How to Use a Full Size Headboard with a Twin Mattress

You found the most beautiful, perfect piece of furniture. It’s exactly what you’ve been searching for. You can picture it in your space. Then you check the measurements and….it won’t fit. I hate that! Well, that was the situation with this beautiful antique headboard that I found on Craigslist. I was looking for a large, antique headboard for my daughter’s room and this one fit the bill; plus it was priced to sell! Unfortunately, it was for a bigger size mattress than the one I had. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and I figured out how to use a full size headboard with a twin mattress.

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1. Camouflage the sides:

The first thing I did was to add a bit of fabric (lace in this case) like a little canopy to camouflage the sides of the headboard. This step is not totally necessary, but it fit the style of this room….

girl's bed with antique headboard

By the way, the top part of the canopy is a small, white shelf I bought at Hobby Lobby.

2. Hide the gaps:

This step is what it really takes to make the larger headboard work with the smaller mattress. I added a bit of fabric to hide the gaps between the mattress and the legs of the headboard. I pleated two small lengths of fabric and trimmed them to the correct size, leaving some extra for seam allowances. Then, I stitched the tops with my sewing machine and attached each one to the sides of the bed with velcro. Finally, I used temporary hemming tape (no ironing needed!) to hem them. I attached the fabric just below the top of the mattress level….

velcro fabric on headboard

None of the fabrics match, but they all blend…

fabric behind full size headboard and twin bed

Since we did not use the footboard and side rails that came with the headboard, I decided to purchase a metal bed frame that does not need a box spring. Also, this frame is really handy because it’s high enough to store a ton of plastic tubs under her bed. That way, all the ugly plastic toys can hide and the cuter things can fill up her bookshelves:)

*Update: A reader asked a very good question about how the headboard and frame are attached. The headboard is attached to the wall with a heavy duty french cleat like this. The freestanding metal bed frame is not attached to the headboard at all. It’s just pressed up next to it. We’ve had no issues with it moving around and the whole set-up has worked really well. 

And that’s how to use a full size headboard with a twin mattress!

Once the night stand was placed on one side of the bed and a storage basket (similar basket, here) on the other, the size difference between the headboard and mattress didn’t seem as noticeable….

full headboard with twin mattress

By the way, the fabric I used to camouflage the headboard was a scrap from the closet fabric….

fabric closet in girl's room

No, it’s not a perfect fit. But for my decor, perfect is not the goal anyway! And someday, when my daughter is a little older, she probably won’t need the extra floor space for playing. Then, we can change out the twin for a full size mattress and attach the footboard and side rails, too.

Bonus tip:

I considered using this headboard with a toddler size mattress turned sideways, like a daybed. But my daughter stayed in her crib until she was over three and by then, I figured she was about ready for a twin mattress anyway. But if you have a younger child who would stay in a toddler bed for awhile, you could use a full size headboard with the crib or toddler mattress; plus you’d only need to put up one side rail for safety:)

If you want to see the rest of her room’s French country transformation (it’s quite a before and after!), click here.

Have a wonderful day!

full headboard with a twin mattress



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  1. Hi Carrie,
    Did you attach the mattress to anything? Or did the headboard just rest on the wall?
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Hi Debbie,
      The headboard is attached to the wall with a french cleat (like this one). The mattress just sits on a freestanding frame. The whole set-up has worked out great in my daughter’s room. Have a nice evening:) P.S. Thanks for the great question. I updated my post with this information.

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