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Mal’s Renter-Friendly DIY Headboard Wall Completely Transformed Her 500 Square Foot Studio Apartment

Hello, Its me, Mal (EHD social media manager) and welcome back to my 500 sqft studio apartment. AND I’M HAPPY TO REPORT IT’S FINALLY FINISHED! I’ll be walking you through two of the fun DIYs I did for this space first, and then come back next week for the full reveal!! EEK! First, we’re starting with the bed wall that I’ve been in a boxing match with for years now. I was Rocky and this blank wall was Apollo Creed. But we went the distance babyyy and I think in this case I came out on top. Seriously though, I spent so much time scratching my head wondering how I could transform this back wall into something more interesting than the standard landlord white box special. After much trial and error, I finally figured out how to bring my vision to life!! So today I’m going to break down exactly how I did it in case you want to try this out at home, too, or if you don’t wanna try it out but you’re curious about the struggle that was this wall, let me entertain you πŸ™‚

THE BEFORE

When I said this was a boring wall I meant it…and this is pretty much the main wall of the apartment (the other side of this room is the other main section which is where the second DIY that I’ll be showing you is) so design-wise, I knew this was the place to make a statement.

The Inspiration

This apartment is small and laid out pretty similarly to a hotel room, so when I was looking for inspiration the first place I went was cool hotels. I’m very much obsessed with Palm Springs vibes and style, so I popped into the Sands Hotel and Spa which was designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and had lunch at the Pink Cabana during a weekend trip there. In case you haven’t been and have no clue what I’m talking about, let me show you some mediocre photos I took while visiting:

It’s SO fun right?? I was immediately blown away by the design (again shoutout to Martyn Lawrence Bullard!!) and knew I wanted to incorporate a touch of this fun, resort-y feeling in my space. So far, I haven’t been much of a “super bright colors in the main living space” kind of person (but this could also be because I live in 500 sqft), so I wanted to take pops of this but make it more restrained to be more livable in such a small space. Then when I saw this awesome custom headboard, I knew I could combine the two and create something really special.

The Options

So I started drafting up some options and you guys helped me decide on the direction (thank you!!). Here are some of the options we ran through:

A lot of you guys were split on which ones you liked, but there was a pretty solid pack that came together for option 6, and while it was easily the hardest version to complete, I agreed that it looked best (especially once the pendant lights came in!!) So now let’s chat about how to actually construct this baddie.

How To Create This Headboard Wall DIY

Okay, so now you wanna know how I did it, huh? Let me break down exactly how to do it (with some key learnings) so you don’t have to figure this out on your own (trust me, you don’t want to).

Items Needed

So here are the items you need. I used cardboard from boxes that I had and taped them together, but if you wanted to purchase cardboard I’ve got it linked for ya too! Also please note the amount for each item might change based on the size of your wall, but I’ll list how much I used for each item for my 10 ft wide x 8 ft tall wall:

Also in terms of timing, this project should take about 3 or 4 days in total (one or two days for the trim, one day for the cane, and another day for the wallpaper). There was a lot of trial and error.

Step One: Trace, Tape, And Cut Out The Cardboard Shape

So the first thing I did was hoard some cardboard boxes so I could create the shape for the black trim. Then I took a solid square of the cardboard and I traced the corner curve of my headboard so the trim would mimic the shape. I marked some points 4 inches below the curved line I traced and then traced another curve below it. Next, I cut this curve out and traced the exact shape onto another piece of cardboard then cut that one out. Boom. Now you have your curves! Next, I cut out a straight, long, piece of cardboard that was 4 inches wide and made it a little longer than the length of my headboard. I taped it together to the edges of my cardboard corners and used some command strips to put it onto the wall and see if the sizing looked right. Once I nailed down the top sizing, I cut out two more pieces to attach the bottom of the curves to the wall. I decided to give these a little curved moment too to make it feel really seamless and flowy. You’ll notice that a few photos down.

Step Two: Add Sticky Neoprene To One Side Of The Cardboard Trim To Secure It Together

Once I had taped the cardboard together I wanted something to make it feel more secure and a little more plush –– so I found this sticky neoprene foam on Amazon and I knew it was just the right thing!! I got the 4″ width so I wouldn’t need to cut it again (plus this would help the lines be a bit straighter because ya know…human error :))

Once the neoprene was up I used command strips and painter’s tape to put it onto the wall to make sure the shape looked right. Here’s what it looked like with just the neoprene up, before it was wrapped in fabric. The black helps you really understand where you’re at so you can adjust the shape if needed.

And then here’s what the finished result looked like before it was wrapped in fabric:

I ended up rounding the edges a bit on the bottom corners which I think gave it a better flow! This was the point where I ended day one (it was a doozy). If you wanna continue on and pull this out in one day YOU GO, GIRL. Please enjoy my grime-y outfit change…

Step Three: Hot Glue Wood Planks On The Back

Once I was happy with the shape, I needed something to really make the trim solid and to have something to staple the fabric to. So I had these poplar planks lying around and decided it would be the perfect thing. I ended up using about 10 long pieces (some of which I cut down with a box saw) and I hot glued a strip to the top and a strip to the bottom of the back of the trim. When it came to the curved corners, I cut down the wood pieces and glued them down to follow the curve (it’s not going to be perfect and that’s okay –– it’s really just to hold it all together).

