Tuft Luck

DO or DIY: how to make a tufted headboard

Hers.

I think every room needs a little glam factor.  Our guest bedroom started out pretty glamorous… for a nursery.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Now before you all freak out, no, my eggo’s not preggo.  The above picture was taken when the sellers were still in the house.  I’m still a little bummed they took the chandelier with them- that was the best part.  They left us with a lovely 80s dome light in its place and the birdcage decals.  Gee, you shouldn’t have… no, really, you shouldn’t have.

We haven’t shown many pictures of the guest room thus far (besides the construction of the bench at the end of the bed- read more here), so I guess we need to do a little catching up.

The guest room actually ended up being one of the first rooms we painted upon moving in since we had all the bedrooms re-carpeted immediately.  And because we’re lazy painters, we wanted to paint while the old floors were still in so we didn’t have to cover them for protection against paint drips.  The bright red color was cute for a nursery- a nice departure from the typical pink used for girls- but it was a little too… well, bright red, especially for a guest room.  So, we went from bright red to a flat sheen of dark gray and softened it with whites and teal as the accent.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

The dark gray brought some drama to this mama but I knew something was still missing.  The wall above the bed was an empty void begging to be filled with awesome-ness.

Bedroom… drama… hmm…  I smell a headboard project coming on.

I knew I needed something pretty tall to cover up a lot of the blank space above the bed and I wanted the headboard to be the room’s statement piece.  I was drawn to tall tufted options that included wings on the side that enveloped the bed such as these.

morgan-harrison-home-milbrook-modern-22A

Source: Mix and Chic

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Source: Jillian Harris

I was curious what headboards like this cost.  I finally found a pretty close match to what I was dreaming of, seen below.

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Source: Ethos Interiors

Unfortunately, it came with two problems:

  1. It was from Australia.  I can only imagine what shipping a headboard from across the globe would cost.
  2. It was retailing for $690.  Now, I’ve seen plenty of way more expensive headboards but still, $690 was more than I’ve spent on everything in our master bedroom thus far and this room would only get used a few times a year when we had overnight visitors so it didn’t really seem worth it.

I found a few, less exciting, domestic options from the usual suspects but those weren’t any more reasonable.

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Source: Pottery Barn, $799

HC-44KY_ex

Source: Horchow, $1199

prod1628016

Source: Restoration Hardware, $1465

So, what’s a girl to do?  Buy her husband some beer, suggest steak and potatoes for dinner (it helps if your husband is severely Irish), then sweetly ask his help DIY-ing a headboard masterpiece.  This method has proven 100% effective thus far so, ladies, take notes.

And we were off.

First, I needed to settle on a fabric.  Because I wasn’t 100% convinced this was going to work (not that I don’t have faith in you, honey, but this seemed a long shot even for you), I didn’t want to spend a ton on fabric.  I also couldn’t decide on a color (should I go white, cream, light gray, medium gray, or dark gray) so I decided to let fate decide for me.  At my favorite fabric store, I hit up the remnant section to see what white and gray options they had.  I found one cream option (seen on the right) and one gray (seen on the left) option that were long enough to work.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

At $5 a yard (each was 2.5 yards, which they rounded down to 2 costing me $10 each), it was a score.  I thought I’d end up going with the cream option but it ended up looking too yellow against all the white bedding I already had in the room.  I considered completely redoing all the bedding to better coordinate but my conveniently-too-pragmatic husband quickly shot that option down.  So, gray it was.

His.

I’m beginning to think my wife has me figured out: every time she wants something expensive for the house, I end up building something almost identical for a fraction of the cost like the leaning bookshelves seen here and the telescope lamp seen here. Lately I’ve been suspecting that she doesn’t actually want the expensive version, she just wants to scare me into a DIY project by threatening to spend an obscene amount of money on something.

So her latest obsession? A headboard. For the guest bedroom. Now, here’s the thing about our guest bedroom: it’s just for guests. We don’t have overnight guests often and the few that we do have aren’t particularly picky about their lodging (if they were, we wouldn’t invite them to our house). So, frankly, I didn’t see the point. Sure, the space above the bed was empty, but the only time we ever really go in that room is when we can’t find the cat. Either way, Julie tends to get what Julie wants, so I now had to figure out how to make a headboard.

First things first: size. The width pretty much took care of itself as it would be dictated by the width of the bed frame, but we had to decide how tall we wanted it to be on the wall. We ultimately decided that it needed to be 5′, which meant the actual “board” part of the headboard would be 3′ tall. So I started with some plywood:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Cut cut cut!

