diy project: my rustic headboard how-to

 Photo Credit: Keith Misner

Photo Credit: Keith Misner

I had not planned to write this, but sometimes you just have to give the people what they want.  After numerous likes, comments, and in-person inquiries, I decided to spill the beans; therefore, for all of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram, the moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived:  I’m telling you how I made my headboard. 

I have not had one of these glorious bad boys since leaving home for college.  The two years I lived in the dorms were spent in bunk beds, and after that I moved up in the world with the typical box spring/mattress combo.  Basically, the only bed a broke college student can afford.  Thing is, that broke college student turned into a cheap (or frugal? Let’s go with frugal) 20-something, and I always had something that took precedence over buying an actual bedframe:  that vacation to St. Thomas, the down payment on my house, my bathroom remodel…you feel me.  It wasn’t until this past year that I finally felt that I was tired of laying my head down in a bed that reminded me of my broke 22 year-old self, and I started the process of reinventing my sleep space.

So where does anyone without an ounce of inner artistic creativity (AKA a CPA) go for inspiration? Yup, Pinterest.   After many nights spent on my couch scrolling through image after image after image (you know the powerful suck of that black hole), I luckily found the images below, fell in love, and decided that this is the route I wanted to go.  The only issue? I had no idea where to start.  So, in a very uncharacteristic Brittney move, I just threw caution to the wind and dove in. 


I’m not going to lie, this took about 5 months to do – but only because after staining it, I had to wait 4 ½ months for my Dad to come up and help me slap this thing on the wall.  I also had a really busy spring, so I’ll use that as an excuse for my procrastination as well. 

I didn’t take pictures along the way because, again, I didn’t think this would ever be a post.  BUT you guys (and I, as well) loved it so much I had to share the wealth.  Don’t be put off because this isn’t a visual guide – you’ll soon find out how easy it is.

Step 1:  Measure.  And Then Measure Again.

I really screwed up on this part.  Okay, not majorly, but enough to give my pops a bit of a headache when putting the boards up.  You see, my headboard sits between two windows, and unbeknownst to me, the length between those windows isn’t exactly standard from top to bottom (there’s that old house playing tricks on me again).  And yes, 1/16th of an inch is a major deal when trying to fit these suckers in.  So before you go get your wood, make sure you measure everything out.  Twice.  You don’t want to have to cut and sand edges like we did – it was a terror.  And wasted a lot of time.

Step 2:  Get out Your Visa

It’s time to get your supplies.  I found everything at my neighborhood Lowe’s (besides the tools – those were provided courtesy of Papa Tim), and it all came in under $70.  Seriously, that stunner of a headboard cost less than your monthly cable bill.  And honestly, you could probably get by cheaper than that by going with smaller cans of the stain/polyurethane.  Here was my shopping list:

(13) 1”x6’x4” Standard WhiteBoard – Note, if you don’t have a table saw or don’t want to mess with it, have it cut at the store. Lowe’s & Home Depot will do it at no charge! Also, I had them cut mine at different lengths so that it would look a little bit more unkempt.  And one more thing to remember: make sure you know how many boards it will take to get the height you want – if you want to save $$$, only make it as tall as a regular headboard would be. Cost = $40.23

(1) Qt of Minwax Dark Walnut Stain (or whatever color you prefer) – Cost = $8.31

(1) Qt of Polyurethane – This helps protect your wood – Cost = $11.53

(1) Pkg 2 ½ in. screws (enough to put in at least 2-3 screws per board) – Cost = $8.53

Drill – Cost = Free…because I borrowed it

headboard supplies.JPG

Step 3:  Rough It Up

I wanted to go for a more rustic look, so I used this part of the project as a therapy session and beat the crap out of the wood.  You can really use whatever you want to do this, so I just gathered some random tools (hammer, screwdriver, wrench, other things I don’t know the names for) and went to town.  Don’t be afraid to make a lot of marks – the more gashes, the more weathered it’ll turn out.  I beat mine up so much that people are actually surprised I got it from Lowe’s.

Step 4:  Stain and Polyurethane

I only did one coat of each of these for mine, but if you want yours a little darker (depending on the color stain you get), you can put on two coats of the stain.  After the stain sets and dries (give it at least a day, you eager beaver), you can put a coat of the polyurethane on it for some added protection.  Let that dry for at least a day, too. 

Step 5:  Hang It On Up

I honestly was just planning on nailing the boards to the wall, but with the plaster walls in my old home, this would have been a not-so-great idea.  Luckily, my pops was there to point me in the right direction before I completely destroyed my bedroom wall, and he helped me hang these up.  Ok, maybe he did all of it.  But I was there to supervise.

First, we found the studs in the wall (you can either use a stud finder tool or try to eyeball it – we found mine by looking where there were nail holes in my baseboards).  We then marked on the boards where we would need to put the screws in order to hit the studs – we did this one row at a time, but if you want to do them all at once, go for it.  Once these were marked, we drilled holes in the boards with a drill bit – trust me, you’ll want to have a drill to do all of this for you.  Man (or lady) power ain’t gonna do it alone.  Last but not least (because this is where we could finally start to see the fruits of our labor), we used the drill to screw each board into the wall.  For the pieces that went all the way across, we used 3 screws – one on the left, right, and center.  For the mismatched pieces, we put one screw in the shorter board and two in the longer (again, wherever the studs lined up with these).  One short hour later, and voila!  We were done and this beaut was born.  Kinda lovely, isn’t it?


There you have it, folks – a semi-easy way to get a Pinterest-worthy headboard for less than $70.  If you have any questions while making your own, let me know!