Freckles in April: DIY Upholstered Headboard

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

DIY Upholstered Headboard



I accidentally deleted a bunch of my process pics for this one. I think you can still get the general idea.

In 9+ years of marriage Aaron and I have never had a headboard. I've bought fabric to make us one TWICE over the years but apparently never felt equal to the task and I ended up using the fabric for other things.

I feel a little silly now because it was actually really easy. And I don't mean that in a, "Easy for ME because I DIY stuff all the time" sort of way. It's legitimately a fairly easy project if you have basic tools.

Picking fabric was probably the hardest part for me. I wanted something kind of luxe to contrast with the brick but Aaron vetoed the grass green velvet I originally wanted (Pity. It was $5/yd). I brought home a bunch of samples with cool patterns but they all read too busy against the brick until I finally found some navy blue suede from a local upholstery shop ($10/yd. Totally doable!). I bought 3 yards for our king-sized headboard.

I used cheap plywood (it was $16) as the backing and had the guy at Home Depot cut the 8'x4' sheet to size for me.

King sized mattresses are 78 inches across. I read somewhere that your headboard should extend 3 inches on either side of the mattress but now that I've got an 84 inch long headboard I'm pretty sure that wasn't the best advice. We have a LOT of overhang on each side. I think 80 inches probably would have been sufficient. As far as height, 36 inches was perfect for us. About 10 inches sit below the level of the mattress and 24 inches are visible above. So I had them cut the wood to 84" x 36" but if I were to do it again I would probably do 80-81"x36".

I googled "headboard shapes" and found this handy image-


I decided on the Alexander shape- slightly more interesting than a plain rectangle but not crazy difficult to execute. Once I got my plywood home I measured 8 inches in from each of the top corners and chopped them off. Voila! Alexander shaped headboard.

Cutest baldest helper

Upholstery foam can easily be the most expensive part of a DIY headboard. It's absurdly pricey! A headboard doesn't really get the kind of wear and tear that cushions do though, and you could just as easily use a cheap foam mattress topper from Wal Mart instead. That was my plan until I remembered the 3 inch memory foam mattress pad languishing in our guest room. Free! I'll take it.

I set my plywood on the foam pad to use as a template and then used a serrated bread knife to cut the foam to size.

Unfortunately, memory foam is HEAVY. Originally I wasn't planning on doing much tufting but once I hefted that memory foam I realized I would have to do quite a bit to keep the foam in place and prevent it from sagging.

In what was maybe the 3rd time I've used math since leaving school, I figured out that 6 is a common denominator of 84 and 36 and I marked the board every 6 inches going each direction so I had a grid.

I didn't bother drilling or tufting that bottom row since it would be hidden.


I used the grid to figure out where to drill my holes (the blue dots in the diagram). I used a large bit (5/16) to drill the holes. You want to make sure they're fairly sizeable because otherwise you'll hate yourself during the tufting step.

Then I laid my fabric face down on the floor, added a layer of batting, the foam, and then the board. I busted out my staple gun and got to work.


I pulled the fabric fairly tight as I went. At each corner I just messed with it until it looked nice and neat from the front side then stapled it into place on the back.

This was round one. I ended up pulling out all these staples and doing it again the next day but didn't get a picture of the neater round 2.


Once it was all stapled into place I got to work making buttons. They sell kits with instructions for this at JoAnn's and similar places or on Amazon. I needed two kits to get the 28 buttons I needed. I also bought this white fabric pencil, which ended up coming in handy for the button making.



To tuft you need some linen or cotton cording (you'll find it near the jewelry making stuff. It cost $2.49 at JoAnn's and I needed two of them) and an upholstery needle. I used the biggest one in the pack since I was working with 3 inch thick foam.

I never misplaced it!

Thread your cord through the eye of the needle then push it from the back of the board through one of your pre-drilled holes. Thread a button on the front side and then push your needle back through. Trying to find the hole again blindly through thick foam is the reason why a bigger hole makes life easier. After you've got your needle through, take the two ends of cord and tie a knot.

Once all my buttons were sewn on I very carefully laid the whole thing on its face, pulled each string to sink the button into the foam and stapled the knot into place.


We screwed a couple 2x4s onto the back and stuck the whole thing at the head of the bed. In order to keep it in place (it knocked slightly when Aaron rolled over at night and drove him crazy) I stuck a couple 3M command strips on the back of each 2x4 and then stuck them to the wall. Quick, cheap, and zero wall damage!




I had been doing some online window shopping looking for a new comforter (preferably white with some kind of texture) when Aaron said, "Um, don't we HAVE a comforter?" I dug through our linen closet and sure enough, we DO have a comforter (white! with texture! Apparently my tastes haven't changed much). I had packed it away a few summers ago and forgotten about it. A quick run through the washing machine and we had our comforter. The mattress and sheets are the same ones we've had for ages but somehow our bed feels brand new!

Now to figure out what to do with the REST of the room!
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5 comments:

  1. I tried to leave this comment already, but then my computer froze and I don't think it went through? If it did, feel free to delete this one so you don't have two that both say the exact same thing which was, it looks amazing! I also did a DIY upholstered headboard once, years ago, but it did not look NEARLY this good :-) Seriously looks professional. And that fabric choice and style were perfect to go against the brick wall! (Which I showed to Jeff, who now wants to faux-brick EVERY WALL IN OUR HOUSE, fine by me.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I tried to leave this comment already, but then my computer froze and I don't think it went through? If it did, feel free to delete this one so you don't have two that both say the exact same thing which was, it looks amazing! I also did a DIY upholstered headboard once, years ago, but it did not look NEARLY this good :-) Seriously looks professional. And that fabric choice and style were perfect to go against the brick wall! (Which I showed to Jeff, who now wants to faux-brick EVERY WALL IN OUR HOUSE, fine by me.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I LOOOOOVE it. You guys are so Pinteresty lately. Stop it. It's making me want to change my whole apartment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ahhh why are you so handy. Can you please make me a tufted headboard? Yours looks so good!

    ReplyDelete

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