Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Truth About DIY Headboards

When I received Young House Love's new book around this past Christmastime I had fanciful dreams of the amazing DIY projects Mr. Lovebird and I would embark upon. With our move this past spring we thought it would be a good idea to implement them in our new place especially with the recent confirmation that we'll be staying put for the time being (moving 5x in the past 6 years has not been enjoyable).

Over Labor Day weekend we embarked on our first major project from the book: a DIY headboard. It was inspired by YHL, but we consulted many resources online, especially on You Tube, mostly because YHL's version wasn't as padded as we'd like. It was essentially a canvas stretcher covered in batting and fabric, which looked nice, but we needed ours to be sturdier. We found YHL's tips along with Design Sponge's how-to video to be the ideal combination and got to work measuring . . .

The end project was great, but there are definitely a few things that you should know before embarking!
  • It takes DOUBLE the time the instructions say - maybe we're just DIY challenged (or super type A!), but from measuring to cutting the foam and making sure the fabric wasn't buckling when stretched it took us about 5 hours to complete
  • Foam is EXPENSIVE - I saw this mentioned in a few instructions, but it is definitely true! It has something to do with the cost of gas and while many instructions called for batting, it just wouldn't give the same type of sturdiness we'd need. We're very happy with the foam (we used 2" foam  purchased in squares from Home Depot)
  • Measure twice, cut once - as a beginner sewer I know this, but unfortunately, I didn't follow my own instructions; well actually I did measure 2x, but I should have stopped to think through a minor adjustment that had to be made for the batting to cover and secure both the wood and foam - the width of the bolt was too narrow so I should have added more to compensate for it. As a result I had to go back for a 2nd piece of batting (it was on a super hot day too, and I really didn't want to walk 20 minutes round trip AGAIN to get it)
  • Many tutorials lacked precise, detailed pics - this was most annoying especially when it came to hanging the headboard; we saw a few mention a hangman's cleat but they didn't show exactly how to attach it or what to look for in the store - only that it was from Home Depot; many of the staff at our local HD had no clue what we were talking about and we even showed them the blog posts with it mentioned and the pictures were so awful they couldn't even tell what it was so I'm gonna help ya'll out. . .
    • This is a hangman's cleat (and by far the best and easiest way to attach a heavy hanging headboard - or anything heavy to the wall for that matter!):
 OOK Hangman 200 lb. French Cleat Picture Hanger with Wall Dog Mounting Screws (13-Pack)
    •  And it comes in a package like this:
OOK Professional French Cleat Picture Hanger, Holds up to 200 lbs.
  • Some shortcuts are ok but others are not - I saw some bad shortcuts while watching DIY videos like using glue instead of upholstery staples, but we actually did our own shortcut that was actually a good one: when we had trouble finding gray fabric the color we wanted we decided to go our local NWL and picked up a king size bedsheet to use (the clerk reprimanded us for touching the sheets, but I explained how else would we know it was something we'd want?!); we also used a less expensive wood than plywood it was still hardy but not as hard - just look around (and touch!) in the lumber section. When we inquired with the store associate what they'd recommend for our project they took us to a very expensive plywood
  • You may experience pain - we were cheap and used a manual upholstery stapler instead of splurging for an electric one; gotta admit we probably shoulda upgraded. Mr. Lovebird's hand was nearly blistered from the stapling. It was red and raw for daaaays

TOTAL COST: about $200

We're very happy with how our headboard turned out, and it definitely beats paying hundreds for the ones I've been lusting after all these years. We still have quite a few YHL we'd like to work on (can I just say how SICK I am of bare white walls???), but for now this is a good start.

Have you ever embarked on a DIY project that was more challenging than it looked? What's your next project?

P.S. I know I didn't include specific instructions here as I think the general framework is provided in enough tutorials all over the internet; I just wanted to add to them. Do a search and find what will work for your headboard needs!