Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I've wanted a headboard Admittedly, I JUST got a bed frame when I moved into this apartment, because my coworker is a gem and gave me an old one she had. Otherwise, if not for this charitable (read: free) basic metal frame, I would still be sleeping on a mattress and box spring propped up on those big rubber storage bins. (In my defense, it was hella sturdy, and provided amazing storage in my very small apartment. But yes, I admit that it was tacky and hideous.) Anyways, now that I'm the proud owner of a bed frame, it was time to jazz it up a little bit.

I looked around for a bit at options, since I knew I was going to have to be DIYing this baby. I'm on a quest right now to bring some new life into my house, since I just re-signed the lease and have at least another 12 months here. I also want to do this all as cheaply as possible, for obvious reasons. So anyways, my extensive Pinterest research narrowed down my options into three categories:

1 / 2 / 3

Faux Headboard - This was my first instinct, because it's easy and cost effective, though doesn't provide as much impact as the other options. It reads, unsurprisingly, flat.

Pallet / Reclaimed Wood Headboard - While I love the look of wood headboards, I've never done any kind of real woodworking, except for the time I took a class on how to make a wooden mirror where I was essentially named Worst Student and cried three times in class, because I'm an adult.

Luxe Tufted Headboard - I really, really, really love colorful velvet headboards. And maybe one day I'll have an apartment where they fit in, but right now it just seemed like it would be the sore thumb of an otherwise mellow and natural apartment. 

As you probably deduced from the lead picture in this post, I decided to go with the wood option after weighing impact, cost, and skill level, plus there was a good tutorial in the Young House Love book that taught me what to expect. I was nervous, but I had a bigger plan for the room and I knew a wooden headboard would be all that I needed to tie it together. For a refresher, let's look at the room as it was:

Definitely not horrible or anything, but I wanted a change. I ended up rearranging the room entirely, and don't have any Before shots from the same angle (this bedroom is SO, SO small, that taking any pictures is really, really hard), but this shot from the way-way-back-machine gives you a better idea of what the room layout as a whole looks like:

This picture is from the first post I ever made about the bedroom, and looking at it now makes me laugh. Why did I think this was good enough to put on the internet?? I'm glad I did though, it serves as one hell of a "Before". Anyways, you see the big white wall the bed is up against? That's the one we are going to be looking at in future shots.

Before we go on, I wanted to talk about the layout of this room a bit, since someone asks every time why I have my bed up against the wall instead of in the middle of the room. Do you see that little sliver of walkway next to the bed up there? That's all I got. If I were to center the bed, I'd be closing off access to that part of the room / my closets. Even with the bed oriented differently, as it is now, centering it still closes off that walkway. This fucking room. It's literally shaped like one of those L-shaped Tetris pieces (or you know, just an L). WHY. WHY.

I digress, let's move on because we are getting so distracted from what you came for. Sorry if you found this on Pinterest or something and just sat through all that rambling first. Before we get started, since it looks like I'm wordy today, let me tell you real quick what's going to happen to convince you it really is super easy, no matter how much I type:

1.) Lay precut wood on the floor.
2.) Lay two skinny pieces of wood on top of that.
3.) Screw the skinny piece into all the other pieces.
4.) Sand and stain.
5.) Hang. 

So easy. Aside from dry times, it took me less than hour from start to finish, and only cost $25.

You Will Need:
Five 1x6s, cut to 60 inches each 
One 1x3,  cut to 30 inches (Or you can have them cut down your extra piece)
Wood screws
Stud finder
Hanging wire
Stain (I used Minwax Dark Walnut, which I ended up liking sooo much more than The Internet's favorite, Jacobean)

Note: These directions are for a queen-sized headboard. Queen beds are 60 inches, and I made my boards exactly 60 inches as well. To see other standard bed sizes for your own project, click here
My wood came out to $21, and the stain was $4. I used the small thing of stain, and only needed about 1/4 of the jar.

Every DIY headboard tutorial I read used pine boards, but swore their project came in at under $40. Where the fuck are y'all shopping?? I went to Home Depot, ready to buy some pine boards only to learn that this amount of wood would have cost me closer to $100, which is not an option. I ended up using whitewood, which is just a composite of a bunch of different woods, and cost $7 per ten feet. Perfect. I had the Home Depot guy cut three of these ten foot 1x6 boards in half, leaving me with six 60" pieces. I also had him cut a 60" 1x3 in half for my braces. Literally all the hard work was done by Home Depot.You just gotta take all that wood home and screw it together.

Step One: Lay out all of your boards. Take a look at each one and decide which side you want to be the front, and which side you want to be the back. Since I used cheap wood, there were some parts that were stained or had weird machine marks, so I made sure that all of those were on the backside. Once you pick which side will be the front, flip your boards over so that the good side is face down. 

