There are times in life where headboards aren’t exactly a priority. I never had one in college; I had a mattress on the floor.
But then I graduated, got married and domesticity set in. It was time to elevate the home; a bed with a headboard was in the cards.
The headboard design and style is one consideration when choosing a bed. Most beds come with a headboard; however, sometimes you may buy a headboard separately.
At the end of the day, the headboard is part of a bedroom’s design so what you choose makes a design impact.
Below is our headboard buying guide setting out your options.
Table of Contents
- I. Headboard Buying Guide
- A. Headboard Materials
- B. Headboard Installation Options
- C. Headboard Design
- D. Headboard Sizes
- E. Headboard Uses
- II. More Details
- III. Where to Buy Headboards Online
I. Headboard Buying Guide
Whether you’re looking to do a complete renovation of your bedroom, or just freshen up your space, replacing your headboard is one way to make a significant impact in your room.
To begin, you’ll need to make design decisions about the materials you prefer and whether your headboard will mount to the wall, bed, or be free standing.
From there, you can determine the style and size that’s the best fit for you.
A. Headboard Materials
The best place to start when selecting your headboard is with the materials.
By choosing the type that speaks best to you and your design style, you’ll narrow down your options and find something that compliments the decor in the room.
The main material types to choose from are wood, metal, upholstery, natural fibers, and leather.
Wood headboards are the traditional material for bed frames. Often used to create luxurious, elegant bedroom style, they are the basis for some of the most iconic and classic headboard types.
Sleigh beds are commonly crafted from wood, and panel and slat beds typically feature the material as well.
Wood headboards are versatile and can be stained, painted, or combined with metal elements to create a unique design that fits with the decor of any room.
Metal headboards are crafted from a variety of materials, but most often they’re made from Iron.
Popular in the Victorian era, wrought iron headboards are durable and long-lasting if properly cared for. It’s important to note; you’ll need to keep the metal clean to avoid rust and deterioration over time.
Metal headboards are also crafted from materials like aluminum, copper, brushed steel, and brass.
The open design helps to create the illusion of space in smaller rooms, and they can be modern or antique depending on the style of the rods and the ends.
If you’re feeling especially glamorous, you can channel your inner King Tut and craft your metal headboard and bed frame from solid gold. Those with caviar taste will be impressed by the Baldacchino Supreme bed that has 24-carat gold accessories. Though, the $6.3 million price tag might not be in the budget for most buyers.
Metal headboards can be painted to match your design scheme, but they’re best if left in their natural state to prevent corrosion and chipping.
Upholstered headboards add an element of elegance to a bedroom. Covered with fabrics like microfiber, linen, or velvet, some options are heavily padded while others are tufted to add luxurious detail. The padding makes this option comfortable to lean against, and it’s a good choice if you’re someone who wants to use your headboard as support while sitting up in bed.
One significant perk of choosing a fabric-covered headboard is that you can create a one-of-a-kind design that matches your decor perfectly, or stands out as a statement piece in the room.
Tufting, or depressions throughout the fabric and padding of the headboard like in the image above, adds a touch of charm to the design. Eye-catching finishes like buttons, nailhead trim, or welding can also be incorporated into the design.
Upholstered headboards can also incorporate other materials and elements, and may feature wood frames or metal accents. You’ll see a lot of the iconic wingback style headboard done in upholstered materials.
4. Natural Fibers (Wicker, Rattan)
Source: Pottery Barn
Natural fiber headboards look great in casual bedrooms or with a country design scheme. This option incorporates woven organic material, like seagrass, abaca, wicker, or rattan into subtle, casual designs.
Sometimes you’ll find this material grouped in the wood category, as often the fibers are laced around wood frames. These structures can be arranged in a variety of designs, including panel and wingback styles.
Source: West Elm
While leather is an upholstery option on a headboard, there are several different types from which you may choose.
Leather is made from animal hides, and the most commonly used are cowhide. However, you’ll also find sheepskin, crocodile or alligator skin, or ostrich skin options. The more exotic the animal, the more expensive the headboard will be.
