How to make an upholstered daybed

How to make an Upholstered Daybed

Dear Diary,

The modern home has to adapt and sometimes rooms have a few functions.  We start to live more responsibly, smaller and more effective lives, but when we give up space to have a smaller more efficient home, then somethings get left out or we lose functionality of a particular space.  It need not to happen.  We just need to learn how to make rooms work harder and double up in function.  Today I will show you how to make an upholstered Daybed.  A guest room does not have to sit and wait for guests only, it can now also double as a study, library, craft room or tv room for kids, but with the added bonus that the “sofa” will also sleep your guests quite comfortably.

For this tiny bedroom that is currently used as a private little lounge and hobby room for an avid miniature doll house builder and collector, a space to  accommodate occasional guests was a must.  As you can see, the room is small and a bed alone just doesn’t work well.  An upholstered daybed is the perfect answer in this scenario.

Let me show you how to get from THIS


Ok, on with the tutorial!

I have used 12 mm pine plywood for this project as its lighter and stronger than ordinary mdf.  I decided my arm heights should be 85cm and back height should be at least 50cm.  You need to add at least 10cm to your bed dimensions to accommodate the foam and wadding.  I opted for a curved back rest and cut the foam accordingly.  The foam on the back does not go to the outer edges as it must accommodate the arms later on.  Add only the little bits on the outer top edges and glue in place.  I used a hot glue gun as it’s just for a few minutes till you staple it down.

Staple only the bottom bit to the back board, only up to where the mattress will go.  Do not staple the top or sides of the foam down.  Follow by covering this part with wadding; stapling bottom and over to the back.

Proceed by placing the fabric on the same area; not going further than where the mattress will be.  I chose this very feminine Emma’s garden mist from Waverly that I got from  It will suit the rest of the decor,  (I will share the room reveal soon) and its a lovely 100% cotton, a medium weight fabric, perfect for this application.  On the upper outside edges, staple the fabric down to give the back shape and make the arm placement later easier. (see last image  below)

Cover the exposed remaining wood in ordinary cotton.  Use cardboard strips to help get a straight edge.  I use thick cardboard that my local picture framer gives me from his discarded or waste stock and use a carpet knife and metal ruler to cut strips of 2.5cm wide.  Measure from the bottom edge of the wood as you go to keep the line straight.  See how professional and straight that seam looks?  This is all for the back you will be doing for now.

Now onto the construction of the arms.  The arms are cut in your desired shape. (find inspiration images on google to help you with design and shape).  The arms need to be “thicker” and have more substance….if that makes sense.  I used 20x40mm pine to create space for my “sandwich”.  The inside plank need not go all the way to the bottom but the 20x40mm pine does.

The top of the arm can be covered with 6mm mdf board and smaller strips for small round corners.  This does not have to be perfect as the foam will cover it all.  Side note: if you want your arms to be wider, you will make the spacer bigger but remember to add this sizes to the back and front panel sizes.

25mm Medium density foam is used for the arms.  Cut the foam a little bigger than the wood because it will need to go over the edges of the top.  Start by glueing the foam to the board to help it stay put.  Staple the bottom bit down, (not all the way to the bottom as this is where the mattress will fit in.  (last photo in this collage)  Work the foam over the upper bit and staple only on the outside edge, creating a nice curve on the inside arm.  Use smaller strips of foam to do the same on the front of the arm piece, stapling on both edges. (See 2nd and 3rd photos of the collage below)

The same procedure that went into the back is being repeated with both arms.  Covered with wadding first and then the fabric.  Making sure the pattern stays the same way up.  This part is quite tiring as you have to do it twice!! ;-)

The outside arm is stapled on the outside edge and fabric trimmed close to the staples.  This is where the decorative studs will go, so make sure you staple close together to get tension right and to hold the fabric well and truly in place. The inside of the arms can be done in plain cotton as with the back or with the same fabric as I did here.

The front panel is only covered with two layers of wadding.  Now all the parts of this daybed is covered and ready for assembly. Note:  I did this part after I assembled the back and arms to get the correct size for the front panel.

Assembly of the Daybed

The arms are put into place (in that un-padded area I mentioned in the beginning), and firstly screwed in place from the back.  Then for added support I used L-brackets on the lower part of the daybed.  (the wood pieces you see in the photos below were only used to support the arms while I fitted all the pieces together.For extra support, a left over piece of plywood can be used as a “leg” in the middle back.  (it’s probably not needed, but I felt better doing that extra step!)

To fit the front panel to the sides (arms) I used the same L-brackets and a leftover piece of 20x40mm pine.  This is screwed to the inside arm.  (The front panel is fitted between the arms of the sofa.  Measure this distance once your sides are fitted.  Cover the piece of wood with fabric just to make it look nice and neat.

Now fit the front panel and screw it all together….. you are nearly there!

Cover the back with the same cotton to finish the project off and give it a neat, and professional look.

Finishing the Daybed

This might be the trickiest part of the build, and not to mention tedious!  Be careful to keep your spacing from the edge exact as this will surely show if it goes all wonky.  On the front of the bed, (remember you didn’t staple it down here as I said in the beginning… this is why! 🙂 )  staple about 1cm from the edge, close together and all the way around the back to create a “road” for the decorative strip studs.  This gives the back a beautiful rounded shape.  Place your decorative strip studs on the staple line and nail them down. (every 4th stud is a nail, so don’t stress, you will not nail thousands into the daybed!)

You are done!!  Whoo hoo!! All you need to do now is put your bed, mattress and coverings on and the sofa is ready to go!  Perfect for little girl’s rooms too!

The detail is really something special and in my opinion a must. I opted for the silver strip studs as it just worked better with this colour and fabric. The arms fit quite snugly in the provided space, and making the daybed look really pretty.

This was a fun project and so satisfying to see the finished product I made!  I can’t wait to share the full reveal of this bedroom makeover soon, but first an antique chair that will share this space has to be recovered and up next on the blog!

I hope this tutorial on how to make an upholstered daybed has helped and given you courage to try this yourself.  It’s not for the novice I must admit, you will need to be confident with a pneumatic staple gun, working with foam and know how fabric reacts to stretching and tensions over longer distances, but with a little practise, I am confident anyone can achieve this in a few days.  Have fun making your very own daybed!

Till next time,


PS: for my tools list please look at this post towards the end. 😉




Article by Teresa

Australian Interior Designer / Decorator & Photographer. I share my style, my creativity and love for all things decor.

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