Painted headboard ideas – 10 quick and clever DIY projects that will transform a bland bedroom

Painting a headboard is the perfect way to give your bedroom some wow-factor, no matter what kind of bed you've got to work with

a semi circle painted headboard
(Image credit: Samara Vise. Design: Atelier Cho Thompson)

No bedroom is complete without a headboard, we say, but if you've inherited a bed that's either lacking in that department, or has one but it feels a bit lackluster, a painted headboard could be the answer. 

A painted headboard could take many forms, but more often than not, it's a design painted onto the wall that acts in the place of a traditional headboard. It means you have the creative freedom to do something bold and statement making, while also keeping to a budget. 

Take a look at our round-up of these clever headboard ideas, all created using paint. 

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi is a homes writer and editor with several years of experience. Her articles, backed by expert insights, offer suggestions aimed at helping readers make the best home design choices. For this article, she spoke to top experts to understand ways to create a headboard using paint effects.

10 painted headboard ideas to help you frame the bed

1. Use an accent wall like an oversized headboard 

A bedroom with a dark painted alcove

(Image credit: Hintegro. Photo credit Keith Chan)

The oversized headboard is a huge trend in bedroom design, for a modern, hotel-like feel, but you can create the same look with paint. Try a bedroom accent wall in a deep color, and change the look and feel of not just the sleeping area, but also the room at large.

'Painting behind your bed will automatically create a focal point and is a lovely way to bring a bit of a character to the bedroom,' says Tash Bradley, director of interior design at Lick. 'It can give the room that boutique hotel feel. Avoid doing a standard accent wall and do something fun. You could make an extended headboard design by painting from shoulder height just above the headboard and going all the way along the wall with Lick’s Beige 02, and then above that paint a thin strip of black, and this will give your bedroom a smart feel.'

2. Try a half-painted wall

A bedroom with half painted wall

(Image credit: Studio Nato. Photo credit Hanna Grankvist)

The half wall is a popular bedroom paint idea that can play the part of a headboard in the right scheme. 

'Painting datum lines like this is something we have done in other projects too,' says Nathan Cuttle, founder of Studio Nato. 'This is particularly useful in brownstones or apartments with period details. It is reflective of period style, like a modern interpretation of a wainscot or chair rail. Consider layering in colorful furniture as well, or when you continue the painted line across doors or window trims.'

'In rooms with taller ceilings and low furniture, it's a great way to bring the scale back to the space,' says Nathan. 'Playing with the height of the datum line then becomes an interesting visual study. '

Card Room Green by Farrow & Ball
Get the look

Card Room Green by Farrow & Ball

This dark grey-green shade has a period look to it and looks especially great when contrasted with white, off-white, or cream shades. Experiment with this color in your bedroom or living room.

3. Paint a semi-circle around the bed

A bedroom with a circular paint effect above the bed

(Image credit: Design by Atelier Cho Thompson. Photo by Samara Vise)

Painted arches and circles are one of the biggest paint trends around right now, and it just so happens they make for a brilliant headboard idea, too. In this simple bedroom scheme by Atelier Cho Thompson, a painted semi-circle has been tied in with the bed linen to bring a coziness that the space otherwise lacked. 

4. Or why not a rainbow?

A bedroom with a rainbow painted behind the bed

(Image credit: Alison Damonte Interiors. Photo credit Bruce Damonte)

For a different take on the painted arch that's perfect for a kid's room, why not combine some different colors to create a rainbow headboard. Don't feel limited to a standard rainbow, either. 

'This is a girls’ room and there was no space for a headboard so we painted the wall to add definition and interest to the bed as well as the room,' interior designer Alison Damonte tells us of the scheme. 'While it’s a rainbow shape, the colors aren’t traditional. The girls selected them from their favorite colors.'

5. Try this multi-colored sample design

little greene painted headboard

(Image credit: Little Greene)

This colorful headboard created by paint brand Little Greene is the perfect way to use up leftover paint. The design is made up of individual painted blocks, but could equally be painted in the same way you'd paint a checkerboard wall. 