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Next, Julie wanted some “poof” or something, so we looked at craft stores for foam padding. Well, it turns out that I could’ve taken a decent vacation for what it would’ve cost to buy that much padding, but I had a more cost-effective solution in mind:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

That’s right, Wal-Mart mattress pads (yes, the same ones that when stacked high enough make dorm beds somewhat tolerable). It was plenty long but barely wide enough, but with a little stretching and clever layering, we hid it pretty well. We even had enough left over from the ends to refinish a small chair.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

We used spray adhesive to secure them to the plywood, but due to the porous nature of the pads, it wasn’t the strongest hold.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

We added a second because a) we needed the extra thickness and b) cheap mattress pads have weird textures pressed into them to make you think it has some bogus cooling effect or something. Not bad for just $20 for the pair.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

I ended up stapling the edges for a cleaner finish and more permanent hold while we positioned the fabric.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

And trimmed the excess:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Now, you normally use batting to ensure a smooth finish but we were on a mission of frugality and the cost of batting just wasn’t going to cut it.  We realized that batting was essentially just a thick layer of fibers so we found a cheap-o cotton blanket to help hide any uneven points on the padding. Once again, our trip to Wal-Mart proved fruitful.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

This time I flipped it over and stapled it to the back of the plywood so it held nice and tight across the padding:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Ignore the lumpy edges, those hide easily with the final piece of fabric.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

The next stage of the process was unexpectedly tedious. We moved things inside for a cleaner, cooler, and lighter work environment. Good thing we have an awkwardly empty space in our living room after all, I guess.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

So we draped the fabric over the board and smoothed everything out. What came next was an exercise in patience and dedication: tufting. I don’t know how it’s normally done, but I knew how I was going to do it: screws. But using short screws and washers, I could create that “pressed in” look, and it would hold, like forever.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

So I started in the center:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Note: the fabric was draped loosely over the ends of the board so we’d have plenty of slack if we needed it.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Initially I tried measuring where each screw would go but that got old quickly. Plus, the positioning of the fabric would change slightly as I pressed on it to screw it in, so eventually I figured out how to predict where things needed to be and just eyeballed it.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

What seemed like years later, I had driven in all 67 screws. Now the weird part: trying to bunch up the fabric into a “diamond-shaped tuft”.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Finally, it was time to secure everything. I didn’t want to flip the board over and crush the tufting, so I had to work from below. Fortunately we have an extra bedroom that is also awkwardly empty, so there was  some soft floor space so I could work on my back.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

After stapling all around, we cut off the excess fabric.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

We folded a straight line from the end of each tuft off the edge to create a uniform look around all the edges.  We then stapled that tuft to the back of the headboard so it held.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

After completing the board, it was time to move on to the posts. I used generic 2×6 lumber but had to be careful to select really straight pieces. Each post was 5′, so I just bought one 2x6x10 and cut it in half.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

The process for wrapping the posts in fabric was a bit like wrapping a present, but instead of a box it’s lumber, instead of paper it’s fabric, and instead of tape it’s staples. we also made sure all the staples and edges ended up in what would be the back side of the board, so the nice smooth edge faced outward.

First with the cheap blanket:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Be sure to wrap the ends, too:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Repeat process with actual fabric:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Cut off excess:

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Finally, it was time to put it all together. We moved the board to the guest room and laid it on the bed. Then, I set the posts up on the side and had Julie press down while I drilled up. This was actually a really difficult process, and of course Julie decided pictures were more important than being helpful.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Almost done (I only had to chase the cat away 100 times).

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Repeat the process for the other side, and your headboard is done. Time to mount it! Fortunately our bed frame had a bracket welded onto it for who knows what, but it had some holes I was able to run some drywall screws  through to secure everything so it didn’t flip over and turn my in-laws into Flat Stanley.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Huzzah! Headboard!

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Hers.

We wrapped up the upholstery work and installed the headboard in the room.  I then realized I had a dilemma.  Do I stop here or do I keep going?  Much like Sandro on this season’s Project Runway (anyone else watching this season?), I decided our headboard needed more bling and by bling, I, of course, mean nailhead detail.  After two calls consulting outsiders, one voted for, one voted against, I ultimately decided to go for it.  Oh yes, these side wings were in for a treat.

