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blog/ december 19

DIY upholstered bed frame

Before I get too far into this I have some explaining to do..I had the greatest of intentions of photographing every single step so that you would have the most thorough of tutorials. But, when I started the build I did so in our garage and it got pretty cold so the detailed photos quickly went out the window in favor of finishing the project quickly. It’s surprising how much longer a project can take when you stop to photograph and document every step...

Having said that, I will still be giving you all the information you need to recreate this on your own according to your own measurements/mattress size/fabric width/preference. FOR REFERENCE, OUR BED IS A KING SO ADJUST ACCORDING TO YOUR BED SIZE.

Let’s get into it!

Frame building supplies:

Upholstery supplies:

How build the headboard frame:

The beauty of building your own bed is that you can customize ALL of it. Want a taller or shorter headboard? Don’t want the headboard as thick looking or maybe you want it to appear thicker? It’s all up to you! I wanted the appearance of a thick, plush headboard (but our room is pretty small so I went smaller then I would've liked). To do so, I built a frame out of sturdy 2×4 and then added 1×6 around the tops and sides to give it more depth.

2×4 board cuts:
  • 2 vertical side pieces – 47.25″
  • 1 vertical support – 33.25″

  • 1 Top piece – 81.5″

  • 1 Bottom piece – 78.5″

1×6 board cuts:

  • 1 top piece – 83″

  • 2 side pieces – 48.75″

4x8x0.5 hardboard cut:
  • 83"x34"

I first assembled all the 2x4s, then positioned the 1x6 boards so that it is flush with the front of the headboard. The extra depth goes toward the back of the headboard. The 1×6 boards attach to the 2×4 frame with screws.  Then, position hardboard on the FRONT of the headboard and nail into the 2x4's. (the 1x6 should be sticking out the back)

I referenced the 2x4's (red) and 1x6 (yellow) boards with arrows below. Again, i'm sorry I didn't take more pictures while I was cutting but I was freezing.


The picture shows the back of the headboard. I had already added the batting so just ignore that for now.

How to build the side rails and footboard:
4x8x0.5 plywood sheet cuts:
  • 2 side rail pieces – 81″ wide by 12.5″ tall

  • 1 footboard piece – 83′ wide by 12.5″ tall

2x4 board cuts:
  • 2 side rail pieces – 81″

  • 1 footboard piece – 83′

  • 6 legs - 9"


The 2×4 boards are screwed into the plywood pieces.

Adding mattress support to the side rails:

1×2 board cuts:

  • 2 pieces – 76″

(This part will completely depend on whether you have a box spring for your mattress as well as how deep you want your mattress to sit inside the bed (or in other words, below the top of the side rails). I knew I wanted no more than two inches of my mattress to sit below the top of the side rails.)

You’re going to attach a 1×2 along the inside of the side rails with wood glue and screws. It will later have 2×4 spans resting on it which will support the box spring and mattress. Where you place the 1×2 will depend upon this formula:

Inches of mattress sitting below side rail top + 1.5 inches (add inches of box spring if you have one) = how far down you attach top of 1×2 to side rails

In my case, I wanted 2 inches of my mattress below the side rail. So, 2+1.5=3.5. BUT because I didn't want the mattress sitting below 2 inches I added an extra 2x4. (you'll see this step in a bit)

Wrapping side rails and footboard with batting and muslin:

Batting Cuts

  • Side rails – 4 pieces (2 for each side rail) 81″ long by approx. 16″ tall

  • Footboard – 2 pieces 83″ long by approx. 16″ tall

  • Side rails – 2 pieces (one for each side rail) 81″ long by approx. 4″ tall

  • Footboard – 1 piece 83″ long by approx. 4″ tall


Muslin Cuts

  • I wish I would've been more generous with the amount I used but you'll want to cut a piece large enough that you can staple it completely covering the 2×4 along the top and sides, and then around to the inside of the bottom. 

Wrapping the side rails & footboard:

Start by laying out the batting (2 total layers for each and the smaller 4″ tall batting strips are going to be folded in half along the top of the side rails and footboard) then muslin fabric followed by each board. This will give you four layers of batting along the tops after the larger two pieces of batting are wrapped around it along with the muslin fabric.  Use heavy duty staple gun to secure.

The headboard is pretty much the same process just different size scale.

I cut the muslin fabric so there was enough to cover each board generously and pulled the fabric so it was nice and snug to to avoid any rippling. Use a heavy duty staple gun again to finish it off and cut off any excess fabric.
Wrapping with upholstery fabric:

Start by laying out the upholstery fabric for the footboard and side rails so that you have a generous about to cover the entire top 2x4 piece on the side rails and footboard. Cut as necessary and staple around the entire backside so that the fabric is nice and snug. Each corner is folded like a present (best way I can describe it) so that that it lays nicely.

For the headboard, the fabric I chose was the perfect length for me to go all the way to the ground. The steps are the same again as far as folding the corners and pulling so its nice and snug.

Adding flannel to the back of the headboard:

First lay out the flannel fabric so that it covers the backside of the headboard (from the bottom horizontal support to the top of the headboard) then staple around the edges, and cut off any excess fabric.
Adding mattress supports:

2x4 board cuts:

  • 5 bottom pieces - 82"

  • 5 top pieces - 78"

  • 15 legs - 7.75"

Start by placing a 82" piece in the 1.5" open area with the 1x2 support that goes across so it's secure. Then screw in 3 legs. I added an extra 2x4 on top because I didn't want the mattress to sit so low in the frame; just add the 78" 2x4 on top of the 82" and screw the two pieces together.

TIP: Add furniture pads to the bottom of all legs so that your floors don't get scratched up!

Adding the headboard and footboard brackets:

I wanted to make this bed easy to put together and take apart. For the everything I attached it so that the bracket claws on the side rail pieces pointed upward.


Cost to Build:

My inspiration bed was $3,800 before tax and shipping. I built this bed for $459! The key to keeping my cost to build down was purchasing my upholstery fabric and batting on sale. Even if you have to wait a few weeks for the next sale to cycle through, I believe it’s worth it. Upholstery weight fabric is more expensive, but it makes a huge difference in the outcome and longevity of your project. Don’t skimp on your fabric.

If you give this DIY a try and have any questions on my notes feel free to reach out or share your progress with me :) 

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