This DIY Move Will Make Your Rental Bedroom Look Bigger—and More Expensive

Wall-to-wall bedroom headboards aren’t exactly new. A staple of more contemporary design, especially in hospitality, designers started putting these in bedrooms well before they began popping up in your social feeds. All of a sudden thought, it feels like this ultra-wide headboard situation is the darling of the DIY bedroom scene, and for good reason. Wall-to-wall headboards can be very budget-friendly, use pretty standard materials—paint, plywood, upholstery fabric, batting, hooks for hanging—and completely transforms basic spaces.

Topping that list is the fact that it’s the perfect design move for smaller spaces and rentals. Here’s why: This type of headboard’s low, wide profile usually spans the entire width of a bedroom wall, tricking the eye into seeing space as wider than it would look otherwise. It’s the same optical illusion that happens when you paint your ceiling the same color as your walls to make it appear loftier (or wearing nude shoes to lengthen your legs… even when you’re 5’3”, speaking from experience). As for the rental angle, anything you can do to make something look “custom” or “built-in” instantly transforms a room that feels temporary into something that looks permanent, even when the installation is very much removable. Trickery, friends, is the name of the game.

Creating a wall-to-wall bedroom headboard can be done in different ways, so let’s take a look at a few examples.

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Post Image
Credit: Malcolm Simmons of Mas Means More

I thought I’d begin with the easiest and cheapest version of a wall-to-wall headboard: paint! This bedroom took this concept a step further by adding simple moldings as trim, but a similar effect could be achieved with some painter’s tape and additional paint color. This strategy lets you forego a headboard entirely and seriously elevates a simple bed frame. Be sure to pile on the pillows for comfort and support.

This technique works best in high contrast—meaning, if the rest of your walls are white, you’ll want to go with a more saturated hue (even if it’s a neutral like this navy) to make sure your “headboard” stands out.

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Julie Rose wall-to-wall wainscoting behind the headboard
Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

The painted wall-to-wall trick also works to elevate a subtle headboard, as seen in this bedroom by designer Julie Rose. In her DIY-heavy rental space, she added an exclamation point to her otherwise neutral palette by using Farrow & Ball’s Breakfast Room Green all the way along the bed wall. She then painted her baseboards in that same color. A thin black line up top defines the panel of green nicely.

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Wall-to-Wall headboard DIY by Brady Tolbert
Credit: Tessa Neustadt

Here’s another wall-to-wall option via Style by Emily Henderson, this time by designer Brady Tolbert. If you’ve been on Instagram anytime between 2017 and now, you’ve probably seen this bedroom (or a room that was inspired by his bedroom). What looks like an expensive custom build is actually just barrel foam wrapped in velvet. You can read more about his DIY process here. But that ledge up top is almost as sweet as the headboard; it’s a great way to add additional storage to a smaller space. Brady used his ledge to lean art, perch a plant, and stack some books. This design treatment can be a great option if you don’t have room for nightstands. 

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Wood slat wall-to-wall headboard by Magnolia
Credit: Courtesy of Magnolia

It doesn’t all have to be upholstery, either. This wood slat version from Magnolia might be a trickier DIY (particularly because it looks like electrical is built into it if that light switch is any indication), but if you’re handy with a table saw and don’t need to run wiring through it, it’s totally doable. Again, the ledge here is a super useful additional surface area for decor, sundries… anything, really!

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Wall to wall headboard from Emily Bowser
Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Stylist Emily Bowser transformed her pint-sized master bedroom (for real, go see the before here… unbelievable!), and the pièce de résistance is that wrap-around DIY headboard. While she owns her home, punchy rust or any bold hue like this is a genius way to add color to a rental where you might not have a ton of painting or wallpapering liberties.

So what do you think? Are you team wall-to-wall headboard DIY like these talented folks? Whether you go paint, upholstery, or wood, there really is no misstep when it comes to this bedroom design power move.

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