Headboards are believed to date as far back as Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, with the latter receiving the credit for making headboards more comfortable. Headboards were a luxury in those days, and owning a headboard was a sign of status.
This was still true later in medieval times. The purpose of a headboard was to keep the draft from drifting off the wall onto the person sleeping. Homes were icy cold back then and didn’t have the drywall we have now.
Today, though, it’s a whole new story. A headboard is a common sight in a bedroom.
If you’re considering buying a headboard for your bed, whether replacing an old one or buying one to go with a new one, this guide is for you. Find out what you need to know in our Bedstar Buying Guide to Headboards.
Is a headboard necessary?
It’s your choice. Many people have them, but not everyone does. Some people are perfectly happy without them. However, the headboard’s original idea is to protect you against any draft coming from the wall, but now there’s more of an aesthetic function to them. They add completeness to the bed, but besides the fantastic aesthetics and keeping you out of a draft, headboards offer extra benefits:
They protect the bedroom wall.
Why do we wash our pillowcases? The reason is that we sweat. Just like we sweat onto our pillowcase and the grease from our hair can also rub off onto it, we could do the same to the wall and mark and stain it. If you have a headboard, your head can no longer come into direct contact with the wall and mark it.
They support your back.
A headboard allows you to sit upright more comfortably in bed if you like to read or watch TV. Of course, do this without the headboard, and the wall will still give you support. Will the support from the wall be comfortable, though? Not at all. It’s a wall — cold and hard.
You won’t lose your pillows.
If you don’t have a headboard, you can be sure your pillows will fall down the gap between the bed and the wall. The headboard will help you to keep them all on the bed. The headboard is essential, especially if you remove your bed from the wall.
Different types of headboards
There are different ways to set up your headboard.
At Bedstar, we sell floor-standing headboard furniture and strutted ones.
These standard headboards come with struts that allow you to fix the headboard onto the bed’s back. All you have to do is line the holes in the mounts up with the pre-drilled holes at the top end of the bed and bolt on the headboard. You can also adjust the position of the headboard upwards or downwards to suit your needs.
These headboards stand on the floor, and you attach them to the bed. They tend to have a slot in the main body of the headboard, and the bolts go through it. Since they have a fixed height, you must be more careful when choosing them.
When looking for a new headboard, you might also come across wall-mounted ones, which you’re more likely to buy if you install a fitted wardrobe into your bedroom. Wall-mounted headboards use hidden fittings to connect to the wall. They depend a little less on the bed’s fittings, so there are fewer problems with sizing a wall-mounted headboard.
Depending on your reasons for buying the headboard and what you want to achieve with your headboard, you should choose a different material. Headboards tend to come in three main types of material:
Wood is one of the most common choices on the market and gives you much flexibility. You can use it to dress your bed and give your room a more contemporary or traditional feel. The natural tones and colours of the wood mean the headboard creates a fantastic backdrop for your bed. You can also paint the wood the colour and shade that suits you. An excellent wooden headboard will last you decades.
Budget is an essential factor when choosing a wooden headboard. As adaptable as wood is, buying a pine or oak headboard can be pretty expensive, so be sure of what you want for your bedroom.
Like wooden headboards, metal ones are adaptable and can work well with various décor styles, whether antique, contemporary, or traditional. Nickel plating creates a rustic look, whereas bronze or brass plating infuses the bed with a regal-like aesthetic. Like wooden headboards, you can paint them if you wish.
Metal headboards are also easier to clean. When cleaning one, wipe them with a damp cloth, but watch for sharp edges. Note that metal is more sensitive to temperatures, too, so a metal headboard can sometimes be uncomfortably warm or cold to the touch.
Anyone who wants that extra elegant touch should look for a headboard with an upholstered finish. You can get these in various fabrics, such as standard velvet, crushed velvet, wool, chenille, Verona, or fusion fabrics. You could even go for a leather finish. Upholstering lends additional comfort to the headboard, which works well when you want to sit upright and watch TV or ensconce yourself in a good book!
Fabrics can be more than a little bit more challenging to clean, and you’ve got to stay on top of them to keep them looking nice. If you have a dust-mite allergy, you might prefer a wooden or metal frame.
Headboards come in various styles, which you can choose in line with the interior design of your bedroom and/or your reasons for buying a (new) headboard. At Bedstar, we sell four main styles:
Often, the panelled headboards have a rectangular frame and consist of two, three, or more panels within the frame. They have an elegant, tidy feel, and they combine well with divan beds. They can adapt to different interiors and have a sense of timelessness about them, too.
You don’t have to settle for a plain design as part of their adaptability. You can buy a wooden headboard and hire a carpenter to etch or carve intricate designs and details into the panels or other headboard parts.
Slatted headboards may be metal or wooden and will feature vertical slats. They create the illusion of height, making the bed slightly taller or grand. Most times, the slats will be an equal distance apart, but on some headboards, also arrange them slightly differently. A slatted headboard can add depth to a smaller bedroom.
By ‘traditional,’ we don’t mean you’ll see majestic headboards reminiscent of centuries ago with bold, handsome designs carved into them. We suggest that these headboards follow a more traditional design in their shape. A little inwards from the headboard side, the outline curves into an arch, reminding onlookers of a slightly older, more conventional headboard style. We offer traditional designs in wood and metal.
