For years I’ve had a really plain bed. Just a mattress and box spring on a basic frame to keep it off the floor. As I was redoing the furniture in our bedroom I started thinking for the first time about what the bedroom actually looks like, and I realized that the bed was pretty lame looking. It has a lovely duvet that we got as a wedding gift, but that’s it. Something as substantial in the room as a king-sized bed should probably have a little more to it.
I started cruising the furniture sites and quickly realized that headboards and bed frames are fucking expensive. Even the least expensive headboard would cost me at least $200. Then I ran across some blogs that claimed DIY-ing an upholstered headboard is super easy and costs less than $100. Let’s just say challenge accepted.
- One piece of plywood cut to size (30” x 76” for my king bed)
- Two 2” x 4”s cut in half so you have four 48”-long boards (I used three of the pieces)
- Foam, in this case, I used two twin-sized egg-crate mattress pads
- Thin batting, enough to wrap around the plywood, I got a package of 81” x 96”
- Pretty fabric, three yards for my project
- Fabric-covered button set
- Thick thread and upholstery needle (or whatever really long needle you own that works)
- Staple gun and staples
- Wood Screws: 2” long to get through the 2x4s (that aren’t actually two inches; deceptive, I know) and into the plywood
- Drill that doubles as an electric screwdriver
- Go shopping. I got all of my materials at Home Depot and Wal-Mart, mostly because I didn’t feel like driving over the mountain to JoAnn to look for material, and the prices and designs at Wal-Mart were just fine with me. Get the guys at Home Depot to cut the boards to size. If you’re like me, you’ll be the lady with the Baby Bjorn and the giant cart full of lumber that everyone asks if you need assistance. If you’re like me, you’ll refuse assistance and then struggle to get the giant piece of wood in the back of the Volvo for far longer than you’d like to admit. But I got it, dang it.
- Figure out which of the two fabrics that you bought you are definitely going to use. One is a little daring, so you might chicken out and go for the neutral headboard then use the bright fabric for pillows. Consult your husband and decide to use the bight, exciting fabric. You can always re-cover the headboard later if you get tired of it.
- Iron your fabric. The fabric will invariably have a huge crease down the middle as well as other wrinkles. Ironing is really important in getting the fabric to look right on the headboard.
- Screw the legs and the support beam in place. Measure how far off the floor you need the bottom of the headboard to be and make sure you’ve got that amount of leg sticking out below the headboard. If your drill is weak-ass like mine is, you’ll have to finish screwing in the screws by hand. Which sucks.
- Lay the foam across the plywood and figure out if it will stretch the whole way. If it is too short and too wide (as mine is), cut it and finagle the foam so that it fits right. I didn’t do any cutting and finagling, and I should have. I wrapped the foam over the top of the headboard and figured the weird bunchiness created by stapling it over the top would smooth out when I got fabric on it. It didn’t. I’ve got a bit of a ripple going across the top of my headboard. And you can see where the foam is too short on either end through the fabric. It’s not terrible, but I wish for you to learn from my mistakes, people.
- Wrap the batting around the foam and staple it in place. I recommend doing this with the headboard face-down on the floor with the foam smushed between the batting and the foam. Pull the batting as smooth and tight as you can without ripping it; it’s crazy delicate. Go nuts with that staple gun. Nobody will see back of the headboard or the bajillion staples you use to get this shit to stay in place. Cut away the excess.
- Drill holes where you want the buttons to go. Measure and mark the spots first, obviously. I did two rows with five and six buttons respectively. I essentially just spaced out the holes so that they would be at regular intervals but wouldn’t be over a leg, because that would seriously complicate the tufting process. I’m pretty sure you can drill the holes either before or after you stick the foam on, but if you do it with the foam in place, you’re far less likely to drill into your floor.
- Stand up the headboard and drape the pretty fabric over it, smoothing out any wrinkles. Wrap the pretty fabric around the batting and staple it in place.
- Cover your buttons in fabric. The instructions are on the package. It’s pretty simple. This can really be done any time before you use the buttons, but I felt like doing it at this point because I could do it while the baby tried to eat his giraffe.
- Attach the buttons. Okay, this was harder than I expected, but it’s still pretty doable. You start by cutting a length of thread. My thread ended up being too weak, so I used yarn I happened to have. I’ve heard of some waxed thread that is ideal for this, and if I ever do decide to tuft a headboard again, I’ll find some. The yarn worked okay, but it was hard to work with. Shoot a staple halfway into the plywood next to the hole. Tie the thread around the staple. Thread your needle (I used the needle I use for knitting; it wasn’t ideal, but it worked) and poke it through the foam and the fabric (my blunt needle had to be pushed really hard to get through). Thread the string through the button’s hole then send it back through the layers and into the back of the board (this may take some feeling around with your needle). Tie/tighten the thread on the half-stuck-in staple, then hammer that bad boy down. Do what you have to do to get it however tight you want it. Mine didn’t get terribly tight. I think using yarn prevented me from getting it very tight.
- Fix whatever you need to fix to make your headboard look pretty. I had to do some smoothing.
- Prop that motherfucker up behind your bed.
- Admire your work. Hide all the clutter and attempt to take photos of the headboard even though you don’t have any photography skills.
- When the baby decides he doesn’t feel like napping, start taking photos of him.
So my first attempt didn’t come out perfectly. No big deal. It looks good enough for me. Best of all, it cost about $100 (I had to buy a staple gun, but I owned a drill; your cost will depend on what you own), and I can redo it whenever I want for only the cost of fabric and staples.