DIY Headboard Painting

Dear Emily’s Readers,

Do you ever look around at giant paintings, salivating, wishing you could call them your own? That you could take them home from the gallery and love them for the rest of time? But then you look at the $170,000 price tag and you get sad because you spent your last million on that brand new jet? Well you’re in luck, because I recently made a glamorous giant painting with the help of Alexis and a little boy who dared to help me paint. Below is a step by step guide to creating your own masterpiece, whether you’re a teenage cat enthusiast or an elderly professional wrestler.

Before we get started with our Bob Ross-style painting lesson, here is what you’ll need:

Canvas + Stretcher Bars + Staple Gun = Stretched Canvas

canvas frame

You can grab all these items from Blick Art Materials, where Emily and I like to shop. If you’ve never stretched a canvas, watch this video for a quick primer. Or you could just be a normal person and buy a pre-stretched canvas.


In real life, artists use acrylic or oil paint for their paintings, but for the purpose of this project we chose to use house paint. This is because we needed a lot and house paint is less expensive than acrylic. It was also helpful that we didn’t have to mix the colors, because mixing the perfect shade of blue can be as difficult as trying to arrest Reese Witherspoon’s husband for drunk driving. Too soon? Sorry.

Step 1: Choose your paint colors.


Because the colors in the bedroom were so sophisticated and restrained, we decided to go bold with our selections for the painting. We chose Benjamin Moore Coat of ArmsSun Kissed Yellow, and Black Satin.

2: Stretch your canvas.


Canvas stretching is an art form unto itself. This is kind of difficult to describe so check out that video I mentioned before.

3: Paint your background color.

diy headboard

In Graham’s room, we were working with a color palette of blue, black, yellow, and grey so we decided to keep our painting in the same vein. To give our painting more depth, we mixed black paint into the Coat of Arms color. This had the effect of making it look like the bottom of a pool, rich and aqua and shimmering. Like my eyes.

4: Enlist child labor to ensure handmade look.

diy headboard

diy headboard

Because this was for a kids room, we wanted to involve our clients’ son so that he could take some ownership over his painting. When I was little, I loved making art, and I assume that all children love to paint as much as I did. Which is why I was slightly surprised when Graham was all “OK, I’m done painting now” after like five minutes. I will say that he was seriously into when he was doing it, but that he knew when his interest was dwindling and decided to stop while it was still fun. I think we all could learn a lot from Graham.

4: Maniacally micromanage your child laborer to make sure it doesn’t look “too DIY.”

diy headboard

One of the reasons I will be a terrible parent is that I’m slightly controlling when it comes to things like art projects. One moment I’m all “be yourself!” And the next minute I’m like “No, stop that. You’re doing it wrong.” Just kidding. I would never say that to a kid and I was super good with Graham … otherwise he’d hate me. And I know he likes me. Right? Graham? Are you there? Hello? I’m so alone.

5: Tape off upper section of painting to add in second color.

diy headboard

Once I had bored Graham so much that he fled in terror, I taped off the upper portion of the painting to add our second color (white). A normal person might have just left the canvas white so it wouldn’t be annoying to paint white over a dark color, but I like to complicate things as much as possible so I did it backwards. It did give the painting an added sense of laying and depth though, which I like. Speaking of layering and depth, have you seen Emily’s new bangs? I’m totally into them.

6: Tape off accent stripe, painting it in with black.

diy headboard


We wanted our painting to be very minimalist and simple, so we didn’t want it to get too busy with too many stripes. Thus, we just added a few, including a big black one in the middle. This helped to give the painting some movement. Also, sorry for my outfit. Sometimes, when I’m running around shopping, making paintings, and being a terrible role model for young children, my outfit gets messed up (there was a cute overshirt I was wearing before these pics were taken but it got too hot so I took it off).

7: Tape off and paint in your final accent color (in our case yellow).

huge painting headboard

In order to make the painting more kid-friendly, to make it more lively, and to bring it back into our color palette, we added our accent color into the mix. The bright yellow really helped the painting come alive.

8: Remove tape and, BAM, your painting is done!

huge painting headboard

One of the most satisfying things in life is ripping blue tape off of painting jobs, and this was no different. I wish there was a job where all you did all day was rip blue tape off of stuff, because I’d totally apply.

We created a simple frame using pine we had cut to size. This process was slightly involved, so check back for our DIY on how to cheaply frame large paintings. It will literally blow your socks off. (No it won’t).

9: Hang painting behind headboard.

