Emily Bowser here with the DIY headboard how-to I promised in the reveal of my bedroom from earlier today. This is what I’m calling “A guide for the person who poses as a DIYer but whatever, it gets the job done.” Enjoy, and let me know if you need any clarity or have questions in the comments.
Step 1: A year before you actually do the job, buy the fabric. I bought mine from Mood Fabric and last I looked they were out of it (sorry!) It’s a burnt orange velvet and it was NOT cheap. I think it was $24/yard and I bought a lot because I wanted it to recover my burnt orange velvet chair in the living room. I live in a small space and I like keeping it cohesive! (Tutorial on that maybe coming soon—how’s that for commitment??). But really though, even though I didn’t construct the bed for entirely too long, it’s helpful to have the fabric so you can start pulling other things together.
Step 2: Assemble friends. You don’t need more than one person to do this and you definitely don’t need three, especially when you only own one staple gun but DIY with friends is more fun. Especially if wine and goss’ is involved.
Step 3: Go to Home Depot and spend entirely too long looking for someone to help you. You have a nagging feeling they don’t make cuts as small as you want but you ask a guy and he says they do. Wait 35 more minutes for the wood-cutter guy to have him let you know that they do not, in fact, make cuts that small. You have him cut as close as possible and leave knowing this for sure just got way more complicated because you only have a table saw and a jigsaw that you’ve used *kinda* once.
Step 4: While you’re there and waiting, send one of your three friends to pick up some French cleats. One for each panel. They look like this and come in all different sizes:
Step 5: I wanted four panels on the back, all the same size and then one on each side, both the size of the left wall. I’m in France and couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what those exact measurements were but the important part is 4 the same (these are 26-inches wide), 2 smaller but the same as each other (I believe these are 12-inches wide). They were all 48-inches high and ¾-inches thick.
Step 6: Buy batting. Comment to friends at least 485 times on HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS. WHY? You should have seen the math that was happening between two stylists, a designer and a v confused employee at the Joann’s counter trying to figure out how much was needed. I believe we got about 20 yards of one-inch thick batting but then realized we only needed maybe six? We were not math majors guys…
Assembly & Installation:
Step 1: Measure and mark plywood with a pencil. Do an okay job with the jigsaw, cutting the plywood down to the correct-ish size. It’s not exactly the right tool for the job, but it works. Kinda.
Step 2: Contemplate doing something fancy with the edges, like rounding them, which your friends quickly talk you out of after seeing your jigsaw handywork.
Step 3: Lay batting on floor, place plywood piece on top, roughly cut it 2-3 inches bigger than the plywood and watch Erik staple it around all the edges. Note: I invested in a plug-in stapler years ago and have NEVER regretted it.
Step 4: Watch Erik do the same to the velvet this time with wine in hand. He stapled the velvet layer over the batting. Comment on why can’t step 9 and 10 be combined? He tells you to shut up and to pour him more wine.
At this point, you’ve all collectively done like 10 minutes of work and 3 hours of waiting for things at Home Depot and Joann’s. But you are all FINISHED (wine may be a factor). We leaned the pieces of upholstered panels against the wall and shoved all the furniture against it and were V proud of ourselves. We all said at the same time that maybe it never needed to be attached to the wall after all? Probably just to make ourselves feel better about basically lollygagging through the day.
In a SHOCKING twist, I did, in fact, put the panels up, all by myself (3 weeks later and probably ONLY because of this blog post). It was somehow very easy and hard at the same time. Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Pick an arbitrary number (as long as it’s less than the height that you want the top of the headboard). I wanted the panels to sit above the baseboard so it wouldn’t be pushed out at the bottom, so I measured 41” from the floor to where I wanted the French cleat to attach to the wall and velvet panel. I did not, though I thought about it, attach the panels to each other, and I’ll tell you why in a minute…
Step 2: Use a stud finder, pray it works (I MEAN. WHY??), and mark where every stud is in the area where the headboard will be, because…
The cleats have multiple areas where you can attach screws and basically SOMEWHERE on that cleat will line up with a stud. At least if your panels are as wide as mine where (studs are typically 16 or 24 inches apart). This way you don’t have to mess with anchors and you know that headboard will adhere to the wall FOREVER. Attach the wall side of the cleat to the wall at the determined measurement from the floor. (Note: cleats will come with all the hanging things.)
Step 3: Attach the other side of the cleat to the panel so that when you connect the two pieces of the cleat, the panel will sit where you want it. I learned after the first panel that I should do it a bit lower so I didn’t have to be all up in Erik’s over-stapled upholstery situation. So for me, every cleat was in a different spot. Again, it doesn’t matter where the cleats are, just that once they are connected, wall to panel, they hang at the same height as each other.
Step 4: Do it over and over until you are done with the panels. It’s that easy. Well, kinda. Quick note that again, done is better than perfect. My house is the most crooked house of all time, so getting those puppies to fit together is where I had a very hard time. Luckily, since each panel was separate, I could tszuj them until they looked more even than they were. I was getting very frustrated with this process until I stepped back and I was like, “Oh. That’s good enough.” Remember to step back, with French cleats or literally everything in life. It’s probably good enough.
As a reminder, here’s the finished product (go read about it all in this morning’s post):
Again, ask away in the comments if you need some clarification on anything. Thanks for following along friends.
Don’t miss other posts in this series: