Adding a headboard to a bed can create a terrific focal point, add storage, and add a finishing element to a room. Gaining storage is a plus for small bedrooms and adding architectural detail often completes a large one. My advice on this project - some are DIY - use the best quality materials you can. Hire a pro if you cannot fabricate a high-quality product. As a focal point, that is used daily, you want it to be the best it can.
1) Shelf headboard. This is a very quick idea that adds storage as well as architectural detail. This custom shelf is painted yellow for a cottage style room. Purchasing free-standing shelves from a big box store works well if the shelves are affixed together. Adding moldings creates a custom look.
2) Fabric headboard. A very standard idea that has many variations. Soft, attractive, a place to add color and texture, this option is less expensive than a four poster or sleigh style bed. Make it high quality so it is durable, cleanable and safe.
3) Upholstered wall. Rather than defining the area just above the bed, use fabric and batting to pad the entire floor-to-ceiling space behind the bed for a great look.
4) Shelves. While not the best alternative for a child's room, floating shelves are a sleek way to add detail above a bed. Great for guest rooms when books, lighting, toiletries and other items are within reach for guests.
5) Recessed shelves. Flanking the bed is a great place to recess shelves to add 'apparent' space to a room without encroaching on the footprint. They can be up to 6" deep depending upon your wall depth; perfect for book, picture frames and collectibles.
6) Panels. Any type of panel, whether it's wood or fabric or a found object, creates a headboard and adds an artistic element. This contemporary bedroom has a pair of windows with paper stapled to the back. They are a creative way to add dimension, color, interest and texture.
7) Architectural elements. Windows, shutters, doors, old mantles and other elements salvaged from prior use, make wonderful headboards. How about an old gate, a wrought iron fence, and even the mirror from an old bedroom set? For simplicity hang a wooden curtain rod above the bed and drape an old quilt or decorative fabric over it so it becomes the headboard.