Leather quality is then divided into four separate categories: full grain, split leather, corrected grain, and aniline leather. Here’s what you need to know about each.
a. Full Grain
Considered to be the highest quality leather available, full grain leather uses the entire width of the material, including the skin surface. It is very durable and has a luxurious appearance that wears the best and lasts the longest of all the leather types. It’s also the most expensive.
b. Split Leather
The bottom section of the hide is used to make split leather. If the surface grain of the leather has been damaged, but the underside is still useful, it’s perfect for manufacturing split leather.
To get it up to par, an artificial coating is applied to the surface of the split grain, and then it’s embossed with a leather grain texture.
While split leather still appears luxurious and natural, it doesn’t wear as well as full grain leather. However, it is also more affordable, so it’s an attractive option in headboard material.
c. Corrected Grain Leather
Corrected grain leather is a step down from split leather, and is considered a modified leather product. To give it a flawless appearance, manufacturers sand and buff away damaged areas and imperfections on the surface grain, and then enhance it with an artificial embossing coating to make it look like natural grain.
While it is not as long-lasting or as high quality as its full or split leather counterparts, it does have some unique attributes. If you’re searching for a leather headboard in a bright or vibrant color, you will likely choose a corrected grain precept as it’s easy to dye. It’s also significantly more affordable that other leather options, making it a budget-friendly choice.
d. Aniline Leather
An alternate type of dyed leather is aniline leather. Typically made with full-grain hide, this manufacturer treated product is dyed with aniline which enhances the natural color, but doesn’t hide the grain.
Aniline leather has a natural sheen and feels soft and supple to the touch. The dye works as a moderately protective coating, but the leather will still be subject to damage if it’s exposed to direct sunlight or comes in contact with a liquid.
As it’s made from higher quality leather than corrected grain products, it’s more expensive.
B. Headboard Installation Options
After you select the material that looks best in your space, it’s time to consider what installation options are available to you.
Note that not headboard types will offer all the mounting options. Some are built to mount directly to your bed frame, while others are only designed to be wall-mounted or free standing. Some models may be installed in more than one way, so be sure to check the specs before you buy.
The main mounting options are wall mounted, bed frame mounted, and free standing.
1. Wall Mounted
Wall-mounted headboard options require a flat surface to drill into, but they are compatible with any bed frame.
The mounting process itself is simple and requires a tape measure, drill, level, and stud finder in addition to the headboard materials.
One of the design aspects that are unique to a wall-mounted headboard is that you can arrange the accent in a variety of visually pleasing ways. You could choose to center the headboard with the bed frame, on the wall, in the room, or you could get creative with an off-centered or oversized design.
The installation possibilities on a flat, bare surface are endless with the wall-mounted option.
2. Bed Frame Mounted
Source: Loft Beds and Headboards Direct
Some headboards come with the option to mount them directly to your bed frame. Once they’re properly screwed into place, you’ll have an all-in-one stand-alone bed set up.
If you’re purchasing your bed and headboard separately, double check that your frame has compatible brackets with your headboard.
3. Free Standing
Freestanding headboards come without any attachment hardware or pre-drilled holes. They’re always sold separately from the bed frame and can be two or three-dimensional.
This option gives you a lot of flexibility to decide if you want to mount it to the wall or directly to the bed frame. Some freestanding headboards will stand on their own and rest between the bed and the wall without a need to mount them, like bookcase or storage headboards. We discuss these in more detail below.
Freestanding: Comes without any hardware or pre-drilled holes, but usually can be easily outfitted to be either wall or bed frame mount.
C. Headboard Design
Once you’ve determined the material and the best way to mount your new headboard showpiece, you’ll need to give additional thought to the headboard design.
Because of the wide range of materials, they can be crafted from, there are endless stylistic options when it comes to headboards. You’ll also need to choose a product that matches the size of your bed frame and mattress.
