Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Making an Upholstered Headboard

We completed our headboard over the weekend. It came out pretty well for our first run at such a project. We both agree we'd definitely do it again and that it will be much easier the second time around with some of the lessons we learned, which I'll share here. Definitely beats spending several hundred (or more) on a store bought piece!

Supplies we used:

  • 1" plywood (bought at Home Depot and cut to - 79" x 45" - for free there) $37
  • 2 bags of 1" foam (purchased at Walmart) $29
  • 110" x 110" heavy ply quilters batting (purchased at Walmart) $12
  • fabric (3 yards for our King, purchased at JoAnnes) $14
  • D-rings (purchased at Home Depot) $3
  • heavy duty picture wire (purchased at Home Depot) $4
  • heavy duty picture hooks 
  • spray adhesive
  • saw (if you are going to cut out a design) 
  • staple gun 
  • electric sander (although you can use a regular sanding block)
Total Cost: $99*

* note we already owned the power tools, spray adhesive and picture hooks

Things we could have done to bring the cost down further:
  • We used a really high quality plywood, there were much cheaper 1" pieces, but I wanted something that was quality and had little warping and some bulk to it. It was much harder to hang because it was so heavy! The 1/2" plywood high quality plywood was $8 cheaper. So even going with a thinner plywood would have saved us some cash. Going with cheaper plywood altogether would have also saved money!
  • You can order foam offline and get it much cheaper, but time was not a luxury we had, so I went with what was available, it was cheaper at Walmart than JoAnnes. Husband and I both agreed that we could have easily done 1/2" plywood with 1/2" foam. OR we could have just done the 1" plywood with two bags of the quilters batting and no foam (we were able to fold the batting from one bag in half and get two layers out of it, so two bags = 4 layers). Skipping the foam altogether and adding more batting would have saved us about $15
So right there with the plywood and foam you could drop the price by another $25 if you needed to!

Getting Started:
  • Decide on a shape for your headboard. A rectangle would have been the easiest choice, but my husband will tell you I never pick the easy choice! My inspiration was the Brennan Headboard from Pottery Barn
  • When buying plywood at a home improvement store, you pay for the whole sheet no matter what size you cut it to. The piece we purchased was 4' x 8'. Before we brought it home, we had Home Depot cut it down to a smaller rectangle for us. Our mattress is 15" deep and 77" wide. I knew I wanted the headboard to be completely hidden by the mattress and stick out over the top of the mattress by 30" and I also knew I wanted it overset the mattress by an inch on either side. So we had them cut the plywood down to 45" x 79". 
  • We saved the scrap wood just in case we decided to do legs, but determined later on that we didn't want to bother (and it looks fine without legs).
  • Purchase your foam, batting and fabric (again, here is where you can spend and overspend).
Putting it all together:
  • If you're going to cut a design into your rectangle you start by doing that. My husband made a mockup of the design on a piece of cardboard we had in our garage, then he used the cardboard to trace the shape onto our plywood. You can just draw on the plywood (obvs) but for me seeing it on the cardboard cut out first helped me decide if I liked the slope. What can I say? I'm both a pain in the ass and a visual person.
  • We rolled out our foam on top of our wood and then used the spray adhesive to mount the foam to the plywood. Once the foam was mounted we cut the excess foam away from the design. I wasn't worried about jaggy edges because we were also going to use batting. We were able to get away with Frankenstein-ing pieces of foam together to fill the plywood since the batting was going over the top. As long as the foam was touching the batting would create a smooth line.
  • Once the foam was mounted and cut to match the shape of the headboard, we laid out our batting and then placed the headboard (foam side down) on top of the batting. I trimmed any excess batting so that only about 5" stuck out on either side of the headboard. Then you just wrap the batting over the back of your headboard and staple the batting down. You want to make sure the batting is flat under your headboard and pulled taut when you are stapling, but don't pull too hard or it will stretch! We started by stapling at the top of the design and then once the batting was attached to the top we lifted up the headboard to make sure our lines were smooth and that the batting wasn't wrinkling before tacking down the sides. Then we checked it again before tacking down the bottom. 
{ headboard after tacking down the batting }
  • My husband brought the headboard upstairs and placed it behind our mattress just to see how the everything was looking once before we attached the fabric. This gave us a good idea of where we wanted to attach the D rings for mounting. 
{ What our headboard height looks like with a euro pillow or with king pillows. }
*Note my puke bowl and Tums on the nightstand! Klassy. 
A full-term multiples pregnancy is no joke  :) 
  • While he did that I ironed the fabric. I ended up just getting fabric from JoAnnes because I didn't have time to wait for the P. Kaufmann fabric I really loved to come in the mail (I'm pretty much a ticking time bomb these days). The fabric I picked was a chenille that was normally $14.99 a yard but on sale for $4.50 a yard. I hated the chenille so I flipped it over and the reverse side was actually a really nice durable fabric that looks like a thick basketweave - almost a Belgian linen. Total score. And it pulls out a color in our area rug perfectly.
{ Pottery Barn Darby Rug }
  • Then we laid out the fabric and placed the headboard foam/batting side down on top of it. Again I cut the fabric so that about 5" stuck out on either side of the headboard. Starting with the top we pulled the fabric taut and tacked it down. Once we got done with the top we lifted the headboard and checked our progress to see if the lines were smooth. After tacking down one of the sides we noticed that the top was bunching, so we simply removed the staples in that section, pulled the fabric smoother and retacked it down. Keep checking your work so you can make sure your fabric is laying smoothly and everything looks good, especially if you are working with a curved design!
  • To tack the corners I stapled the fabric to the very edge and then folded the corner almost like I was wrapping a gift so we had a nice smooth edge and no weird bulkiness.

Attaching the headboard to the wall. Honestly, this last step was harder than the rest of the project. We ended up using D rings, heavy duty picture wire and large heavy duty picture hooks. A few tips:
  • mount your picture hooks to studs and don't be afraid to mount them much narrower than the width of your headboard.
  • mount the D rings to your headboard at an angle so your picture wire has more give and make sure that your D rings are mounted in the same spot on your headboard (trust me when I say that if one of your D rings is higher/lower than the other your headboard will hang funny!)
  • Attach your picture wire to the D rings and don't be afraid to leave some slack, this will help you get the picture wire onto the picture hooks more easily and allow you to adjust your headboard once it's mounted so that it's level and the overhang on either side of the headboard is good.
  • Keep in mind that where you mount your D rings and how much slack you have on your picture wire will affect where your headboard sits on the wall. At one point we got the headboard mounted and level and then realized that the headboard was resting on two outlets and our cable jack. We had to take everything down and remount the D rings lower so that the headboard hung higher on the wall. Total pain in the ass. 
{ our finished product }

Note I didn't make our bed or style the shot. This is what the bed looked like after my husband put it back together and the comforter is pulled back because he was about to climb in bed. We started this project at 2 in the afternoon and finished around 12:30 a.m. This includes running around to all of the stores we needed to go to get supplies, a trip back to Walmart to return eggcrates that I thought I could use in place of foam to save money (the eggcrates varied in thickness and I got nervous and decided to just cough up the cash for foam), two trips to JoAnnes - one to cut swatches of fabric which I brought home to match to our room and one to go back and actually buy the fabric, and a quick stop off at a local sports bar for the hubby to catch some football and drink a beer over lunch. 

If we can do all of this in a day, I promise this project is doable. Good luck, and feel free to ask me any questions if you take a DIY headboard project on yourself!

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