DIY headboard

Photo by David Tsay

Depending on how big your painting is, this might be harder than it sounds. Because our painting was giant and we were hanging it over the bed of an especially adorable child, we hired someone who specialized in secure art hanging to hang it for us. If you are hanging anything over a bed, make sure to use plenty of anchors or just have the thing built into the wall.

10. Enjoy the painting!

So, there you go. That is how you make a giant painting without really trying. Well, there was quite a bit of trying to be honest, and a little bit of artistic turmoil (“Emily do you like this? What about the yellow do you like that? Do you like me? What about my personality is that okay? Why are you running, come back. I love you.”). Hopefully your painting won’t involve so much drama.

So, now I have shown you the way to make a giant modern painting. What are you waiting for? Get out there and make it! Right now.


Guest Contributor Orlando Soria 


  1. Cami

    VERY cool.
    But the real reason I am commenting is to say that this post made me laugh at least 15 times.

    • Kay

      The work of art turned out to be great. Please give credit to the kid, he will love it.

  2. CM

    Great tutorial, thank you!
    I also laughed at this post, especially the part about how you’d be a terrible parent because you’re too controlling. I’m not a terrible parent… EXCEPT exactly in this way, when it comes to gardening. “STOPIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING DON’T STEP ON THE… I mean, careful of the plants, dear!”

  3. Kelli

    Thank you for the humor in this post–made my morning.

  4. Sarah

    I loved everything about this post! Now I want to leave work and find some random kids to help me paint giant canvases. Not creepy… it’s art!
    Thanks, Orlando. Always a joy!

  5. First of all, omg I love Orlando… this post was hilarious! Second, what a great tutorial!

  6. Kate

    Thanks for the tutorial!! Now I want to go buy all the canvas rolls everywhere and make giant paintings all day… :)

    What were the finished dimensions of this painting?? It looks like it was about 5 feet?? It is shorter than Orlando…

  7. Jessica

    perfect tutorial, esp love the oft-excluded inclusion of child labor. also perfectly hilarious Orlando, truly the best part.

  8. Pingback: D.I.Why? How To Make A Giant Painting | Hommemaker

  9. Thanks for the tutorial! I’ve been planning on painting my own masterpiece for a large (4′x6′) area above our couch that we couldn’t afford to buy art for. I hadn’t pulled the trigger on this DIY cause I didn’t know where to start. Now I do!

  10. Love love love this happy post! Not only was it a great idea and tutorial — but hilariously well written. I was smiling the whole time I was reading! Thanks for jump starting my day!

  11. Mandolyn

    “One of the most satisfying things in life is ripping blue tape off of painting jobs, and this was no different. I wish there was a job where all you did all day was rip blue tape off of stuff, because I’d totally apply.” <—–THIS

  12. Eileen

    Orlando you are talented, funny and adorable. Thank you for this post. I really want to do this for my 12 year old son. How big was the brush you used and did you do random strokes or do a particular pattern? I too have a bit of perfectionist in me as well.

  13. Kristin

    Great tutorial…and very funny! I can only imagine how much fun you and Emily have working together!

  14. Jana

    This post is perfection–great content, well written and funny! Orlando, you’re the best. Thanks for making my morning….

  15. LOVE the way this turned out! I didn’t realize it was so massive until I saw the photo of it in the room. Love the idea of layering behind a traditional headboard.

  16. Kevin Orlin Johnson

    Thank you! You’re a regular Renaissance man!

  17. sheila

    Awesome project. Very, very, very funny post. Thank you.

  18. Duck

    Even more enjoyable than ripping blue tape off things – letting PVA glue dry on your hands, then peeling it off. But enough about my perversions…

  19. Orlando is hilarious and I actually LOVE this DIY. Awesome guys!

  20. lamamatogng

    Orlando, you are just AMAZING. And wonderful. Oh, and a model, right?! THANK YOU!

  21. What a fun way to add art to your wall! Loved this tutorial! Thanks Orlando for sharing!

  22. chez

    You are one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read. That post was awesome!

  23. Heather

    That painting made my pupils do a happy dance. And, that post…could you be any funnier? I don’t think so. Whenever you run low on validation from Emily, please reread this string of comments. You are a gem (You is kind. You is smart. You is important). Very clever, charming, and mucho informative. Thank you for the tutorial.

  24. Love this post, and the painting! It reminds me of the artist Barnett Newman, and I’ve always loved his work.

  25. j


  26. Tai

    What a great post, and I am SO doing this for my bedroom – and possibly for behind my couch also. :)

  27. Chelsea

    I love this post! So funny. I can’t wait to go home and paint one myself! I even got my fiance excited for the project (Which is rare, to him project usually = huge expensive mess). Thanks for the tutorial Orlando!

