DIY Headboard Tutorial

My mom is an awesome gift-giver. Seriously. She is thoughtful and gives intentional gifts that she knows you would like. And this year was no different. She and my husband partnered to give me an awesome gift: all I needed to make my own upholstered headboard.headboard tutorialI had been drooling over headboards…. Missing our last house with our Kelly green slatted door headboard still on the wall. I missed that wall. Why? Because now our bed is in front of a window. I’m telling you, there’s no way around it. Do you know that it’s difficult to sit up in bed with your back against a window? I do. I can live to tell that story. And it’s a pathetic one. A whiny one.

But all of that led me to figuring out how to put a headboard in front of a window. I didn’t think people did that. I mean, cover a window with furniture? Isn’t that a cardinal no-no of decorating? Isn’t that part of why I re-arranged the furniture in our guest room? Yes. But like I said, there was no other way.

And after some looking, I found out I wasn’t the only one who had put a headboard in front of a window.

So I got over it and started planning our headboard.

I was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah at Thrifty Décor Chick and her DIY upholstered and tufted headboard with nailhead trim from this summer. Ever since I saw her tutorial, I knew we could do this. Her tutorial is great, but once I started thinking logistically through a few things, I knew it wouldn’t work for exactly what I wanted. And even though I love the look of tufting, I decided to forgo this (after buying the supplies) since our headboard would not be as tall because it will be in front of a window. Translation- we didn’t want it to block the window too much. And pillows would cover the tufting. So why do the work?

Instead, I settled on nailhead trim on the front. Again, thinking logistically through I realized this project was going to get a little more complicated. I wanted the headboard to be really comfy and fluffy, meaning lots of foam. But nailhead trim is not going to make it through all that foam. So after looking through TONS of tutorials from Pinterest, I found a great one. That I apparently didn’t Pin. Ugh. Anyways, she had the same end result as I wanted with the same shape, same fluff, and same trim.

So I was finally ready to get started.

I bet you are ready for me to talk about the exciting stuff too. And be prepared- this is a long post. I wanted to be detailed for those of you who wanted to make one. I looked through so many tutorials and wanted to make a comprehensive one that was easy to follow. If you’re not going to make one, there are lots of pictures, complete with lovely afters!

Here’s what I used for my headboard:

  • 4’x’8’ board of 5/8″ thick MDF cut to 32”x76” (they did this for us) -$22 at Lowe’s
  • Boards and screws for frame- $15 at Lowe’s
  • Staple gun and LOTS of staples (I didn’t use an electric one, just my reliable hand one that’s like $10 at any home improvement store)
  • One 1.5” foam mattress pad, full size- I got mine from Target for $20
  • Extra loft batting (Twin size) from Hancock Fabrics for $8 with a coupon
  • Nail head trim roll-$12 at Hancock Fabrics (with a 40% off coupon)
  • 3 yards of fabric-50% off at Hancock for a total of $41
  • Scissors
  • Spray adhesive- $4 for the can at Hancock Fabrics on sale

Our total: about $130!!!

Ready to get started?

Step 1: Decide on what shape you want the headboard to be.

different shapes of headboards

I used this for my reference and loved the look of the Belgrave. There are tons like this for sale on sites like Joss and Main so I could see what a professional product would look like. I loved it. But at something like $600, I knew we could make this happen for TONS less! Plus, this seemed like somewhat of an easy shape to create while being elegant.

Step 2: Cut the back to your headboard.

We determined that we wanted the headboard to go a few inches below the top of our mattress, about 4” over our Euro pillows, and 2” on either side of the mattress. This is how we came up with 32” x 76” (we have a California King mattress). I read that typically headboards should go 8” over the top of your pillows. That would look awesome—if our bed wasn’t in front of a window.photo 3 (48) photo 4 (40) photo 1 (54)I used a string of jute and a marker to create a protractor of my own. I created a quarter-circle on one side. Then, the hubs used his jig saw to cut out that shape and we used it to trace the other corner, so they would be exactly the same. We He cut that out and voila- you have the back piece!

Step 3: Build the frame.

Since I wanted nailhead trim on the front and it wouldn’t go through the 3” of foam I had planned, we had to build a frame around the headboard for the nailhead to go into. By we, I mean my husband. Have I mentioned he’s awesome?! I used the same technique as for the first quarter-circle to make one 2” larger on a scrap piece of MDF.

photo 2 (55)We then traced the already cut-out piece from the back of the headboard inside it and cut the sliver to have a 2” border around the curved cut-out. We repeated this for the other side. Hope that makes sense. :) Then it was easier.Displaying IMG_2214.JPGHe cut two inch pieces of MDF for around the sides and top. We didn’t bother putting it on the bottom since I won’t put nailhead there. He initially used wood glue but it wasn’t drying fast enough for our liking or schedule and so he just used finishing nails to attach the “trim” to the main piece. He sanded the edges to make sure they were even and smooth.IMG_0155

Step 4: Adhere foam to headboard.