A contemporary headboard has a smooth surface, clean lines, and a sleek silhouette, making for your bed’s top piece. What kind of décor do you have? Is there a lot of glass, stainless steel, chrome, and lightly coloured wood? The chances are you’re more a lover of the contemporary, so you’ll want a headboard to match this taste!
Consider a metal frame or a frame upholstered with a natural fabric such as wool. This allows you to stay contemporary without the headboard becoming visually overwhelming. The room elements should work together, not dragging your eyes in all directions when you step into it.
These are some of the main styles you’ll come across when looking for a headboard. Other types you might encounter include storage / bookcase-type headboards, which enable you to save space, and shabby chic, which adds an element of romanticism to your bed setup.
How to choose a headboard
Today, headboards are more of an aesthetic element than anything else, so if you’re not going to concern yourself as much with practicality, you need to make sure everything ‘flows’ in the room. Of course, the main thing that will catch your eye when you enter the room will be the bed, especially the headboard, so you want it to look the part.
Here are some of the main aspects to consider when buying a headboard:
What size headboard do I need for my bed?
It’s a given that you should keep the bed’s size in mind when buying a headboard, but you should also consider the size of the bedroom itself. A smaller bedroom could limit you to the headboard size you choose. You’ll need to measure the room and take into account wall space. Any doors and windows on the wall could affect your choice of headboard.
It’s always a good idea to add five inches on either side of the headboard to ascertain whether the headboard will genuinely fit the wall space. Doing this will also allow you the freedom to go large if you choose.
We have headboards to fit the following bed sizes:
- Small single (75 x 190 cm / 29.5 x 74.8 inches).
- Single (90 x 190cm / 35.4 x 74.8 inches).
- Small double (120 x 190 cm / 47.2 x 74.8 inches).
- Double (135 x 190 cm / 53.1 x 74.8 inches).
- Kingsize (150 x 200 cm / 59 x 78.7 inches).
- Super kingsize (180 x 200 cm / 70.8 x 78.7 inches).
If you spend a lot of time sitting upright in bed, you’ll want a taller headboard, whereas if you’re the type of person who climbs into bed and goes straight to sleep, a shorter one will do the trick.
Note that a high footboard would be best aesthetically if you have a tall headboard, especially if you have a large room. This creates a sense of grandeur, whereas a low headboard and low footboard are more the way to achieve a contemporary look. Alternatively, you can give the bed a fresh, modern feel with a medium-height headboard and no footboard.
How high should the headboard be above the mattress? As a guide, the standard height is between 35.5 and 73.7 centimetres (14 to 29 inches). Anything above this, you can take to be extra tall.
Aesthetic or functional?
What is more important to you when you’re choosing your headboard? Why are you buying one?
If you like to sit upright in bed to watch TV or read, you may care more about comfort, whereas if you’re thinking long-term, you may prefer a wooden headboard because of its durability.
If you’re concentrating more on making the bed the focal piece of the room, you may care more about the design, the material, and the finish of the headboard than whether it stores your belongings.
Of course, none of this means that a headboard can’t be functional and look nice simultaneously. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds when you buy a headboard with storage space.
You don’t want your headboard and all the other elements of the bedroom vying for your attention or anyone else who walks into the room. The headboard should coexist harmoniously with the existing décor (or you should consider how it will do this if you’re redecorating). Black, for instance, really offsets a bed, but if you have a floral-themed room, a black leather headboard will look hideously out of place!
How to match your headboard with your décor? Think textures. Upholstered headboards create softness, so you should make an accent wall to offset the headboard against the wall. This wall should feature a more substantial, intricate texture, like brick or wood, and you should paint the rest with more soothing hues. Lighter colours will make the room feel spacious, and darker ones will make larger rooms feel more intimate.
Fitting a headboard to your bed
Attaching a headboard to your bed couldn’t be easier, especially when it’s a strutted one. All you have to do is unscrew the bolts on the back of the bed, line them up with the screw holes in the struts and bolt the headboard back onto the bed. It’s as simple as that, but if you’re still unsure, read our guide on attaching a headboard in six easy steps.
You can stabilize a headboard if you need to remove the box spring and mattress to access the bolts and loosen them if they seem too tight. Apply three or four drops of thread-locking adhesive – make sure it’s one, especially for furniture, so you can break the seal if needed — to the bolts and tighten them back up. Then, leave the adhesive for 24 hours to set before you replace the box spring and mattress.
Caring for your headboard
The better care you take of your headboard, the more use you can get.
Metal is easy to clean but tends to tarnish, so you should apply a protective coating from time to time. An oil-based cleanser will help protect it against the tarnishing any humidity might cause.
Wood will take an extra bit of cleaning, so get in there regularly with the polish or some soap and wax and give your headboard a good going-over. The intricate details of a wooden headboard can make it trickier to polish, which is something to consider when choosing your headboard. You may prefer a simple design to save time when you clean it.
The right headboard
A headboard can be as beautiful as it is practical and protect you from a draft while keeping the bed the focal point of your bedroom. A choice of finishes allows you to combine comfort with good design. It will enable your headboard to work well with different décor styles, whether you prefer a traditional or contemporary look.
If you’re unsure what kind you’d like, why not browse our selection of headboards and get some ideas? We’re always happy to help, and you can speak to us for advice on our headboards and choose the right one for you.