So while Chris stood beside me, giving himself a pat on the back for finishing another project, I, instead, smiled sweetly at him and asked for his help on the next stage of the project.

And I soon learned a vital lesson- never EVER convince yourself to save a few dollars by buying a case of loose nailhead, thinking you can spend a few extra minutes taking care to line them up straight.  This is the most frustrating, arduous process that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  Chris thought it would help by buying fishing line and nailing it down as a guide to follow.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

A great idea in theory but it didn’t execute that well.  Each time we’d nail a head in, it seemed impossible to get it to line up with the fishing line.  At the last second, it would go rogue on us and veer off course.  After an hour spent on this and barely making progress, I decided we could splurge and buy the cheater’s kit aka a nailhead kit that you only had to nail every 10th or so piece aka my lifesaver.

People of the DIY world- spend the extra dough for this.  So. Worth. It.

I bought mine at Michael’s, but here’s a link to buy it from Amazon.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

If that doesn’t convince you, it comes with a bonus of packaging that doubles as a cat toy.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

After the nightmare of sparring with individual nailheads, this was a breeze.  You just unwrap the string of nailhead from the packaging and cut it off where you need it to stop.  I suggest cutting it to size before you begin nailing it in because the weight from the package makes it harder to install straight.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

Next, place the string on the headboard and nail in the heads where there’s a hole in the trim (every 10th head or so).  Tip: use a rubber mallet to nail in the head to prevent scratches.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

30 minutes and 2 nailhead trim kits later, I was done!

Stay tuned for an additional post on how we made the fabric-covered buttons to complete the tufted look.

Materials and Costs:

  • Fabric (from local fabric store): $10 for the full remnant
  • Foam (aka 2 egg crate mattress pads from Walmart): $20
  • Batting (aka cheap blanket from Walmart): $5
  • Spray Adhesive (any craft store): $0 as we already had some on-hand
  • Staples and Staple Gun (any home improvement store): $0 as we already had some on-hand
  • Small sheet metal screws (from Home Depot): $3
  • Plywood (from Home Depot): $10
  • 2x6s to create side wings (from Home Depot): $5
  • Washers (from Home Depot): $1
  • 2 nailhead trim kits (from Michael’s with 40% off coupon): $24
  • Rubber mallet (from Walmart): $5
  • Button making kit (from this eBay vendor): $17

Total: $100

After.

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

DO or DIY | How to Make a Tufted Headboard

 

Update: To see how we made fabric buttons to cover the screws on the headboard, check out our easy, step-by-step guide here.

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61 Comments

Filed under Bedroom, Easy DIY Projects

61 responses to “Tuft Luck

  1. UR

    Wow! Good job! I am amazed.

  2. Karen

    Adorable, as usual! But seriously, you had me with “nursery”!!!

    • DO or DIY

      Bahaha. August Fools! No bun in the oven yet. Chris hates when I joke about running out of rooms and needing to have a kid for a legit reason to design a nursery… but it’s so true.

      -Julie

  3. JC Allen

    Very well done. You two are the best! One suggestion, if I’m allowed, tuft something else in that room for balance. Maybe the top of the chest at the end of the bed or a valance for the window. I love you guys! ❤

    • DO or DIY

      Love the suggestion. I’m a little (err… a lot) addicted to tufting now so I can get on board with continuing this trend! Hmmm, now you have me thinking… 🙂

      -Julie

  4. Kudos to both of you. That looks like it was in exercise in patience, trial and error, and possibly marital woes. 😉 The results are amazing. You must be so proud of yourself. So, who is the first guest to enjoy your lovely space?

    • DO or DIY

      So true… that always happens with the projects you think will take only an hour or two but end up taking the whole weekend. Ah, quality bonding time! My parents were actually the first ones to visit the new room with the in-laws not too far behind!

      -Julie

  5. GaGa

    You two are amazing! Wow!!! That is beautiful

    GaGa

  6. This is so beautiful! I have been considering a tufted headboard for our own guest bedroom, but drilling holes and using an upholstery needle to tuft seemed a little too labor intensive for me. And while my husband does love steak and potatoes, he doesn’t love them enough to DIY. Thank you so much for this post!
    -Chelsea at http://homespunluxe.com

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks Chelsea! Any method I can find that gets me out of sewing is a winner by my standards! Good luck finding something to bribe the hubby into DIYing! Perhaps the addition of a homemade dessert to the menu? 🙂

      -Julie

    • Carolyn

      Start out with a peg board maybe?

