She had two twin bed frames and I knew immediately I wanted to try building pallet-style headboards — envisioning a mix of deep wood tones to go with the fluffy white comforters we planned to use.
I measured the beds and decided the headboards should be 38 inches wide and 24 inches tall, so they’d fit nicely over the beds without hitting the window trim (or being completely hidden by pillows).
I got started by cutting pieces for a frame and screwing them together. Each headboard got a long 38-inch piece of 2×2 for the top of the frame, two 20-inch pieces of 2×2 for the sides, and a 35-inch piece for the bottom.
Once I had two sturdy rectangles built out of 2x2s, it was time for the fun part: adding the planks!
My chop-saw got a workout as I cut 12 24” pieces of 1×4 (six for each headboard) and 8 24” pieces of 1×2 (four for each headboard).
This meant each headboard would have a combination of 1×2 and 1×4 vertical planks — 12 boards total per headboard — with a nice gap between each.
Then I played around with the order, laying the planks on the frame to see which pattern looked best. In the end, I decided on “a thin, four wides, two thins, four wides, and a thin.”
The part that took the longest was pre-drilling holes in the end of each plank to prevent the wood from splitting. Then I started on each end — screwing the first 1x2s in place — and worked my way toward the middle of each headboard, using two flat construction pencils as spacers to keep the boards even.
When I got to the middle of each headboard, I just eyeballed the placement of the two centre 1x2s — screwing them evenly between the 1x4s on either side. There’s a slightly larger gap around them, but — as Pa Ingalls would say — it’ll never be noticed on a trotting horse!
After using my electric sander to get them silky-smooth, I spread out my trusty drop cloths and propped up each headboard on my little plastic painter’s pyramids (and some leftover subway tile). Then I brought in a bunch of different pots of stain and started playing around.
I kept the pattern the same on each headboard, and alternated between dark, medium, and light wood tones — doubling up and using two different shades on some of the boards. That was fun, but then I realized I’d have to use a tiny brush to stain between each plank.
Should I have stained the planks before assembling the headboards? Sure, probably. But that just doesn’t seem to be the way I operate, so I didn’t let it bother me. I was binging old DVRed episodes of Four Weddings as I worked, so it wasn’t that bad.
After the stain was dry, I used a foam brush to apply a couple of coats of poly — sanding lightly in between. I love, love, love the silky feel of wood that’s beautifully stained and sealed. It just gleams with a healthy sheen that makes it look like it’s perfectly content.
A couple of screws later — into studs, since these suckers are HEAVY — the new twin headboards were hanging above their beds. I love how the wood looks against the pale grey walls and fluffy white bedding. The headboards also go perfectly with some other elements in the room, which I’ll show you another day …