It has been almost three years since we moved in to this house and our master bedroom is so close to being finished – finally! I am thrilled with how it is turning out…I love the look and even better, I love the price we are paying for everything. A couple of weeks ago, I made a mirrored nightstand for my side of the bed (Conner’s is in the works!) but the next-to-last project for our room was a headboard that I knew would be a bear. Thanks to my mom who has no fear of projects I throw at her, we finished the ginormous tufted headboard project!
**Some disclaimers before I start the tutorial of the project: my mom and I are not expert upholstery people. We used a tutorial I found on Pinterest and adapted based on the size of our headboard and the minor experience we have tufting a footstool. I try to use pictures and words to explain our process below. If you don’t understand a step or have questions, feel free to ask! I would be happy to give more details if you see a step that is left unclear or left out. It is also VERY handy to have a buddy for this project. The tutorials I read only used one person. That is crazy to me – I highly recommend having a friend/family member help you with this!
The Tall Grid Tufted Headboard from West Elm was my inspiration for the project. We have a king-sized bed so I used their measurements for our project. (78″ wide by 56″ tall) She was a beast, a true beauty and also super expensive. It would have been so easy to order this headboard but I wasn’t interested in paying almost $900 (after taxes and shipping) for something we could make for cheaper.
After a long Sunday of working on the very large project and a Thursday night of installing it, this is my version of the headboard! I love it and am so happy with the results. It isn’t perfect like the West Elm version but if it was perfect, where would the fun war stories be about tackling this DIY?
P.S. I saved $705 by doing this on my own. Yup. 705 DOLLARS. Totally worth it!
I started with my supplies: a roll of batting (40% off at Hobby Lobby), 5 yards of white linen fabric (on sale for $7.99/yard at Hancock’s), a button making kit (40% off at Hancock’s), extra buttons (40% off at Hancock’s), upholstery needles (my mom already had on hand), upholstery thread (again, my mom already had on hand), two sheets of peg board that were pieced together to fit the size I needed (from Home Depot – they cut it to size) and two pieces of 3″ foam glued and cut to fit the dimensions I needed (a local foam store, Truman’s, did all of the work for me of gluing/cutting the foam).
**Side note about the fabric: I’m so glad I went with 5 yards of fabric. It seemed like a lot but other than some scraps and edges we cut off, we used most of it! I went with a white linen because the rest of the bedroom has darker colors and I wanted a lighter headboard. Linen has a beautiful texture and I liked that it was lightweight and easy to work with for our project. I do not recommend using patterned fabric for a tufted project. I can’t even imagine the pain of trying to match up the patterns of the board with the patterns of the buttons so go with a solid fabric for a project like this!
I used this tutorial from Little Green Notebook. I read several headboard tutorials but liked this one the best since we wouldn’t have to drill holes into wood. The pegboard was so handy to use since it already has 1″ spaced holes!
The only downside was that the boards weren’t big enough so we had to buy two pieces and have the second piece cut to size. The cutting machines at Home Depot are awesome and if you need something trimmed down, I highly suggest having the skilled employee take care of measuring/cutting for you before you leave the store!
We started off taping the pieces together but later used some upholstery thread to attach the pegboard to the foam in several places. There are numerous ways you could reinforce the flimsy areas of the pegboard so feel free to experiment – we certainly did!
Our first hour was spent laying out the buttons for tufting. Do you want to feel not smart? Count out 6 buttons across, 4 buttons down on a large piece of pegboard and see if you start to go crazy after 10 minutes. This messed with our brains and clearly the pegboard – I’m not sure which symbol we actually ended up using as our “this is the real hole” hole.
Once you lay out the placement of your buttons, lay the foam underneath the pegboard and make marks with a dark pen/marker on where the buttons/holes will go.
The yellow line is where Truman’s glued the two pieces of foam together. Several hours into the project, we realized it would show through the batting and fabric. We covered this up with a little craft paint and a lunch break of drying time. It worked perfectly!
**Side note: Centsational Girl’s tutorial was one I read to prep for this project. She only used 2″ foam. I’m so glad I used 3″ – it really gives more depth for the tufts. I saved a fortune using Truman’s for this project instead of going to Joann’s or Hancock’s to get the foam squares and piecing them together.
I used Conner’s drill to make holes where each of our tufts would go. In the Little Green Notebook tutorial, she cut out pieces of foam with a knife. That would work fine too but this was super fast and fun.
I did like that the tutorial we used suggested making the pegboard longer than the foam so that there was a nice seam of fabric behind the mattress instead of cutting off right at the top of the mattress. I added 10″ so the height of this piece was actually 66″ instead of 56″.
