Monday, March 10, 2008

DIY Headboards

Recently I received a request from Kathy who asked me if I had any ideas on making your own headboard. I have plenty of ideas, in fact I’ve made a few of them over the years. Before I begin there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

How much do you want to spend?
How much time do you have to devote to this project?
How handy are you?
How creative are you?
What room is the headboard going into? Is it the Master bedroom, guest room, teen’s room or child’s room (boy or girl)?. This helps you decide what style you are going for.
Do you want your headboard to move or will it be permanent?

These questions can help you decide exactly how involved a project you can take on. Let’s assume you have the time and resources, then the sky is the limit. Here are a few creative and relatively inexpensive ideas for headboards that you can make yourself.

Keep in mind the following measurements:
Twin bed=39 X 75
Full bed=54 X 75
Queen bed=60 X 80
King bed=76 X 80

Your headboard should be about the size that will properly fit your mattress. The measurements above should help you with that.

Some ideas:

Build a Picket Fence Headboard
This is one that I built several years ago for a 12 year old girl. I purchased slats of wood and positioned them onto two horizontal boards, leaving a few inches in between. Short screws and wood glue held it all together. Each individual picket was a different color which made it look like it was for a young person. When it was all finished I threaded a silk vine through each picket. It was fabulous when completed. This particular headboard could be adjusted to look great in a guest room. Paint the pickets all white and wrap the vine through. This look is quaint, but more sophisticated.

***After a few years I decided to throw is away and create something else. Someone came to my door that day and asked if they could take it out of my garbage and use it in their garden as a trellis. What a great way to re-purpose my headboard.

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Build a Padded Headboard
There are directions for building these headboards all over the Internet. You’ll need a sheet of plywood or MDF ½” thick. Cut it to fit your bed with a jigsaw. Purchase padding at the fabric or craft store. Tack around the headboard and secure to the back of the plywood. Cover with fabric and staple to the back. There are many variations with this look. You can add trim to the perimeter or upholstery tacks for a geometric quilted look. Use some of the same fabric to sew up some matching pillows.

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Hand Paint A Headboard

If you are artistic you can paint the headboard right onto the wall. You can also use stencils. Keep in mind, you better never move that bed. This wouldn’t work for me because I always move my furniture around.

Make A Headboard Out of An Old Door

I've seen this done using new hollow doors, old antique doors and french doors. A great way to create a headboard. They can be hung horizontally or vertically for a more dramatic look. They can be painted, distressed or stained and you can even hang a piece of artwork in the middle. Trim can be added for an extra effect.

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Build A Canopy Headboard
These are fun to put together! Purchase a small piece of plywood or MDF wood. The home improvement centers sell them in 4’ X 4’ (take it home in the car) pieces that are just perfect for smaller projects. Cut out a half circle, use one or two large L-brackets and center it a few feet above the bed. Staple fabric around it that will hang to the right and the left of the bed. Embellish with silk flower vines, tassels or trim. Make your little girl feel very special. This same concept can be done for an adult bed.

Padded Squares
This contemporary look is made from 12 inch X 12 inch squares of plywood or MDF wood. Each one is covered with padding and then fabric. Install them above your bed like tiles, leaving a few inches in between each one side by side and above and below. A great look! Again, if you like to move your furniture around this may not work for you because it is somewhat permanent.

photo credit: HGTV

Plywood, Plywood, Plywood
A piece of plywood, a jigsaw and you can cut any shape you want. Circular, rectangle, a crown, castle, scallops… get the idea. You cut out a creative shape and paint or decoupage it. A simple solution and a creative way to make your own headboard.

Build A Padded Headboard Using Squares
Purchase plywood or MDF wood and cut out a dozen or so 12" X 12" squares. Using the same technique as a padded headboard, cover each square with padding, fabric and secure behind with staples. Space them out evenly on your wall. A great contemporary look.

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Buy A Decal for A Headboard
This couldn't be easier: buy a decal to throw it up there.

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These are just a few ideas to work with. In some cases you don't even need a headboard. Arranging art work above you can give you the focal point that you need. Many headboards can just be hung directly onto the wall above the bed. Others are tall enough that they just sit behind your bed and can be moved. Just remember to put little furniture protectors behind your headboard to protect your walls. I personally like the idea of having books shelves behind the bed. This seems to really work well for the teenagers. Those shelves come in handy for books, pictures and a lamp for reading (yeah……….do they really read?) I made one to put behind my daughter’s bed out of pine planks and it worked out really well.
There is plenty to think about when it comes to headboards. Don't forget to check your local thrift store for headboards that you can work with.

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  1. Wow!! Thank you for all of your suggestions. I am interested in more than one idea.
    Thanks again,
    Kathy from NJ

  2. What a great post. I didn't make my headboard but I did a makeover on one I found for free on Craigslist. Here is the link

  3. Cindy:

    You did a beautiful job in that bedroom. I love your site!

  4. I have a related question- I love the idea of putting a regular box spring and mattress on the frame for a hide-a-bed couch. I'd have the couch back as my headboard, which is great because I love typing in bed. Is this inadvisable for some reason I haven't thought of?

  5. Spence;

    Sounds like it would work out just fine. I can't think of anything that would prevent you from doing this.
    In fact, it would probably be pretty cool looking.

  6. I love the ideas. I have the french doors from my great-grandmothers home. How would I make a kingsize headboard from these? I need it to be tall. Would I leave glass in or remove glass?

  7. Debbie:

    I think you could use those french doors. Find a way to connect them and put them up as a headboard. You could leave the glass in, keep them clear, spray them with frosted glass spray, mod podge or paint. There may be some danger to leaving the glass in, but I'm sure it should be fine.
    It's a great idea. Google: DIY door headboards, click on images and see if there are photos (I'm sure there are). Good luck and let me know if you need any me at

    Best of luck,

  8. these ideas are so great! cost effective and fun.

  9. I love the idea of the doors for a headboard or the padded squares. How would I hang these on the wall?

  10. I would use very heavy duty molly bolts and hang them from that. I've just leaned these large doors behind a bed and left them like that. It seems to work. Just make sure you put really large furniture protectors behind the doors so they don't ruin your walls.