Wood-Framed Art Headboard – Monthly DIY Challenge

You guys ready for another DIY Monthly Challenge??!

The challenge where my bloggy friends and I are assigned an item or theme and must simply make something with it?

I have to say… I love these challenges.   I really do.  They keep me on my toes and maintain my motivation.  Sometimes though, when life gets crazy, finishing a project can be… well… a challenge.   Especially when the project in question ends up giving you a run for your money.  Now, I’m gonna warn ya.  This post is a bit long.  I made a few mistakes and still have more to do, but I’m here to spill the good, the bad, and the ugly details with you.  Because, really… what’s a mistake if you can’t either (a) learn something from it, or (b) help somebody else to not to make the same mistakes.  So, consider this a partial what-not-to-do post. Let’s get started.   This month’s theme was…


And I had an idea that I was beyond stoked about.  I didn’t have a scrap wood stash, unfortunately, so it meant purchasing a small amount of wood…  but it was inexpensive and totally worth it.   My idea came to me when I realized that this piece of art….


Was the perfect size for a twin headboard.

Just as a little refresher… Last we spoke about the guestroom, it looked like this…


Back in that post, I said that I’d chosen this layout with the bed against the wall to maximize floor space.  But when it came down to it, I just couldn’t do it.  It made me twitch to have a space set up in an arrangement that I knew for a FACT was not the most appealing.  And I realized that I could easily utilize floor space in other rooms if needed.  So, I flipped the bed to the adjoining wall.

Although this messy picture doesn’t properly capture the difference, trust me, it’s way better.

Now, I’ll be honest… I finished the headboard to the point where it looks good.  Like, really good in my opinion.  But, it’s not structurally sound yet.   I have a few more tweaks to complete before I’ll allow anybody to sleep against it.   So, I’m gonna take you through what I’ve finished up to this point, and then I’m gonna Vanna White the other steps.  As in, demonstrate what I WILL do using a scrap piece of wood and my *lovely* hands.  You can thank me later. 😉

I started by purchasing 3 pieces of 1/2″ x 2″ x 48″ pieces of poplar from Home Depot for $2.62 a pop.


And I cut one piece down to size to match the width of the painting.  By.Myself. With.My.ARMS.


I am woman.

**Now, it is notable to mention that once I began assembling the headboard, I realized that I should’ve purchased five poplar pieces and then cut 3 down to size. So, if you do a similar project buy five. Not three.  I’ll explain more later.**

Anyhoo, I left the other two pieces long to act as legs.  Which I then stained with Varathane’s Early American stain…

I applied two coats with dry time between and then topped it with two coats of Formby’s Tung Oil to give it some sheen and protection. Once my pieces were dry, it was assembly time.   I’d purchased these brackets…

**Again hindsight… Purchase 2 packs of the flat corner braces instead of one.**

I began by laying out my materials…

I attached my flat corner braces first, both in front and in back of the frame to keep the corners square and flush…

Because the wood was rather thin, drilling pilot holes was super important to prevent the wood from splitting.  Next, I played around with how I wanted the corner brackets that would hold my painting in place to be mounted, and I ended up with this orientation because I liked the metal industrial vibe…


Now, here’s where things got a little hairy.  And why I should never, ever rush into a project.   The screws that came with the brackets were slightly too long for the thickness of the wood.  But rather than go back to the store and buy shorter screws, I opted to drill them in at an angle, both to prevent the screws from going through the wood, and to allow the screws to help hold down the painting beneath them (I would slide my painting beneath the angled screws)…

If I had to do it over again, I would’ve definitely gone and gotten the shorter screws.   I mean, angling the screws was fine and technically, my plan worked, but I know it’s not as secure as it would’ve been if the screws were drilled straight in.   I’ve told y’all… this post contains the good, the bad, the ugly… and the shameful.  All right here for your enjoyment. 😉

Anyways, once I’d secured both top brackets, (Reality Parenthesis: Which took FOREVER… since I’d angled my screws, getting the brackets straight was a challenge. Again, do NOT follow my lead on that.) I went to slide my painting in place.  Which is when I realized that I hadn’t calculated in the thickness of the mounting bracket when I’d cut my wood.   Thus, my frame was about 1/8th of an inch too short.  And my painting wouldn’t fit.

Son of a friggin’ nutcracker.

