A Guide to Choosing a Headboard

Guide to Choosing a Headboard

A headboard is a piece that fixes to the top of the bed. They add a dramatic focal point to the room and some height to the bed and run the gamut of styles from plush and cozy to chic and elegant.

While not everyone has or wants a headboard, they can be brilliant additions to the space and help tie together the whole room or even add some extra storage space. Keep reading for more about headboards and how to select the perfect one for the space.

Does Your Headboard Have to Match the Bed Frame?

It does not, as it is all about personal style. However, most people will select the furnishings of the room and then select a headboard that matches. Most of the time, the frame of the bed is going to be hidden by the headboard, footboard, and the covers anyway, so selecting a headboard can typically come later. However, some frames and headboards can’t always be mounted together, so that does need to go into consideration when selecting the piece.

Does a Headboard Need a Matching Footboard?

It doesn’t need one. It’s up to individual preference. However, it does help to balance out larger, bulkier headboards and bring a sense of unity to the whole set. Lighter footboards cannot be pinned to the wall like a headboard can by the weight of the bed itself, so they need to go along with a bed frame that they can be mounted to. Heavier, free-standing pieces can just be sat at the bottom and be fine.

Styles of Headboards

Headboards can be mounted on the bed or be free-floating for a more modern look. However, there are various terms to help hint at the overall shape and style that can help narrow down the search for the perfect headboard.

Panel Headboards

Panel Headboards
Panel Headboard

A panel headboard is a flat and rectangular piece, typically featuring panels of wood or fabric. They are wildly popular and come in any style to suit personal preferences. The panels typically are either horizontal or vertical, but they can also come in more unique styles including diagonal and crossed making for a wide selection.

Slat Headboards

Slat Headboard
Slat Headboard

Slat headboards have slats made of wood, metal, or natural fibers. They are extremely versatile in style, coming with flat or curved sides, and many different looks from rustic to coastal. They often have open spaces without anything in them to add some more airy flow to the piece. Slat style headboards are also sometimes referred to as Mission Style.

Wingback Headboards

Wingback Headboards
Wingback Headboard

Wingback headboards have a set of two panels that come out from the sides of the headspace, resulting in a winged look. They are almost entirely upholstered pieces, and it is seeing a rise in popularity over the recent years. Many of these pieces are very large and bring about an older style and classic look.

Traditional Headboards

Traditional Headboards
Traditional Headboard

A Traditional headboard are usually simple, frame-mounted headboards that attach directly to the bed. They can come in just about any material or style, often featuring decorative wood elements or bold colors.

Open-Frame Headboards

Open-Frame Headboard
Open-Frame Headboard

An Open-Frame headboard is a simplistic outer bed frame with inner bars or slats that are extremely elaborate. They are typically seen in ornate metal frames, but they can be fashioned from other materials as well.

Sleigh Headboards

Sleigh Headboard
Sleigh Headboard

Sleigh headboards are the ones that have a backward slope like what is seen in old-fashioned sleighs, hence the name. They are typically very heavy pieces that provide a lot of elegance to the space and can be anywhere from very sleek and simple, complex and full of rich design, or even plush and upholstered for a maximum level of comfort.

After the actual style has been selected, the next thing to keep in mind is the materials used.

Types of Materials for Headboards

The materials of a headboard can really shape the look of a space. They are one of the biggest, most eye-catching pieces that are going to be within the room, so care should be taken to make sure that they have the right feeling to go along with the décor and individual preferences.

Upholstered Headboards

Upholstered Headboard
Upholstered Headboard

An upholstered headboard is one that is covered in fabrics such as velvet, linen, or microfiber that tend to bring a cozy look to the overall space. They are also perfect for people who like to sit in bed as they provide extra comfort. They come in many different designs, from heavily padded to tufted with luxurious detailing.

The most durable upholstered headboards are:

  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Vinyl
  • Cotton
  • Heavy polyester blends

Regardless of the fabric, almost all of them can be treated with fabric or upholstery cleaner in the event they get dirty. The fabric itself can help change the overall look of the space and is suitable in any bedroom, with different fabrics giving a different feel for the space. Additionally, they can come in many colors and patterns to suit all needs, wants, and preferences of the owner which make them excellent choices.

Wood Headboards

Wood Headboard
Wood Headboard

Wooden headboards are the most traditional and common material used. It can be extremely simple or ornate, blending in with any type of décor, and are a timeless statement piece that can have all sorts of different styles to suit the space. They are commonly found and can be one of the most budget-friendly options of the lot.

Metal Headboards

Metal Headboard
Metal Headboard

Metal headboards are another classic, timeless piece that can be extremely durable and long-lasting if properly cared for. They almost always have an open design that helps create an illusion of space in smaller rooms, fit with various design styles, add a pop of cool elegance to an otherwise drab space, and can really draw the eye to them with their intricacy.