To help support the large pegboard, we used two side tables to hold it up. This came in handy later while tufting. My mom ended up lying underneath the piece and I was on top, each of us guiding the needle as it went on the top and bottom of the foam.
I didn’t use spray foam or any adhesive on these layers before we started tufting. I didn’t think the spray foam would be necessary since the we had the headboard laying down and I wanted it all to be able to move a little as we worked on this project. I’m not a huge fan of spray adhesive so I’m glad we skipped this step and didn’t need it.
Mom started by threading the needle, pushing it through a hole in the pegboard/foam/batting and finally guiding it to the spot I wanted in the fabric. I took the needle from her, helping to pull it through the rest of the way and threading a fabric covered button on to the needle. (A step not shown in this tutorial: button making. It was extremely easy using the kit I got at Hancock’s. It is also pretty cheap, especially when you can get them on sale for 40% off like I did!)
I would make sure the needle was all of the way through the four layers (pegboard, foam, batting and fabric), the button was attached to the thread and then push the needle back down through all four layers to my mom.
She would pull the needle back down and hold gently as I tucked and guided the fabric to fold the way I wanted. I didn’t want a traditional diamond tuft, rather a more modern and clean-lined tuft like the West Elm version.
Once the button was pulled down as far as I wanted, I would holler for her to keep holding so I could duck underneath the makeshift worktable and help her out. (This became the comical part of the process. We were barking out short sentences to each other like we were in some kind of boot camp. “Pull harder. Little more. Okay stop!” “Holding. Hurry!” “I’m coming under!”)
Mom would pull tightly on the string while I grabbed her air compressor nail gun (such a handy tool for this project!) and nail 5-6 staples into the pegboard to hold the button in the place we wanted. This is when you need a project buddy you are comfortable with – we spooned several times, I laid across her stomach at one point – and that buddy needs strong hands. Project buddies with Mom-strength preferred.
Once you finish the rows of tufting (we ended up doing four rows – 6 buttons each), pull the fabric around to the back of the pegboard and staple the heck out of it! Make sure you smooth the fabric as you go and pull it taught before stapling.
**Not shown – since this headboard was so tall, we had to use two strips of fabric. The fourth row of buttons are actually tufted using a new piece of fabric. This was no big deal because the pillows on our bed would cover them up but if this bothers you, adjust your measurements so you can use only one piece of fabric across.
Several days later, my dad came over to help me install the headboard. We used a tool called a french cleat – one side attached to the wall and one side attached to the headboard. They rest in each other and can hold up to 200 pounds – it is a very cool tool for hanging pictures or items like my headboard!
Conner got a laser level/stud finder for Christmas one year and it was perfect for this. We were able to make sure the picture hanger was level while the headboard was lying down, all thanks to the laser. (bonus points if you say laser like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers)
We measured the headboard, measured the wall, measured the headboard and measured the wall again – it was a little nerve-wracking carrying the large headboard back to the bedroom because I was worried it would all get messed up. The fabric wrinkled (its linen, what can you expect?) and some of the folds came undone but it was an absolute perfect fit on top of the headboard and I knew I could iron out the problems with the fabric.
You can see the two rows of fabric on the right side of this picture. My mom did a quick stitch in several places to make sure the two layers wouldn’t come undone and we used some spray glue to attach the bottom piece to the foam. So far – so good!
Once the headboard was in place and centered (the french cleat allows you to slide the picture/headboard back and forth while hanging so you can adjust as needed), I used an iron to clean up the wrinkles and secure some folds that had come undone. This final step helped so much and really polished it up!
Look, even dogs approve of the project!
Not pictured here is a nightstand for Conner. This is a work in progress thanks to the stupid air vent seen on the floor on the left side of the picture. Thanks, builders from the early 80’s, for placing this in the most awkward spot ever.
I love how much this brightens the room and also makes the ceilings seem so much taller. It still shocks me to walk down the hall and see a large white object in the bedroom!
The mirrored nightstand looks more complete now that the headboard is finished. Success!
And one last look at our new, West Elm knock-off, headboard! I am thrilled with the results and while I’m not willing to tackle another headboard of this size, can’t wait to do it again on a much smaller scale.
The West Elm version (with tax and shipping) would have cost me $887. My supplies, including french cleat, cost $182 for a savings of $705. Total score! If you have questions about this (I know several steps weren’t photographed), please email me or leave a comment. I would be happy to help and answer questions!
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