The Definitive Guide to Upholstered Beds

Upholstered beds

Recent research found that furniture reupholstery is one of the tasks people search for most on the internet. ‘DIY table’ has been the most popular term, with around 62 000 searches per month. Then came ‘reupholstery,’ which received around 49 000. So it seems that in the lockdown period, people have decided to get into some DIY and get comfortable.

One item of furniture they might be planning to upholster is their bed. We don’t blame them. Upholstered beds are incredibly cosy, fabulously stylish, and exquisitely elegant. So if you’ve decided to buy your own upholstered bed or to take out some tools, buy some material and upholster the bed yourself, or if you’re thinking about doing so, this guide is for you.

Just what is an upholstered bed?

In a nutshell, it’s any bed frame that incorporates materials such as velvet or faux leather. This includes the headboard and footboard. Often the upholstery goes over batting, with special padding, which makes the upholstered parts of the bed softer to the touch and more comfortable. Manufacturers may fit upholstered ottoman beds or divan beds with extra batting. They may also increase the luxury factor by embroidering the upholstery and adding buttons to it.

The benefits of buying an upholstered bed

Why are upholstered beds so popular? Supreme comfort and luxury are the main reasons, often, but when it comes to style and design, upholstered beds offer you a lot of flexibility, too. Bed retailers place a lovely choice of colours at your disposal so that you can choose one that works well with your interior décor. 

Upholstering your bed is a terrific way to refresh your bed and add a modern twist to a staid-looking frame. The other benefit is that upholstery helps to regulate temperature. In addition, the material’s heat-retaining properties create an extra layer of protection between you and the wall, keeping the draught off you a little more.

Picking the right size

Just like when you buy any other type of bed, the first thing you’ve got to check is the size of your bedroom. Bigger is better for comfort, and the bed may be gorgeous, but you have to be practical, too, and make sure it fits inside the room correctly. Leave at least 19.6 inches (50 centimeters) between the bed and the wall so that you can climb into the bed easily. You should also be able to hoover your room comfortably.

If you have fitted furniture, such as a fitted wardrobe, leave at least 35.4 inches (90 centimeters) between the furniture and the bed. Less than 35.4 inches is going to create problems in terms of the functionality in the room. It will be liveable, but it won’t be practical. 

Storage considerations

How much space do you need in the bedroom? If you feel the bedroom could benefit from extra storage, go for something like an ottoman bed. Ottoman beds contain storage space and don’t force you to sacrifice usefulness for style. You can order a stylish ottoman in a range of upholstery materials and fabrics, including crushed velvet. If you prefer a bulkier type of bed, such as a divan bed, you can buy one and still choose a nice upholstery or fabric for it.

Accessing your storage is another important consideration. Ottoman beds are convenient because you lift the top of the bed to get your belongings out of bed. They also store a little more, but you may prefer a divan bed if you need to access your things regularly. A divan bed can’t store quite as much like an ottoman bed, but you can access your belongings quickly and easily. Just make sure you leave enough room to pull the drawers out comfortably. 

Upholstered beds.

Choosing a style

Your interior décor will play a big part in the style you choose. One thing you’ll need to think about is choosing a headboard. If you have a deeper mattress on your upholstered bed, a higher headboard will be more suitable because many pillows and a low headboard would hide the design. 

Then there’s the headboard style itself. You can go with an expanse of plain fabric or break it up with a tufted headboard. The buttoning lends depth and texture to the headboard, but this type of headboard will also catch dust easier. You might prefer a plain headboard if you don’t want to work too hard to maintain your headboard.

The classic look

A tufted, buttoned headboard will give you a more classic look and brings extra detail to the bedroom’s interior design. You’ll find it easier to coordinate your bed with your interior décor if you go for a more neutral fabric for your headboard and bed frame.

If you’re considering a sleigh bed, you’ll find these have a curvier frame and bring softness to the room. Smooth curves on furniture work well in a classic design scheme but still offer you the scope to mix things up and work with modern elements. 

