Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ugly is Beautiful: DIY Re-purposed Wood Headboard

If there's one thing to learn about decorating, it's that not all statement pieces need to be purchased from a hoity toity designer brand only store.  Not only can major statement pieces be DIY-ed, but they can also be insanely inexpensive, or free.  All you gotta do is stimulate your braincells and get a little creative.  You might even find that the materials for your star decorative piece are sitting right under your nose.  Or in a decrepit wood pile in your in-law's backyard.

When I was brainstorming ideas for our Texas room (the upstairs guest room), I decided that I needed to get creative with the headboard since I had little wall space to work with due to the dormer ceilings.  Since I couldn't really accommodate an entire bed frame I needed to DIY a headboard to custom fit the wall, while at the same time accentuating the bed as an inviting place to slumber for our guests.

Now, you can find oodles of DIY upholstered headboards scattered all over Pinterest, but if you know me, you know that I like to deviate from the norm when and where I can.  Besides, upholstered headboards don't really scream "awesome Texas" in my mind.  Rustic.  I wanted something so rustic it was ugly.  So ugly it was beautiful.  Like hairless cats (might be my own opinion).  Or like re-purposed weathered wood boards.
Within this pile of boards there is immense potential.

Chris' parents have the best selection of materials.  Their barn houses tons of old furniture that would make any DIY freak drool profusely.  They also have a sweet collection of wood boards that they have left over from various projects.  I've taken notice to the few exposed straggler boards that help hold down the tarp that covers the "good" pieces of wood.  They're weathered, severely darkened, rotting, and might house a few tiny creatures and mold spores.  They are the hairless cats of wood boards.  They are perfect.


So I plucked my beauties from the wood pile and took them home with way too much enthusiasm.  The first thing I did was lay out some sort of pattern that would fit the wall space.  Once I had my boards selected, I cut them down using a miter saw to the correct width for a full size bed headboard.  I cut all of the boards to the same width, though I also entertained the idea of different widths for added interest.  In the end I liked simplicity over added interest.

Cutting boards is apparently something I'd prefer to do in my PJ's.

I'm sure the words "severely darkened", "rotting", "tiny creatures", and "mold spores" made you wanna curl right up in our guest bed.  Don't worry -- I gave the boards a good wipe down with a damp rag and removed all of the "tiny creatures" and mold spores".  Still grossed out?  Of course you are, it's nasty.  That's why this next step is crucial to your comfort.

In order to protect our bed linens (and guests) from the nastiness that makes our headboard beautiful, we applied 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic in satin finish.  This magical solution will not only protect the wood boards from violent sleepers, but it also seals in the rotting, tiny creatures, and mold spores that may be hanging on for dear life.  Though it looks milky white in the can, it dries completely clear and leaves your surface with a nice plastic-y shell.  Another fine point to mention is that it dries in about two hours, so you can apply multiple coats in one day.  Good times.  Just be sure to lightly sand your surface between each coat, and wipe of your sanding dust before reapplying the Polycrylic. 
You can find Polycrylic at your local home improvement store. It also comes in Semi-Gloss and Gloss finishes.
A fresh, wet coat of Polycrylic.
Once the boards were coated in Polycrylic and dry, it was time to install our masterpiece.  And by install, I mean tack the boards directly to the wall.  So easy, a hairless cat could do it (okay, I'll stop).  We used a brad nail gun with brads, but if you don't have a nail gun you can use regular nails or screws.  You could also probably get away with using Liquid Nails or another type of construction adhesive, but that would be an incredibly tedious mess to scrape off your walls if you ever decided to re-arrange your bedroom.

With our stunning headboard nailed in place, all we needed to do was slide the bed right up to it.  This was by far the easiest, cheapest, and most stunning project of the entire Texas room renovation.  And since we already had the Polycrylic lying around, it was FREE.  Just goes to show ya that ugly can be beautiful and stylish.  ...Meow.

Free-floating headboard.
Kewl beans.


  1. Hi- I came accross this post when researching floating headboards as I am installing one this weekend and was looking for pointers on how people are securing the wood to the wall. I saw alot of people using Command strips, there is no way Id feel safe to sleep in a bed with wood hanging above a command strip above my head. I wanted to use a brad nailer but rcvd alot of negative comments from friends recommending I use screws- however I wanted to eliminate the hardware showing on the wood and wanted to use brad nails and fill in the impressions with a wax crayon. What size nails did you use? Im assuming 2 1/5" ?? My email is Thank you!

  2. I meant 2.5" nails

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