Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rustic Headboard

Last week I hinted that I had another blog post coming from our guest bedroom- so here it is!  I actually worked on this project in two phases; one pre-blog and one post-blog, which explains the lack of photos for the first half.

I'll be explaining how I built a rustic looking headboard, and then added some reading lights later:

Part 1- Building the Headboard
Rather than a polished look, I wanted this headboard to look like it was put together with scrap wood (which if I'm honest, suits my skill level better anyway).  I have to be pretty exact with my work as an engineer, but once I get home I have this strange allergy to measuring things.  It just gets in the way of getting things done. ;)

There are plenty of variations of this style headboard out there, but I think this basic construction could fit a lot of them.  This photo shows how it is put together, basically two vertical 2x4's that each board screws into.

I started with one piece of barn siding, which is rough cut on one side.  Barn siding isn't too hard to find around here, but if you live in an area that is lacking in farms, you can ask for boards to be rough cut.  I cut the board approximately in half, and then cut each half into three strips in various widths.  The idea was to have no two boards that were exactly the same, although you can see that they weren't too far off from an average size.  This happened to work out well for a full size bed, but just keep your bed's width in mind when you are choosing the wood.  My headboard is approximately 4" longer on each side than the bed.  Also, note the height of your mattress (aim to put the bottom board a few inches lower than the mattress sits), and how high you want the headboard to go.  Mine is approximately 3' tall from the bottom plank to the top.

At this point, if you would like to distress your boards further, you could really add to the 'rustic' look, especially if you are starting with fresh boards like I did.  To distress the boards, basically just beat them up- hit them with a hammer, stick some nail holes in them, or even hammer a bag of nails into the boards (just so your dents don't all come out looking like the round tip of a hammer).  Here's a chance to get creative, or maybe just let off some steam! :)

Next, I stained the boards in various colors, with whatever stain I had laying around.  You could also accomplish a varied look in the boards with one stain that you put on in different numbers of coats- maybe one coat that you wipe off right away, or several coats that you just let soak in.  If you don't have a lot of stain laying around, you can also look into homemade stains.  I haven't personally tried them (I smell a future project here!), but by using things like tea bags, vinegar, and rusty nails you can create your own unique stain!  Also, you can use a wood conditioner to help the stain absorb more evenly, or just paint it on there directly and see what happens.  

Once you have your boards distressed and stained to your liking, lay them out on a flat surface in the pattern you like, finished side down.  I chose to offset each one, and left about 1/4" between each board, just to add some visual interest.  Lay the 2x4's on top, perpendicular to the planks.  The 2x4's should be long enough so that they can reach from the floor to your top board.  Now, take a look at the frame your bed sits on.  Many of the metal frames have something that is meant for a headboard to attach to.  If your bed frame has these pieces, and you want to attach your headboard to the frame, space your vertical 2x4's so that you can do that later.  

Gather some wood screws that are between the thickness of the 2x4 and your planks (probably 1 3/4" to 2" depending on your planks), and carefully screw the screws in (through the back) without poking through the front.

At this point, my headboard looked something like this:

And it sat that way for a long time.  It looked fine, but I thought it was a little boring.  Since this bed needed some bed-side lighting, I decided to add some lantern style lights to it to brighten it up (yep, pun intended).

Part 2- Adding Reading Lights 
I'll show you basically what I did here, but I'm not going to go into detail about the wiring.  I'm not confident enough in my electrical abilities to post detailed tutorials on the internet- there are plenty of them out there, so you won't be without instruction if you just do a google search.  Ok, with the electrical paranoia out of the way... here we go:

I picked up these jelly jar lights for $5 at home depot:

which are meant for the outdoors.  There wasn't a real science to where I placed them (again, allergic to measuring); I just flopped down on the bed and moved the lamp around until it made sense.  I did try to make sure that it was far enough off to the side so that it wouldn't get in the way of pillows and people's heads.  Their mounting hardware looked something like this out of the box:

Which I used like this to mount to the headboard (this took some wood screws that didn't come with the light):


Next I drilled a hole for the wires, making sure that the hole would be covered by the base plate, and threaded the wires through.  I bought a cord with an on/off switch on it- mine was meant for a candelabra, but I just cut that part off, leaving the switch and plug.  I wired the lamp to the new plug (the sides of the cord are marked with a smooth coating and ribbing so you know which goes to which wire), and screwed in my edison bulb (read: spent more on the light bulb than the rest of the light).  I also stapled the cord to the back of the headboard to make sure it wasn't pulling on the wire connectors.  Magically, the light worked!  

***Update:  I realized that there really should be a box protecting the electrical connection behind the headboard, so I have added that picture and the boxes to the parts description at the end.




I assembled the rest of the light and repeated the process on the other side of the headboard.

So, here is the final product:

I still have a few changes I want to make to this room, but I think this is a good start!  This is one of the few rooms in our house that I haven't painted even once!  Even so, it's ready for visitors!

To summarize, here are the supplies you need, and approximate cost:
-Rough cut boards- size them to your particular bed and desired height.  (Mine was one piece of barn siding for you farmland folks)- $20
-Two 2x4's, each will be about 5 feet long, depending on the height of your headboard- $8
-Various stains
-Wood screws- length slightly less than 2x4 thickness plus board thickness
-Lantern style light (mine are jelly jar lights)- $5 ea.
-Cord with plug and switch, such as a candelabra cord- $5 ea.
-wire connectors
-Light bulb (edison style if you feel like a splurge ($9 ea.)- they look really cool!)
- Metal electrical boxes and covers- $3.50 ea.

There you have it- a rustic headboard that won't break the bank!  Feel free to post if you have any questions!