How To: Build Your Own Headboard

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Time: One day Price: @ $75 Tricky Bit: Getting the brackets to mount on the wall

Headboards can be so expensive and so heinous that we avoid them, even though we want one.

However, we attempted to make one for a client on HGTV and found that it was not only easy, it was fun. This is how we did it out of plywood, foam, fabric and special metal wall hangers. If you have more info to add, use the comments below...

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The Sizing
We first decided on the size we wanted by checking out those we liked. If you want a really grand look, you can go really high in the back, and if you want a sleek, modern look, you can go real low and wide. We opted for a compromise, measuring out from the mattress on either side by three (3) inches and going up from the mattress by @ 24 inches. This made our headboard 59 inches wide (for a full mattress) and 36 inches high. (This is the BEFORE pic)

The Wood
While you can make a headboard that rests on the floor, we wanted this to be light and moveable for this rental apartment (and easier to deal with), so we bought a piece of 3/4" plywood that was 59 x 36 and had it cut into five equal pieces. Our headboard would now be easier to work on, carry home and give it a little more pizzazz as it would have five different panels.

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The Foam For foam we went down to Canal Rubber, our favorite shop, where erstwhile grumpy owners sell fabulous rubber, foam and hoses to make you feel like a kid again. We bought one piece of "athletic mat" closed cell foam, which has a rubbery, heavier feeling than regular foam. This piece was then trimmed down with a regular mat knife into five equal pieces, exactly the same shape as each board.
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The Fabric We went cheap and colorful on the fabric, buying yellow and off-white swatches to perk up this dark little bedroom. Both were cotton and found at Joe's Discount Fabric on Delancey.

The Staple Gun
Carefully laying out the fom rubber on each board and then wrapping it tight with fabric, the corners were tucked neatly into place and a staple gun tacked everything tightly together from behind. If you start on one side and then give it all a good stiff pull on the other side, you get a nice tension across the surface and round out the sharp edges of the foam. It looks nice and upholstered.

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The Mounting Brackets This was actually the hard part. You really need decent mounting brackets to get a headboard like this to stick firmly to your wall. We spoke to the guys at Metro Lumber on Spring Street (often a real pain in the ass, but we got lucky this time as they weren't too busy), and used the brackets you see pictured. We don't know the name (and there are other solutions), but these worked well.

The Mounting
With the five panel method you have to be careful here. By first figuring out the level you want your brackets to be (we placed them 12" down from the top) so that your headboard hits exactly 24 inches above the mattress, you draw a faint line on your wall in pencil showing the exact horizon line that your brackets will be mounted on. We mounted the brackets on the wall first, from left to right, and then screwed them into the back of each headboard (one bracket for each board).

Next we slotted the headboards onto the brackets from left to right, discovering as we went that not everything lined up perfectly, so we adjusted the brackets on the plywood as we went. Once you get them all together on the wall, they sort of lock together and movement is not a problem.

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The Finish (This is the AFTER pic) Of course, using these steps you can pretty much tailor things to make any headboard you want. We encourage your feedback below and send in your own pics, when you try it.

Related Links:

Au Lit Beds & Headboards
Good Questions: Is a Headboard Necessary?
Good Questions: Headboard or no Headboard?
Myrica Bergqvist's Acrylic Headboards
Good Questions: Copying the Starck Headboards?

(Re-edited from a post originally published 08.15.05)
(ReEdited from 2007-11-09 - MGR)

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DIY, Bedroom, Beds, How To

Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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