DIY Headboard Madness

Well, we’ve been going on and on about how some day we were going to build a headboard.  Guess what?  We bit the bullet and DIYed ourselves a headboard.  It looks awesome and we can’t be happier that we did it.  Here’s how:

Step 1: Inspiration

We wanted a grey headboard with a nailhead trim, like this one from West Elm (originally found here):

We wanted to pick an inspiration that looked relatively simple to recreate (i.e. didn’t have a lot of curves or structural details that were going to complicate things).  We wanted something simple.

Step 2: Find a tutorial

There are LOADS of DIY headboard posts out there.  We love the look of a nailhead-trimmed detail (thus our inspiration), which lead us to some extremely helpful posts.  We settled on using Centsational Girl’s post, since the inspiration was exactly the same as ours.  You can find the original tutorial here.

Immediately, we knew we were going to tweak the tutorial a bit.  The tutorial calls for a headboard that is hung on the wall, but we wanted one that stood on its own two legs.  We also made another change (spoiler: we didn’t use a nailhead trim kit), which we’ll talk about in more detail later.

Step 3: Measurements

We totally cheated on this one.  We just went to a few websites to see what a standard sized headboard was and copied them.  The standard queen-sized headboard was 64.5 inches wide.  It looked like we had more flexibility on height, but we settled on 53.5 inches tall.  We liked the headboards we saw in that height, plus it seemed pretty reasonable in our room.

Step 4: Fabric

Our first impulse was actually to buy a curtain panel from West Elm instead of buying bulk fabric.  We knew we wanted a high quality fabric that would coordinate nicely with the quilt we bought from West Elm:

(The quilt, by the way, looks even more amazing in person – the ruffles are a little subtler and it has a nice smokey grey fabric underneath.)  Kristin thought the best way to find a complementary grey would be to stick with the same company, especially since we could use the same type of fabric as the nearby curtain panels which we also picked up from West Elm.

Unfortunately, when we went to go pick out a curtain panel, we discovered that the panels are all 48″ wide. If we got a 48″ wide panel, we would have to sew a couple pieces together, and, frankly, Kristin has no idea how to sew them together without having an obvious seam.  So, we scrapped that idea and headed for Joann Fabrics.

We grabbed our new yellow-and-grey pillow to help us find the right shade of grey.  The pillow has so many perfect shades of grey in it.  It has dark grey and light grey (like the pillows we got for Christmas), very dark grey (like our new duvet cover), and a medium grey.  We thought finding a matching medium grey would balance the bed out perfectly.  Imagine us carrying the yellow-and-grey pillow like a baby throughout the Joann Fabrics store, only taking it out of our tight grasp to compare it to every grey fabric in the store.

The only trick was finding a good fabric in an extra-wide size.  We were hoping for a 60″ wide panel because a 60″ panel would be wide enough to cover the 53.5″ height without a seam.

We settled on this one:

Gigi approves.  It’s a soft, jersey fabric.  We loved that it was soft (after all, we will be sleeping with our heads against it) and the perfect color, but we were nervous that it was too stretchy.  We weren’t sure whether the fabric was going to rip when we attempted to attach it to the headboard, especially since we had read that it would need to be pulled pretty tightly.  (good news: it held up!)  We ended up buying a couple of pieces of fabric – one piece that was 2.5 yards and a second piece that was 1.5 yards, just in case we needed some more.

Step 5: Supplies

Here’s a list of the supplies we used:

  • Fabric (we used 2.5 yards of stretchy 60″ wide fabric, but you should get enough to cover your headboard plus about 10 inches on all 4 sides)
  • Batting (we used 2 bags of batting that was precut for a queen-sized bed)
  • Nailheads (we used about 6 containers of decorative nailheads)
  • Rubber mallet (to get those nailheads to go into the bed without scratching them)
  • Needle-nosed plyers
  • An 8′-long 2×3 plank of pine (i.e. some wood for the legs)
  • One sheet of 4×8 plywood
  • Staple gun and staples

The instructions from the fabulous Centsational Girl called for using a “nailhead trim kit.”  We looked at the nailhead trim kit when we were at Joann Fabrics, but we weren’t thrilled with how it looked.  Each nailhead was connected to each other and we wanted something that looked a little cleaner; like individual nailheads.  So, we decided to use individual nailheads.  (You can get a close-up view of how the nailhead trim kit looks here.)