All of these design elements come together to help you create a bedroom look that compliments your personality and style, and creates a tranquil place for you or your visitors.
Headboard style is defined several different ways, but here we’ll examine types that best fit into your existing home decor.
If you prefer a traditional palate, are searching for storage options, or practice a coastal shabby chic philosophy, there are choices that will work for you.
1. Traditional Headboards
Traditional headboards are usually frame-mounted and attach directly to your bed.
They’re made from a variety of materials but often feature rich wood elements and colors.
Homes with traditional interior design elements will feature European-style decor with an emphasis on pieces that are reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries. If wing back chairs and claw-footed tubs are in your sweet spot, a traditional headboard is likely the best choice for you.
2. Panel Headboards
Source: West Elm
A panel headboard is an option that has several sections that make up the length or width of the headboard.
Typically, you’ll find two or three panels of equal size. However, in three-panel models, it’s also common for the center panel to be larger than the two side panels.
Aesthetically, paneled headboards have a similar look to that of Venetian windows, and can compliment a bedroom with lots of geometric shapes. Much like stripes on clothing, horizontally oriented panels can make space look wider and vertical panels can cause the ceiling to look higher.
Panel headboards are a good choice to create the illusion of more space in a small bedroom.
3. Slat Headboards
Source: The Modern Room
Slat headboards are crafted from wood or metal and are made of vertical slat spindles. They feature classic lines and are one of the designs that come in lots of color options.
The slats can be arranged in a variety of ways. Single slats may be spaced equal distance apart, or they may be groups in twos or threes for a different effect.
Like paneled options, the vertical slats can create the illusion of more height in a bedroom with a low ceiling. Also, the open design can add depth to a small room.
4. Contemporary Headboards
Homes that feature a contemporary design will have lots of sleek silhouettes, clean lines, and smooth surfaces. If your furniture is mostly light colored woods with minimal graining, glass, stainless steel, or chrome, you likely have a contemporary flair.
To compliment your style, choose a wood headboard made from maple or birch, a metal frame, or an upholstered option with sleek lines. Natural fabrics like silk, wool, and linen add texture to a contemporary design without being overbearing.
5. Four-Poster Headboards
A four-poster headboard is made to be the central design feature in your bedroom. If you have a large space without flashy decor, this bold structure might be a perfect choice.
Four-poster beds are inherently traditional in their design, but with modern updates that incorporate sleek lines and contemporary materials like brushed steel, some options mesh well with any current decor in your home.
6. Elegant Headboards
Whether you’re a fan of understated elegance or you like a little bling in your bedroom, there are headboards that are a perfect fit for your decor.
Elegance in interior design can mean different things to different designers. Traditional elegance is illustrated by luxurious fabrics that match and coordinate perfectly sturdy furniture in dark tones, and a little shine and sparkle in the right places.
Modern elegance is displayed in clean lines, updated hues, silky fabrics and sturdy leather, and good organization systems for the cords and wires associated with technology.
7. Shabby Chic Headboards
Shabby chic is an interior design method that is not only extremely popular, but it’s not fading anytime soon. Known for incorporating furnishings that show signs of wear and tear, this slightly distressed design choice adds a romantic element to any home.
Popular in coastal areas and country cottages, people who favor shabby chic designs are in luck that you don’t have to create a headboard by hand to match your style. You can purchase new items with a distressed look and feel that will work perfectly with you existing furnishings.
D. Headboard Sizes
Another important consideration when selecting your perfect headboard is the size of your bed.
Many options, especially those that are frame-mounted, correspond to a specific bed width. Remember, you can always choose oversized or smaller wall-mounted or free standing headboards, but it’s helpful to know the width of your bed before you shop.
Here are the average sizes for the standard mattress.
A single bed, also called a twin mattress measures 38 inches wide and 75 inches long. Twin mattresses also come in an XL version that is 80 inches long.
A full mattress, or a double bed, is 53 inches wide by 75 inches long.