Step Two: Dry fit everything. Arrange the boards how you want them, and then place the braces on too, just to see how everything is going to fit together. Pro tip: I wish I had spaced my braces out more, put them closer to the edge of the boards. It would have made hanging easier.

Step Three: From the back, drill ten wood screws through your braces, one for each side of each horizontal board, taking care to go all the way through both boards, but not to poke through to the front. I found it easier to drill pilot holes first, but its up to you / how soft your wood is (hehe). (If you aren't familiar, pilot holes are when you use a different drill bit to make little guide holes for your screws, it gives them a little shallow home to nest in before they go all the way in, which can make it way easier for them to permeate the wood. It also helps prevent the wood from splitting. More info and an illustrated how-to here). For the screws on the top board, do not drill them all the way in. Leave about a quarter inch exposed.

Step Four: Flip over your headboard!  Having it quality-checked, as shown here, is optional. It should feel stable, secure, not like anything is loose or wobbly. It's okay if all your boards aren't quite the same length, or aren't flush to each other (mine definitely aren't, let's say it makes it more rustic...), but everything should feel super secure. Give it a quick sand, I used an 80-grit sanding block.

Step Five: Stain! I used an old sock, because I forgot to buy a paintbrush. I'm the worst. I ended up really liking the control using a sock gave me though, and it made it so easy to buff the stain in. I may use socks forever now. Also, contrary to how this looks, I am not using my foot, I'm using my hand and just have chubby wrists. Anyways, this took one coat of Dark Walnut, used according to the packaging. 

(The little piece on the bottom is just a test block, to make sure I liked the stain)

Step Six: Once dry, flip over again. Remember those two screws that aren't drilled all the way in? You are going to loop picture hanging wire around them. I used 18 gauge, which admittedly felt a little weak, so I braided three pieces of it together for strength before looping onto the headboard. String the wire from one nail to the other. When you buy your wire, ask the hardware store for something stronger. 

I forgot to take a picture, but the illustration above is exactly how it looks. (They used D-Hooks, which you can use too, but my Home Depot was out. I may add them later, but for now this method is holding up really well, since the headboard itself isn't super heavy, and the screws are thick, strong, and really far into the headboard.) Update: Five months later and the wire is just as good as the day I hung it, even with me accidentally knocking it off the wall TWICE when I was rearranging my bed and flipping my mattress.)

Step Seven: Using a studfinder, mark the studs on the wall where the frame will be hanging. On my wall, there were three studs in the space the headboard would take up. I drilled one screw into each stud, then hung the wire over the top of all three, adjusting until level. Again, Luce quality-checked this step too. She usually stays away when I'm working, because the noise and smells bother her, but she could not get enough of this project. That's why the above shot is a cell phone photo, it was in the middle of my work day, before I even really made the bed or reset the room, it was just too cute to ignore.

You probably noticed a few other changes in the room too! Like I said, I'm in full-on house revamp mode. I have been wanting black walls since I was a kid, when I begged my mom from age 8 to age 12 to just let me paint my walls black. I wasn't a goth kid, nor was I particularly sullen or anything, I just loooooved black walls. I remember thinking they would serve as the perfect backdrop to all my cool cutouts from Seventeen Magazine and the dELiA*s catalogue. She never let me, but that's why adulthood is awesome. You can eat ice cream for dinner, get drunk on school nights, and paint your bedroom walls black.

As far as the rest of the styling of this room, it's still a bit in flux, but I wanted to play around with what I had before buying much else. While the duvet cover is new (it's this guy from Ikea), everything else is something I already had. (Recognize the end table? It was my first diy here on r/p!) The lamp is the same one from the 'before' shots above, but I spray painted the base gold.

I just hung up this flag to fill the space, thinking I'd hate it, but I kind of like the crisp red, white and blue against the black wall and how it fills that large amount of space so well. I also painted the edge of the door again (a trick I first busted out when working on the foyer, and a trick that fulfilled all my dreams when Emily Henderson reposted it on Facebook and called it "clever"). This yellow is just a Martha Stewart craft paint.

I can't decide if the room looks unfinished with nothing above the headboard or not. I thought about hanging shelves, but the studs are really oddly placed, and our drywall is like butter to the point that even anchors don't help. I thought about maybe a gold mirror or gold framed print to tie in with the table/lamp, but that feels like too much gold. For now, it will stay blank until something strikes my fancy, or until one of you suggests something excellent. (PS: I hope you guys are still playing "Where's Lucille?" in this post, because she literally would not get out of my shots. Below you can see what happens when I try to move her.)

