7 Crafty Alternatives to the Traditional Headboard

These unusual takes on the classic headboard are sure to shake up your bedroom decor.
Text by

Originally a shield against poorly insulated walls, modern headboards are attention-grabbing details that anchor a bedroom. If you're looking for options beyond the traditional wooden headboard, look no further than these unconventional options below.

A Wall-Mounted, Molded Headboard

A typical headboard protrudes from the wall, providing a place to comfortably rest, but this version creates a composition of moldings and trim directly on the wall. Because classical moldings, medallions, and appliqués come in a tremendous range of sizes and depths—and run the gamut from ornate to minimalist—the options are endless.

With a nod to 1700s designer Josiah Wedgwood’s jasperware pottery, this headboard designed by Eddie Ross is constructed with various moldings and a door. "It’s literal but he made it much larger and grander," says Azzarito of the striking and unusual headboard. Fun fact: Josiah Wedgwood’s daughter was married to Charles Darwin.

An Artistic Headboard

What could be better than a multifunctional piece of art? While it may not be suitable to use a high-end piece of artwork painted directly on a canvas, or one framed with glass, a graphic, printed piece of art can work wonders to transform a bed and its environment.

Toby Barlow and Keira Alexandra enjoy a leisurely Alpine morning in bed in their Detroit high-rise home.

A Textured Accent Wall

One of the main visual functions of a headboard is to give presence to the bed in a room, but this can be done just as easily and skillfully by creating an accent wall where the bed is. Adding texture or color really helps to distinguish this wall from the rest of the space, and gives some flexibility for the bed's location if the room or wall isn't completely symmetrical.

The copper-covered volume proceeds to the second floor, where it forms a storage wall in Sherman’s home office.

A Wall-Length Ledge

Often, a low wall behind the bed can function not only as a well-placed shelf for storage, but also as a low, continuous headboard. By running the ledge along an entire wall, the bed no longer needs to be centered, and the low wall keeps the space from being overwhelmed by an entire accent wall.

SAO Arquitetura designed the bed and the board-formed concrete headboard in Santos’s master bedroom.

A Trompe L'oeil Headboard

Go the minimalist route with a painted headboard, which takes nothing more than a coat or two of paint directly behind the bed. Rather than covering the entire wall like an accent wall would, the painted headboard deliberately mimics the size and shape of a headboard—but without the cost or commitment, since it can be reversed with another bucket of paint.

Furnished with Rakks shelving, a Blu Dot table, and a sofa bed from ABC Carpet & Home, the floor also includes a spacious guest bedroom. A bright-yellow color accent, painted onto the wall in Benjamin Moore’s Sunburst, acts as a subtle, minimalist headboard.

The home already has a vivid color scheme, but to energize certain areas further, Bestor and Grunbaum added murals to some of the walls. Aside from the vinyl decals in the bathrooms, the stairwell is painted to evoke Grunbaum’s family home in the 1970s. Designer Mina Javid created a faux headboard for the master bedroom. 

A Cushioned Headboard

While a plush, cushioned headboard might be something you would typically expect, hanging two individual pillows above the head of the bed is a unique, playful take on the concept. The two pillows suspended over the top of the bed mimic the placement of the pillows actually on the bed, but the use of contrasting colors or textiles helps distinguish them.

Off the living room, Samuel uses this den as a second sleeping spot, or "guestroom nook." Crumbling basket-weave texture was covered with painted wood paneling, and the headboard is a DIY.

A Windowed Headboard

While it might seem counterintuitive to situate a bed directly under a window because of the natural light that streams through, it makes for a wonderful, bright headboard. If you're particularly sensitive to light, investing in heavy drapes or blackout curtains can be a good way to adapt to a windowed headboard.

A custom headboard made of triangular pieces of black walnut is the clear hero of this 1954 Airstream renovation by ArtisTree, a designer of custom treetop and small-space homes. Because sustainability was a priority in this project, the floors are made of recycled wood (treated with the Japanese burning technique, sho-sugi-ban, to darken them), and the tiles in the bathroom are created from recycled glass.


Get the Dwell Newsletter

Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.