We’re Into: Nailhead Trim


Once a functional design feature, nailhead trim has become a hot decorative detail. Thankfully, the studded look is no longer reserved for stately leather wing chairs. It’s not hard to find nailhead trim adorning everything from jewelry boxes to mirrors and bulletin boards. And they’re finding exposure on a variety of upholstered pieces, too. But why do we love the look so much?

“It brings that extra layer of lustrous texture to a room,” says our upholstery buyer, Page Hall. “Nailheads elevate the look of any piece and bring definition. They can outline a tailored shape, such as our Griffin Sofa or a whimsical shape like the Jasmine Bench.


Historically, nailheads were used by craftsmen as a functional design feature to conceal and help secure upholstery that had been tacked into the frame.

It’s believed the practice first began in 17th-century France with the ornately carved wooden furniture of the Louis XIII period. Luxurious seating was in demand, so craftsmen would use decorative nails to secure fine upholstery such as velvet, brocade, tapestries or leather.

In recent decades, nailhead trim has mostly been used to embellish more traditionally styled seating.


But the look these days is so versatile that it works in any décor and on any piece, thanks to a sophisticated variety of finishes and designs.

You can find aged brass, polished brass and pewter finishes. And if you want to make a bolder statement, go with larger scale nailheads.

You can make the look work for you, whatever your style.

“It’s nice to add at least one item with nailheads to a room to serve as subtle punctuation in your décor,” adds Page. “It adds a bit of drama, and who doesn’t want that?”

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.