Published on July 26, 2019

Your headboard is to your bed as your shoes are to your outfit: Sure, a neutral, goes-with-everything pair works, but when you try out something a bit bolder, your whole outfit looks even better. Similarly, that rectangular wood headboard might be fine, but a colorful option with a unique silhouette will revitalize your entire room. Though they can easily become an afterthought, headboards are an opportunity to revamp your room in one easy step—and Sophie Ashby, founder and creative director of Studio Ashby, is pretty much the master at designing them.

Ashby’s bedrooms are always striking, with upholstered headboards in unexpected shapes and patterns only enhancing their surroundings. But admittedly, it can be a challenge to pick the right one for your space. Luckily, Ashby shared her secrets with us.

Start with art

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Photo by Alexander James, styling Olivia Gregory

If you’re not sure where to begin, Ashby recommends an easy jumping-off point: “We like to start with artwork as the inspiration for a room and then coordinate the headboard fabric,” she says. “I prefer headboards to be medium height, 50 to 55 inches off the floor maximum, to allow for art above the bed.” Need help finding the right artwork? We’ve got you.

Plan your color palette

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Photo by Philip Durrant, Styling by Olivia Gregory

A vibrant headboard doesn’t necessarily have to translate into a bedroom that feels loud or chaotic. “Ultimately, a bedroom is a sanctuary and should be peaceful,” Ashby says. “As long as the color of the headboard fabric works with the rest of your scheme, you can be as bold as you want and really showcase your personal style.” A good rule of thumb: Pick just two to three hues found in your chosen artwork to serve as your color palette.

Balance shape and pattern

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photo by Alexander James Hexagon

“We love doing funky-shaped headboards to make a focal point and fun feature in a bedroom,” she says. “We’ve played with all sorts of silhouettes. Generally, the rule of thumb is if it’s a funky shape, go with a plain color fabric, and if it’s a simpler shape, go for a bold pattern. A wide-paneled, upholstered headboard, for example, makes a subtle statement and brings color and texture into a bedroom, opening up the space.” 

Consider scale

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photo by Philip Durrant

Chances are that you can afford to be a bit more daring with your headboard, but if your room is extra small, pay attention to the dimensions. “The scale and proportion of the headboard are very important,” Ashby says. “In a regular-size room, I would make sure the style of your headboard isn’t too clunky or oversize to prevent it from feeling like a big block in the middle of the room.” For small spaces, rounded styles are a great option.

Get creative

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Photo by Philip Durrant

Though Studio Ashby’s headboards may be custom-made, it doesn’t have to be costly to personalize your own—a little creativity goes a long way. “If an off-the-shelf headboard has dull fabric options, I recommend reupholstering it in a fabric that inspires you or you could just make a slipcover for it,” Ashby says. I have a headboard at home I don’t like and I just draped an antique African textile over it—it’s a good temporary solution!”

See more headboard ideas:
This One Swap Will Make Your Bed Feel Totally New
5 Headboard Alternatives You Can DIY This Weekend
Urban Outfitters Has Convinced Us to DIY a Headboard With Its New Paint

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