The contemporary look

A contemporary style gives you lots of room to experiment. Choose bold(er) colours for your bed to make a powerful statement. After all, the bed is the focal point of the room, so take advantage of this and the upholstery colour to create some drama.

Play it straight with your furniture’s lines to create a minimalistic look, or go for curvier designs to convey a sense of fun and not take life too seriously. A low footboard creates the impression of space and a vibe of modernity. Ramp up the modernity by opting for an upholstered TV bed or ottoman bed.

Choosing your upholstery material

The upholstery material or fabric you choose for your bed is an important decision because it’s more likely to suffer wear and tear harder than metal or wood will. Ideally, you want a strong, durable material. The choice of material and the color will help you get more out of your upholstery. Dark colours and patterns will hide stains or marks with less trouble than lighter ones.

Considering pets when you’re choosing an upholstery material

Do you have children or pets? Consider this when deciding which material to choose. Both are likely to subject the material to some wear and tear. Velvet looks gorgeous and, conveniently, is unattractive to cats, which find it a poor material for scratching. If velvet is out of your price range, choose a tight fabric. 

Be careful if you choose faux leather, too. Although cleaning faux leather is a quick wipe question with a damp cloth, cats and dogs will have no problems tearing it with their paws. We discuss maintaining your upholstered bed further below.

Types of fabric

One of the joys of buying an upholstered bed is the variety of materials you can choose to upholster it. Here are some of the main materials:

  • Faux leather. Faux leather is elegant, stylish and somehow manages to be soft to the touch but durable at the same time. It doesn’t fade or crack easily. In fact, faux leather may make a comeback, according to our Digital Director, Jonathan Stalker.
  • Velvet. Velvet is the material par excellence to suggest luxury in your bedroom. Manufacturers produce velvet from natural or synthetic fibers. It’s a short-piled material and has a real opulence about it.
  • Crushed velvet. Soft, shimmering, crushed velvet infuses your bedroom with glamour. The nap runs in different directions, creating an irregular pattern, catching reflecting natural light.
  • Chenille. Like leather, chenille is soft to the touch but also durable. It’s luxurious and has its own distinctive look and feel.
  • Textured/woven fabrics. You’ll come across these fabrics in a wide variety of colours. Manufacturers produce these types of fabrics by weaving two threads or more at right angles to each other. The result is a durable fabric.

When choosing your upholstery, think about your bedroom and whether it gets hot or humid in the evenings. An upholstered bed frame should provide you with comfort, but an absorbent material will be unsuitable if your room gets too warm or too humid.

Reupholstering your bed

Not everyone fancies buying a readily upholstered bed. Some may feel like tackling the job themselves and adding another string to their DIY bow in this lockdown era. So here’s some guidance on that front, too.

The costs of reupholstering a bed frame

Reupholstering a bed can cost from as little as £129 up to more than £2500. It all depends on your bed’s size, the bed’s design, and the upholstery material. You can pay anything from around £25 to £65 per linear meter, depending on the material. Reupholstering tends to be something you do to a special piece of furniture.

You’ll also have to pay for labour by the hour. This could cost you around £1500 or more in total, depending on the size of your bed. However, buying the material and paying for the labor could be cheaper than buying a new bed or a new headboard.

How to upholster a bed frame

Upholstering a bed is a challenge. If you’re not confident, then it’s best to leave the job to a professional.

If you do feel confident, however, here’s how to go about it:

  1. Remove the headboard

The first job is to deconstruct the headboard and remove the mattress. Use a screwdriver to separate the headboard, side rails, and the footboard, if necessary. Take a photo of your headboard if it has any other hardware elements in it so that you know how to put it back together again when you have to reattach the headboard.

  1. Cover with upholstery foam

The purpose of this foam, apart from providing comfort, is to bulk up the furniture. If not, it will look flat and uncomfortable, so set out the different pieces of the bed out on the floor and cover the front surface with upholstery foam. Then, cut the foam in the shape of the furniture pieces.

