Headboard Hesitation? How to Decide if You Really Need One

When decorating a bedroom, one of the biggest dilemmas can be whether or not to use a headboard. Headboards serve both stylish and functional purposes, but also take up space and require a commitment. If you find yourself wavering between getting a headboard or skipping it, don’t worry – this guide covers all the key factors to weigh when making this decision.

We’ll outline the benefits that headboards offer, look at potential drawbacks, and explore important considerations like bed size, installation, cost, and more. You’ll also find alternatives if you want the look without the bulk. With this information, you can confidently resolve your headboard hesitation and make the best choice for your bedroom!

Pros of Using a Headboard

Before diving into the potential downsides, let’s look at why so many people love using headboards in their bedrooms. Here are some of the biggest advantages.

Design and Decor

One of the primary reasons people choose to use headboards is for aesthetic appeal. Headboards serve as a focal point in bedroom decor and immediately draw the eye when entering the room. They come in a vast range of styles, from elegant upholstered designs to intricate carved wood headboards, allowing you to make a statement.

Headboards complement your bedroom’s color scheme and theme, whether modern, traditional, rustic, or contemporary. Fabrics and finishes like tufted, nailhead trim, or exposed wood let you match existing furniture and decor. This versatility makes headboards a go-to choice for pulling together a cohesive look.

do i need a headboard

Comfort and Support

Headboards aren’t just pretty – they also provide important back support. Anyone who likes sitting up in bed to read, work on a laptop, eat breakfast, or watch TV will appreciate having a headboard to lean and rest against.

Soft padded headboards cushion and cradle you comfortably, almost like a giant pillow behind your back. This enables you to sit up comfortably for longer without lower back strain. Some headboards even have built-in lumbar support for added ergonomics.

Protecting Your Walls

Having a bed pushed up against a wall often leads to scuffs, scratches, and other marks appearing on the walls over time. The constant moving of pillows and pressing against the wall takes its toll. Enter the headboard, which acts as a shield to protect the wall behind your bed from this type of damage.

Headboards can also hide existing flaws in a wall, like holes from old artwork or a different bed position. Paint touch ups around a bed can be challenging, so a headboard solves the problem by just covering up imperfections.

Insulation and Warmth

Does your bedroom have an exterior wall that feels chilly in winter? The cold surface can make it uncomfortable to sleep. A headboard adds a layer between you and the wall, sealing out those drafts.

Headboards made from wood, leather, or upholstered fabrics with batting or down-alternative stuffing provide insulation from cold. This creates a warmer sleeping environment for a cozier night’s sleep.

Convenient Storage

Some headboards go beyond basic function and double as storage solutions. You can find headboard designs with integrated shelving, cabinets, compartments, and cubbies for keeping books, remotes, phones, tablets, and other bedside items within arm’s reach.

Built-in charging docks and power outlets on some headboards let you easily power up devices overnight. Hide away cables, chargers, Kleenex, reading glasses, and anything else you use frequently while in bed.

Drawbacks of Using a Headboard

Now that we’ve covered the array of benefits headboards offer, let’s balance that by looking at potential downsides to keep in mind.

Taking Up Space

Headboards extend the footprint of your bed since they take up space behind it. This can reduce openness and maneuverability in your bedroom, especially if it’s on the smaller side.

You’ll need to account for the additional space a headboard requires when arranging furniture. In some cases, you may need to move existing furniture like dressers or nightstands to accommodate a headboard.

Not Always Necessary

While headboards provide ample style and comfort value for many people, they aren’t a compulsory bedroom addition. If you don’t anticipate sitting up in bed often, the back support may not offer much benefit.

Those with a minimalist or simplistic decor approach may not find headboards a useful addition. Some people simply prefer the clean, pared-down look of a headboard-less bed.

Key Factors to Consider

Now that you know the pros and cons, here are some key factors to weigh when deciding if a headboard is right for your bedroom.

Bed Size

An important first step is making sure you choose a headboard width that fits your bed properly. Measure both your mattress and headboard to ensure the dimensions match up.

Remember that bedding like pillows and duvets will overhang the mattress slightly. A headboard a few inches wider than the mattress width accommodates this overhang without exposing the side walls.

Attachment Method

Next, consider how you want to attach the headboard. Wall-mounted headboards screw directly into studs in the wall for stability. But this makes moving them a challenge in the future.

Freestanding headboards simply position against the wall without attachment. However, they can shift over time. Attaching headboards to the bed frame creates a more secure connection.

Each mounting method requires different hardware, tools, and installation expertise. Factor this into your decision based on your DIY skills and ability to modify the headboard placement later if needed.

Design and Features

Headboards come in a spectrum of styles, shapes, materials, colors and special features. Narrow down your desired aesthetic – do you want an ornate metal headboard for a glam look? A rustic reclaimed wood headboard for a farmhouse feel?

Also decide if you want any extras like lighting, power outlets, or storage built into your headboard. Coordinate the headboard with your existing bedroom furniture and decor for a cohesive look.


Headboard prices vary widely, ranging from affordable DIY projects to expensive designer pieces costing over $1000. Set realistic expectations for what you can spend, weighing durability and quality against cost.

More budget-friendly headboards can be found at big box stores, online retailers, and discount sites. Or you can save on installation fees by choosing an easy-to-mount design.

Headboard Alternatives

If after considering the pros, cons, and factors above you decide a headboard still isn’t for you, all hope is not lost. You have decorative options to create the look you want without a full headboard attached to the bed. Consider these headboard alternative ideas:

  • Hang a piece of colorful art, tapestry, or macrame on the wall behind the bed to create a focal point.
  • Floating shelves, rails, or cubbies provide surface space without taking up floor space.
  • Add a window valence, cornice, or pelmet over the bed for height without bulk.
  • Decals, stencils, or creative paint techniques make a textured accent wall.
  • Fill the space with a vibrant upholstered fabric using adhesive patches or no-nail hangers.

With a little creativity, you can still achieve many of the aesthetic design perks that headboards offer without committing to one.

When deciding if you should add a headboard to your bed, there are valid pros and cons to weigh. Key factors like your bedroom size, decor style, budget, and setup process also impact the decision. Although headboards can provide style along with comfort and convenience, they aren’t always necessary or practical depending on your needs and priorities.

Hopefully this guide provided a thorough overview of the different considerations around headboards. Taking the time to carefully evaluate the benefits and drawbacks will lead to confidence in whichever route you choose. And if you decide to hold off for now, alternative headboard options still allow you to add visual interest behind your bed.

You can start designing the bedroom environment that you’ve been dreaming of. Trust your instincts, weigh the practical factors, and don’t be afraid to reevaluate down the line. Your comfort and happiness come first when making design choices for your personal space.

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