Thursday, March 8, 2012

Backlit Headboard

I finally got around to designing and building a headboard for our master bedroom a few months back. I LOVE how it turned out so I thought I would share how I constructed it. For two or three years, I had this fabric attached to the wall above the bed with pushpins, so it was very exciting to finally have a REAL headboard.  I feel like we’re actually grown ups now!  Nah, just kidding!!
Lights off.
Lights on!  Romantic, huh?

One advantage to having the fabric hanging on the wall with pushpins for so long was that, although I liked the fabric very much, I realized that this side of the room needed more wood to balance the dresser and chest of drawers that are on opposite walls from the bed.  The only wood on this side of the room was from the small nightstands – which wasn’t enough to balance the other large wood pieces.  Since the other furniture in the room is very straight-lined, I decided that a wooden frame around the headboard, with very straight lines, was the answer!!!

I found this fabric at IKEA. I love Scandinavian fabrics for their whimsical, colorful, and modern characteristics. Also, the fact that I’m married to a Dane, and that we used to live in Sweden, probably have something to do with my affinity for these types of fabrics. At any rate, I knew that I wanted the fabric to make the statement in this room, not the paint.  For this reason, I chose to paint the walls (most of them anyway) a neutral sandy color, and also chose a sandy color carpet.  There is a lot-o-fabric up in here. This room has four windows, all of which are also covered in this same fabric.  By the way, this fabric is still available at IKEA for only $7.99/yard.   It’s called “Patricia” and you can’t beat the price!!

I initially wanted the height of the headboard to be taller than the windows, about a foot taller than it is now.  But after measuring  and sketching, I realized the fabric wasn’t wide enough so I decided to bring the height of the headboard down to the same height as the windows because I didn’t want to have a seam in the fabric.  And when we were carrying this massive thing up the winding staircase, I was so very happy the plan got altered because I’m pretty sure that, if the headboard was 1/2 inch taller, we would not have been able to bring it up the stairs!  Whew!  Disaster averted once again!

Now, typically, to make a headboard, I would stretch the fabric around to the back of the plywood and just staple it, but since I wanted a frame around the headboard so I came up with this idea. I cut the foam about four inches smaller than the plywood so that I would have adequate wood to attach the frame to. Instead of stretching the fabric around to the back of the plywood, I stapled it to plywood just under the foam. Once I trimmed the excess fabric away, I was able to attach the boards directly to the plywood, allowing the boards to have a four inch overhang - so that I would have room to conceal the rope lighting.


I chose poplar wood for this project. It’s not the best wood for woodworking, but after pricing out some of the other hardwoods, poplar all of the sudden seemed beautiful to me. I think it was the cheapest!  I fell in love with the piece that I used on the top of the headboard and decided that, once it was all stained, it would look B-beautiful.  Don’t ya think?  And a coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax really made it shine.


Ain’t it purty? 

Once the frame was attached to the plywood, my trusty assistant and I flipped it over to attach the 2x4’s.  I wanted the headboard to be a couple of inches off of the wall to make a channel for rope lighting.  I thought it would look cool at night – as if it were glowing.  And, it does!  The 2x4’s also give support and keep the headboard from be so flimsy.  So here’s how we did it.


We attached 2x4’s to the plywood and frame legs.  As you can see in the photo above, we had to use a filler piece of plywood behind the 2x4s  at the bottom of the legs.   NOTE:  The 2x4’s don’t go all the way to the bottom of the leg – allowing room for the floor trim once the  headboard is installed.  Of course, I could have just designed the headboard without the legs, but I wanted this headboard to have legs to cover the space between the bed and nightstands, to hide the lamp cords, alarm clock cords and extension cord which were visible before.  Then I painted the 2x4’s black so they would visibly disappear.


At the top of the headboard, we attached a 2x4  that we ripped at an angle, making a two-piece cleat hanging system.  This allows for the headboard to be attached to the wall, without making holes in the front of the wood.  We attached the first cleat to the top of the headboard…………….


………and the second cleat to the wall.  So the headboard is actually just hanging from the cleat, and is just barely touching the floor.  Getting the height of the cleat right can be a little bit tricky because, when measuring from the floor up, you must take into consideration that the headboard is heavy and therefore sinks down into the carpet and padding a bit.  We made this mistake and the cleat did not fit tight, allowing the headboard to wobble a bit.  So we just raised the cleat on the wall about 1/4 inch and it was perfect.


Once the headboard was attached to the wall, I added the rope lighting. It sits about 4 inches behind the frame so you can’t see it unless you place your cheek to the wall.  Here's a side view of the headboard.  The rope lighting really should have been attached to the headboard before we put it up because it comes with hooks to attach it with.   Since the headboard is already installed, I can’t get the hammer in that little space to nail the hooks in. So for now, the rope lighting is just hanging there, which works just fine.

Pretty simple construction.  And I’m pretty sure nobody else has a headboard that looks like this!
So, what do you think?  You like? Pin It

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