Yet another DIY headboard

These days I’m really trying to weigh the cost (in both money and time) before starting a DIY project. Sometimes–especially after purchasing all the supplies and tools–it’s just cheaper to buy something than make it. $46 for a complete bed frame from the As-Is department at Ikea? Better than DIY any day, especially when it is exactly the right piece for the room.

For Mr. Ten, a die-hard reader in bed, I thought a cushy upholstered headboard would be a good choice. He didn’t really care one way or another. In fact, he was a little suspicious–he doesn’t like change.

Undeterred, I pinned a bunch of tutorials and images of upholstered headboards. I really wanted something nice and thick. I also wanted to use another one of those old hollow core closet doors piled up in the garage. Over the Columbus Day weekend (sale at Joann’s!), I bought the foam (actually Nu-Foam Densified Batting) and batting for 50% off. Instead of upholstery fabric, I bought a canvas painter’s drop cloth at Home Depot for about $10, and a French cleat for another $10. Total investment: $42. I already own a jigsaw and staple gun.

I really like the canvas fabric–it’s very sturdy and if you look closely, it has flecks of colored thread throughout the weave.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Wash and dry the drop cloth.
  2. Measure. For a queen-size bed, I decided I wanted the headboard to be 62 x 24 inches.
  3. Cut the hollow core door to size. I had a 24-inch wide door, so only had to cut off one end with the jigsaw. I briefly sanded the rough edge and nailed a random strip of plastic that I found in the garage over the open end.
  4. Measure and cut the foam to size. I bought 2 yards of foam, so I have a little extra for some future project (a seat cushion, maybe). The depth of the door plus the 2″ foam makes a thick headboard.
  5. Lay the foam on top of the door and cover with batting. I used a an entire sheet of batting intended for a twin-size quilt, and just folded it (I think in thirds).
  6. Flip the whole thing over and staple the batting to the back side of the headboard, pulling the batting snugly around (sides first, corners last). Trim the excess.
  7. Repeat with the canvas fabric. You can see I was not very precise about how it looked on the back, but as long as it is smooth from the front, who cares? Pleat the corners as best you can. (Google “how to upholster corners” and you’ll get all sorts of advice.)
  8. Hang the headboard on the wall. I was fortunate to find a wall stud centered exactly above where the bed goes. I used a French cleat to hang the headboard. The headboard is not very heavy (if you use heavier plywood, you’ll need the bigger cleat), and with the center screw of the wall bracket secured into a stud and the interlocking bracket screwed into the solid wood frame of the door (the center is hollow, but the edges are solid), it is very secure on the wall.

Mr. Ten admitted that he likes his new headboard. I sat in bed with him for a few minutes at bedtime, and it was very comfortable. In the future, I think I’d like to upholster the box spring, reinforce it and add legs to make it a platform bed. I have enough fabric left from the drop cloth, but the cost of the legs and brackets is more than I want to spend right now. In the meantime, we have some artwork to frame and hang (I’ve pinned some fun prints that might make good Christmas gifts), and I’m on the hunt for a duvet cover to sew or buy.

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Covering a headboard

Since Little Four moved out of the crib (about two years ago, now) and into a twin bed, I’ve been on the look out for a cheap headboard for his room. You don’t really need a headboard, but it seems to finish a bedroom (and keep those metal bed frames from rolling all over the floor). I picked up a wooden bed frame from Freecycle at one point, intending to paint it, but soon realized that it was just too big for such a small room. (I think it had been the top bunk from one of those twin-over-full bunk beds.) It didn’t take me too long to pass it on to another freecycler.

Then early this fall, I spent a couple of weeks cruising the garage sales in my neighborhood. I happened across a multi-family sale full of old furniture, tools, linens, and vintage Pyrex and Tupperware. I found this little vinyl upholstered headboard irresistibly priced at $1. It even had a plastic bag with four bolts taped onto the back.

The shape was nice and the height was good, but the vinyl was terrible. I think my grandma had kitchen chairs upholstered in something similar. It was yellowed and ugly, but there were no rips and no funny smells, and the legs seemed to be made of sturdy oak.

Once I got it home, I started shopping for fabric to reupholster it. I wanted something neutral, sturdy and not too precious–this is a little boy’s room, after all. I had nearly settled on a navy corduroy, when I remembered an old blue and white ticking stripe shower curtain I’d been saving to repurpose in some way. Neutral, sturdy, and FREE.

I thought about adding piping, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I did use a double layer of batting (which I already had) to add extra cushion and soften the edges of the existing vinyl piping. The project was as simple as cutting the batting and curtain big enough to wrap around the headboard, and securing it all with a staple gun. I tried to pleat the corners nicely and make sure the stripes stayed vertical.

So for one dollar, Little Four has a soft headboard, and we have nice place to lean when we read bedtime stories. It was getting crowded in the rocking chair.