Gustavian double bed with storageThis bed and headboard has been through more reincarnations than Madonna and David Bowie combined! It was born out of love and practicality many years ago not long after my wife and I first moved in together.

We where initially sharing a queen sized bed, which in the first flushes of a relationship gave lots of opportunities for spooning, but in the middle of a hot sticky summers night it gave just a few too many opportunities.

So we decided we needed a bigger bed, in fact we decided we wanted the biggest bed we could get. That’s not as easy here in Sweden as it would be in the US or UK so we decided to build our own.  We started off by ordering two 100×200 (3ft 4 x 6ft 6) Tempur mattresses which side by side gave us a bed about 20cm (8ins) bigger than a UK Superking. We have actually been really disappointed by the Tempur mattresses but that’s a story for another day.

Upholstered headboard

The bed itself is inspired by my Dad who when we moved to a new house in the 80’s built us all beds like this. The bed frame itself is just a simple chipboard box with an internal ledge around the inside on which the top sits. The top is again chipboard with batons underneath provide some additional rigidity as it’s quite a wide span for chipboard. I originally built this bed frame years ago before we swapped the rooms around.


The base of the headboard was also originally built at the same time. Well I say built years ago but it’s a bit like the story of the caretaker who at his retirement party proudly tells everyone he’s had the same broom for 45 years. He’s just had 5 new handles and 15 new heads.

The central piece of wood in this headboard is the same as the one all those years ago but it’s had two different fabrics, two different foam padding’s, buttons added and now it has a new frame. Oh and originally it was three times as high.

I usually like to illustrate my post with lots and lots of pictures of what I’m doing step by step but because this has evolved over time from before I even started the Shabby Side of Chic I haven’t got many pictures to share.

One of the key take-ways from our early attempts is to use a thicker layer of foam under the fabric. Our first attempt we used really thin foam which was maybe 5mm (1/3 in) thick and the final result just looked like a piece of chipboard wrapped in fabric.

Second time around we use a much thicker 70mm (2 3/4 in) foam. To add the rows of buttons i just marked out where I wanted the three rows in diamond shapes and drilled a hole in the chipboard.

Next I looped a length of thin wire through the buttons and using an extra big needle pushed it through the fabric, foam and out of the hole in the back. I then place a nail across the hole and twisted off the loop of wire so it held the buttons in place. The main thing you need to do is push the buttons really hard back into the foam so they sit nice and deep. You then just snip of the excess wire and start again.

Home made headboard

The headboard actually stayed like this for quite a while until a few weeks ago we decided to add a frame around the edge to give it a bit more definition.

homemade headboard

I created the Pilaster’s on the side post using a router and trimmed the top with a molding to create Capitals at the top. I’ve previously described how to do this here in my bookcase project. The final details were the Rose applique and the Acorn detail on the corner post. The Acorn actually came from the end of an old curtain rod!

The Greek Key motif across the top was created using a length of Dado rail from the decorators store.

Last job was to paint everything with a home made chalk paint recipe I got from here where Denis give her top 5 of homemade chalk pains and I thought I give the baking soda and latex paint one a go. It worked pretty well, I think, to give the tired worn out look we wanted. I sanded it back so the wood shows though in various placed. It’s had a clear wax coat so far but I’m thinking of adding another darker coat and if I do I’ll post an update.

Upholstered headboardThanks for reading the Shabby Side of Chic.