the sphere from TJ Maxx and I picked up little letters (to spell his and hers) from a local antique store. Books were wrapped in paper from the Paper Source.
Hydrangeas and Ranunculus are two of my favorite flowers!
This week was sponsored by Home Goods, and if you’ve read my blog, you probably know that I’m pretty obsessed with the Home Goods/TJ Maxx/Marshalls brand! I love the thrill of the hunt, designer names and the affordable prices!
I picked up a cute accent chair, fluffy white rug (my puppy love it too!) and the white sphere!
Finally, here’s where we got everything!
Headboard: Fabric Coral drapery panel from Target (x2), Batting, 3″ camping foam from Home Depot only $20!
Feature Wall: Grasscloth wallpaper,Nailhead (we used about 2.25 boxes),Trim- I found 2.5″wide synthetic trim from Home Depot on clearance for $4/8ft board

Accessories: Night stand (World Market – not on website), decorative sphere (TJ Maxx), His and Her letters (local antique shop), Throw pillow on chair, chair (TJ Maxx), lamp and lamp shade, duvet cover
I’m crazy about our new transformation and I hope you love it too!
We totally love it too! Well done, Sarah! We ‘re ready for you to make a trip to good ol’ Bucks County to fix up our master bedrooms. Any time. 🙂
P.S  Have you linked up yet?

The comments +

  1. Congratulations on your win Sarah!

  2. Ange says:

    Beautiful! I love this headboard, wall, accessories, all of it! Great job!

  3. So good! I wish I had thought of it…but I may steal a few hints from it! Good job Sarah. I liked your Facebook page! I can’t wait to see what else you are up to.

  4. Lauren says:

    Absolutely in love with your wing back headboard, Sarah! Would love to know where you were able to get the camping pad. I haven’t had any luck and I’ve been looking for a while now…

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sarah says:

    So. Very. Awesome.

    Love it. *sigh*

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