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12 Headboard Alternatives for Your Primary Bedroom

A collage of different types of headboard.

The headboard can create a focal point in your bedroom. Depending on its size and style, it can make your room appear large or small, and it can add comfort especially when you want to lean back while reading your favorite book. But headboards can also be expensive which doesn’t sound practical considering how there are plenty of DIY headboard options to turn to.

Wood pallet with string lights used as headboard with gray and red pillows, gray bedding and dark gray wall.

These headboard alternatives promise to save you money, but you’d have to bank on your creativity and a bit of time and effort. Some options turn the idea of a headboard upside down, some merely replace it with an inexpensive alternative, while others are entirely off the beaten path.

1. Reclaimed Wood

Small white bedroom with reclaimed headboard, exposed brick frame windows and wood flooring.

Reclaimed wood make a wonderful alternative to traditional headboards and they are relatively easy to make if you are crafty. However, there are many custom and pre-made options online that come in the standard bed sizes, as well as a variety of finishes and colors.


  • Unconventional looking headboard that can be easily mounted to any bed frame.
  • Easy and cheap to make with upcycled materials.
  • Readily available pre-made.


  • Most designs require mounting to a bed frame or the wall.
  • Both pre-made and custom options may be costly to ship.
  • Homemade versions require some technical skill, time, creativity, and competence with tools.

Custom and pre-made reclaimed wood headboards cost on average $200-$500 plus shipping. I like the idea of gathering wood from local livestock feed shops and using the reclaimed wood to build out a unique and functional piece of art for far less than having one custom built by a stranger.

2. Painted Murals

Platform bed with stylish side table beside it, a pile of books on wooden flooring, and a mural behind the bed.

Painting or hiring an artist to create a stunning backdrop on the wall behind your bed infuses the room with color and your unique personality.


  • Gives your bedroom a custom look and feel.
  • Simply paint over mural if you move or redecorate.
  • No heavy furniture to assemble or move.


  • Requires artistic talent and some creativity.
  • Hiring an artist can be costly.
  • Not ideal for renters because of landlord and property management restrictions.

The cost associated with painted murals varies from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars depending upon whether an artist is hired or you decide to buy paint and get creative.

3. Curtains and Tapestries

Gray Industrial bedroom with gray exposed brick wall, tapestry pendant lighting above the bed, floor lamps, tapestry headboard and gray bedding.Source: Etsy

A backdrop of curtains or a decorative tapestry is a fantastic means to decorate the wall at the head of your bed. There are many different fabrics and patterns choose from as well as options for hanging them.


  • Easy to change on a whim.
  • Inexpensive option for any do-it-yourself home decorator.
  • Limitless pattern, color, and fabric options.


  • Curtains and tapestries must be regularly taken down and washed to maintain cleanliness and eliminate dust.
  • Potential for spiders to take up residence.
  • Not the best option for small children as they can become tangled and injure themselves.

Curtain and tapestry based headboard alternatives can be found at any quality home store and cost on average $20-$100 depending on the material, dimensions, and any required mounting hardware.

4. Open Books

Small bedroom with open books headboard; blue walls and bedding; red curtains, bedside lamps, and pillows; and orange-toned wood flooring.Source: Etsy

If you are looking for something unique, I would recommend the open book headboard. It consists of rows of open books glued and tacked to a wall or sheet of wood.


  • Fairly simple to do yourself with a couple of pre-made options available online.
  • Inexpensive to source materials.
  • Interesting backdrop that also serves to provide reading material.


  • Caution must be used with very old books due to the possibility of mites.
  • Pages can rip or curl and cause an untidy appearance.
  • Heavy and can be difficult to move around.

Books provide a very cheap, unconventional headboard option because they can be bought for pennies and the materials required for making one at home can be easily purchased from a local home improvement store at minimum cost. Expect to spend anywhere from $30-$100 on materials, a pre-made option can be purchased via marketplaces such as Etsy for upwards of $300 plus shipping.

5. Barn Doors and Window Shutters

White bedroom decorated for the Christmas season with large barn door used as headboard , string lights, a ladder, gifts, and white wooden flooring.

Rustic farmhouse and shabby chic looks are easily done with recycled barn doors and vintage wooden window shutters arranged to create a custom look.


  • Can be mounted to a bed frame or attached directly to a wall.
  • Barn doors and window shutters can be purchased new or recycled from old barns and homes.
  • Durable, long lasting, and easy to maintain.


  • Requires basic technical and carpentry skills.
  • Time consuming project that can take days to complete and can be an expensive pre-made option.
  • Heavy and difficult to move without help.

Barn doors and window shutters rearranged to create a headboard can cost up to and over $500 plus shipping. Expect to pay upwards of $200 for materials and tools to make one yourself.

