Everything You Need To Know About Headboards

5 Min Read | By Brett Janes

Last Modified 5 March 2024   First Added 1 March 2016

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Have you ever stopped for a moment to consider why headboards might exist? Many will believe that a headboard is purely for aesthetic appeal. However, a headboard can provide much more than that, including back support, a buffer against a cold wall and also help with Feng Shui in your bedroom.

The History of Headboards

The headboard has gone through many changes throughout history. In Ancient Egypt, archaeological evidence suggests that headboards were created for a practical purpose, acting as a barrier against draughts to keep us warm whilst we slept. The headboards were then made of wood, which is less thermally conductive than stone or brick. They were constructed with thicker end pillars to create space from the wall and allowed the falling cold air to sink to the floor rather than onto the bed.

During these times, not everyone had a headboard, it was a sign of social status, with the richer having more elaborate designs. The poorer would have to go without or create their own from straw and cloth.

It was in Ancient Greece that headboards began to have cushioning and extra support. There were some headboards carved in ebony, silver and gold, which are depicted in many early drawings – undoubtedly more for show than comfort.

Elabourately carved wooden victorian-style headboards

An elaborately carved Victorian-style wooden headboard.

During the Middle Ages, there were some major changes made to headboards. This was mainly due to the invention of four-poster and canopied beds – which, once again, were linked to wealth and status.  The bed was commonly the most expensive item of furniture in the home, so they became even more elaborate; of course, headboards needed to keep up. Many headboards from this period still exist in good condition today, which emphasises the sum of money their owners would have paid for them at the time.

In the 19th century, the Victorians exchanged comfortable padded headboards for durable iron ones. However, this fashion was short-lived due to the advent of the First World War, which halted the source of iron as they were channelled into the production of weapons.

Transform your bedroom space with our headboards.

Headboard Feng Shui

One of the most often recommended Feng Shui adjustments to your bedroom is having a solid headboard for your bed. It is believed that a headboard gives you the sense you have ‘a safe and strong mountain at your back as you sleep’. It is also said that a strong headboard creates a safe space for intimacy and connection.

Feng Shui Master Consultant Alan Stirling said: ‘In feng shui terms, headboards exist to provide long-term security, stability and confidence in our daily lives.  Having support behind us began when we lived in caves, and as such, is intrinsic to the human psyche.

‘Feng shui can define the best type of headboard according to colour, texture, position and sleeping direction. In fact, we can usually cure sleeping problems by adjusting one or more of these aspects.

‘Generally speaking, the best position for a headboard is against a solid wall, and the worst is probably when in line with the door. Also, placing a headboard against the same wall that contains the bedroom door usually causes arguments, as the supportive influences of the headboard are disturbed.’

Related: Discover more Bedroom Feng Shui Tips via Alan Stirling

In Feng Shui, the style of the headboard is key. Choose padded or wooden headboards and ensure they are solid (not open or barred). Storage headboards are not good for Feng Shui as they attract clutter. With a solid headboard, it gives the sense that you have something solid to lean on and creates subconscious knowledge that helps you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

How To Choose A Modern Headboard Design

Ash Headboard

Today, headboards exist largely for interior design purposes. Headboards are used to keep the pillows in place while you are in bed and also for storage. For the less feng-shui inclined, they can include shelves where you can place lamps, decorations and books. This style became particularly popular with the introduction of the waterbed as it grew into popularity in the 70s.

Related – White headboards

We asked Interior Designer Kirsten Grove, for her opinion on matching headboards to your bedroom style. Here’s what she said:Kirsten Grove, interior designer

‘Whether you are choosing a headboard for decorative reasons or just for its functionality, it is key that there is a flow in the room. The main thing that catches the eye of a bedroom will always be your headboard.

‘If you are a minimalist or are searching for something to complement Mid-century, Scandinavian or Danish design, I would opt for a wide panel headboard in a wood tone of your choice. Walnut is definitely on the top of my list because it makes any bed more luxurious and it’s a wood tone that creates a stylish and fresher look.

Related: Harrogate Headboard

‘If you bend towards the modern spectrum, you will prefer a headboard with a simple style such as a wide panel one. In any case, I believe adding an upholstered headboard adds a dramatic look no matter what your style is. Try not to overthink your search and have fun with it’.

At Dreams, we offer headboards in a variety of materials and colours, from grey headboards to black headboards – there’s a style to transform your bed frame.

About the author