top of page

8 Design Tricks When You Don’t Have a Headboard

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

One of the main tips to decorating a bedroom is that you should have a headboard. You may have passed without one in college, but if you want to have a dreamy bedroom, you HAVE to have a headboard.

Why is this so important? It’s just a headboard. The bed is the largest and most important piece of furniture in your space. It is the center of attention. So when you have a bed without a headboard, the space serious lacks that level of importance and focus. It takes a pro to pull off a bedroom without the need for a headboard, but for most of us, a headboard is a key piece to achieving a well decorated bedroom.

From a design perspective, the bed has a large horizontal scale to it. Left this way, it is visually unappealing as it is this massive piece of furniture with nothing to help ground it to the room. Having a headboard helps draw the eye up vertically and assists to connect the bed to the rest of the space.

Now if you are someone just starting her career, you may have more pressing purchases than a bed with a headboard. Furniture can be pricy, and it certainly is an investment, so in the meantime, you’re stuck with that metal frame and no headboard.

Even if you don’t have money to purchase the perfect bed just yet, you can still achieve the look by these cheap and alternative decor tricks….


Design Tip 1: Hang a Tapestry Rug

A tapestry creates a nice vertical background to frame your bed. You can either go bold and boho, or have a nice natural piece, which adds warmth and texture to the room. To keep your space looking more chic that broke hippie, use a tapestry that is natural and looks more like a rug than a screen printed digital art piece on fabric that you got from your last summer fest.

Design Tip 2: Frame the Bed with a Canopy

I’ve been swooning over canopy beds for a while now. They’re a beautiful way to add romance to a bedroom, creating a soft sheer blanket for you to sleep under at night, cocooning you as you sleep. They also act as a great framing tool for a bed when you don’t have a headboard.

A transitional bedroom that is bright and airy
An old door painted helps to create an easy DIY headboard

Design Tip 3: Use Architectural Salvaged Materials

Old doors or windows propped behind your bed create visual interest. It is a great way to repurpose an old pieces, giving them a new life as the center focus of your space. It’s also a sneaky way to add some architectural character into your space if it’s severely lacking it.

Design Tip 4: Use a Room Divider

Similar to a window or door, using a room divider is another way to bring into some decor character. A bonus feature is that when you do eventually get a headboard, you can use that divider for its actual purpose.

Design Tip 5: Add a Shelf or a Ledge

A long shelf behind your bed not only acts as a stand-in headboard, but it is a great way to decorate your space. Two design tips for this method: when selecting a shelf, you want to make sure that the length of the shelf is proportional to the width of the bed. A rule of thumb is whatever the width of your bed is, try to find a shelf of equal length. In addition to a long shelf, you want to have large scale items decorating the shelf to balance out the heavy scale of the bed.

Design Tip 6: Create a Photo Gallery Wall

Having a blank wall behind your bed is boring and does nothing for highlighting your sleeping area. Create a spot of visual interest by backing the wall with photos and knick-knacks. It will bring a central focus to the space and help divert your eyes away from the fact that you have no headboard.

An Alice in Wonderland inspired gallery wall
A gallery wall helps to create a focal point for your bed wall

Design Tip 7: Turn your Bed into a Daybed

This is a good trick to use if you have a twin size bed or you lack a sofa/couch in your apartment. Place your bed horizontally against a wall and flank it with large pillows to create the illusion of a sofa. Add an end table and there you go, you have your self some mock seating.

Design Tip 8: Use a Window

Using a window to act as a headboard isn’t my favorite approach, especially when taking into consideration Feng Shui and energy. Still, in a bind, it creates a focal point for your bed and makes a nice spot for snuggling up and watching the views. Add some drapes to help frame the bed and block out the light when you’re saying good night!

For help decorating and styling your bedroom on a budget, send me a message! A design professional can be super helpful in creating a beautiful space with certain parameters such as budget, time, and pieces.

Your Holistic Home Helper,



bottom of page