Beds without headboards – 5 alternative designs that prove you don't always need a headboard

These beds without headboards will transform your bedroom and create beautiful focal points elsewhere. Interior design experts share their secrets

Beds without headboards
(Image credit: Future)

There is no denying that a headboard is the 'crowning glory' in a bedroom. A decorative statement that can add a focal point and anchor a scheme. However, as our homes get smaller and smaller, or we want to downsize, a headboard could be cramping our style. 

As it turns out, the space behind your bed is ripe for rediscovery. Decorating behind and around your bed is a wonderful way to fill the space with an attractive feature, rather than just fitting a bulky headboard idea.

But will this bedroom trend catch on? Yes, we think so. Wall decor for bedrooms – rather than headboards – can, indeed, give your space a whole new personality. Here, we take you through the best designs that showcase beds without headboards, plus give you plenty of inspiration for your own bedroom remodel.

Beds without headboards

The linchpin of any boudoir is the bed, but finding the right spot for it is key. If you’re working with an awkwardly-shaped or small bedroom, having a large or bulky headboard might not be the best option. 

Not only does decorating without a headboard allow you to be more creative with your design, but it will also free up space in a small room, too. 

1. Hang a mural 

Modern bed with black and white mural wall

(Image credit: Future)

Paint is the obvious choice for wall decor ideas in the bedroom, but it has its limitations when it comes to wanting to create something larger scale and more striking. A designer favorite, a wall mural is perfect for those who just want that little bit more. 

‘Over recent times there has been an explosion in high-tech digital printing which has changed the game somewhat, allowing a huge amount of experimentation and emerging new designers,’ explains Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin.

‘The choice is vast, but it is a highly personal one, thoroughly dependent on the house and the room, not to mention your mood and personality. Murals have taken the interior world by storm in recent years, and frankly, anything goes from geometrics and trompe l'oeil, floral and animal, modern or contemporary, grass cloths, fabrics, and murals.'

AP8 Guy Bourdin framed print | $1,865 at Net-A-Porter 

AP8 Guy Bourdin framed print | $1,865 at Net-A-Porter 

If a wall mural isn't on the cards, why not hang a striking piece of statement art, instead? This serene scene by Guy Bourdin is both soothing and stylish at the same time, making it an exceptional choice for a relaxing bedroom. 

2. Decorate with shiplap and panels at dado-height

Beds without headboards with wood wall

(Image credit: Future)

Without a focal point, such as a statement headboard, modern bedrooms can lack character. One way to address this is by creating a feature wall of paneling, which can also hide a multitude of sins. Here, dado-height wall paneling adds the illusion of width to a small or narrow bedroom, as well as protecting the lower path of the wall from wear and tear.

Alternatively, in a plain room that is lacking decorative details or any original architecture of its own, adding a paneled area, or shiplap, behind the bed is a clever way of bringing a sense of character to a featureless space.

3. Forgo a headboard in an awkward or sloped alcove

Dark bedroom with grey walls and colorful bedding

(Image credit: Future)

Alcoves can harness the potential of these home features, giving bedrooms a style boost, as well as fulfilling a useful function. However, in particularly small bedrooms, an awkward bedroom layout is often best left minimal and without disruption. Therefore, forgoing a headboard altogether is a good option if you don't want this room to overwhelm you.

Focus on the layout of the room and consider how to make the most of any quirks. Simon Tcherniak, the senior designer, of Neville Johnson, says: ‘awkward sloping ceilings, architectural features, and restricted room configurations can be dealt with by positioning a bed without a headboard in the otherwise redundant space.'

4. Welcome in warmth with panels

Modern blue bedroom with panels

(Image credit: Future)

From its humble origins of providing insulation to quickly becoming a highly decorative feature, wood paneling is one of the most striking features of any home. There is simply no better way to add character to a bedroom, which is why it’s important to make the most of original paneling or, where appropriate, add an authentic new design. 

'Paneling is a useful way of introducing warmth and character to a room – there is something cozy about being surrounded by wood,' says Bruce Hodgson, founder and creative director, of Artichoke. 'Panel moldings are used to create shadow and catch the light, adding a definition that is particularly important when you opt for painted panels.'

5. Hang a tapestry instead

A sage green bedroom with hanging botanical tapestry

(Image credit: Future)

In lieu of a traditional headboard, one-off pieces are really the only way to create a unique interior, which is why we love this decorative tapestry. 

Tapestries are the darling of the contemporary design world, adept at creating a layered look while supplying just the right amount of pattern. 

It also serves to add an extra touch of textile softness, which is always a desirable element in a relaxing bedroom space. While tapestry popularity has soared all over the home, nowhere is it perhaps more useful than in the bedroom. 


Is it okay to have a bed without a headboard?

Yes, it is perfectly okay to have a bed without a headboard. Despite their common use and decorative potential, a headboard isn't always necessary, especially if you have a small bedroom or a sloped ceiling.  

How can I make my bed look nice without a headboard?

While lack of space is often an issue when arranging a small bedroom, in addition to space-saving furniture, there are lots of visual tricks and decorating techniques that can make a small bedroom look bigger – even if you don't want to include a headboard. 

The key is to introduce decorative interest elsewhere. Awkward nooks and crannies can be tricky to decorate around, but instead of trying to conceal or camouflage, consider decorating beds for small rooms using a joyful pattern or vibrant color combination to draw attention to the area instead.

A tight space under a sloped ceiling can make the perfect spot for a built-in cabin bed in a small room or attic space. Adding decorative wallpaper, colorful linens, and bright scatter cushions creates a welcoming spot and gives the whole room a cheery focal point. 

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.