Step 6: Build the Frame

Next, we built the frame for the headboard.  We took the plywood and trimmed it down to 64.5 inches wide (leaving it 4 feet tall).

Then we cut the three pieces of pine: 2 pieces that were 53.5 inches and one that was 58.5 (64.5 inches wide minus 3 inches for the left and 3 in for the right side of 2×3 pine).  We screwed the planks of pine into the plywood to complete the main shape of the frame.

We screwed some small pieces of plywood onto the legs to keep the width of the side of the legs the same as the rest of the headboard:

Lastly, we also sanded the edges of the plywood so that it wouldn’t rip the fabric or poke us at night time.  We didn’t sand it a lot, just smoothed it out a little.

Step 7: Attach the Batting and Fabric to the Frame

We stood our frame upright for this step.  We draped the fabric across the frame and stapled the batting to the back of the frame.  We used 4 layers of batting and 1 layer of fabric.

We stapled the batting to the back of the 2x3s…

…but we pulled the fabric to the sides of the 2x3s to give the back a slightly more finished look (even though no one will probably see it).  We thought this might prevent it from looking funny against the wall when you see the headboard from the side.

The only trick here is to watch what you’re doing and pull tight.  Pulling the fabric tight helps prevent wrinkles.  Here’s how it looks from the front at this point:

As a side note, we did not wash the fabric before we used it.  Maybe we should have, but we didn’t.

Step 8: Use the rubber mallet to hammer in the nailheads.  (Warning: It’s tedious!)

If you’re doing what we did (individual nailheads instead of a nailhead trim kit), this step takes forever because you have to individually hammer each nailhead into the headboard.

To make a straight line, we tied a piece of string around the headboard and measured both ends to make sure it was 2 inches from the side the whole way.  It gave us a great straight line, but was easy to move by accident (i.e. we had to keep checking to make sure it was still straight).

A lot of the nailheads broke as we worked through the project.  We discovered that the most efficient way to manage the nailheads was to hold them with needlenosed plyers and hit them with the rubber mallet.  If they weren’t perfectly located, we were able to move them a decent amount by putting a screwdriver on the side of the nailhead and hitting the screwdriver with the mallet.  This did not scratch our nailheads, but we might have just gotten lucky.

Step 9: Step back and admire your hard work!

Looks. So. Good.

Our favorite part was the fact that we were able to get this project done in about 2 days.  Super easy.  We also didn’t try to get through all the nailheads in one day, but we probably could have if we tried.

Cost Breakdown

  • Fabric: $22.50 (including 10% off coupon)
  • Batting: $40.00 (including coupon for 40% off one item)
  • Rubber mallet: $5.40 (including 10% off coupon)
  • Decorative tacks: $5.90 (including 10% off coupon)
  • Plywood: $16.67
  • 2x3s: $4.25
  • Staples, staple gun, needle-nose plyers, screwdriver: free!  (We already had them.)

TOTAL: $94.72

Cost of our inspiration: $549 (+ $60 delivery surcharge)
Total savings: $454.28 (+ $60 delivery surcharge savings)  Woohoo!

This project is a total “bang for your buck” project.  We were really happy with the savings (obviously), but we also feel good about making it ourselves.  And we sleep way better because it makes our room feel so much cozier.

Have any of you tried to DIY a headboard?  Bought a new headboard?  Have a nailhead headboard that you love?

5 thoughts on “DIY Headboard Madness

  1. Pingback: Gigi’s Birthday Present « Kristin & Krister's Blog

  2. Hi I really like your post. I want to do a DIY headboard simliar to your posting but I need to attach my DIY headboard to the bed frame. Did you all do this for your project? I just dont think my headboard will stay up since it wont be against a wall. Any advice? Thanks!

    • Yes, we actually planned on doing this before we decided our headboard was sturdy enough pushed against the wall. You can see that the headboard we used as an inspiration has two slats on either side of the posts. Your bed frame should have similar slats. You want to drill a hole in the legs of the frame you built that will line up with the slats on your bed frame. Most headboards come with 1/4″-20 carriage bolts with washers and wing nuts to attach the headboard to the frame. If you are using a fabric that continues to the floor, like we did, make sure you protect the fabric from ripping around your hole (we would probably recommend exposing and staining the legs, instead of bringing the fabric to the floor). Hope that helps!!

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