Here’s what I want to build….

An upholstered headboard.

Should be easy enough, right?

With the new panels hanging above our bed, I decided maybe we SHOULD build a headboard, although technically it won’t be a headboard, it will be mounted to the wall as a “fake” headboard.  The main purpose is to protect the new panels.

There’s no way Jim would be on board with a project like this right now- since we still have unfinished closets, unfinished door trim, closet door jamb, etc. etc. etc.  So if I want to get this project done I’ll have to do it myself….on a day that he’s working or something.  I’m never motivated to finish projects, I’m always motivated to start new ones!  Like I really really really want to paint the playroom right now- but alas, it is not a priority and could wait.  If I’m in the mood to paint I should be painting our patio and window trim, right?

I really want to give this a go so let’s map out this project…

Step 1.  Purchase a sheet of 1/4″ plywood and cut it to size.  In this case I’m aiming for 76″ wide by 28″ tall.

Step 2.  Purchase some 2″ thick foam in that same size.

Step 3.  Purchase some thick batting to wrap around the foam covered wood.

Step 4.  Wrap that whole thing up in an oversized piece of fabric…hopefully something that coordinates with our current bedding and/or our new panels.  Hmm…. maybe I could get some ‘extra’ fabric to make some custom curtains, too!

So I set my plan in motion.

Jim was working on Saturday, so I could ‘sneak’ a trip to Jo-Ann’s and Lowe’s to pick out fabric, batting, foam, a sheet of plywood and some wall mount hangers.  My plan was to make it while he was at work and surprise him…but I can never keep my excitement to myself and spilled the beans.  Reaction was as I anticipated-  we have too many other projects that I should be focused on before starting a new one.  Fortunately this was a project I could do all by myself, whereas the other projects are one’s we need to do together, so I decided I would still just go for it!

I won’t bore you with all the shopping details, let’s just say that it was hard to find a fabric that would work with our bedding- something that would blend and not compete.  And then finding the foam core was another challenge.

Here’s what I chose for fabric (shown with the neckroll from our bedding set):

Finding an inexpensive solution for the foam layer was a little complicated.  I knew I could always get those foam camping pads from Fred Meyer for under $20, but I wanted to see what other options were out there.  First up was Jo-Ann Fabrics where they wanted something like $75 for a piece of 2″ thick foam.  No go.  We stopped at Target for other stuff, not related to this project, where I saw this:

A Memory Foam Pad for Twin XL mattresses- on clearance in the ‘back to school’ section for $9.99.  I had googled DIY headboards before heading out for the supplies, so I knew that this option would also work- you just mount it backwards- “egg crate” side against the plywood so you get a smoother finish.  Hmm….  at $9.99 that might be the best deal I can get!  So I bought two, thinking I might want to stack them for extra thickness.

I did also go to Fred Meyer and pick up the foam pads so I’d have a couple choices.

Turns out the thicker foam pads were not only too thick, but also too short!  About six inches too short so they wouldn’t work for a king-size bed.  So I settled on the memory foam pad.

Here’s the “How-To” photo tutorial on making a DIY headboard:

Step One:  Measure your bed to determine the size of your headboard.   We have a king size bed and I wanted the headboard to NOT be a focal point in our bedroom.  I designed the headboard to be only an inch or so wider than the bed on both sides.  I knew I wanted it short, too, again so it would not be a focal point.  Tip/Trick: you could use masking tape on the wall to outline the size and placement of your headboard- then use that measurement.

My measurements:  76″ x 28″.

I went to Lowe’s and picked out a piece of 3/8″ thick plywood (was told to use that over particleboard).  They made the cuts for me for free.  They gave me the leftovers, too- which ended up being enough to make a headboard for Riley’s queen size bed, and one for Trevor’s twin loft bed.  It might be a while before I tackle assembling those!

Step Two: Cut your materials.  The foam should fit the plywood exactly.  The batting should be cut long enough that it can wrap the wood with an overage of about 3″.  The fabric should also be cut long to wrap all four sides.