Leather Headboards

Leather Headboard
Leather Headboard

Leather headboards are very sleek, modern additions to the bedroom. They are extremely durable and easy to clean. Leather is almost always made from cowhide or other animals, though there are some faux leather, vegan options as well.

The quality of the leather is separated into four categories:

  • Full Grain
  • Split Leather
  • Corrected Grain
  • Aniline Leather

Leather comes in a variety of colors and patterns and can even be dyed for a more drastic effect. They are huge statements and bring about a very classic look.

Natural Fiber Headboards

Natural Fiber Headboard
Natural Fiber Headboard

Natural fiber headboards reflect a concern about sustainability and have a very natural look to them. Sometimes they are even lumped together with wooden frames, but bring about a simpler, more casual look that is perfect for country, tropical, or coastal décor.

Common natural fibers that are used for making headboards include:

  • Bamboo
  • Abaca
  • Rattan
  • Wicker

Natural fiber headboards tend to be very lightweight and have a natural look to them. They are also extremely easy to care for and repair should something happen to them.

Consider a Utilitarian Headboard

Some headboards are just a headboard, there for nothing other than to look pretty. However, a headboard can also be used to help take advantage of vertical space, give extra storage, or double as side tables. There are many options that can be taken into consideration when looking at a more utilitarian headboard that have a variety of features.

Such utilitarian features of a headboard might include:

  • Cabinet space
  • Shelving
  • Mirrors
  • Built-in side tables
  • Drawers
  • Hanging racks

These types of headboards can really add some use to the vertical space at the top of the bed, as well as using some of that wasted space just underneath. They are great options for those without a lot of room to work with.

Remember to Account for Space

One thing that often gets forgotten is the overall space that the headboard is going to. Remember to consider the space when selecting a headboard, regardless of style. The ceiling height, wall width, location of the windows, size of the bed, and other factors need to be remembered when selecting an appropriate headboard.

Bed Size

The bed itself should be the first thing considered. Beds come in various sizes, and the headboard isn’t going to fit if it does not go along with the size. Not to mention, inappropriate sizing might not mount properly to the frame, overpower, or get drowned out by the piece itself so it’s definitely important to consider.

Refer to this chart for typical sizing measurements:

Bed SizeHeadboard WidthHeadboard Height
Twin38 inches75 inches
Double54 inches75 inches
Queen60 inches80 inches
King76 inches 80 inches
California King80 inches96 inches

This will help decide what kinds of headboards to look into, especially if they are not very clear on the overall sizing of the piece. It gives a generic, typical size for the bed itself though some are not standard and may vary.

Headboard Size

While there are typical sizes for the headboard, there are some other options, including custom, that can be a factor in determining which one to go with. The overall size of the room should also reflect the size of headboard to go with.

For example: a large, open room without a lot of clutter could look cozier and more put together with a large, bulky piece or one that reaches to the ceiling. On the other hand, a small room would look even smaller and more cluttered with such a piece, so a more open and smaller headboard would be a better option.


The placement of the bed makes a big difference on the style of headboard that will look aesthetically pleasing. For example, if there are windows that the headboard would block, a solid, bulky piece might not be the best option otherwise it will make the room look smaller, darker, and less open.

Remember that the headboard is going to be more of the focal point of the room. The bed is the biggest piece in there, and the headboard will draw the eye to it. If it is combatting with other features such as the window, it’s not going to do the aesthetics any favors.

Personal Needs and Taste

Consider personal routines, tastes, and needs for the space where the headboard is going into. A bed that has a lot of pillows would do better with a taller headboard or risk being drowned by the fluff. Someone who lounges in bed often might do best with an upholstered headboard. A smaller room lacking ample storage could seriously benefit from a headboard with shelves, drawers, or cabinets. Mirrors can make a space look twice its size.

Additionally, a bedroom that is shared with pets or is frequented by small children would do better to not have a headboard that is more difficult to clean or is not as durable.

Regardless of whatever is chosen, be sure to always account for personal taste. There’s no reason to get a headboard that doesn’t spark joy when looking at it for a space just because most of the time near it is going to be spent asleep. Find something that appeals to personal style and the décor of the rest of the room, and it will be a much more pleasant experience overall.


A headboard is one of the most eye-catching pieces within the entire home. Just because it is taking center stage in a bedroom where the occupants are going to be spending most of their time asleep in doesn’t mean that just any old headboard will do. There are many things to consider when selecting a headboard, from materials to style all the way down to personal taste.

They can be just large, aesthetic pieces or can serve additional functions such as supplying additional storage in a small room. There’s a headboard for every style and all tastes out there just ready to be put with the bed and make the space something to talk about.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

Related Posts