Headboard How-tos

These three ideas will inspire you to create a snazzy place to lay your head.
Alice Welsh Doyle

If your bedroom feels a little lackluster, don't despair. Instead, think about a headboard update. It's a great way to add some sparkle to your room without changing everything. You don't have to spend a fortune either. We came up with some styles that range from elegant to just plain fun. Add new linens, and you'll no longer be singing the blues.

Fit for a Queen: Re-create the Look of an Antique Corona
If you want to add a little glamour to your bed, then top it with a crown. We decided to re-create the look of an antique corona in this room. The size of the crown can vary depending on where it's placed (at the head of the bed or above the center like this one) and your personal preference.

Step 1:
Use stock trim, available from home-improvement stores. Draw out a sketch with the dimensions. Make the crown yourself, or take it to a professional to be assembled (a lumber shop charged us $25). Nail additional pieces of wood into the four corners to provide a base for attaching to the ceiling.

Step 2:
Now for the fun part. Cover the crown with primer, if necessary (we bought preprimed trim). Then distress it to look old. We beat ours with a hammer and used a screwdriver and ice pick to create dents and faux wormholes. Next, choose a latex paint that suits your fancy, and paint the crown with two coats. Then sand in places, and rub with silver paint and furniture wax to complete the antique appearance.

Step 3:
For the canopy, a sheer fabric with a subtle stripe (12 yards at $3 a yard) was attached to the crown with a staple gun. You need one panel for the back and one for each side. Attach the crown to the ceiling using an electric screwdriver. To complete the look, we added large bolster pillows and swing-arm lamps.

 

Renewed With Rope
You can teach an old bed a new trick. We took a tired-looking and slightly rusted metal frame and covered it in rope (a 200-foot spool of 5/8-inch-diameter rope cost around $150 at a home-improvement store). This technique works especially well on beds with center slats. For added interest, you can weave the rope in and out around the slats like a basket. Use a glue gun to secure the rope to the frame. Experiment to find a look that appeals to you.

Use gloves when working with the rope to protect your hands--and have patience. This project will take some time, depending on the size of the headboard and its intricacy. For added style, paint the rope in a color that matches your decor. We chose a warm brown that's found in the bedroom fabrics--a lively print and a simple ticking stripe.

 

Pretty in Upholstery
Upholstered headboards are quite the rage because they're attractive and comfortable. You can create a custom look without the high cost. We created one made of plywood and 2 x 4s, then covered it with foam rubber and fabric. For a special touch, a large monogram adorns the center.

Do-it-yourselfers and sewers can accomplish this project on their own. The shape and height of the board can vary to suit many styles. When deciding on the height, consider the size of decorative pillows as well as the distance from the ceiling.

Many fabrics will work, but avoid ones that are too flimsy or delicate. We chose a medium-weight linen. Other affordable options include cotton duck, denim, and matelassé. Once again, we used swing-arm lamps on either side of the headboard. They're the perfect choice for a tight space.

 
Upholstered Headboard How-To
  • Step 1: Measure bed frame from outside of the brackets at the head of the bed.
  • Step 2: Decide the height of the headboard, taking into account pillow shams and linens choice as well as ceiling height.
  • Step 3: Design the shape of your headboard. A rectangle looks fine, or you can be a little more creative with the shape.
  • Step 4: Make a headboard pattern using heavy butcher paper. After deciding height and width, make the pattern 1 inch smaller than the finished product, because of the 2-inch-thick padding that is added to the wooden frame.
  • Step 5: Using a sheet of plywood, draw your pattern onto the wood, and cut it out with a jigsaw. Cut two pieces to create a front and a back.
  • Step 6: Create the inside framework of 2 x 4s. Cut one center board that equals height of the headboard from floor to top of headboard. Cut two boards that equal height of the headboard from floor to first turn in pattern. Cut two boards that equal height from the floor to the second turn in your headboard pattern.
  • Step 7: Nail the 2 x 4s to the front of the plywood. Lay plywood back on top. Mark and nail into place. The headboard is ready for upholstering.
  • Step 8: Using foam rubber, cut two pieces that match the front and back of your headboard.
  • Step 9: Attach pieces to front and back of headboard with a glue gun.
  • Step 10: Cut foam rubber to fit edge of the headboard; this is to pad the edges. Attach with hot glue.
  • Step 11: Sew the outside material. Cut two pieces of fabric using original pattern. Add 2 inches to outside edges for padding and seam allowance. Fold material in half lengthwise, and cut one piece at a time.
  • Step 12: Cut edge pieces. It's probably best to measure the outside edge and add 5/8-inch swam allowance to both sides of the edge strip. You might have to sew two to three strips together to make one long strip to go all the way around.
  • Step 13: Sew cording or piping to outside of your front piece of fabric, using a zipper foot on your sewing machine. Repeat for the back piece.
  • Step 14: Sew edge strip to front, sandwiching the cording between the two pieces with the right sides together. Repeat with the back piece. Finish lower edge with a 1/2-inch double roll hem.

Materials

  • tape measure
  • butcher paper
  • 2 (4- x 8-foot) sheets of plywood
  • jigsaw
  • 6 (8-foot) 2 x 4s
  • nails
  • hammer
  • 2 (4- x 8-foot) pieces 2-inch-thick foam rubber
  • glue gun and glue sticks
  • 5 to 6 yards fabric
  • 12 yards cording
  • sewing machine