6. Design a headboard as part of a mural

a painted headboard by annie sloan

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

A wall mural is a fantastic way to bring character to an accent wall, but you could also incorporate a headboard into the design too, like in this bedroom painted by Annie Sloan

'Murals can act as a focal point for celebrating your personality,' says Anupriya Sahu, founder and design head, Alankaram. 'There are many ways to experiment. For instance, opting for a design with an assorted pattern is a great way to add color, depth, and texture to a space. To make a prominent statement, one can have a large-scale design on walls.' 

7. Create a headboard with painted paneling

A bedroom with painted paneling

(Image credit: Heju)

Another great way to create the illusion of a headboard is by making the most of wainscoting or paneling behind the bed. Consider painting the bedroom wall panels, as these will not only inject a fresh new look into the room but also highlight the sleeping space, making it the focal point in the room.

'If you are going to include paneling in your bedroom and you have a larger room, then consider painting it,' Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs and KDLoves. 'If space is at a premium in the bedroom, opt for a dado-height to create the illusion of height. Keep it simple, and symmetrical and of course, use a modern and bold color to let your personality shine through. Remember bolder, brighter tones can be just as restful as neutrals, so don't shy away from color.'

8. Add a paint effect on half wall

A bedroom with a half wall painted pattern

(Image credit: Amie Brodie)

If a half-painted wall is a style you're interested in for your modern bedroom, then consider adding an interesting pattern or texture to it. Irregular shapes, checks, chevron patterns, and more give the room a stand-out look. 

If you have a curved wall or unusually shaped structure, turn it into a feature by painting it in one or more different colors. This makes a room more interesting and is also useful for zoning areas.

9. Personalize the headboard with painted initials

A bedroom with a painted wall

(Image credit: Base Interior. Photo credit Christopher Horwood)

If your kids have a shared bedroom, then a great way to personalize each child's space is with interesting paint ideas. Along with painting a landscape, animal kingdom, the solar system, or more, you could even consider adding their initials or names behind the bed, as a way to even create a subtle headboard. 

Choose soothing hues that make the space easy to sleep in. Consider bringing in blue, as it is a hue with depth and perception. This shade is also associated with security, order, stability, and reliability. Plus several colors go with blue, making it a versatile shade to design with. 

Blue 03 Matt paint, Lick
Get the look

Blue 03 Matt paint, Lick

This dusty blue paint has strong green undertones and is perfect for a multi-tonal palette. Soft yet playful is a good tone for a kids bedroom. 

10. Consider painting the bed frame

A bedroom with a painted headboard

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Painting an existing bedframe could also be an approach to liven up a bedroom - it's a great weekend project too. 

All you need is acrylic paint with a sheen, primer, and a paintbrush or roller. If you're going to hand-paint the frame, you may have to dismantle the bed first, but if you spray paint it, the disassembly may not be necessary although you will have to cover the bed and the wall behind. Use warm, soapy water and damp rags to clean the bed frame, and let it dry. 

You may have to sand the frame first,  with 180- to 220-grit sandpaper. To prime and paint it, use a 4- to 6-inch fine-finish roller and add a waterborne bonding primer. Once it is dry, with a roller, apply an even coat of interior paint to the headboard, footboard, and any other flat surface. Let it dry, and add another coat. 

What color should I paint my headboard?

a deep sage green bedroom headboard

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez. Design: Interior Fox)

When you're looking for interesting headboard ideas, a good color to choose for painting the headboard could be a natural wood tone or a more subtle tone such as white, cream, brown, or grey. This will allow you to layer in more textures and patterns on the bedding, cushions, and blankets. Plus, you could paint the wall behind the bed too, without the headboard adding any jarring color clashes.

But if you want your headboard to be the hero of the bedroom's decor, then go for bright shades such as pink, green, or blue. Consider different paint techniques or even hand-paint a mural for that special effect.

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.