before and afterInteriors

Before & After: Grace and Julia’s Bedroom Makeover

by Grace Bonney

Our spring cleaning makeover fever is starting to crest, and after the living room, bathroom, back door and runner makeover, we’re starting to slow our pace a bit. But… not until we finished this one last project: our bedroom.

Julia and I have kept our bedroom pretty minimal since we moved in. Like, mega minimal. Just a bed, two side tables, one lamp and literally nothing else. Except for our beloved sound machine, which helps dampen out the sound of occasionally barking dogs who spot squirrels during the night.

After giving the rest of the house some love, we decided to turn our attention to this overlooked space. We wanted to keep things simple, but we also wanted our room to feel a little more special, and a little cushier. Like a comfortable hotel room where we could feel removed from work and to-do lists and leaking pipes (cue our latest project: fixing the leaking tub pipes!). So we batted around a lot of ideas and almost moved forward with a decision to install shiplap in the room and embrace our farmhouse’s history. But the price felt prohibitive and we went back to the drawing board for something simple.

That’s when Julia spotted Brady Tolbert’s DIY Upholstered Headboard Project. Normally I’m the one poking a phone into Julia’s line of sight and asking her to check out a home project, but this time it was Julia who spotted something cool that would combine our two loves: her love of projects that involve power tools and wood and my love of staple gun upholstery.

Not exactly new to the world of upholstered headboards (until this project, this beauty remained my proudest DIY achievement), I felt like we could wrap this sucker up in a few hours and call it a day. But in all honesty, this took almost an entire day, from about 9am when we left to pick up wood to 9pm when we finally started to hang the mirror above the bed and call it a night. I woke up in the middle of the night with my hands locked in the shape of claws because the hours upon hours of staple gunning had aggravated my carpal tunnel so badly, but the end result was so worth it. But one note: I would highly suggest breaking this project into two, if not three, days of work: one day for all the woodworking and planning and cutting, one day for upholstery, and one day for installation and styling. I honestly still haven’t gotten around to “styling” this room at all because, frankly, I still like our bedroom to be really simple and quiet. It’s a place to relax, fall asleep with the crossword puzzle on my phone and recharge for the next day.

Thanks to my other half for her infinite patience and way with a chop saw, and thanks to Brady Tolbert for this awesome DIY inspiration. Want to make your own? Follow Brady’s DIY steps right here. We added another bit of wall support (see the pictures below), but otherwise we followed this to a T.

Other details? We used this fabric, Airtime Indigo. What a name! The sconces are from West Elm, a gift from Julia’s dad, and the floor mirror is from IKEA — we hung it on the wall instead. xo, Grace

Before & After: An empty space transforms to a softer, cushier room for rest. 

Step One: Lining up all the wood. We combined 12 pieces of 6 foot x 1 foot pine to create 6 long planks that were 12-feet-long each. 

Step Two: Organizing the other supplies. We used upholstery foam (pre-cut by the online foam seller, per Brady’s project instructions, see his post for details!), upholstery batting, upholstery-weight fabric, and a TON of hardware to make this come to life. 

Step Three: Julia had a genius hack for upholstering each channel of the headboard. Rather than using spray mount to keep the foam in place, we used duct tape. You’ll never see it anyway, and it’s way faster (and less smelly). We cut each piece of fabric about 6 inches longer than the board on all sides so we had plenty of fabric to pull and work with. 

Step Four: Upholstering each 12-foot board in our skinny hallway. This took the better part of 4-5 hours. My hands were screaming at the end of this. If you’re doing this at home, take your time and break this into chunks. It’s A LOT of staple gunning (we used a plug-in electric staple gun) and is hard on your hands. 

Step Five: All my upholstered headboard babies! Making 6 of these upholstered “channels” that are each 12 feet long was a BEAST. Lining them up and staring at them, I felt so proud.

Step Six: Ok, the back of this sucker is NOT pretty. We used tons of metal brackets to connect these and hold all the boards together. In hindsight, we should have gotten 6 HUGE industrial brackets to combine them all at once. Instead we used like 4-6 smaller brackets per board duo and it wasn’t as stiff as we’d like as a unit. Hence…

Step Seven: Julia hung a board on the wall that we could use to “hang” the headboard lip on. Then we attached that from the top. It doesn’t really “hang” on this, but it helps the board stay entirely vertical and not sag in the middle from the weight of all the boards and fabric. 

Step Eight: We attached large L brackets on the back (after the main headboard was done — they poke through the channels easily!) so we could have some floating shelves made from leftover plywood from our living room behind-the-sofa table. 

Step Nine: Around 9pm we finally had the headboard hung and done. Now it was time to place the lights (since we had no other light in the room, ha!) and finish the last pieces. 

Step Ten: We hung the mirror (which was a floor mirror Julia realized we could use as a wall mirror if we removed the stand and brackets — yay!) and screwed in the shelves from below into the L brackets we placed in the last step.

Step Eleven: Turk approves!

Ta-da! All done, now we have to work on finding some bigger pillows (and a bigger blanket) to finish things up.

The little “shelf” at the top of the headboard is a perfect soft space to lean artwork or just toss your eye glasses at the end of the night. 

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  • Wow! I loved Brady’s, with the green velvet and I love this one with your blue and white indigo! Beautiful and well done! Enjoy!

  • Wow, this is so interesting. I love the fabric and haven’t seen a wall/bed treatment like it. Thank you for sharing. This has me thinking…
    (Also, I wish you had a bigger house with more diy decorating to do. I LOVED your bathroom! This is impressive work too. Even the living room which wasn’t my style was so fun to see! I get inspired by anyone’s diy finishes! Keep going!)

  • This is so posh! It really does look like a luxury hotel. It looks doable, too. (Although, that headboard must weigh a ton–I was wondering how you guys were able to move it into place.) I’m looking for a good storage bed because I, too, like the look of a minimal bedroom. If you are happy with yours, would you mind telling me what it is? Thanks

  • Would love to know how you hung the mirror! Have been looking to do this exact thing but having trouble finding an affordable mirror that can be hung horizontally.

  • Love your version of Brady’s headboard. I thought about it when I saw his but I guess I would have to do a shorter version of it (i.e. not spanning the entire width of the room) as I have an MCM chest of drawers on one side of the room plus nightstands. I don’t know if I ever could live just your version of nightstand – I have too much stuff in mine. :-)
    My bedroom needs a makeover anyway. Is your bed Ikea’s Brimnes? If so, how happy are you with the storage? Do the drawers slide easily?

  • Absolutely LOVE this headboard!! Would you mind sharing an estimate as to how much the whole project cost?

    And a note on the DIY space (would love your thoughts too) – When I first started following interior design and DIY blogs, I was just out of college and wanting specific designs but not being able to afford them. DIY-ing projects was a fantastic way to make those designs accessible for me. Now, a decade into my career, with a more steady income (honestly, any income at all!) I’m diy-ing things because I want something more custom or specific design that I can’t find in any store or maker. So I’m not paying as much attention to the cost of the DIY. I’ve noticed a similar change in DIY instructions, articles and blogs. The cost saving isn’t as much of a sell to the audience of why this DIY tutorial is useful or the reader should complete it. I’m curious if this change is a maturation of the DIY/Blog space in general, indication of the economy overall, or my own economic maturation.

    (And yes, I realize commenting on an article several weeks old won’t necessarily start a robust discussion, but if anyone is reading this and has thoughts, I’d be really interested to hear them – however delayed!)