Step Three:  Find a large enough working space (I used our dining room table) and put the fabric face down, with the layer of batting on top, the layer of foam on top of that, and the plywood sheet on top of that!

I had a small glitch- the memory foam pad needed time to decompress and fluff up.  That added about a 2 hour delay to my project.

After it fluffed up enough, I put the plywood layer on top:

Step Four: Start wrapping!  I used a staple gun, first wrapping the batting layer on all four sides:

Then I wrapped the fabric on all four sides, paying special attention to the corners.  I wanted them to be wrapped as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

Since I was using a patterned fabric I also had to make sure the pattern was aligned properly.

Step five: Mount it to the wall!  That took me nearly 2.5 hours!!

Well, that’s not entirely true.  The bulk of that time was spent permanently hanging the wall panels behind the headboard.  I had to cut them to size, hang them straight and centered, affix them to the wall (I used decorative upholstery tacks).

The sad part…. I was disappointed with how the headboard looked against the IKEA panels.  They don’t match as well as I’d hoped.  Waaaaaah.  The panels are a little more ‘gray’ toned than I thought, with the new headboard material looking very ‘black’ against them. Oh well, it’s too late now- we’re going for it!

Mounting it to the wall was tricky.
1) I was doing it by myself.
2) I wanted it to be mounted to the studs on the wall.
3) I wanted the headboard to be perfectly centered between our light switches.
4) Getting the right height was going to be a challenge, too.

I chose these flush mount brackets (from ACE hardware for under $3.00 for 2 sets):

I used some tricks I’d seen on the blog (which I cannot find that particular post to share with you- but it was regarding how to hang picture frames when you have multiple frames that all need to be perfectly aligned, but the mounting bracket for each frame is not perfectly alignedIt was basically creating a template that you loosely tape to the picture frame with a punchout where the nail head needs to go for that particular picture frame.  You put the frame on the wall in position, then tape the template to the wall- when you pull the frame away from the wall, the template stays stuck to the wall showing you where to put the nail hole!  How brilliant is that?)

So I applied that technique in reverse.  First I mounted the brackets to the wall (on studs) at a height that I knew would work no matter what height I chose for the headboard.  After it was secure, I put the slider bracket into it with pieces of tape stuck to it and I strung the tape strips up the wall about 8″ (sorry, no picture).  Then I held the headboard in position and once I had it level and perfectly centered and the way I wanted it, I pushed it hard against the taped brackets so that the tape would stick to the back of the headboard.  Then I wrapped those tape strips over the top of the headboard to secure them.  I lifted the headboard out of position and the brackets did what they were supposed to- they stuck to the headboard and slid out of the wall mount!  Yay!

All I had to do then was flip the headboard back over and screw the brackets in place.  Easy peasy!

Here it is- attached to the wall:

And here’s the finished piece!

Just the way I want it!  With all the pillows in place the headboard isn’t visible.  Nobody knows it’s there and it doesn’t detract from the IKEA panels!

And here it is with the bedding turned down:

Low enough that it still isn’t a focal point.  High enough that we can lean our pillows against it for a little extra padding while we sit up in bed to read.  And it serves it’s purpose of protecting the wall panels.  Yay!

Here’s a few more detailed pics of the project:

The whole process (besides shopping for materials and waiting for the memory foam to fluff up) only took about an hour and a half tops.  Next time I’m guessing 45 minutes because most of my time was spent trying to hang the thing so perfectly- without help.

Oh, and the total cost?  $81.60.  Not bad!!

Plywood board $11.85
Flush Mount Bracket $2.79
Fabric $44.99 (it was 50% off)
Batting $11.98 (it was 50% off)
Foam Pad $9.99 (twin memory foam pad on clearance from Target!)

The only tools needed:
Drill, Stud Finder, Level, Staple Gun

I’m looking forward to doing the kids’ headboards!!