Fresh Headboard Ideas

Just because it's in your bedroom, doesn't mean your headboard has to be a snooze. Get the designer look at the head of the bed with these four headboard designs.

By: Susan Kleinman

Related To:

  1. Beds
  2. Furniture

Big, Bold Artwork Provides Organic Feeling

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The large painting above this bed serves as a beautiful focal point. (Photo by Jeff McNamara, courtesy of Metropolitan Home magazine)

In this New York City apartment, designers Alan Tanksley and Adrian Gilbey of Alan Tanskley, Inc. placed a favorite painting at the head of the bed, above a headboard that was selected to blend into the wall's paint color.

"This was the perfect spot for the painting," Alan says, "because the scale was perfect, the color against the wall was very dramatic and the placement at the far end of the room — beyond the bed — created a long view, which gave the painting importance." What's more, he says, is "the architecture and decoration of the room was primarily comprised of furniture having straight lines and hard edges, with the exception of the leather and bronze console table at the foot to the bed. The organic feeling to the painting was a great foil to these lines."

Hanging a painting above the bed works best in a room with ample footboard space (and is ideal in a room like this one, where the bed's head is directly opposite the room's entrance), so that you can really see — and enjoy — the painting. "Look for artwork that's big and bold," Alan says. "Small-scale work or images will be impossible to view over the distance of a bed. And keep both the artwork and the frame very simple," he advises.

Once you've found the perfect painting, hang it high enough so the pillows (or your head) don't rest against it. Make sure the painting is lit properly, and it will serve as a beautiful focal point in your room.

Architectural Remnant Brings Room Together

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This headboard is eye-catching but does not provide cushion, making pillows a necessity for comfort.

Designer Joan Osburn was shopping in southern France when she stumbled across a beautiful architectural remnant. "It was probably part of a paneled Provencal room in the 18th or 19th century," she says. "Upon measuring it, I immediately thought of using it as a headboard."

Joan installed this fragment-as-headboard in the master bedroom of a house in northern California. "The house has very high ceilings, lots of large windows to access the water views and a juxtaposition of clean lines and architectural antiques," she says. "This unusual carved piece helps bring all those elements together in the bedroom."

Scale can be tricky when selecting architectural salvage for use above a bed, Joan says. "You don't want to have something that gets lost on the wall, but neither should you select something too massive," she says. "Measure it out on the wall and, if you can, tape a paper template up on the wall to see if the scale is right."

Once you've selected the right molding or architectural fragment, anchor it to the wall very sturdily, says Joan, a veteran of several California earthquakes. "And remember that without a soft headboard, you need lots of comfy pillows — some hard, some squishy — that allow you to sit up in bed and read."

Extra Fabric Adds Feminine Touch

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This "tester" bed looks a lot like a four poster, but is smaller. (Photo by Michael Partenio)

If your bed already has a headboard — but that headboard is putting you right to sleep — take a cue from designer Cindy Rinfret and embellish the bed with extra fabric.

"This was a boring bed that needed more visual strength," says Cindy, author of Classic Greenwich Style. "To add drama and make the bed the focal point of the room, we created a cornice of hand-painted wood that looks like painted-metal tole. It really dresses up the room."

This sort of bed treatment — the technical name is a "tester" bed — creates the same feeling similar to that of a four poster, but is less massive, Cindy explains, and also requires less fabric, which can be a plus if budget or allergies are an issue.

To make this tester pass with flying colors, Cindy selected a print linen from Colefax and Fowler, plaid taffeta from Travers and a trim from Clarence house. The effect is very feminine, but not too fussy.

Lighted Leather Headboard Brings Color to Room

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Having just a few pillows makes this bed easier to access. (Photo by Daniel Aubry)

With wraparound views of New York City, this penthouse apartment in Greenwich Village has plenty of natural light. To bring that sunshine into the apartment's interior and keep the space airy and fresh, designer Clodagh divided the space with partial walls. Sunlight and fresh air flow freely, and the effect is the openness of a loft with the coziness of a traditional apartment.

In the master bedroom, a partial wall conceals a walk-in closet on its far side, with a large master bathroom beyond the closet and dressing room. On the bedroom side, Clodagh upholstered the wall in Lexell Cobblestone leather so the expanse can function as a headboard. "I like headboard materials that can be sponged clean," says Clodagh, author of Total Design. "This leather can be wiped with a barely humid sponge to keep it fresh."

Adjustable Artmetide lights installed right into the headboard allow the bibliophile homeowner to read in bed, and a comforter from Ann Gish and simple pillows keep the look clean, spare and serene.

"I like to bring a bit of a color into a bedroom with a pillow or throw," says Clodagh, "but I don't like piling the bed with 15 pillows that you have to remove before you can lie down. A bed should be inviting, should allow you to just hop on and sleep, read or make love right away without any fuss."

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