  28. Alexis

    I can’t wait for the framing DIY. I have a very large painting hanging in my living room that I can’t afford to frame. I would love to DIY one.

  29. sue

    love it orlando! can i ask a seriously ditsy question? ok, make that two now… when you say you mixed the black paint in to get the depth (which i love), did you mix that in before you applied the paint to the canvas or as you went… and was it just loosely mixed through so there were still splotches of black throughout or did you completely combine the paint colours? ok, that was actually 3 questions… thanks!

  30. Elise

    Great post! Thanks so much! I can hardly wait for the framing post as I have many canvases I’d like to frame. Also – Orlando you are hilarious. I think “maniacally micromanage your child laborer” was my favorite part. Emily is lucky to have you!!!

  31. Haha, “hanging it over the bed of an especially adorable child” – hilarious! I love your guest posts!

  32. Britt

    1. you are quite hilarious. i literally lol’d 3 different times.
    2. this is a fantastic idea on so many levels.
    3. please write a book of more fabulous how- to’s with your lovely co-creative miss. E

  33. Andrea R.

    Love this tutorial! You had me in stitches the entire time while reading this! This will be done for my 10 yr old!!! What color did you use on the walls? Love the wall color too!

  34. Sonel

    I love this painting!! So glad you did a post on it because it was my favorite thing in the entire room (which is saying a lot because the whole room is gorgeous). I think the idea of layering it behind the headboard is genius.

  35. corbett


  36. Kro

    Thanks this idea…actually I has had a similar idea, but I don’t do anything, maybe I’ll be like a child and only do it

  37. You are just overflowing with wit and charm, aren’t ya? Excellent ideas, especially making the kid do half the work. He clearly has a future in design. Or hawking his work on a New York street corner. But let’s wish design for him, shall we?

    Thank you for sharing your fabulous ideas – the result is superb and I suspect many a stretched canvas will be slapped with paint this weekend in your honor.

  38. I would love to know how big you made this canvas. Hard to tell if Graham’s bed is a full or a queen size.

  39. Haha, I love Orlando’s posts…they’re always so funny! I love Emily’s posts too! I love you both; you both have wonderful personalities; I know I don’t know you I’m not creepy! Er. I’ll stop now.

  40. Ok I never leave comments bc I’m usually reading from my phone (and am apparently not patient) but I just had to today.. to say you guys are hilarious. I love your work, love your writing, love your sense of humor… I die reading your blogs. Keep at it! As a graphic designer and mom I especially loved the “be creative/no, do it like this” part. So tough and yet hilarious too. Thanks Emily & Orlando. Loves from Portland!

  41. Donna

    Even as uncomplicated as that looks, I’m fairly certain that the talent of the painters contributed to the outcome. Not sure mine would look as good. Great job, Orlando and helper. Maybe you want to come do one for me??? Really funny post.

  42. orlando love the painting, it totally kicks your room up to the next level and you are literally hilarious. love your voice, thanks for your posts

  43. kim


  44. Lisa

    Hilarious! Seriously. Loved every word. And, I feel inspired… Think I may go paint something with my 5 kids. Oh wait, that may be really crazy. But, I think a little crazy fun could result in a wonderful result. Thanks.

  45. Beth


  46. Brandy

    Such a good post! I totally need a giant piece of art in my house, and since I definitely can’t afford A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, nor would the Art Institute of Chicago allow me to purchase it even if I could, this is the next best thing. Thanks Orlando!

  47. I love the blue you chosed and I also love the game colors.

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  49. Dria

    you are so wonderful in everything you do. but srrrously gurl, wha’s up with that dresser?

  50. Dria

    ….and who is this sexy body builder character? this isn’t!!! i dont know how i know that…

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  52. I love this Idea! And it actually look relatively simple, but oh so effective.

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  54. Will

    Hey! Have been following your posts and keep going back to this one! Love the brush stroke texture on the painting and how with only the blue background on it seems like there are still subtly different shades of blue on it. Could this work on a wall for an imperfect look? Love the slight abstract-ness of it. Thoughts? If so, how would one go about getting that effect? Is it multiple paint colors? Thanks!

  55. Jamie

    Did you ever post how to frame a giant piece of art like this? I LOVE this & so many times want a giant piece of art but haven’t a clue how to frame it without spending tons.

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