Headboard buying guide

Headboard buying guide

Sylvie, Ecrivain & journaliste brico/déco, Essonne

Guide written by:

Sylvie, Ecrivain & journaliste brico/déco, Essonne

197 guides

A headboard is the perfect accessory to give your bed a personal touch. But what size should you choose? How do you decide between fabric, wood and leather? Which style and colour is best for you? Are you looking for a headboard with additional storage space? Read on for all the answers to your questions!

Important features

  • Size
  • Placement
  • Material
  • Style
  • Colours
  • Features
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Key criteria to consider when choosing a headboard


Originally intended as insulation against the cold, the headboard is now a decorative element in its own right. If you want your headboard to not only match but enhance the overall style of your room, its dimensions should be in balance with your bed in terms of both width and height – unless the size of your room allows for an extra-large version.

Your choice of materials is also essential: there's traditional wood, cosy upholstered fabric, padded PVC, natural or synthetic rattan, the elegance of real leather or even imitation leather.

In terms of style and colour, it's all a question of taste, but the main thing is to match your headboard to your bedroom décor and stick to a maximum of three colours.

Once that's settled, you should decide whether you want a headboard with extra storage space and/or built-in bedside tables.

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Headboard sizing guide

Headboard dimensions are determined by several factors, starting with the size of the bed itself.

Headboard widths


For a more traditional style, your headboard should match the exact dimensions of your bed base or only protrude about ten centimetres on each side.

However, if you decide to go for an extra large model, the headboard can reach as far as the bedside tables, or even 5 or 10 centimetres more should the size of your room allow it.

Headboard height


The height of the headboard must match the size of the bed legs and base, and the thickness of the mattress (meaning between 30 and 50 cm overall height on average). Given that the headboard should extend around 30 centimetres above the bedding so you can lean against it comfortably, you must choose the right size.

That said, once again, feel free to opt for an extra-large model. In other words, the height should not exceed the length of the bed (around 190 to 200 cm depending on the model).

Headboard placement


The height of your headboard depends on where it is positioned.
For example, you can place it directly on the ground. In this case, its height must then correspond exactly to the height you have chosen. Alternatively, you can attach it directly to the bed base, if it the design allows it, or on the wall to possibly gain a few centimetres in height and make it easier to clean the floor.

Headboards: choosing your covering

Your choice of headboard covering will determine not only its appearance but also comfort and possible maintenance requirements. Here are some of the most popular coverings used today.

Wooden headboard


A timeless feature, a wooden headboard can offer a range of styles depending on your choice:

  • type of wood, from chipboard to European solid wood and exotic wood;
  • finish such as unfinished, patina, waxed, etc.

Easy to maintain and perfect for any budget (depending on the type of wood chosen) wooden headboards can adapt to almost all decorative schemes, but they are hard making them relatively uncomfortable.

Padded headboard


Made of fabric (cotton, linen, velvet, etc.) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride), this type of headboard comes in a wide range of colours and styles. Padded headboards are available for every budget and are particularly comfortable.

While PVC is easy to clean with a sponge, some fabric headboards can be removed for cleaning in the washing machine. Some headboards are even simple cushions that slide on a rod attached to the wall.

Rattan or poly rattan headboards


Whether you go for natural or synthetic rattan, such as poly rattan or woven resin, this style of headboard adds a natural flair to the design of any room. It is lightweight and available in a wide range of shapes and colours.

However, it requires careful cleaning with warm water and a little detergent added if you choose natural rattan. Poly rattan, on the other hand, is stain-resistant and can be wiped off using a damp cloth.

Leather and imitation leather headboards


Stylish and sleek, leather headboards are often upholstered for maximum comfort. While this material is soft and smooth, it is somewhat costly and requires a good amount of maintenance.

For a similar style that is more affordable, opt for a headboard in imitation leather, which will also be easier to maintain.

Headboards: choosing the style and colour

Headboard styles


The style of your headboard should match your bedding and even the overall style of your bedroom, although you may wish to make it the centrepiece.

Your headboard can be stylish or contemporary for a modern feel, traditional to match almost any décor, baroque for a vintage look or even exotic in style.

Headboard colours


In terms of your headboard, there is a wide range of colours to choose from. While black, brown and white are particularly popular (because they are easy to match with other colours) grey and blue are also very fashionable. The bottom line is that it's important to avoid combining too many colours, especially in the bedroom. Bedrooms should be restful and a maximum of three colours is always recommended.

Headboard features


Headboards are, of course, decorative in nature. That said, they also make beds more comfortable, especially when they are upholstered.

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Guide written by:

Sylvie, Ecrivain & journaliste brico/déco, Essonne, 197 guides

Sylvie, Ecrivain & journaliste brico/déco, Essonne

Après avoir travaillé au service de presse de France 2 et de la Cinq, j’ai choisi de laisser parler ma plume en m’orientant vers le journalisme et l’édition. Aussi éclectique dans mes goûts que dans mes écrits, passionnée de décoration et de bricolage comme d’histoire et de sciences, j’écris depuis plus de vingt ans sur ces thématiques. À mon actif : des ouvrages didactiques, romans et nouvelles, et de très nombreux articles brico déco regorgeant de conseils et d’astuces, expérimentés dans la vieille maison que je rénove peu à peu.

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