At this point, I just stared at my project for an undisclosed length of time.  Then, I pulled out the flat razor in my Exacto knife kit and became wrath started shaving away some width on the painting to help it fit between the brackets…

Which worked like a charm and allowed me to attach my bottom brackets as well (thankgoodness)…

I proceeded to drill holes in the painting and secured it to the brackets with machine screws, washers, and nuts…

And I basically just set the headboard back behind the bed frame.

Which brings us to what I’ve done so far.  As you’ll see in my “sort-of after pics”, it looks completely functional.  Heck, it might even work fine.   But, I’m WAY too Italian to allow any guest stay at our house without 150% assurance that their accommodations are secure and might make them gain 5 pounds.  If you’re Italian or know an Italian grandmother you understand this. (“No, I’m not hungry.” “Okay, I fix you something.” namethatmovie)  So, here’s what I recommend (and what I WILL do) to make this more secure before someone actually uses this room to sleep.

1. On the bottom edge of the painting, I’ll attach a fourth piece of stained, cut-to-size poplar wood to frame in the painting entirely #vannawhitingit…

This’ll add stability to the bottom of the headboard and make it look more finished visually.  Then, just as I did on top, I’ll add a set of flat corner braces to both the back and front of the headboard where I’m pointing to secure the corners further and help them look more balanced aesthetically…


Which would be these corners if you’re looking at the front.  Basically, it’ll have the same metal brackets and framing on all four corners of the painting…


Lastly, I plan to add support behind the painting so it doesn’t bow back should someone lean on it (In my mind’s eye, the scrap wood in the photo below is straight, plumb and runs across the entire length of the frame).  This is where your fifth piece of cut-down poplar will go.  I’ll most likely secure it with a few small corner brackets to avoid having a visible screw head …

Did I say “lastly” before? I lied.  Lastly, I would properly mount this puppy to the wall (or bedframe) rather than just set it back there.  No guest of mine will be awoken by a toppling headboard.  No siree.

So, now for the “sorta-after pictures” (I swear the bedding is more of a rust color and less orange)…



And here’s the room from the doorway…

And because I’m a huge nerd and love progression pics, lets look at the evolution of this space so far…


This room is a work in progress, but is definitely getting closer.   I anticipate at least 10 more changes before I call her done.  Lol!   My main issue with the space right now is the bedding.  That’s a queen sized bedspread that I’m making do on a twin sized bed.   I’m totally working with what I have right now. The bedskirt is just scrap canvas material that I had on hand.  I need to iron it which will make it look more tailored for sure. Our hold-up on purchasing new bedding is that we either want to upgrade to a larger bed at some point or change the function of the room entirely (since we also have the hang-out room with a queen sized pull-out sofa to sleep guests).  So, we’re trying to make this room presentable on a shoestring budget until we figure it out.   Eventually, we’ll have legit bedding.  I’m almost sure of it! Haha!  I also have a fun nightstand project up my sleeve that I can’t wait to get started on.  It’ll help the nightstand fit in more with the style of the space, appear less visually heavy, and be at a better scale with the bed.

I have to say that I’m just glad that the room is starting to feel more like us.   I mean, the space before was fine, it just felt like it could’ve been anywhere, in any house.  It didn’t feel like OURS, per se.   I like that the headboard is unique and that it helps the room to stand out a bit more.  I love that it adds color to the space which will allow me to be more free with accessories.   And I love the subtle masculine industrial touches against the more feminine curtains.   All steps in the right direction.  🙂

***For updated pics of this space, check out this (revamping a mid-century nightstand), this (adding a new awesome $12 lamp) and this (creating DIY burlap wall art).***

So, there you have it.  My sort-of scrap wood project,  Now check out what my fellow bloggy friends came up with..

TDC Before and After

9 thoughts on “Wood-Framed Art Headboard – Monthly DIY Challenge

  1. Awww, Christina – I hate those projects that seem to take forever and nothing about them is easy, but this one was totally worth it! SUCH a brilliant idea and I think it looks awesome as a headboard!

  2. This is amazing, Christina! A headboard from a painting and some scrap wood?! You are a genius! And it just wouldn’t be a true DIY without a few hiccups along the way. At least that’s what I tell myself every time, LOL. I’ve yet to create something that went exactly to plan. 😉 It looks gorgeous! Great job!

    • Thanks, Sarah! I was kinda kicking myself as the project went on since my lack of planning well was the cause of most of my issues. Next time, I vow to be more on it! 🙂

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