It's extremely simple to make a padded headboard with just a piece of plywood, some upholstery foam and your choice of fabric. It will only take you about an hour to construct and will give your bedroom a finished, polished look.
You'll need a sturdy board for your base. Don't use existing headboards, unless they're very plain and thin. You want a nice flat surface on which you can lay padding and fabric. Plywood is a good option. Decide what shape and size you want the headboard to be. A tall, narrow headboard will be dramatic, while a short, wide one is more modern-looking. You can keep it square or rectangular, or you can choose to round its edges. You can also cut its top edges on the diagonal to make a three-sided shape. If you're planning to use multiple fabrics to upholster your headboard, consider cutting the headboard into panels and upholstering each panel individually. You can then attach the panels to one another with hinges or simply mount them to the wall right next to each other so they look like one solid piece. Alternatively, if you don't mind spending more money, you can buy a pre-upholstered base board that you can cover with your own choice of fabric: Horchow sells one for £110.
You'll need a layer of upholstery foam for your padding. You can put cotton batting on top of the foam to make it a little more cushiony, or you can put fabric directly over the foam. Depending on the design of your bedroom, you'll either want to keep your fabric a neutral colour and pattern (if your room is already heavy on colour or pattern), or use it as a colourful accent piece (if your room is neutral-toned or sparsely decorated). The fabric you use should be sturdy: upholstery fabric is your best bet, because it's thick and won't stretch out of shape. You can either staple the fabric over the foam or batting, or, if you want to be able to remove and clean the fabric, you can make a zippered cover that fits over the headboard. Stapling it will take less time. You can hide the staples and the tucked and folded fabric by putting that side of the headboard against the wall. If you prefer, cut a panel of fabric to fit the back of the headboard, and when you're finished with all your stapling, glue the fabric panel over all the staples and seams. Add piping or buttons if you like. You'll sew the piping onto your fabric before you cover your headboard, while you'll attach the buttons after you've covered the headboard. If you're adding buttons, you'll need to drill small holes in the wood base, on top of which each button will sit. To attach the buttons, use a needle and some fishing line, and a washer at the back of the headboard to keep the fishing line in place so the button doesn't pop off.
Attaching the Headboard
The simplest way to install your new headboard is just to prop it up against the wall and push your bed up to hold it in place. You can also mount the headboard on the wall, which will be sturdier, especially if you live in an earthquake-prone area. Use mounting brackets. If you're mounting several panels on your wall, make pencil marks before you mount, so you know where each piece needs to be in order for them all to line up.