Have you ever experienced that frustrating moment when you have a very specific vision in mind for the “perfect” finishing touch for your space but have yet to find “the one?” When it comes to a lot of things, you simply must take your time and do your research until that design lands at your feet (or your computer mouse), but have you ever considered building it yourself?
I have had visions of the perfect modern headboard in my mind for the past year, but nothing I found quite matched what I saw in my mind. So instead, I finally decided that it was time to take things into my own two hands, and I set about building a statement piece that matched my vision, my style and my budget, too. Here’s how.
First order of business: the wood. I purchased a high-quality piece of birch wood from our local Home Depot and had the folks there cut it down to size — 5 feet by 2.5 feet. After getting the board home, I proceeded to sand it down using a hand sander until the wood felt smooth to the touch. Then I swept away the dust and debris with a clean microfiber cloth.
As for the stain, I chose a rich, dark color from Minwax called Dark Walnut. This is my go-to for several reasons. The brand name stain goes on smoothly every time, and I love the dark brown color it leaves behind, which has very little red undertones in it.
After brushing one coat of the stain onto the wood, I used a clean rag to wipe away the excess and then let it cure and dry overnight.
Next came the trim. To make things easier on myself, I purchased prepainted white L-shaped trim (also from Home Depot). This allowed me to skip the steps of constructing the L-shape out of plain wood and also eliminated the need to prime and paint the trim.
To make this finishing detail work for my DIY headboard, I measured the lengths of all four sides of my stained birch wood foundation and then marked the trim. Then we lined it up in a miter saw that had been adjusted to a 45-degree angle — this ensured that the corners would match up without gaps.
Tip: Remember to make all of your outside angles cut inward as opposed to out, or your corners won’t match up!
To attach the trim to the birch headboard foundation, I used a pencil to mark the trim every 1.5 feet, and then I used a drill press to drill all of my marked holes. A piece of scrap wood nestled beneath the trim within the L-shaped silhouette helped to keep it nice and steady as I worked it along the press.
Then we moved the trim back to the birch wood and drilled it into place using screws.
To mount our headboard, I decided to use the same technique and concept that carpenters use to hang cabinetry — two wooden braces, each cut at an angle, with one drilled into the wood piece being hung on the wall and the other drilled into the wall.
When set on top of one another, the downward angle of the brace attached to the wooden headboard lines up with (and falls right into) the upward angle of the brace attached to the wall.
To create the brace, we ran one 4-foot, 1-by-4-inch oak panel through a table saw that had been set at an angle. This simultaneously created both of our braces, the top of which we then clamped against the birch headboard, drilled holes and then put the screws in place. The bottom brace was left unattached to later be drilled into the wall.
Finally, I transported the bottom brace and the headboard to our bedroom and, after measuring the height needed based on our mattress and bed frame, used a level, a drill and drywall screws to hang the wall brace. Because the solid wood headboard was a bit on the heavy side, I also used a drywall stud finder to make sure that my brace was stabilized on the wall and could handle the weight of the headboard.
Time for the last finishing touch. I hung the headboard and then used painter’s tape to create an intersecting lined pattern on one end. Then, I grabbed a roller and white paint to achieve a crisp, modern design. Before the paint fully dried, I carefully removed and discarded the tape and then let the paint cure overnight.
The interplay of the white grid against the wooden grain of the finished birch headboard was just what I had hoped for, and now we have a truly unique piece that matches my vision to the perfect “T.”
Carrie Waller is the writer, designer and stylist behind the blog Dream Green DIY. Photos courtesy of Carrie Waller.
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