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IKEA Hacks: Upholstered Malm Headboard

IKEA furniture is so versatile and practical; turning your Malm headboard into a unique piece that fits perfectly in your bedroom is easier than you think...

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with IKEA furniture.  I love that it is so reasonably priced, easy (once you know how!) to put together and versatile, but I often find it a little, well, underwhelming I guess.  There tends to be sharp edges and perhaps slightly soulless veneers; ‘fake wood’.

Ikea malm superking

So, we have a house full of the stuff, because, as noted – affordable – and I tend to paint or otherwise upcycle it because, again noted – versatile.

Now, I won’t lie, I bloody hated the Malm bed.  Yes, it’s true that it doesn’t squeak AT ALL when you roll over, so admittedly, it does serve it’s purpose as a bed (allowing a peaceful night’s sleep) rather better than the beautiful, but squeaky, solid oak one we had before.  And yes, it is bloody cheap at £260 for a whooping great superking (easily sleeps four, if you’re that way inclined) but it was a bit of an eyesore – not least because, being a superking, it’s flipping massive.

So in short – great bed – good for sleeping on – but kind of ugly.  FRET NOT! Because this upcycle is one of the easiest ever and gives Mr Malm a whole new lease of life…..

upholstered malm headboard

What you’ll need:

  • A headboard! Ours was a Malm, but this hack should work on any solid square / rectangle (i.e. not curved) headboard.
  • 8oz batting.  I ordered mine from eBay.  Make sure the batting is wide enough to wrap the board front and back, like when you wrap a gift.
  • Upholstery fabric.  We used Rothko Furnishing Fabric in Blue from John Lewis.  As with the batting, you need enough fabric long and wide enough to wrap front and back.
  • Tape measure
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Scissors

How long will it take?

It took me just 1 hour 15 mins, not including removing and refitting the headboard (because Oli did that for me) and not including time taken to choose fabric, which took approximately 4 months!!

john lewis rothko blue fabric

This is a one (wo)man job (apart from the removing and refitting which, if you have a superking, will probably require a helping hand – don’t go putting your backs out!)


First up, find yourself a big enough space to work flat.  It’s not a messy job, so I just worked on the carpet in the spare room, which was big enough to lie the board down flat and turn it.  Lay the headboard flat on the floor, with the front facing up.

malm headboard

Line your batting up about 1cm above the bottom edge on the headboard, leaving a good length at the end to wrap around the back (about 50cm).  It’s important the line the fabric up because you headboard needs to fit snug back on the bed, so we won be wrapping fabric underneath.  Holding the batting taught as you go, use the staple gun to staple all along the bottom at approx. 10cm intervals.

Flip the headboard over, so the back of the board is now facing up and resting on the batting you have just stapled. Now, wrap the length of batting you left around the edge and, keeping taught, staple against the bottom edge of the headboard as you did before.  do the same with the other side, stapling a similar length along the bottom at the other end of the headboard.

diy upholstered headboard

Cut any excess length away on the diagonal from the last staple, up to the top corner of the headboard, so a triangle remains.  Do this on both sides.

batting wrapped malm headboard

Wrap the batting over the top of the board and holding taught, staple the middle part along the mid-section of the board yet to be covered.  You will have some excess batting at each edge.  Cut this batting away along the same diagonal as you cut at step 3.  You should end up with a sort of envelope.  Staple along these diagonal lines to secure the batting.

Make sure there are no bumps or bulges; a strategic staple can secure any rogues bumps.

upholstered batting headboard

Turn the headboard over so that the front is facing upwards.  Lay your upholstery fabric over the top, keeping a length at each end (as with the batting) and lining the bottom with the edge of the fabric.  Make sure the fabric is facing the correct way up!

upholstered malm headboard rothko blue

Staple along the bottom of the board, keeping the fabric taught.  I put my staples in a little below the batting, about 0.5cm from the base of the board.

Flip the headboard over, so that it is resting on the fabric.  Take a moment to flatten the fabric and pull it out from the edges, so that it is nice and flat under the headboard. Wrap the sides of the headboard.  Keeping the fabric taught, line the edge up with the bottom of the headboard and staple along the bottom.  Do this on both sides.

diy upholstered headboard rothko blue

Now we cut into the fabric as illustrated below.  We are cutting a square aware from the top two corners, so that you are left with a flap of fabric to pull down over the headboard.  Leave about 1cm extra length from each edge as this will be tucked under to make a neat edge.

Wrap the fabric over the top of the headboard.  The extra cm we left gets folded inside, so the the folded edge of the fabric lines up with the edge of the headboard.

Tuck in the edges as shown in the video.

Staple the corner.

upholstering malm headboard

Staple down the edge.  As you can see, I haven’t been particularly uniform about this, as you’ll never see the back of my headboard!

upholstered ikea malm headboard

Once you’ve done both sides, trim along the bottom and staple the fabric down.

trimming off upholstered headboard

And what do you know?  You have yourself a newly upholstered headboard!

If you have a go, please let me know how you get on and tag me in your Instagram pics! I’d love to see your results.

2 comments on “IKEA Hacks: Upholstered Malm Headboard

  1. how much fabric would you estimate you used? I am going to do this on our king sized MALM headboard!


    • I’m not completely sure how much I ordered in the end but I basically worked out the length needed by measuring the width of the bed x 2 (for back and front). The material I ordered from John Lewis had a width that was the right size to cover the length of the board. Our bed is a super king. X


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