A Place to Rest Our Heads

I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it.  Of course with my husband, but also with the project we just completed together. Can you guess what it is?  Here’s a hint:

I guess you could say there’d been a headboard-shaped hole in my life recently (as well as a serious lack of bed-making).  Well, Alex (the Mr.) and I have remedied that problem, and I’m here to show you exactly how it went down.

The first step, as you can see, was to tape up a mock headboard to get a feel for the size we wanted.  After living with the green tape for a week or two, we decided to go for it, meaning I headed to Lowe’s to buy the wood that would be the base for our headboard.  After a good amount of staring at piles of wood with a befuddled look on my face (which I tried desperately to hide), I decided on 1/2″ oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing.  I made this choice for the following reasons:  1. I wanted something relatively lightweight, and the OSB was lighter than a similar sheet of plywood;  2. it was thick enough for me to use a staple gun without staples poking through;  3. it was cheap;  4. I’m cheap.  While the kind Lowe’s employee cut the sheathing to the size I wanted (35″ X 57.5″), I picked up a set of keyhole fasteners for mounting the headboard on the wall.

The project really began once I brought the supplies home.  First, Alex, using a borrowed circular saw, cut the wood into the shape we wanted and that I had measured and marked in pencil.  Note:  Safety glasses arrived on the scene shortly after this picture was taken.  Better late than never, right?

I had decided to make this a tufted headboard, so my next step was to mark where each button would be placed.  I planned to do three offset rows of buttons, four in the middle row and three in both the top and bottom rows, for a total of ten buttons.  After careful measuring and marking, we drilled the button holes.  We drilled two holes for each button so that the thread could be tied around the wood between the holes.  I’d seen tufting done with only one hole per button, using a washer to secure the thread behind the headboard, but I worried that that method might prevent the headboard from sitting flush against the wall. The two-hole solution saved us the cost of extra materials (the washers) and only set us back about 3 minutes.  Not a bad fix.

For the final pre-upholstery step of the project, we prepared the wood/headboard to be hung on the wall.  This meant a series of non-explanation-worthy proceedings including locating studs in the wall, finding screws that fit the fasteners we’d purchased, drilling two screws at a level height into the studs, carefully measuring and marking the location on the headboard where the fasteners should be attached, and, finally, screwing the fasteners onto the headboard.

We crossed our fingers, hung the headboard on the wall, and did a happy dance when we saw that it was hanging straight.  Note:  If you can’t drill your screws into a stud, make sure to pick up a pack of heavy duty anchors recommended for the weight of your headboard that you can screw into the drywall.  Because who really wants their headboard crashing down on them in the middle of the night?

Remember when I said that was the last pre-upholstery step?  I lied.  It was supposed to be, but since the screws that came with our fasteners were a few millimeters longer than the width of our sheathing, their sharp, pointy tips poked through the other side; as in, the side we would be leaning against.

Rather than worry about getting stabbed in the spine while reading in bed, I used a few pieces of sticky tack to conceal the sharp ends of the screws.  Problem solved.

Now it was really time to upholster.  After much deliberation over different types and thicknesses of foam, we had picked out a 2″ foam alternative at Jo-Ann Fabric called NU-Foam.  It’s made of compressed polyester and is basically several layers of batting smooshed together.  We liked the cushiness of it and that we could purchase it by-the-yard, rather than in one piece that wasn’t quite the right size.  Here’s where I would insert a picture of the NU-Foam if I had taken one but will instead share this picture of a cat sitting on a box of it (found here).

We bought 2.5 yards of foam and 2 yards of our upholstery fabric (the print is called Summer Bloom).  We needed a longer length of the foam because it was only 27″ wide and wouldn’t cover the entire height (or length) of the headboard in one piece like the fabric would.

Using scissors, I cut the foam a few layers at a time into three pieces that covered the headboard.  I left about a 1/2″ overhang on all sides (or as close as I could get – cutting foam isn’t easy) to pad the hard edges.  You could also do this with a layer of batting over the foam, but you know by now that I like to shave pennies where I can.  That’s also the reason I didn’t use spray adhesive here to secure the foam to the headboard, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you have some laying around.  Since I skipped that optional step, I laid the fabric down over the foam, adjusted it until I had the pattern where I wanted it, and then, with help from Alex, flipped everything over, holding the fabric tight to keep the foam in place.  We had to adjust the wood a bit after the flip, but it all held together pretty well.

Then began the stapling extravaganza.  We started with a handful of staples in the top and then, after making sure to pull the fabric really tight, stapled the bottom section.  Don’t be afraid to stand your headboard up after a few staples to check that the fabric is tight enough.  We ended up redoing our bottom staples (twice) because it wasn’t tight enough.  I blame it on the slight stretch in our fabric.  Note:  The follwing may or may not be a posed photo.  Regardless, the process worked much better with one person holding the fabric taut and the other stapling it in place.  The buddy system is definitely recommended.

After stapling the top, bottom, and both sides, we tackled the corners.  I’ve seen other people recommend stapling the corners like you’re wrapping a present, and although this tip isn’t particularly instructive, I now understand why everyone uses it:  because there’s no better way to explain it.  Basically, just fold the fabric until it looks pretty (at least from the front), and staple.

We added a smattering of extra staples all over to keep everything uniform and secure, then flipped it up to admire our handiwork.  Once we hung it on the wall, we really fell in love, Alex included.  We might have been caught smiling at it absentmindedly throughout the day, that is, if anyone was here to catch us.  We love how the color and pattern brighten up our previously boring white bedroom, and we’ve already spent more time reading in bed just to enjoy the soft backrest it provides.

What do you think?  Perhaps you notice something missing?  That’s right, I said I wanted it to be a tufted headboard.  I have cover button kits and extra fabric ready to go, but I can’t decide whether or not to pull the figurative trigger.  Tufted or not?  Well, I’m leaving that up to you (the brave few who lasted ’til the end of this post).  Leave a comment with your vote and I’ll tally them up next week to decide the fate of my beloved headboard.  Speaking of which, anyone want a last look?

That one’s on the house.  Now, cast your vote!

Total money spent:  $57.68 (thanks to some great coupons)

Total time spent:  2 – 2½ hours

Update:  We tufted it!  Check out the final product here, as well as a step-by-step tufting tutorial.


7 responses

  1. WOW – you guys are good!! Looks absolutely marvelous darlings!! My vote???? Well, I read Cheryl’s and I’d have to say I agree with her on that you probably won’t notice the buttons and tufting with the print of the material.

  2. Pingback: Breakfast, Twice | Unsimple Living

  3. Pingback: It’s Done! (For real this time. ) | Unsimple Living

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