6. Coastal Theme

Small blue bedroom with distressed-looking canoe paddles as headboard, blue pillows on white bedding, and blue bedside lamps with white shades.Source: Etsy

Beach cottage looks are one of my absolute favorites and anything beach-specific can be used for achieving the look. You don’t even need to spend a penny for making such a headboard. The best part is you can turn your coastal-themed headboard into an opportunity to display your favorite sports equipment such as paddles or surfboards.


  • Simple, classic décor that ties into any nautical or beach themed space.
  • Abundant supply of new and used materials.


  • Can be heavy so make sure they’re well-mounted against the wall.
  • Can be difficult to thoroughly clean and keep dust free.

If you don’t have any spare canoe paddles to use, you can purchase a set online from $300 to $400.

7. Decorative Wall Paper and Wall Decals

Black and white cat prints for wall decal headboard behind white bedding.Source: Houzz

A lovely and versatile way to create alternatives to headboards is to use sections of decorative wall paper or pre-made wall decals.


  • Available at any quality home design and repair store as well as online.
  • Exceptionally easy to apply.
  • Great for renters and children’s bedrooms.


  • Can look cheap and unattractive if applied carelessly.
  • Requires removal and cannot be painted over for redecoration or moving purposes.
  • Single use application.

Decorative wall paper and decals are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of options. Some look like a real headboard, while others are designed to be unique backdrops ranging in price $15-$90

8. Shelves

Large bedroom with green walls, full-length white drapes, and white bookshelf behind the bed.

An underestimated alternative to traditional headboards is the shelving unit. These can be of almost any material and be made by hand or bought pre-made.


  • Readily available online or in any home improvement and décor store.
  • Easy to install and set up.
  • Provides storage solutions for small spaces.


  • Potentially heavy or cumbersome.
  • Delivery and custom built options are costly.
  • Requires technical and carpentry skill to make on your own.

Headboard shelving is a beautiful and functional way to create a custom sleeping space. They range in price from $500-$1000 for a pre or custom made option. They can be made at home with some technical skill, tools, and proper materials. The costs associated with a do-it-yourself project vary greatly based on how materials are sourced.

9. Wood Fencing

Small bed with wood fencing used as headboard on wooden flooring.

Unique, utilitarian, functional is how I would describe using wood fencing sections for a substitute headboard. These materials are readily available at all home improvement stores.


  • Requires little technical skill.
  • Easy to find materials can be purchased or upcycled from old fencing.
  • Fun project for the whole family.


  • Materials do not fit well inside a traditional car so a borrowed truck is necessary.
  • Requires painting or staining so this adds a couple days of drying time.
  • Completed project may be heavy and difficult to move.

Using fencing for a head board is relatively inexpensive if done on your own with materials ranging in cost from free to over $100. Various pre-made options are available on handicraft sites and the occasional craft fair; they range in price from $80-$300 plus shipping depending on size and complexity of design.

10. Macramé and Area Rugs

Scandinavian bedroom with whitewashed exposed brick wall, hanging macrame as headboard, carpeted flooring, and indoor plants.Source: Etsy

Popular materials that are easy to source and fun to arrange are macramé and area rugs. Macramé consists of beautiful patterns knotted from rope cord and can be made with some degree of technical skill.


  • Easily arranged and put into place.
  • Pre-made options require little technical skill.
  • Perfect for renters or college student dorm rooms.


  • Difficult to keep clean and free from dust.
  • Attractive to spiders and other insects.
  • Rugs and macramé can hold unpleasant odors.

Hanging a decorative rug or macramé design is a unique and beautiful bedroom decor option ranging in price from $30 to well over $400 depending on the source, size, and quality of rug or macramé picked out.

11. Paintings and Wall Art

White bedroom with panorama windows and an abstract painting above the bed.

I absolutely love a large framed painting hung over a bed in place of a headboard. Paintings can be arranged in an innumerable array of patterns and create the mood for a bedroom.


  • Limitless possibilities and artists to choose from.
  • Paintings can be easily hung and removed.
  • Perfect for teens and dorm room décor.


  • Large or famous paintings are expensive.
  • Some paintings can be heavy and awkward.
  • Environmental considerations must be considered like exposure to direct sunlight and humidity levels negatively affecting the quality and value of the painting.

Paintings and wall art vary in price from less than $100 to well over $1000 depending on the size, quality, and artist chosen.

12. Shadow Boxes

White bedroom with large shadow box used as headboard, blue bedding and a floor lamp beside it.

Funky and functional shadow boxes are perfect for taking up empty wall space above the bed. They hold knickknacks, mementos, photographs and other treasures.


  • Relatively inexpensive and can be purchased online or in a wide variety of home repair and décor stores.
  • Functional and fun to fill.
  • Does not require much in the way of technical skill to hang.


  • May require some assembly.
  • Potentially bulky and difficult to keep free from dust.
  • Solid wood boxes of large size are quite heavy and require assistance to hang securely.

Shadow boxes have numerous applications as headboard alternatives and bedroom accessories. They are relatively inexpensive, ranging in price from $20 to well over $100 for a custom built option.

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