Step Four: Staple Batting To The Wood Planks

Once the wood planks were locked in and the glue was dried, it was time to break out the staple gun and END THIS. If you’re attempting this DIY, this is the point where you’re gonna need a killer playlist and a little treat to keep going, but don’t worry there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I PROMISE. At this point, I just laid out the batting and cut it to match the shape of the trim, then I pulled it tight and used a staple gun to wrap the trim. When it gets to the corners it’s all about going slowly and pulling really tight so it doesn’t crease. Check in on the other side frequently to ensure there aren’t any wrinkles!

This is an up-close shot of the corner (which is definitely the hardest part FYI). Take it slow so you can ensure there aren’t any wonky wrinkles happening in the front! Also, make sure to cut the batting so there’s still some of the wood exposed for the hooks coming in a second…

Step Five: Staple Velvet Fabric

Next up, I laid out my velvet fabric, cut it to match the shape (but make sure there’s lots of overage) and then I stapled it to the wood planks as well. Again, pulling tight each time you staple!! TAKE IT SLOW EVEN THOUGH YOU WILL BE QUESTIONING LIFE AT THIS POINT.

Step Six: Screw In Art Hooks And Add Command Strips

Next up was figuring out a way to hang this bad boy. I tried just using command strips to make this ultra-renter friendly, but then I decided I really don’t want a chance of this falling on my head in the night, so I opted for four art hooks (which I stole from a picture frame I had) and I screwed it into the wood.

Step Seven: Cut Cane To Size & Tape It Up With White Painter’s Tape

Now time for the cane!!! Finding a huge piece of cane was a real piece of work. At first, I used two 24″ wide pieces and it looked so janky. I then went on a WILD GOOSE CHASE to find a 40″ wide piece of cane (which is truly the widest they go). I had to go straight to the source and found an awesome manufacturer called Yeeya Home. They were so incredible to work with and the quality was far more premium than the shitty 24″ wide cane I had originally purchased on Amazon. They also sent samples of a bunch of different options –– I went for a radio weave and am absolutely obsessed with how it turned out!! Note: because I had to do a custom order I could only purchase a 50ft roll of cane which I thought was a ton (and it is) but I ended up using half of it and the other half I’ll save for my next project! It’s also nice to have some piece of mind in case something goes wrong and you cut it too short or something on accident. Here’s what it looked like installing the cane:

Now, you could lay it flat for a day or two if you have the space for it…I don’t so it was a little tough trying to lay it flush against the wall. I pushed the bed as close to the wall as possible which really helped to keep it in place, then I used white painter’s tape behind it to keep some of the other parts down and it worked pretty well. Note that I had to add in two smaller pieces of cane behind my nightstand because it didn’t go all the way to the floor, so for those pieces I used some small nails to keep them flush with each other. I also have an outlet down there so I cut the cane around it πŸ™‚

Step Eight: Nail In Black Trim To Wall

Now it’s time to put that pretty trim (that I worked so hard to pull off) onto this wall. I used some command strips to make sure the placement was right and then nailed in four nails (two on the ends and two on the curved corners) and secured it in place.

Here’s what it looked like once it was up!!

Step Nine: Install Wallpaper

Now if you’re attempting this project, you could stop here OR you could keep going like I did and add a wallpaper. I fell in love with this wallpaper from Pottery Barn because it reminded me of the pink cabana in Palm Springs but the only problem was that it wasn’t peel-and-stick. So when I came across this article by Studio DIY a lightbulb went off and I added my dream wallpaper to cart!!! The gist is you put painter’s tape in a grid and then put double-sided tape over the painter’s tape so it becomes removable. I’d recommend grabbing a wallpaper smoother downer (yes, that’s the technical term) or a credit card to smooth it down as you go. Also, a huge lesson I learned was to A. use white painter’s tape if your wallpaper is thin or has a white background and B. line the painter’s tape grid up with the edges of the wallpaper so it looks more seamless and the edges won’t flip up. Then I just used the wallpaper smoother thing and an exacto knife to trim the edges and it worked wonders!! Lastly, I know painter’s tape isn’t technically supposed to be on a wall for long periods of time so we’ll see how removable this actually is when I move out (I’ll keep you posted), but it looks too good to not try πŸ™‚

Step Ten: Revel In The Hard Work You Just Accomplished!

And just like that!!!! It took DAYS, WEEKS, MONTHS of trial and error but the finished result is so worth it!! This boring white box apartment isn’t so boring anymore!! Have a look!!!!!

photo by veronica crawford

I’ll be revealing the full space on Monday but I have one more DIY to share with you before then so stay tuned!!! More to come! Drop your comments/questions/concerns below and I’ll see ya down below or follow me on Instagram and TikTok! Thank you all for reading! xx

Opening Image Credit: Photo by Veronica Crawford

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HerselfInDublin
3 months ago

This is absolutely spectacular, my jaw is on the floor. Allow me to start the standing comment ovation!

