Never underestimate the power of a beautiful headboard. In a space where the bed is inevitably the largest piece, a headboard can bring height and interest, making it a striking focal point within the room. It can also help to guide the colours for the rest of the space, particularly if you pick a patterned design where you can pull out the different hues of the fabric to use for the walls, the curtains and other soft furnishings such as cushions and throws. Here, we explore some of the key styles of upholstered headboards and look at the different types of fabric you may want to consider for your chosen piece.
Upholstered headboards you’ll love
We are seeing a real resurgence in upholstered headboards and there truly is a style for everyone, from sleek contemporary designs to shapely oversized pieces that make a bold statement within a room. Tufted or buttoned headboards are still hugely popular, and the buttoning can range from classic diamond formations – perfect for a traditional space – to more contemporary styles featuring a minimal number of buttons to lend a relaxed, Scandinavian vibe. Wingback headboards are wonderful for creating an enveloping, cosseting feel, while upholstered sleigh beds offer the chance to show off a fabric at both the top and the bottom of the bed. Fluted designs work brilliantly with an elegant plain such as a velvet, and we are also loving wide, low-slung panelled headboards that invariably include more than one fabric – and incorporate everything from lighting to bedside tables.
Of course, not only do you need to think carefully about the style of your upholstered headboard but also the fabric itself. Do you want a look that is luxurious or laid-back? Does the material need to be low maintenance and easy to clean? From cotton to linen, velvet to wool, and not forgetting leather and suede, there are a huge number of options available. Here are some of our favourites…
Choosing the right fabric
Luxurious plain velvet
Velvet is perfect for bringing a sense of luxury to a bedroom and a lot of modern velvet fabrics are also extremely robust, featuring clever stain resistant finishes that make them well suited to busy homes. Plain velvet fabrics are wonderful for emphasising shapely pieces: think a gorgeous, fluted design in an Art Deco-inspired scheme or an oversized, curvy headboard in a jewel-like hue to make a bold focal point within a room. Pictured here is Moleskin in Gold, an invitingly soft velvet in a gorgeously mellow shade of gold that proves the perfect foil to tones of teal, forest green and coral pink. We kept the headboard simple to suit the relaxed feel of the scheme, but exaggerated the height to ensure it is the key feature within the space.
The possibilities with linen headboards are endless, from a breezy design featuring a slipcover in a plain tumbled linen – the ultimate in relaxed, low-maintenance living – to more sophisticated pieces that showcase a beautiful print. Don’t forget that you can subtly elevate your upholstered headboard with trims: studs, piping or a contrasting border will all add a touch of tailoring to a piece, as witnessed in this scheme where the beautifully rounded form of this headboard from our good friends at The Headboard Workshop is outlined with navy piping. The linen print is Buttons in Pond, a highly versatile, small-scale trellis design. We opted to pull the mid blue and ochre tones of the print into the bedlinen, cushions and throws for a look that is considered and colourful, in a subtle way.
Faux leather or leather
For a touch of old school charm, a leather headboard is hard to beat. Faux leather has the advantage of being wipe clean and therefore incredibly easy to maintain, while natural leather will patinate beautifully over time, with the odd scuff or scratch simply adding to the appeal of the piece. A very simple leather headboard can create a modern feel, as can a fluted or panelled design, while detailing such as buttoning can pull you down a more traditional path. Our Saddle II collection of leathers comes in a collection of timeless earthy hues and is eco-friendly, to boot – it is made using leather offcuts from the fashion industry that would historically have ended up in landfill.
Colourful printed velvet
The ultimate in luxury headboards must be a printed velvet design. An eye-catching patterned fabric that is beautifully soft to the touch will elevate a headboard and turn it into a true statement piece. Try playing with the shape of the headboard to enhance the pattern of the fabric: the curves of this arresting design – made by The Headboard Workshop – nicely chime with the shapes within the exuberant Oriental print, Kami in Jade, bringing a sense of exoticism to the scheme. Note how the fabric’s colours inspired the rest of the palette, from the cushions to the wall colour.
Taste of the tropics
The transportive qualities of a tropical print make them a dreamy choice for a headboard, allowing us to voyage vicariously in our sleep. Motifs such as exotic birds or lush foliage and flowers provide a sense of escapism and relaxation whilst making a wonderful focal point of a headboard. This arresting scheme sees an oversized, shapely design showcasing our beautiful Miji linen print, which is carried over to the curtains. The walls, linen valence and rug all pull out the deep orange background colour of the fabric, creating an immersive space that feels truly enveloping. Note the piping on the headboard, which adds a crisp finish to the piece.
When choosing a fabric headboard, there is nothing quite like a classic floral for bringing a timeless feel to a room. At once familiar and reassuring, traditional florals invite the joyfulness of nature indoors, creating a connection with the world outside. Team the floral with a classic headboard shape for a traditional scheme or, for an edgier feel, choose a more unexpected design, such as a curvy piece or an oversized winged headboard. The contrast of classic and modern is a pleasing one, as witnessed in this scheme where an elegant linen print, Kitty in Aqua Leaf, has been used to upholster the headboard and footboard of a pared-back four poster bed. The bed frame’s bold turquoise hue adds to the subtly modern feel of the room.
Care and maintenance of upholstered headboards
Just like sofas and armchairs, upholstered headboards need to be professionally cleaned from time to time, but regular vacuuming of the piece will help to limit the need for cleaning. Velvets usually have stain repellent finishes while wool fabrics inherently repel liquids; several cotton and linen fabrics are machine washable, but this is only useful if you have opted for a slipcover style for your headboard. Avoid spot treating a fabric headboard as this may easily leave a mark. Leather can benefit from a good quality cream cleaner to keep it in good shape, and a gentle suede brush can be used on suede.
Whether the headboard is fixed to the wall or the bed frame, remember to regularly check that screws have not become loose to prevent wobbling and possible damage. A little regular maintenance will ensure that your luxury headboard will last you for years to come.
As well as creating a sense of luxury and comfort, a fabric headboard is a wonderful way to bring colour and pattern right into the heart of the room, making the bed the centrepiece of the space. Bear in mind, too, that a headboard is the item of upholstery that requires the least amount of fabric, so this is perhaps your chance to go for a more expensive fabric you have been coveting, teaming it, say, with a more affordable fabric for the curtains. And if you have a treasured piece of fabric that isn’t quite wide enough for your king size bed, be creative – perhaps you can add borders either side in a contrasting fabric to create a design that is truly your own. A little imagination will go a long way…