      • DO or DIY

        Great question, Carolyn. I’ve seen tutorials where they used a pegboard to mark the holes and made the tufts that way. We actually thought about using that method as we had some pegboard leftover from another project but, honestly, it would’ve been more work to find the holes, mark them on the fabric, then make the tufts. We found it easier to use a piece of plywood and just screw in the tufts wherever we wanted. It saved a ton of time!

        -Julie

  7. Meagan Smolinski

    I love this, but a quick question……what did you cover the screw heads with (the ones you used to make the tufting?)

    • DO or DIY

      Meagan- great question! We actually created fabric buttons and glued them over each screw head. We’ll be posting a tutorial for it next!

      -Julie

  8. Mary Ann Salsman

    Don’t need to ditto everyone else on how great this is, but my favorite part is your fabulous tutorial! I hate it when instructors think that I’m more experienced than I am. Thanks!

    • DO or DIY

      That’s one of the best compliments you could give us, Mary Ann! That’s our ultimate goal- breaking it down so it’s easy to duplicate! Thanks!

      -Julie

  9. Maria

    How did you guys attach the buttons after you had the screws in?

    • DO or DIY

      Maria, we hot glued the backs of the buttons and placed them on top of each screw. They’ve held great and was much easier to do than busting out a needle and thread.

      -Julie

      • Maria

        Thank you for replying 🙂 I am going to attempt it this project! Out of all the headboards that I looked at, I liked yours the best! One more question, did you use shorter screws, or used bolts at the end of the screws? Just curious… Thank you again

      • DO or DIY

        Aw, you’re so sweet, Maria! Our screws were shorter so they didn’t come out the other end of the board. They hold tight so we didn’t need to worry about using longer screws and bolting the backs. Good luck with your project!

        -Julie

  10. Cj

    Wonderful job I love the headboard. I’ve been thinking of trying this myself. Did you cover the screws used in the tufting, or do they show?
    Thanks, CJ

  11. Pingback: Loosen Up My Buttons, Babe | DO or DIY

  12. I’ve been looking to doing this in my master bedroom for a while now. Thanks so much for the cheaper alternatives! I love how it came out!

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks Mariah! Good luck with your project! The alternatives have worked great so far and my budget greatly appreciated it too! As did the new shoes I bought with the saved dough! 🙂

      -Julie

  13. T

    Great job… You inspire me as we embark on this endeavor ourselves.. I’m dreading the spacing for the screws so I plan on cheating by using pegboard. Wish us luck and limited bickering … Lol

    • DO or DIY

      Haha good luck! I promise the awesome result will make up for the inevitable squabble that will probably result from this. I think Chris and I’s was over something dumb like how to correctly create the pleated tufts (I still think my way was better) 🙂

      -Julie

  14. Kim

    I love this – great step by step instructions too! We’d love to have you host a live to-torial at http://www.unpind.com! Email me if you’re interested!

  15. Cristina

    And the proud feeling you have after knocking off & coming up with a much better (& cheaper) article? That’s priceless!
    Congrats on the results 🙂

  16. Kisha

    Great work! you guys rock! I do not have a husband(lol), so i will be doin most of this myself, unless a friend helps.. I have a queen-sized bed, I know you said 5′, but what is the width? Just wanna be certain when bugging the guy at home depot 🙂

    • DO or DIY

      The width of the back piece (between the two winged pieces) is 61″ and the overall width with the two wings is 64″ wide. Good luck with your project- you can do it, especially if you get Home Depot to cut your wood for you!

      -Julie

  17. Hi,
    I’ve seen a lot of ways to make a tufted headboard but this looks like the most cost effective and easiest way to do it! One question, After you put in all the nails to create the tufted look and you pinch the fabric to create the creases, did you do anything to get the creases to stay that way?
    Thanks,
    Brittany

    • DO or DIY

      Brittany- we actually haven’t had to do anything else to keep the creases in tact. Because we used thick upholstery fabric, the creases have stayed as is since we built the piece. I don’t thick it would have as great of results with a thinner fabric.

      -Julie

  18. Lyndsay

    I have had your tutorial bookmarked for quite a while now, and had a quick question – I love how easy it looks to do screws instead of hole/needle (I’ve tried this before and hated it!) but I am worried about the fabric tearing around the screw…? Have you had any trouble with ripping or use now that your headboard is a few months old? Any recommendations?

