October 5, 2012

DIY: Rustic Headboard

The moment you've been waiting for is here... duh duh dun. Our guest bedroom headboard makeover! (DIY instructions at the end!)

The before picture is actually after we cleaned up. The kitties were living in this room and had completely destroyed it. Kitty litter and mess was everywhere and the once-clean guest bedroom became unusable. So, we moved the kitty boys into the living area and cleaned up all their mess. The before picture is the result of that. As you can see, we were using an old nightstand and one of my plastic storage bins as nightstand-wannabes. The lampshades also didn't quite fit the lamps... actually not even close. :/

One of my inspirational pieces for this room was the bedspread. My great-grandmother handmade it and it's absolutely gorgeous. I love the clean, white, textured look. I decided early on that I wanted to go for a clean, rustic, elegant feel for this space. I want it to be a place where guests can come relax and feel at peace. So, step #1 - make a new rustic headboard!

And now for the part you were all waiting for... the how-to.


  • 1 Can of Fast-Drying Polyurethane
  • 1 Can (16-32 oz. depending on how much wood you use) of Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
  • Wood Stain (I decided to use 2 colors - Weathered Gray & Kona - to get a more rustic look)
  • 2 Cloths - - - 1 for conditioning and 1 for staining
  • Wood  (I used 13 pieces of 2x4x8 and cut them down to the sizes I wanted)
  • Wood Saw (You can also ask your local home improvement store to cut them for you, but make sure to go prepared with exact measurements)
  • Drill
  • A box of 1.5" Screws


  1. Measure the bed you want the headboard to fit. I decided to add small shelves on the end to act as nightstands, so I made the headboard extend that far to accommodate. Measure for both height and width. 
  2. Next, determine what type and size of wood you need based on the measurements you want your headboard. I determined that I would need 10 pieces of 4" wood to get the height I wanted. I also determined that the wood would need to be at least 6' long. *Side Note: When you buy your wood, remember that it is usually a half inch less than what it is "measured" as. Example: 4" boards are actually 3.5"
  3. Lay your boards on the floor and decide if you want to cut them into pieces or leave them all one length. I decided to cut mine because I wanted it to look pieced together. If you decide to leave them all one length, the process will be easier.
  4. Mark where you are going to cut your boards.
  5. On the back of each board, mark them according to their position and the color you want them stained. (See picture below) This will help you know where to place them after you cut and stain.
  6. Cut boards with saw.
  7. Condition all of the wood with the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Let dry for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Put boards into two piles - one gray pile (Weathered Gray Stain) and one brown pile (Kona Stain). 
  9. Stain boards. I recommend putting different amounts of layers on the boards to give them even more variation. Let dry for 24 hours. *Side Note: Do not bring them inside. Wood stain will not come out of carpet or other fabrics.
  10. Once the boards are completely dry, spray them with Polyurethane. I recommend 3 coats with 30 minutes between each coat. (After they are dry, it is safe to bring them inside) 
  11. Lay the boards back in order according to how you marked them. 
  12. Flip the boards so they are face down on the floor. Make sure all of the boards are completely touching and in line.
  13. Lay two of the long boards (the ones that will be holding the headboard up off the floor) on the outsides of the farthest cut boards. Put the third in the middle. Apply smaller bracing boards where necessary so that each board has at least 2 points of contact. (See picture below)
  14. Set the headboard up behind your bed and add shelves and other decorations! I used garden brackets to hang my lamps.


  • Purchase and hang artwork - see here
  • Find a bed frame (we are lacking one as you can see the box springs in the picture)
  • Purchase a carved deer head to go above the headboard - like this one
  • Find new sheets and pillowcases
  • Cover up, revamp, or replace bookcase
  • Find a pretty way to display and store my art supplies
  • Get rid of plastic storage bins


  1. You're amazing! This is spectacular; I absolutely cannot wait to have my own home so I can do this. Thanks for the diy!

  2. It looks fabulous love! I can't wait to see it in person on Sunday!

  3. Jenny, this is so beautiful! I love the little shelves for your plants!

  4. Amazing job!!! I love it so, so much. What lucky guests you will have. :)

  5. The headboard looks so GOOD! I can't wait to try something like this! Definietly pinning this post...

  6. This is so great! I have been thinking something like this for my sons room. Great job!

  7. Jenny! I am in LOOOOOVE with this makeover. GAH. Well done my friend!

  8. Your headboard looks amazing!

  9. This is amazing! I am doing this and will send you pics when im done!!! :D

    please stop by and say hi, heres my blog:

  10. Just to add a note, we copied this design using the same stains as mentioned - weathered gray and kona - and it came out much darker than pictured above. We are still very happy with the result, but were just surprised by the darker tones than expected

  11. I didn't see how you attached the light fixtures.


© 2011-2014 Jenny Highsmith all rights reserved.
Blog designed + developed by Jenny Highsmith of Maiedae.
Powered by Blogger.
Pin It button on image hover