by Margaret Cabaniss
I love the look of upholstered headboards, but not necessarily their price tag. I’ve bookmarked tons of DIY versions on the web over the years, but because I never want to do anything too hastily (ahem), it’s taken me this long to actually get around to trying one. Fortunately, a friend of mine was looking to do some home improvements and volunteered to be my headboard guinea pig — and in one afternoon, we had knocked out the whole thing. Remind me again why I waited so long to try this?
We followed these basic instructions at Young House Love. There are more elaborate and heavy-duty versions out there, but if you want a quick fix for a bare room, or a placeholder while you save up for something big, I can definitely recommend this one.
What you’ll need:
- 4 wooden canvas stretcher bars (you can find these at a good art supply store)
- wood glue
- heavy-weight fabric
- staple gun and staples
- hanging hardware
First, figure out how big you want your headboard to be. For a queen-sized bed, we went with 60 inches wide (the width of the mattress) and 36 inches high — tall enough that we could have plenty of height above the bed, as well as a good bit hiding below the top of the mattress. Stretcher bars come in all lengths, so you can make yours exactly the dimensions you want.
Once you’ve figured out the size of your frame, you’ll need a piece of batting the same dimensions, plus 3-4 inches on each side. Obviously, the thicker the batting, the cushier your headboard; we went with a medium thickness (only a couple of bucks with a coupon at the fabric store), and it worked out great. For our fabric, we used an old heavy-weight linen curtain from Ikea, cut to the same dimension as the batting.
Now for the fun part! Assemble your stretcher bars by putting a little wood glue on the tabs and sliding the corners together. These were a snug fit at times, so you might want to use a rubber mallet to gently tap everything into place. Check to be sure your frame is square before letting it dry (the glue called for 12 hours of drying time, but since the stretcher bars fit so snugly to begin with, we just waited a couple of hours for it to set before proceeding).
When you’re satisfied that the glue is dry, clear a large area on the floor where you can lay down your batting, then place the frame on top. Next, wrap the batting around the frame and staple, using the same method as that coffee sack bulletin board I made way back when: Start by stapling the middle of one side, then cross to the middle of the opposite side and staple that down, too, making sure to pull the batting relatively taut — then do the same on each end. Once you have it tacked down, work your way around the frame, filling in between your previous staples (ours were about 2-3 inches apart by the time we finished). Do a hospital-corner style fold where the edges meet to make everything look nice and tidy.
After the batting is finished, do the same thing with the fabric: Lay your material right-side down on the floor, topped with the frame, then wrap and staple on opposite sides, being sure to pull the fabric tight as you work (if you have a patterned fabric, check it periodically to make sure it’s lined up correctly). The more staples you use on the back, the smoother it’ll look on the front, so just go to town on it.
Lastly, we added picture hanging hardware to the top edge of the frame on the back, then used a level to make sure everything was straight as it went up on the wall. The frame itself is so light — even one this big — that it only took a couple of nails, and we were done!
Sadly, the low light and small room made it tricky to get a good shot of the finished product (not to mention the fact that I’m missing the Martha Stewart–approved mountain of pillows) — but trust me, it’s awesome in real life. My friend says the new headboard is great inspiration for keeping the bed made and looking nice; it’s kind of amazing the difference it makes in the room, for such little time and effort (and cost!). I may need to make one for myself eventually…
Anyone else tried their hand at making their own headboard? Have a bed in your home that could stand a little face lift?
Images: Margaret Cabaniss