    • DO or DIY

      Lyndsay- we haven’t had any issues as of yet. The headboard doesn’t really moved or get touched when used so there’s almost no stress on the piece. We would, however, recommend using a thick upholstery grade fabric and a washer between the screw and fabric to help prevent any tearing.

      -Julie

  19. Zuzanna

    Omg! Unbelievably beautiful!! I’m slightly confused about the diamond shape in between the tufts, how did you manage that? It looks flawless! Bravo!!

    • DO or DIY

      Zuzanna- we left some slack in the fabric when screwing in the screws. I then molded and pinched the excess fabric with my fingers into the diamond creases. It takes a lot of patience but I think is worth the effort!

      -Julie

  20. WOW! I love your method of just screwing the tufts! That probably would have been so much easier. I made a tufted headboard a while back and practically injured myself it required so much tufting, haha! Yours looks amazing and the tutorial is really thorough. I might have to go back and clarify mine a bit, lol. If you’re bored and wanna take a look: http://monrogue.com/diy-tufted-headboard-instructional/

    Your edges with the nailhead trim are also a great touch. I think it makes it feel much more professional/less DIY, as most of the tuts I’ve seen are just for flat headboards. Definitely pinning this. 🙂

  21. Gab

    My favorite tuft headboard tutorial by far! Can you tell me the measurements of your plywood so I can create this!?

    • DO or DIY

      Aw, thanks! We cut our plywood to a 64″ width and 36″ height so it was slightly larger than our queen sized.

      -Julie

  22. Elena

    Ok I’m trying to make one similar and your idea of using screws seems WAY easier. Do the screws poke out the back though? I’m envisioning mine scraping up the wall behind it

    • DO or DIY

      Great question! Nope, we picked screws that are less long than the plywood is thick. You can pick up screws in several lengths so be sure to measure your piece of plywood for the backing first.

      -Julie

  23. kelly

    Where did you screw the wings into the board at?

    • DO or DIY

      The wings are mounted onto the two ends of the plywood back. We used about 4-5 screws per wing to firmly secure it.

      -Julie

  24. Jason

    Sorry I’m late to the party. What’s the plywood thickness … 3/4″?

  25. Aimee

    I have always wanted to do this but was too intimidated… Thank you for your great tutorial! How much slack do you leave in the fabric between each screw? It looks like your first row (started more in the middle correct?) was tight between each screw but then the next row had more slack. Can you explain how this part went? Does it naturally create enough slack if you just drape the fabric and screw straight down? Thank you! Your tutorial is great and I might just be making something out of nothing.

    • DO or DIY

      We left a little slack between each screw, enough to be able to pinch into a nice diamond tuft. I wouldn’t leave too much, however, as it will look more lumpy than tuft-y. 🙂 It was easiest to start in the middle to help evenly divide the tension between both sides. Hope that helps! Good luck with your project!

      -Julie

  26. Krista

    Wow! As mentioned in the previous reply, I’ve always wanted to try this but had yet to find steps I felt comfortable following. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your website, you have done an exceptional job of sharing pictures and honest details of each step. Thank you for your inspiration!

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks Krista!! Good luck on your own venture into upholstering. It takes a bit of time but really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I too felt a little intimidated in getting started so definitely know how you feel! It’s definitely do-able though! 🙂

      -Julie

  27. Hi! I followed your tutorial until I got to the tufting, then you lost me! I realize you had to pinch the fabric to create the tufting look, but what is keeping it that way? Did you glue the fabric in the tuft shape? Did you iron it that way? or will it go out of the tuft shape each time you touch the fabric after that?

    Thanks! It looks great, I might have to tackle this.

    • DO or DIY

      Great question! We used pretty thick upholstery fabric so once I pinched it in place, it stayed. It also helps that we used it on a headboard that doesn’t really get touched so we haven’t had any problems with the pleats becoming undone. I don’t think this would turn out as well on something that was sat on or touched frequently or using less thick fabric. Hope that helps! Good luck with your project!

      -Julie

  28. cher

    Great Job. I will def. try this. Love the Flat Stanley reference! We took him half-way across the US

  29. Lacey Russell

    What was the fabric you used?

    • DO or DIY

      It was actually a remnant we found at our local fabric store so I don’t have a brand or name to give. I strongly suggest hunting through remnant sections at fabric stores- so many treasures to be found!

      -Julie

  30. Leenah Lucky

    I love this!

  31. liz

    this is just wonderful!

  32. Ashlee macdonald

    That was a great!! Thank you!

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