Making a headboard from a fireplace mantel and surround
Whenever we finish a big project - in this case, a privacy fence in our backyard made out of doors - I think, we need to chill out for a while before we start something new.
But then I read blogs or browse Pinterest or start thinking about other projects. Like making our bedroom more cozy. Or coming up with a way for us to actually hang stockings in our house, which lacks a fireplace. I do love Christmas, you know.
Which is how I ended up convincing Rob - wouldn't it be cool if we solved our we-need-a-grownup-headboard problem and I'd-selfishly-love-a-mantel idea in one fell swoop? I've been reading about people who repurpose fireplace mantels and surrounds as headboards, and I am absolutely in love with the idea.
I really had my heart set on having the headboard done in time to decorate for Christmas, so we decided to try to buy one, rather than try to make it ourselves.
We checked out PACA and our favorite antique store, finding the perfect mantel at the latter only after we asked. The store's owner believed it came from a house someone renovated and perhaps the owner realized after finishing he or she couldn't use it.
It's quarter-sawn oak (I think that's a good thing; Rob said it with reverence) and someone saved us the trouble of stripping it. It looks like it's been a disgusting chalky green and a white. I loved the carved sun in the middle, and it was the perfect width for our bed.
We rubbed it with some tung oil, which the antique shop owner suggested for its hard finish, and went about figuring out how to upholster its square opening for a soft spot to sleep against.
Now, the mantel itself was not exactly a bargain, so we didn't want to spend a lot of money on upholstery. We bought a $5 sheet of plywood at the home improvement store and the volunteers at The I.D.E.A. Store were kind enough to let us piece together rectagles of foam to make sure we had enough for what we needed.
We paid less than $2 for the foam - it's normally really expensive at a fabric store, between $20 to $30 a yard. We saved a lot of money with this strategy. We also bought a chunk of brown and white striped fabric that I hope will look nice against the light blue paint in our room, for upholstering. If we don't like it, it can always be changed.
We cut down a piece of plywood to fit about two inches bigger than our square opening. I used spray adhesive to affix the foam. I then wrapped my fabric around it and secured it with staples. If you're trying this for yourself: don't make that mistake. Instead, dry fit the piece after gluing on the foam but before adding your fabric. This will help you make sure the foam all inside the fireplace opening. If you have too much foam, you can easily cut it down with a razor.
This was important because we wanted to use adhesive, rather than nails or screws, to stick the plywood to the mantel. We were worried hardware would damage the old wood. It was late, we were both hungry ... and I had to take out what felt like 1,000 staples, trim down my foam and redo the fabric before we could affix the upholstered plywood to the mantel. Otherwise, the glue wouldn't have held the plywood in place.
We were also unsure about how to affix the mantel to the wall. I finally suggested French cleats (I was pretty proud of myself) because it uses basically wood and gravity to hold your heavy item on the wall. (Read more about French cleats here.)
Rob made two cleats, one on each side, out of leftover lumber from the fence. He used wood screws inside the mantel so it wouldn't leave any holes or visible hardware.
At this point, we'd literally been working all day, it was about 8 p.m. and we needed to eat something. We decided to quit before trying to tackle hanging the headboard on the wall. But it's ready to go for next weekend, and I couldn't be more excited. I even cleaned our room last night so we can focus purely on the task at hand. Cozy place to hang stockings, here we come.