We set up the headboard with the trim up in the driveway on sawhorses so I could use the spray adhesive.IMG_0156 IMG_0157 IMG_0158We unrolled the foam and cut it with a serrated bread knife so that it fit perfectly inside the trim.IMG_0162IMG_0166We had enough left to almost piece together another layer. Even though it didn’t go down all the way, we figured this part will mostly be behind the bed anyways. The shorter layer went underneath the full layer on top. IMG_0169I sprayed the adhesive to the MDF and the squiggly side of the foam and immediately pressed them together as per the instructions. We did half of the foam at a time. But after a few minutes we realized it wasn’t sticking very well. I probably didn’t use enough of the spray adhesive from fear of running out. So to secure it I used my staple gun in a few places to get the bottom part of the foam closest to the MDF so it didn’t create dimples.IMG_0170 IMG_0171My brother got excited and jumped in to help! We used just enough staples to secure it.IMG_0165Then I used the spray adhesive more liberally on the second (top) layer, and it worked much better. We carried it inside and laid it on a sheet to do the fun work!IMG_0177 IMG_0176Look at all that foam! Three inches! Yehaw!

Step 5: Staple batting to headboard.  IMG_0178I was able to fold my batting over and get 2 layers that would wrap around all the edges. With the headboard upside down I threw a couple of quick staples into each side and then stood the headboard up.I quickly realized I couldn’t get the batting taught with the heavy board on top of it. So with it standing up leaning against our ottoman, I was able to pull it taught around each edge and flip it over to finish. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the next step.

Here is how I wrapped the corners. IMG_0181The batting gives the nice layer over the trim work so the edges aren’t so harsh. Then I trimmed off the extra and saved it for later. Pillow stuffing?

Step 6: Iron your fabric.

Mine had been folded up in a sack for a few days so I spread out a clean sheet and laid out the fabric and ironed it quickly. This might not be completely necessary if your fabric was thinner, but mine is thick and I was afraid it would hold a crease for a long time, even with pulling it taught. Better safe then sorry.

Step 7: Staple the fabric to the headboard.

I decided I wanted a light cream/off white for the headboard instead of my initial thought of grey. We already had a lot of grey in our room and I though the white would really pop and brighten the room. I chose this thick twill from Hancock and was thankful it was 50% off!

IMG_0182To staple it I laid the board foam down and put a few staples in along the top. Then, we flipped it on it’s head so I could pull the bottom and sides taught.IMG_0180After that I flipped it bottom-down and finished the top.

For the  curves, it bunched up a little when I pulled it suuuuper taught so I cut strips and stapled them in place.IMG_0184 IMG_0186Lots and lots of stapling and pulling. I was able to do this all by myself (well, my mom kept it from falling over) but my hand was sore after. We trimmed the excess and went to dinner. Yum.IMG_0183

Step 8: Nailhead time.(Almost there!)IMG_0188I used this nailhead trim kit. Have you seen this before? It’s genius. It’s a roll of nailheads and you only have to actually nail every 5 pins. Crazy. A little warning- I originally got the silver finish but the roll was matte finish and the nailheads shiny. So I returned it for the Antique Gold which were both matte and I like the color better anyways. The nailheads are a tiny bit different color. But I didn’t care enough to use individual nails. No way.

I started at the bottom of one side so that if it didn’t look perfect it wouldn’t be glaringly obvious. I used a regular hammer and it didn’t really damage the nail heads, very little if at all.IMG_0192I used a tape measure to check before nailing each nail head, at 1.5” since my trim was 2”. I’m not gonna lie, this was not the easiest task because my headboard was so fluffy with foam! I had to really press the rows of nail head down well to get the nails in far enough.IMG_0195It curved without problem. I only had to break off the roll a few times and re-adjust where the nails were because there was a tiny gap between the curved and side trim pieces. But that was easy enough.nailhead gapOverall, installing the nail head was easy and relatively quick. It took me about an hour to do the whole headboard.

Step 9: Install

Then, my hubby and brother double checked the height I wanted before installing the legs/frame to the back. The hubs used screws to attach the legs (it looked like an “H” with the legs and a cross-bar for stability) to our bed frame and we were all. done. I excitedly made up the bed and stood back in awe.

IMG_0218My family was still in town and we all gathered in our room to stare at it. For real.IMG_0222IMG_0225Then about an hour later, we hopped into bed and leaned against it. Man, it’s really soft. And really sturdy. And really really pretty. Like really. :)IMG_0219Every time I walk by or into the room, I get giddy. It looks so fantastic and really completes the room.IMG_0221It looks chic and elegant, and not at all like it cost a mere 130 bones and took no more than 5 hours to make (not including shopping time).IMG_0226It really was a project that was easier than I thought it would be, took less time than I thought, and looks better than I thought. How often does that happen? I’ll tell you. Almost never.

If you wanted to make your own, you could definitely do it for less if you: used less expensive fabric, attached it to the wall instead of your bed eliminating the cost of extra wood (save $12), or didn’t want it so thick and soft and only used batting (saves $20, though I highly recommend not skipping that step).

I am absolutely thrilled with how this turned out and feel so accomplished. It truly was a family project and we worked to knock-off this headboard for a fraction of the price!headboard tutorialWhat do you think of my new headboard? Have you made any good knock-off projects lately for a great price? Do you want one of these headboards now?

Linked up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s Before and After Party

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