Bedtime Stories

Dream big with these 11 creative headboard ideas.

Wooden headboards are classic and tufted headboards are oh-so-glam, but these bedscape staples leave some design enthusiasts craving a look that’s a little more unique. For folks who eschew anything that’s too familiar, there’s a whole world of novelty out there just waiting for a little imagination and an appreciation of the eclectic and unexpected. Check out this collection of alternative headboard ideas that venture into the uncharted territory of world maps, architectural salvage, mixed materials and more.


World map. I love the idea of using a large mural as the backdrop to a bed, especially in a smaller space, where it can distract from the diminutive size of the room. Above, a vintage world map imparts grandeur to this masculine bedroom and adds some faded, neutral color to balance the cool, steely grays.

Shutters. Once an item that you might find discarded on a roadside or buried in piles at the architectural salvage depot, shutters are now a hot commodity at flea markets. If you’re going for the bohemian look, find a pair that really shows its age with exposed layers of paint.

Wood slab. While many headboards are primarily decorative, they become functional when you add reading lights. Wood provides a more solid surface for mounting than fabric or metal.

High Camp Home, original photo on Houzz

Found objects. A headboard is a great opportunity for self-expression because the options for materials and design are endless. A collection of vintage oars mounted to the wall is just the right look in this rustic lake house bedroom.

Eclectico Dormitorio, original photo on Houzz

Shiplap with a twist. The designers of this wood-paneled bedroom could have stopped at a single layer of paneling and the room would have been a cozy dream space, but instead they wrapped some of the planks with faux grass to add a dose of color and another layer of texture to the room.

Bed cubby. This isn’t so much a headboard as it is a head cubicle. We’re used to seeing beds enveloped by canopies and sheltered by four posters, but a lower-profile cubby that cradles the sides of the bed can be just as comforting.

Eduardo Raimondi . Fotografia de Arquitetura, original photo on Houzz

Built-in canopy. This hybrid canopy-headboard has a lot going for it, but the most striking feature is its integration into the room’s lighting design. Two bedside pendants provide focused light for nighttime reading, but the soft glow emanating from the sides of the wood headboard and overhang boost the room’s romantic ambiance. The decor’s emphasis on texture more than color and pattern ensure that the custom bed and lighting take the spotlight.

Bryan Humphrey Design and Construction, original photo on Houzz

Electric art. Here’s another way to include your alternative headboard in your bedroom’s lighting design. This rectangular shape has the familiarity of a conventional headboard, but the multiple glowing lights are a clever twist. A neon sign mounted above the bed would provide a similar effect.

Fireplace surround. Another item to repurpose as a headboard, and one that’s even more unexpected than vintage shutters, is a fireplace mantle. If you’re lucky, you’ll score an oversized unit from some old Victorian mansion into whose recesses a bed fits just perfectly. If you really love the idea but can’t find an antique model to accommodate a king-size bed, you could always have one made by a carpenter to fit your mattress’ exact dimensions.

Recessed bookshelf. Essentially no different from the built-in shelves you’d find in a living room or office, this design deviates only insofar as it has a narrow slot for the bed to slide into.

Eclectic Bedroom, original photo on Houzz

Mirror. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest headboard of all? This standing wall mirror is a strong contender for its charming blend of romance and simplicity. An additional benefit to using a mirror as headboard is its ability to visually open up a space.

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Categories: Home Grown