The right headboard for your bed can drastically alter the feel of your room and bring a new dimension of comfort, says Jamie Hempsall.

The introduction of a headboard in your bedroom marks a stage in life, as you move from a home that “makes do” to one that truly embraces a finished look.

The mistake often made in a bedroom is to create a design using co-ordinated bedside tables, lamps and other furniture, but to then rely solely on the bedding to link the bed in. If you have a modern divan, rather than a bedstead, you need to work hard to turn this into an integral piece of furniture. A headboard draws the sightline of your bed into the potential dead space above your pillows and places it firmly at the heart of your scheme.

Matching wooden detail to the shades of other pieces in the room and/or using co-ordinating upholstery fabrics to draw out colours introduced in other soft furnishing highlight the bed and make a firm focal point.

A statement headboard can really finish off the look of a bedroom. Extend a headboard beyond the bed to even out large areas

The scale and shape of your headboard drastically alters the feel of your room and can be used to provide an additional link to other pieces of furniture or fabric patterns. Ensure the proportions are appropriate for your room to produce the ambience you want. An oversize headboard running high up the wall is perfect in ultra-modern schemes. Wide headboards that extend beyond the bed and behind your bedside tables are ideal for drawing disparate items together and for helping make large rooms feel warm and cosy.

Oversized headboards add dramatic impact in modern schemes

Whilst a headboard can seem an expensive addition, it will pay dividends not only in the style stakes, but also when it comes to comfort.

An upholstered headboard is one of the reasons most hotel beds feel so luxurious. They may add an element of refinement, but one of the most important features is that resting a pillow against an upholstered surface is far more comfortable (and often warmer) than placing them against a hard wall.

Upholstered headboards are what makes hotel beds feel so luxurious

From a truly practical perspective, a fitted headboard will also help avoid the age old problem of pillows falling down the back of the bed and potentially help avoid drafts from exterior walls. They also ensure your wall decoration is protected from everyday wear and tear as you climb in and out of bed.

Using pillows against an upholstered headboard adds comfort

Most bedroom retailers offer a selection of contemporary headboards. However, remember your local upholsterer. Janet Hilton, MD of JTH Upholstery, says “Customers are astonished we can often create a bespoke single headboard for the same price they might pay for a generic High Street one”. She continues, “Clients love the idea that they will have something truly unique, as I never repeat any designs. It is really satisfying interpreting someone’s thoughts and creating a truly dramatic centrepiece for their room” (; 01777 249029).

Sweet dreams!


Parisian Upholstered Headboard£625 by

Headboard Alternatives

  1. Use a bookcase or wall unit the width of the bed to create a focal area and provide plenty of storage. Remember pillow creep so ensure the space at the top of your bed has a soft edge.
  2. Hang a quilt or wall hanging above the bed to create a soft design feature.
  3. Paint a mural (or use wall stickers) the full with of the bed to create a faux headboard.
  4. Securely hang a light-weight framed picture above the bed (ideally using glass plates). Glaze with Perspex rather than glass to avoid accidents if it falls off the wall!


Jamie Hempsall, BIID is a multi-award winning interior designer.