DIY Fireplace Headboard

If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know this is a project that has been on my to-do list for quite some time now.

When Justin and I got a new bed last year, I immediately starting searching for a coordinating headboard to match our navy and white bedroom. Y’all – headboards are SO expensive! Did you realize? Because I didn’t. Like, silly expensive.

Pinching pennies, Justin and I headed to one of our favorite salvage shops in the DC area – Community Forklift – for a bit of inspiration. If any of my lovely readers are in the DC Metro Area, I encourage you to go check it out. You’ll find rows and rows of windows, doors, bannister spindles, pink and blue toilets, kitchen cabinets, ceiling fans, antique cookware, and more. It’s great for finding unique building materials, and even better for inspiring new project ideas.

On this particular day of digging, Justin and I came across a row of old fireplace mantels that had been carefully pried away from the walls of what I like to imagine were beautiful, old, full-of-history DC homes, and brought to Community Forklift fully intact and ready for a new life. One of these beauties stood out in particular and when we measured, we found that the dimensions were perfect for our new bed.

DIY Fireplace Headboard

I didn’t have a blog at the time, but I wish I would have had the foresight to snap a photo or two of the fireplace mantel strapped to the car. It was too big for the roof and too big for the interior, so we went with a half-in, half-out, drive slow and hope we don’t cause an accident approach. Only to get it back to our apartment building and discover it didn’t fit into the elevator and had to be carried up all seven flights of stairs. Oof.

But it was worth it. Look how fabulous it looked when we got it all set up in our bedroom:

Doesn’t the white just pop against that pretty blue wall? Ahh, I miss that blue wall. {#rentalproblems}

The only thing wrong was that the width of the piece set the front of the mantel about 5 inches away from the wall. Which meant that any number of things could be found on the floor behind the mattress, including pillows, books, phone chargers, and anything else haphazardly placed on our bed that mysteriously went missing {read: lots of socks}.

I knew pretty quickly that we needed to put a backboard on the mantel, but we didn’t get around to it until recently. I’m embarrassed to admit that Justin and I bought the supplies for this project last September. Yep, almost a year ago. And since then the pieces have been propped up in the garage {plywood}, shoved under the guest room bed {foam}, and tucked into the linen closet {fabric}.

When Justin asked what I wanted to do for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I decided this was it. 28 was my year of doing, but 29 would be my year of can-do, will-do. And so, we did.


Fireplace Mantel (check your local salvage shops!) | 1 sheet of plywood | 2 sheets of foam | spray adhesive | fabric of your choice | staple gun and staples | power drill and screws | saw | measuring tape | yard stick | marker

*Also, depending on the width of your fabric and the size of your bed, you may need a sewing machine and supplies to piece together enough fabric to cover your backing.  My measurements and supplies are for a queen size headboard.

1.  We started by measuring the opening in the mantel to determine the size we needed to cut the plywood to. We took the size of the opening and added a few inches on each side to allow for overlap where we would attach the backing to the mantel. Knowing we have a power outlet directly behind our headboard space, we decided to end the wood about ½ an inch from the floor in order to allow room for cords to flow through.

2.  We then measured the plywood to size and triple checked our measurements before cutting it with a circular saw.

DIY Fireplace Headboard

3.  Next, we laid out the foam on top of the plywood and cut it to size. For our queen size headboard, we needed two sheets of foam to fit the height from top to bottom. I cut the foam as close to the edge of the wood as possible, leaving only about a ¼ inch border between the edge of the foam and the edge of the plywood.

4.  We applied one piece of foam at a time, using Scotch’s “super 77” multi-purpose adhesive. We sprayed the plywood (holding the spray adhesive approximately 6-8 inches away), and then immediately pressed the foam on top and smoothed it out.

5.  While the adhesive was drying, we focused on the fabric.

Most fabric is only about a yard wide, so if you’re like me, you’ll need to sew two pieces together to make it work. And if your sewing is as terrible and uneven as mine (even with a machine), don’t worry. The seam should hit below where your mattress will lay, so you won’t even see it.

I laid the fabric over the drying foam to determine my measurements. I had about an extra foot of fabric on each side, so I decided not to trim it down any further. If you have a lot of extra fabric on each side, consider trimming it down to about 6 inches on each side of the plywood. That should give you more than enough of a buffer when wrapping your final product.

DIY Fireplace Headboard

I ended up needing two panels to cover the foam – one on top and one on the bottom. I pinned the two pieces of fabric together (front to front) and ran them through my sewing machine to create a nice simple seam. I tried to make it straight, really I did.  End result: it’s a good thing you can’t see it.

DIY Fireplace Headboard

When I was finished, I ironed the whole thing to get any wrinkles out.

6.  Justin and I laid a clean sheet down on the floor of our workspace in order to keep any dirt and debris off the project. We then laid down the following:

DIY Fireplace Headboard

7.  We started with the top, carefully pulling the fabric tight and staple gunning it to the back of the wood as we went.

8.  After the top was secure, we stood the piece up and stapled the sides with the piece standing so we could make sure the fabric was pulled tightly and evenly and there were no wrinkles.

9.  We then flipped the whole thing upside down to finish the final edge.  Tip: wrap your edges like you would a present.

10.  For the last step, we laid the mantel facedown, laid the freshly covered foam board face down on top of it, and drilled screws through the back of the wood into the back of the mantel to secure it all together. We used 4 screws on each side, and 4 across the top as well. You need to make sure that your screws are long enough to drive through both the wood, foam, and mantel to secure them all together, but not so long that they will pop through the front of the mantel.

Tip: place old blankets or towels underneath the front of the mantel before attaching the foam board. This will provide a cushion for the pressure of the drill and reduces the risk of damaging your mantel.

11.  Attach to the wall and enjoy! We used simple brackets to attach, but chances are that your handiwork has added enough weight to the headboard to make it stand upright on its own, as long as it’s propped up against a wall.

DIY Fireplace Headboard

I’m still missing the beautiful navy wall from our last place, but the rest of this is making me pretty happy right now. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing and super comfy to squish up against and read books in bed, but I haven’t lost a phone charger, pillow, or sock(s) in weeks.

Oh, happy day. And night.



10 thoughts on “DIY Fireplace Headboard

  1. Sometimes better later than never leads to the perfect ending. You “nailed it” with this project. Quite impressive. Maybe the history of the mantel will be revealed in a dream!

  2. Pingback: Getting Creative: DIY Jewelry Storage | With Love, From California

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