So what do you guys think? Does this seem like a headboard project you could tackle? It really is just drilling ten holes, stringing wire, and hanging. You can totally do it, I believe in you. My holes weren't totally perfect, and my boards weren't totally flat, and my stain might not even be totally even, but the beauty of this project is that it's supposed to look a little imperfect. 

And just because I love a good before and after, let's look at the room two years ago, to now:

CRAZY. Though, I wonder if two years from now I'll laugh about how I ever thought it was a good idea to put this current bedroom iteration on the internet...


PPS: If you want more content in between r/p posts, follow my personal blog at


  1. love the gold lamp with the black walls! we did a DIY desk table top with pipe legs and used a similar method of securing the wood pieces together and staining it... it's SO cheap and looks SO nice!!

    the headboard looks fantastic...

    1. thanks so much!! i want to see this desk of yours, too!!

  2. This looks awesome! I'm thinking of getting a new bed frame so I'll keep this in mind!

    Becca | Ladyface Blog

    1. you should! i loved the payoff to effort ratio haha

  3. In to this in a very serious way! Love the black wall!

  4. the headboard looks great, girl! it really adds a lot to the room/bed and i can't believe how easy it was to create. when did you paint your wall black? it looks amazing! I especially love the black wall with the gold accents on your lamp and side table. come decorate my house, plz.

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  6. love it! clearly, lucille loves it too! i don't think you need to hang anything above the headboard. i think the only thing you are missing is some throw pillows on the bed.

  7. Amazing job! Love the way the stain turned out and how you forgot to buy a paintbrush so used a sock. My brain would've iced over in that scenario and I'd slog back to the hardware store for probably the third time. Is it me or does every project no matter how big or small take at least three trips to the hardware store? Okay, maybe it's just me. Regardless, I'm inspired!

  8. The wood stain looks amazing against the black wall. It's got a grown-up, cozy feel - love it! Great work, Meg!

  9. It looks fantastic! And your tutorial was fabulous. But, I must admit, what really truly sells it for me is that flipping adorable little dog! Is she a mixed breed, or a special breed? I've never seen such a sweetie, and that includes my neighbor's wonderful (and heretofore cutest dog in the world) chihuahua mix.

    1. she's a boston terrier! we aren't sure if she's 100%, since she's a pound puppy, but thats the best guess we have!

  10. Thanks! I looked up her breed online and it says that they are lovely little canines and can also be "a bit stubborn." Maybe like when someone is trying to disrupt a nice nap and they don't want to move an inch? : )

  11. This looks amazing! I think I will be trying this myself! Great job!

  12. Looks great! And I can highly recommend the sock staining method. I use old socks & t-shirts for staining all the time because they're lint-free and tend to apply stain in the exact right amount (for wiping on/off in one application). Nice job!

  13. Great job! Also, highly recommend the sock staining method. I do it all the time with old socks and t-shirts because it's lint free and puts on just the right amount of stain in one application. Well done.

  14. Also begged my parents to let me have my walls painted black as a kid and I definitely wasn't goth. If my husband wasn't into more cheery colors I'd probably be painting a lot of stuff black in our house.

    Your room is awesome. Way to go!

  15. This is an excellent tutorial. We made this a couple weekends ago and I really like the way it looks. The stain color suggestion is on point! I wish we'd stained each piece of wood individually before putting it together, but you really can't tell that the entire piece of wood isn't stained unless you're looking really closely for it. We tried to hang the headboard up on our walls but our walls are weirdly impossible to drill through so we just added some legs to the headboard and drilled it into the metal bedframe, which looks really good too and was a pretty easy fix once we figured it out.

    This tutorial has given me a boost of confidence in my DIY skills and I'm excited to try more projects! Thanks for posting this!

  16. Love canine the quality control step. So important, but everyone skips it!

  17. This is great! My hubby & I are currently working on our guest bedroom and thinking of doing something like this. Thanks for the tutorial, will definitely refer back to it if we go this route :)

  18. Thank you for this! This is the first tutorial I've viewed where I'm not intimidated. I am terrified of putting the nails all the way through though... What type of wood did you use?

  19. great read... thanx for posting.. love some of your ideas... not sure about the flag, but hell I'm not sleeping in your bed so who cares:)

  20. The headboard looks amazing and I cannot wait to try this out in my master bedroom. If you were doing a king-sized headboard would you add more bracing on the back, or would 2 pieces still be sufficient?

  21. OMG I heart this headboard so much and I am DEF going to try it! Ill let you know how it goes!

  22. I just wanted to let you know I used these directions to build a headboard today. So easy and looks so awesome. I even used the stain you used (and the sock) I did create a border on it using some tape but other than that everything was the same. Thank you for posting this!! I too had been wanting a headboard forever!!!

  23. I feel your pain about small rooms and not enough space...But this is a great tutorial!! And your dog is precious!!!


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