Traditionally headboards have been used for more practical reasons than visually pleasing ones. However, we are seeing even more interest in headboards as they provide an opportunity for adding color, texture, and even pattern to a bedroom space. For practical reasons headboards are used to give support to the bed itself, and also helps to protect the wall from abrasion.

We love this light gray mandala flower decal design because it’s perfect for any teen’s bedroom or those that love the boho vibe! This is also available in a number of other colors and would work beautifully as a creative alternative to a headboard.

Recently we have been designing sleeping spaces with creative alternatives to headboards. There are lots of different options which can really enhance the look and feel of your bedroom. Not to mention doing something completely different than just an upholstered one! 

When designing a bedroom, the headboard – or lack thereof – should be considered carefully. As the bed itself is usually the main feature of the room, the design of the headboard and behind the bed is key to the design.

We have put together this post which covers a variety of different ideas that could be used instead of installing a traditional headboard. These are great options if you love to DIY or if you love to have it done for you! 

Timber Panelling and Trim Work

Installing timber paneling and trim work has become extremely popular but there are many different routes you can take. The beauty of this approach is that it can be as simple (or complicated!) as you like. Many homeowners install trim work to create a feature wall; particularly in living rooms, dining rooms, and even bedrooms as a feature backdrop to the bed.

By using trim work for the wall behind the bed, as an alternative to a headboard, you can save a lot of space. Traditional headboards are surprisingly deep when you also consider the bed being brought forward away from the wall too.

If you love a bit of DIY at the weekends, creating a paneled wall could be your next project! For a headboard style paneling, you can be really creative with the spacing of them and ensure it is completely bespoke to your specific bed.

In this project we recently completed, we installed shiplap paneling to the back wall behind the bed instead of a traditional headboard to save space. It spans across the entire wall to help create a cozy atmosphere and finishes part-way up the window. This wall feature has tied the whole design for this bedroom together.

Wall Decals

You can even achieve the rustic timber headboard effect with wall decals! There are so many different options we’re sure you’ll find something to suit your personal style.

Wall decals are an extremely cost-effective way to add more character and specific design elements to a room. Many modern decals are also high quality with a sophisticated finish. They are also easy to install and remove should you need to change the design of the room, making these a very versatile option.

We love using wall decals, particularly in kids’ rooms as they help to inject personality to the space which is specific to their interests. Because wall decals are cost-effective decorative solutions, they are great for the ever-changing children’s areas and interests as they grow!

For adult bedrooms, wall decals can still be used as there are so many different designs available. If space is an issue then opting for a wall decal which is the shape and design of a headboard is a brilliant alternative. 

Wall decals are an accessible alternative to a traditional headboard. With anything, there are limitations, if the wall where the headboard decal will be applied is heavily textured, then a decal may not be the best option.

accent walls

We loved designing this boy’s bedroom! We designed it around his love for baseball to make it truly unique to him. We used baseball stitching wall decals to create a feature wall and work extremely well as an alternative to headboards too.

Additional Ideas

We love this bohemian style wall tapestry because it’s neutral yet characterful. This is a really simple way to add a decorative feature to a bedroom without using a traditional headboard.

Aside from the paneling, trim work, and wall decals, there are some other ideas that are worth considering! This includes pillows and wall-mounted art.

One of the simplest and beautifully executed ideas is using pillows strategically. There are actually more sizes available than the typical bed pillow; large square pillows are great for using as an alternative to a headboard. To make these options more robust,  you can layer additional pillows in front. Depending on your personal preference for the number of pillows on the bed, We recommend three or four layers that decrease in size as you move away from the head of the bed. 

You can also use wall-mounted artwork instead of a headboard to distract attention away from this. The eye will be drawn towards the artwork instead of the lack of headboard. This could be through one large piece, a set of two or three paintings, or a large gallery wall. The possibilities are endless! 

We love using triptych artwork such as this set because they look beautiful above a bed as a replacement to a headboard. Your eyes are drawn to the gorgeous detailing on the canvases rather than the lack of physical headboard.

If artwork isn’t for you, why not add some floating shelves? These provide a good space for displaying decorative objects, books, and other personal items.

And instead of creating a bespoke timber paneled feature wall, you could wallpaper the wall behind the bed to add rich texture, color, and pattern. Layer this up with the pillow effect from above and you have a winner!

Have you considered any of these alternatives to a headboard before? Or created your own alternatives to headboards? We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!