February 24, 2015

How to: Make a Headboard

This past weekend my very lovely and wonderful friend Alexandra flew all the way from her cozy home in Seattle, Washington to visit me in the dirty South. Alex has spent time with me here before, back in our college days where we made bad decisions and ingested unreasonable amounts of alcohol and swore we wouldn't tell anyone about it.


This version of her visit was much, much more subdued but even more wonderful. Not only was it a longer trip than the last time, but I haven't seen her since her wedding in July and that is just too many days between visits.

We had a very low key itinerary planned, with one major event that I had been looking forward to for weeks. I was going to take her, and a few of my other lovely girlfriends, up to the Biltmore for a day of "True Life: Pride & Prejudice." We were going to celebrate Galentine's Day with some sight seeing, lunch, wine tasting and a jaunt through the village. If you're not familiar with the Biltmore Estate, it's the largest residential home in the United States, located in Asheville, NC. I won't go into the details but you should check out their website - the place looks amazing!

We had planned to go on Monday, as we were less likely to encounter school trips (state holiday!) and post Valentine's Day couples.

But... that never happened. I have some of the worst luck out there and this situation was no exception. North Carolina and some of South Carolina had an ice storm - a pretty significant one - making travel dangerous (and in some areas, impossible). My backup plan was to abandon my other friends and take Aly up on Tuesday instead (relax guys, I would have made it up to them) but the weather was still not cooperating and so the whole day trip was snuffed.

My disappointment is palpable. 

So instead I occupied our time with Netflix movie marathons, shopping, a thrift and antique store run, the making of pillow covers (tutorial to come) and the building of my new headboard. Aly had asked me what crafts I had planned for us before she got here and I'm sure by the time she left she wished she had never made the inquiry. 

I had found a handful of tutorials on Pinterest about how to make a headboard and finally settled on one made by Thrify Decor Chick. Her site is excellent - tons of DIYs and great project ideas. I can hardly take credit for my own headboard, simply for the fact that her's was so inspiring and I essentially followed her steps to a "t". I'll give you a simplified run-down of what I did (and what I did differently). I encourage you to read her detailed step-by-step for a more in-depth look at things. 

What You Need

Plywood or particle board (MDF)
Wood glue
2" x 4" or 2" x 6" boards
Thick mattress pad (or foam)
Staple gun
Button making kit
Thread (wax, regular, floss, fishing line, etc)

What You Do

1. Decide on the size and shape of your headboard. There are a million options. I decided I wanted mine to sit about 3 feet above the top of my mattress and be about an inch wider on each side. To accomplish this, I would need a piece of plywood that was 3' x 6.5'. The closest thing that you can get to this is a 4' x 8' piece, available at Home Depot or Lowe's. Having one piece would have made this project a bit easier, but my SUV couldn't accommodate a piece that size. To remedy this we bought two 2' x 4' and had one of them cut in half long-ways. Matt did the heavy lifting in terms of cutting and putting together the pieces for me, so I don't have a whole lot on this aspect of the project. My suggestion is to buy one large piece if it's possible. 

2. Cut corners. Literally! I made a stencil which I traced on the upper corners for him to cut out from the top of the headboard using his cut out tool. It gave it a beveled, more finished look. 

After Matt cut and assembled, it sat here in my
living room like this for a day or so.
3. Matt attached the 2" x 6" boards to the back of the plywood. This is a step that was different from Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick. She used heavy duty picture hooks to hang hers, which was a great idea! But we can't locate our stud finder (Matt lost it in the attic somewhere), and rather than mucking up our freshly painted walls with a bunch of holes, we opted to use the metal bed frame that already accompanies our mattress to hold up the headboard. Hence: legs for our headboard.

4. Cover headboard with foam. I used a egg-crate style mattress pad that I found at Walmart for $20. I folded it over the edges of the headboard and used a stapler to attach. We pulled it as tight as we could, given how awkward it was to work on. I had to use a queen size pad to cover the board.

5. Cover the foam with the batting. I stapled this as well and pulled it as tightly as possible to give it a smoother finish. This process is easier if you have helpers: 

6. Drill holes for buttons. I opted to follow in Sarah's footprints and do three buttons across the top and four buttons underneath. I really liked how it looked. Matt helped me with the math, but ultimately I based the holes on guesswork and my laser level. They're relatively accurate to the naked eye. Good enough!

7. Once your holes are drilled, cover your headboard with your fabric (again use the stapler). I chose a light grey that had a blue-ish undertone. It goes nicely with both the sky blue walls and the grey quilt and pillows. I bought 2.5 yds of the fabric off the bolt (so it was about 45" wide and 90" long). 

8. Using scraps of fabric, follow the button making directions. I made seven buttons for my headboard.

9. Tuft! Sarah's example is the definition of tufted and she did a beautiful job. My attempt at this was more for show. The key to her success was the wax thread, which if I had been able to locate some in the craft store I would have used as well. She knotted her ends and stapled them tightly to give it the tufted look. I used regular thread and simply attached a few spare plastic buttons to the ends of the thread on the back to keep the buttons on the front from moving. 

10. Voila! I cleaned up my edges a bit so that you wouldn't be able to see imperfections from the front. I also bought nail head trim but ultimately decided not to use it because I had some concerns that the plywood wasn't thick enough to catch the nails or that the foam wasn't flat enough to prevent the trim from slipping or looking awkward. No big deal. I'll save it for my next project.

All in all the project cost me about $95 - $50 for wood and screws, $45 for fabric, batting, buttons and foam. It would have been even cheaper if I had pre-ordered my items from Amazon or had better coupons for Joann's but even so, $90 for a headboard isn't bad considering that ones I saw online were anywhere from $150-$350. And the experience is invaluable! Lessons learned, kids. Lessons learned.

Let's see those headboards, y'all! Have you ever tried something like this? Or something else as a less-traditional headboard? I'd love to have a look!


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