Be careful not to layer the foam over any screw holes or across any joints that connect the bed’s different sides. Instead, secure all the edges and use double-sided carpet tape to fasten the foam to the bed pieces.

  1. Trim the batting to the right size

Batting gives the upholstery its cushion-type touch and soft edges. You can increase the comfort level of the bed by doubling up the batting. Wrap each piece you’ve put the foam over in batting and then cut the batting. Leave about 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) to pull over the edge. The next job is to staple it onto the back. 

  1. Attach the batting

Spray approximately 1 foot (30.4 centimeters) of the batting with spray adhesive and place it on a piece with upholstery foam. Press down on it and hold it there for a few seconds. Then spray some more and repeat until you’ve covered the surface with the batting.

Wrap the surplus batting around the edges and staple it down about 1 inch (2.6 centimeters) from the edge to keep the batting taut. You might have to cut slits in the excess batting if you have to fit it around corners or arches.

  1. Wrap the piece with the fabric

Here comes the exciting part! Cut the fabric to the right size and leave about 8 inches around the edges, as you did with the batting. Lay the fabric on the floor, table, or another flat surface. The pattern side must be facing downwards. Then place the bed pieces on the fabric and fold the surplus fabric over the edges. Hold it taut and staple the material close to the edges. Then staple another 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 centimeters) from the edge.

  1. Reassemble the bed

All you have to do now is reassemble the headboard, footboard, and side rails. Then, you can check the photo you took before upholstering the bed to see if you’re putting it back together correctly.

Changing the colour of your upholstery

If you don’t like your upholstery’s current color, but you still like the material itself, you don’t necessarily have to reupholster the bed. You can paint the material instead. It’s easier than you’d expect but think carefully before doing it if the material is expensive. 

You’ll need some chalk paint, a bucket, a paintbrush, painter’s tape, sandpaper and a drop cloth. Here’s how to paint your upholstery:

  1. Tape off the edges of the upholstered part. This is the first thing to do so that if your upholstery is within any frame, such as a headboard frame, you don’t splash it with paint. For the same reason, cover up your mattress with a drop sheet.
  2. Add the paint to water. Add three parts of paint to one part of water into your bucket. Stir the paint.
  3. Start painting the upholstery. Paint on a coat, taking care to paint in the same direction on each stroke, and then let the paint dry.
  4. Paint a second coat. Once the paint has dried, add a second coat of paint to the upholstery and then leave it to dry. If you find it’s still looking slightly irregular, you can paint on a third coat.
  5. Sand the upholstery. When the final coat has dried, sand the upholstery with some fine-grit sandpaper.

Cleaning and looking after your upholstered bed

Upholstered beds look terrific, but you have to take care of them to keep them this way. Here are a few little tips on keeping your upholstered bed clean and fresh so you can enjoy it that little bit more: 

Vacuuming your bed each week

Dust can gather on the upholstery, especially if you have a tufted headboard, so vacuum your bed at least once per week. This stops the dust from ingraining itself, which would make it harder to remove.

Cleaning the upholstery

Keeping your bed clean isn’t hard when you get into the routine of regularly cleaning it, rather than allowing dust and dirt to build up. A damp cloth and a quick wipe are all you need if you’ve upholstered your bed in faux leather. 

Some suggest pouring baking soda onto a damp cloth and patting it into the upholstery to keep it fresh if you don’t have faux leather upholstery. You then vacuum the residue off. Alternatively, use a fabric spray if you don’t like the idea of putting baking soda on your upholstery.   

Dealing with stains

Stains on upholstery are tricky to remove. Don’t drown a stain in water or fabric cleaner. Instead, spot cleans the stain by just dabbing at it and blotting it. Please don’t rub it. You can attack the stain with fabric stain remover or with mildly warm soap and water. 

The lockdown may have inspired people to reupholster their own beds or even order an upholstered bed. ‘When you have to spend so much time indoors, why not be comfortable?’ could be the prevailing philosophy. One thing is for sure: an upholstered bed will always add a more luxurious, comfortable touch to your bedroom. That will never change.

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