Bored of my headboard: Nailhead DIY


A Headboard Evolution

Back in 2009 I made a headboard. It was one of my first DIY projects. I took lots of pictures of the making of it, but miraculously can’t find them for this post, so I guess you are spared. It was sea foam suede. It was cushy. It was beautiful. But, after 3 years, it was boring.


The Inspo

My version

My version

I always meant to add the tufts, but then I decided that I just liked it plain. However, I was so excited about it that I *completely* neglected one of the most important steps: bolting it to the bed. Which was ok, for the first few years — the headboard just seemed a little short. But when we moved into our current little lovely basement apartment (with hardly any closet space), we needed that space under the bed. I have always been a major fan of the tall, majestic bed, so I was more than happy to buy risers to lift our bed up a few much needed inches. But, in the process, this happened:

That little dab of blue peeking out from behind those pillows? Yeah, that's my headboard.

That little dab of blue peeking out from behind those pillows? Yeah, that’s my headboard.

The headboard all but disappeared. Whoa. Seemed like a project I had been putting off for years finally got the No.1 position on my to-do list.

But, I didn’t want to just bolt it to the wall. While I had it out, I felt like it was the perfect time for an update. An update to my to-do. An up-do.

I decided to do something with nailhead. I have seen a lot of Ikea hacks lately using nailhead as the main design element (like, this side table from Ikea Hackers) — a little upholstery tack can go a long way in completely changing the vibe of something kind of simple and boring.

Since upholstery tacks aren’t cheap (they aren’t too expensive either at $1.30 for 20. I am just a super spend-thrift) I first measured and marked the part of the headboard that was going to be hidden behind the mattress anyway. The design would go from this point up.

I used red yarn and pinned it to my headboard to demarcate between what would show and what would be hidden by the mattress.

I used red yarn and pinned it to my headboard to demarcate between what would show and what would be hidden by the mattress.

Then, I measured two inches in around the top and marked it with a pencil. On my fabric, a pencil would just erase right off and pretty much matches the color of my faux-suede. You may want to use tracer’s chalk.

Then I started to tack. Let me give you some hard-learned tips about using these tacks:

  • Test it out: To save yourself some hassle, start out in an inconspicuous area to get the hang of using these before starting on your headboard. I probably wasted a whole box just getting the hang of it, so even though it *seems* counter productive, it will actually be a feather in your cap in when the pressure is on. If you take a wrong swing, the nail will twist and bend and render itself completely useless.
  • Swing for the center, baby: Upholstery tacks consist of a little cap and nail. Try as I might, I could not seem to get the two components apart to reuse the cap on a new nail. However, this does tell you to handle the upholstery nail like a standard nail. Meaning: aim for the center and top of the nail. I incorrectly assumed you could just kind of hit the cap anywhere and it would go in just fine.

The one on the right couldn’t take the pressure. See how it is actually two pieces, though?

  • Don’t be timid: Take as few swings as possible. This is why doing a few testers is good. After a while, I could drive the nail in with two big swings. Once I got to that point, the number of nails that ended up like the one pictured above went down exponentially.

This one is stupid, so I don’t even want to bullet it, but lay your headboard on the ground. Without the force of gravity working against you, the fabric will pull is less awkward ways. I did the left side of the border first, standing the headboard up, and then laid it down for the right side. You can definitely see a difference. But, that’s probably totally obvious to anyone else other than me.

After completing the border, I started on the inside. I made a stencil for the tacks…

My stencil

My stencil

Marked the center with another piece of yarn…


Caught in the cross-hairs

And started tacking.

Once finished, I drilled bolt holes, (which wasn’t as pretty as one would like, so there are no pictures. I thought it was going to be a simple drill, which really, it should be. Just make sure you keep the batting and foam inside of your headboard away from your bit for goodness sake!) and bolted the thing to the bed.





And for the grand finale:


With pillows


What do you think? Do you like the design? Are you a fan of this nailhead look? Would you poke holes in your otherwise perfectly good headboard?