A Guide To Trendy Alternative Headboards – And Choosing The Right Look For You

Decorative headboards have always been a go-to way to help enhance and define the style of your bedroom, but in the past few years, headboard styles have been trending bigger, bolder, and much showier. From bed frames that just put a little boost onto fairly traditional designs to wall-sized installations, headboards have really become the centerpiece of master bedrooms in particular. That said, there’s a pretty good variety of different designer headboard styles seeing a spike in popularity right now. This overview of the standout trends should help you find one that’s right for your space.

The Bigger The Better

Lyon King Bed CB-709-K from Casabianca Home
Lyon King Bed CB-709-K from Casabianca Home

On the very simplest level, this trend is about size: standard sized headboards are getting sized up and big ones are getting bigger, without much upper or lower limit. Modern headboards tend to be fairly simple: big, square, and with just a little bit of texture, but at least twice as high as a “standard” headboard. But this trend definitely extends to more traditional and antique-inspired designs, too, with your typical scalloped carved wood headboard getting an upsized, regal makeover. Rather than a little woodwork to give that traditional feel, antique headboards are trending oversized, grand, and very, very opulent – think beds built for a king.

Accent Walls To Put Your Bed On Display

Oversized headboards are skewing more artistic, with accent walls and unique installations taking the place of traditional bed frames (by Oliver Burns)
Oversized headboards are skewing more artistic, with accent walls and unique installations taking the place of traditional bed frames (by Oliver Burns)

That said, really huge headboards can feel a bit gaudy or gauche – and while “showy” is part of the point of this trend, if that isn’t really your style, you might want to consider a very common alternative: an accent wall. This is a hugely popular alternative (or addition) to the big headboard trend, but also manifests itself in a few different ways. The simplest designs are ones that paint the wall behind the head of the bed a different color, offsetting it from the rest of the room. But there’s tons of room to get creative with this, too: a paneled or papered wall or even artwork hung strategically over the bed to create the impression of a headboard where none actually exists. Rather than using a piece of furniture as the centerpiece of your room, this turns one whole wall into a decorative canvas, which means your creativity is the limit.

Big, Built-In Headboards

Custom built-in headboards make it possible to get exactly the kind of storage right where you want it, and make it easy to install new lighting fixtures without rewiring your walls (by Elms Interior Design)
Custom built-in headboards make it possible to get exactly the kind of storage right where you want it, and make it easy to install new lighting fixtures without rewiring your walls (by Elms Interior Design)

As much as this trend is about getting bold and creative with your design, it also presents a unique opportunity to squeeze a little extra storage into your bedroom, too. Instead of a painted or papered wall, many designers are opting for extensive built-in storage headboards, often ones that take up the entirety of the wall at the head of the bed. Once again, there’s a pretty big divide between contemporary and classic designs, but this trend is prevalent in both, whether that means nearly floor-to-ceiling slab cabinets with a seamless modern feel, or something more like a traditional set of built-in bookshelves or wardrobes surrounding your bed. If you’re feeling extra creative, while you’re building out from your wall, you can also install decorative lighting fixtures to take the place of a conventional table lamp.

Building Your Headboard Out As Well As Up

Win Floating King Bed (With Lights) T2666BBB83206 from Rossetto Furniture
Win Floating King Bed (With Lights) T2666BBB83206 from Rossetto Furniture

For the purposes of this trend, “bigger” typically means taller rather than wider. But mid-century-modern-style integrated headboards have been making a comeback lately, too. Rather than being tall and showy, these beds have a relatively low profile and a fairly conventional low wood headboard. But instead of stopping at the width of the mattress, these headboards extend out to either side of the bed, and include built-in nightstands, lighting, and sometimes added headboard storage ¬†or headrests, all in a single solid piece. These might not have quite the same pizzazz as a really tall headboard, but have a beautifully minimalist, streamlined look, and are a great way to add a sense of integration, unity, and simplicity for your space, not to mention including many of the same benefits of a large storage headboard without any of the cost or hassle of custom construction or installation.

Upholstered, Tufted Headboards

Eden Navy Velvet King Sized Bed TOV-B18 from Tov Furniture
Eden Navy Velvet King Sized Bed TOV-B18 from Tov Furniture

One of the most wide-reaching trends, whether you’re opting for a modern bedroom set or a very traditional one, is a shift from wood or metal headboards to upholstered ones, and specifically headboards with a button tufted texturing. The tufting can be done on almost any material – from modern leatherette to traditional velvet or silk – and encompass either the entirety of the headboard or a smaller section in a traditional decorative wooden frame. This trend is one part traditional elegance, but largely about incorporating softer, cushionier textures into your bedroom. Having thicker, padded headboards also has a sound-dampening effect, helping keep your room quieter and muffle sound between rooms.

Big Headboards Are About Comfort As Much As Style

Godard King Sized Bed Frame in White 800215 from Zuo Modern
Godard King Sized Bed Frame in White 800215 from Zuo Modern

Of course, while the bulk of the trend towards bigger headboards is about aesthetics, there are functional advantages to making the swap. Padded, upholstered headboards are much more comfortable if you do a lot of sitting, TV viewing, or reading in bed because they provide both back support and (if they’re tall enough) neck support and a headrest as well. Increasingly, headboards are being built for exactly this purpose: wingback style upholstered headboards that curve in on either side afford a little extra privacy and quiet (like your favorite reading chair), and headboards with built-in, adjustable headrests that are worlds better for laying back and lounging than a conventional straight-backed wood headboard. So even if you aren’t particularly looking to make a statement with your bedroom furniture, if you spend a lot of time in bed, this trend might be a good one for you, too!