Brenda
3 months ago

It looks so good!!! Fantastic job!

Kristi
3 months ago

This looks incredible! Great work. I’m terrible at DIY but wish I enjoyed it for this project.

Amanda
3 months ago

Love this post! Nice work!

JinFL
3 months ago

Wow, absolutely impressive and gorgeous! This is some inspirational work, for sure! Can’t wait to see the full reveal.

3 months ago

Kudos for the wallpaper hanging hack–never in a million years, would I have thought of that!

Claire
3 months ago

This is the BEST kind of content! Creative, informative, achievable, and relatable to people without infinite resources!

MKP
3 months ago
Reply to  Claire

Yes yes yes to this comment! What a fun project to see. It looks Ah-mazing, Mallory! I am so impressed. And I can only imagine how completely transformed your apartment must be. Would you consider doing a video tour? It would not have to be perfectly produced like Emilys have been, but just a quick one with your phone would be so fun to see.

SB
3 months ago

This is incredible and it looks so good!
I loved seeing the process shots and am amazed you managed to finagle the construction of it on site. The apartment reminds me of living in my own 500sq ft studio when I was in my 20s and – drummers close your ears! – we put my roommates 5-piece drum set to work. The bass drum became the laundry hamper and the snare drum, a wonky side table. It never occurred to me to have done something as gorgeous and interesting as what you’ve done.
Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to the big reveal!

ellen
3 months ago

Absolutely genius to place the cane directly against the wall! It looks so good. Can’t wait to see your other DIY.

Roberta Davis
3 months ago

It came out great!

Lane
3 months ago

Incredible results, great execution of your vision. Very hotel like.

Kelly
3 months ago

Woohoo!! Beautifully done! I love to see renter and budget friendly projects like this. Can’t wait to see the rest of your apartment!

πŸ₯° Rusty
3 months ago

Dang cute TikTok, Mallory!😏
And, WHOAH!!! What an amazing DIY!!! Kudos!πŸ’“
I’ve been wondering whether we’d see what you’ve done… well it was worth the wait.
Plus, the full reveal AND another DIY to come??
Ourdesign aesthetic is divergent, but I am massively impeessed with what you’ve done!!
So good! πŸ€—

priscilla
3 months ago

You did a great job! Making it apartment friendly seems like it made the work twice as hard and take way more time, but you pulled it off! Love it

3 months ago

As a life long renter who is still renting, I love stuff like this! Such a great way to create a totally custom bedroom! And I love the movement that arc provides. 10/10 would want to try this!

Ashley L
3 months ago

Wow! This is amazing. What a DIY. So impressed by your commitment, Mallory, and the result is gorgeous!

Julie
3 months ago

As a fellow DIY-er…. THIS IS AWESOME!

MBJ
3 months ago

Wowwww this was a SAGA and I am super impressed by the outcome. Bigtime luxe hotel vibes. Congrats and thanks for sharing all the nitty gritty!

A
3 months ago

Incredible transformation!! I’m very excited to see the rest of your space!

Stephanie
3 months ago

This looks AMAZING, Mallory!! I’m so inspired by your creativity! I can’t wait to learn more about those awesome sconces, too. So excited to see the finished space!

Leslie
3 months ago

I love the look. my only question: do the lights allow reading in bed? they seem like they’d illuminate only a bit of the nightstands

Kata
3 months ago

Oh where are those pendant lights from? Not that probably I can get them in Europe but still need to know!

Heather
3 months ago

Wow Mallory, this looks so so good! I love the color scheme, and the wallpaper DIY trick looks like it worked great. What a cool and beautiful focal point of your apartment. The hard effort definitely paid off – well done!

Jane
3 months ago

Looks amazing, well done! Dare I say it rivals Brady’s?

3 months ago

It looks so good!!!

Rachel S
3 months ago

idk why, but i think about this idea board every so often, and WOW, the end result was worth the wait. i bet for you too, mallory! well done!!

Tara Lynch
3 months ago

Absolutely, positively 100% AWESOME!

veronica
3 months ago

you’re a rockstar!!! this turned out so beautiful, can’t wait to see the final πŸ˜‰

Amanda
3 months ago

Oh my gosh, this is amazing!! It looks incredible! And it’s my favorite kind of thing to see- heaps of creativity, a dash of risk, and plenty of willingness to give it a go. I love seeing diy of really beautiful, unique things made for someone’s specific home, not just to produce more content like some creators. Stunning result, and awesome process =)

Gretchen
3 months ago

Spectacular! Lots of hard work and such amazing results. Loved reading the step by step.

Meg
3 months ago

WOW this is phenomenal, wonderful work and super inspiring! Also cool to see how much the wallpaper really takes it up 20 notches, as well as the pendants and styling. Well done!!!

Ruth Anne
3 months ago

Fabulous job! Original, elegant, well done!