Queen beds measure 60 inches across and 80 inches long and are the most popular mattress size in the US.
King beds are 76 inches wide and 80 inches long.
5. California King
Making its debut in 1982, the California king became a popular choice of the rich and famous on the west coast. Currently, it’s available worldwide, and measures 72 inches wide and 84 inches long.
E. Headboard Uses
Headboards can be used as more than just an eye-catching design feature in your room.
If you have a small space and need additional storage for clothing, books, or knick-knacks, you can choose one of these two options to fit your needs.
1. Storage Headboards
Source: Headboard Designs
Storage headboards are usually free standing and include drawers, shelving, and hidden compartments to conceal clothing or other items that you don’t have space for in your bedroom.
2. Bookcase Headboards
Bookcase headboards are either wall mounted or stand-alone models that feature open shelving. Not only can they showcase a personal library, but they can display picture frames, vases, and other decor elements to tie together the room.
As you prepare to shop, ask yourself these questions to help determine which headboard is right for you.
- What size room do I have?
- Do I want the headboard to fit my bed frame, or do I want a wall-mounted option?
- What material best fits my current decor scheme?
- What style compliments my existing furniture?
- How much do I have to spend on a new headboard?
II. More Details
Here are some other important factors to consider when shopping for a headboard.
A. Size of the Room
The size of your bedroom, and the size of the wall your headboard will be mounted against can help you determine what style and type are best for you.
If you have a small space, choosing an option with long lines can enhance the space. If your wall space is limited, a frame-mounted option that is the exact size of your bed may be the best fit.
On the other hand, if you have a large open wall of empty space, you could incorporate some interesting design elements into your headboard to get a combination of functionality and beautiful decor all in one.
B. Existing Decor
How is your home currently decorated? Do you stick with one particular interior design style? Do you want to create a different space in the bedroom or keep consistent with the rest of your home?
Some people like keeping things similar from room to room, while others create a unique space for themselves in the bedroom by using different decor that makes them feel peaceful, tranquil, and at ease.
C. Headboard Installation
Depending on which installation method you choose, the amount of labor required could range from very little to quite a bit.
Bed frame mounted choices are the easiest to install, and if the components are compatible it’s a one-person job that will take 30-minutes or less.
Wall-mounted options require a bit more know-how. If you’re unsure of what to do, or you’re not much of a do it yourself-er, consider reaching out to a local handyman service for a professional installation. Often, contractors will ensure their work to give you peace of mind that once your headboard is mounted, it will stay there.
D. Environmental Factors (Allergies, Pets, Children)
Much like any other piece of furniture in your home, your headboard will require care and maintenance.
If you have pets or children, take them into consideration when you’re deciding on materials. For example, an upholstered option might fit perfectly with your design scheme, but if you have a cat that loves scratching your couch, you may want to choose a different material in your bedroom.
If you have small children in your home, it might be wise to avoid metal headboards with sharp edges to prevent injuries.
If you’re someone who suffers from allergies, especially if dust or pollen bother you, choosing a wood or metal headboard might help to manage those issues. Upholstery can trap these irritants, while non-porous surfaces make it easy to wipe them clean.
E. Cost and Budget
The cost of your headboard depends on a variety of factors.
High-end materials, like real wood, high-quality leather, or expensive metals can put a headboard well into the several thousand dollar ranges.
Oversized options with exotic finishes can also be pricey.
That said, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a beautiful headboard. Places that sell home furnishings have options that range from $100 to $500 that look stunning.
You control how much you spend based on your taste and preferences.
If you plan to do the installation yourself, it’s a very low-cost endeavor. Most headboards will come with the necessary hardware, so as long as you have a drill, level, tape measure, and stud finder you’re all set.
If you plan to hire a handyman to help with the project, they charge a nationwide average of $60 an hour. You can expect the installation to take less than an hour.
III. Where to Buy Headboards Online
Many retailers who sell home furnishings have a wide selection of headboards. Here are a few of our favorites where you can find premium brands, and great deals online.