Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DIY: Distressed Headboard & Bed Frame

Hey y'all! 

Now that we are hitched we are finally getting around to sharing some of our house projects that we've been tending to for our nest.  First up, our homemade distressed bed frame and headboard. If you're interested in building one for yourself or a loved one, see below for the detailed instructions from my darling husband and engineer genius. Note - the only way this project can be successful is by wearing sweatpants and house-shoes during it's construction.

Juston & Marissa

Supply List & Cuts (specific to our queen-sized bed dimensions)

**adjust cuts based on your bed size - read details below**

7 - 57.25 inch 1 x 6 (for headboard slats)
2 - 4 x 4 post (cut to 65.5" for headboard)
2 - 2 x 2 (cut to 39" to support slats on headboard)
1 - 1 x 6 (cut to 68.25" for bottom headboard mantle)
1 - 1 x 8 (cut to 72" for top of headboard mantle)

8 - Bolts 7-8" with washer & nut
4 - 4 x 4 post (cut to 10" long for bed legs)
3 - 1 x 8 boards (2 boards cut to 81.25 inches & 1 cut to 62.5 inches for bed frame)
3 - 2 x 4 boards (to support bed mattress)
2 - 2 x2 (cut to 80" for bed trim to hold slats under mattress)
2 - Right Angle Brackets

** Instructions also include direction on adjustments for bed-sizes other than queen-sized **

Bed Frame

  1. Measure the width of your box spring for mattress.  Add 1.5” to the width and this will be the inside width of your bed frame.  
  2. Measure the length of your box spring and add 4”.  This will be the length of your bed frame.  (if you are going to put the frame inside of your headboard.  If you are going to tie your frame in to the front of the headboard, just add .5”.
  3. Cut the front board (1x8) of the frame 3” wider than your box spring, or 1.5” wider than the dimension you came up with in step 1. The extra 1.5” is to cover the width of your two long boards (1x8”) which is actually ¾” thick.  Always remember the true size of the board.  (A 1x8 is truly ¾”x7 ½”.
  4. Now cut the long boards (1x8) to the length calculated in step 2.
  5. Cut (2) long 2x2’s 12” shorter than the length or your long 1x8”.   You are leaving this room for your corner feet.  Be sure not to skimp on the screws here, as these 2”x2”s will be supporting your weight.
  6. Now cut your (4) 4”x4” posts to desired height (we did 10").  Your box spring will sit directly on this, so the determine how high you want the bed to sit and subtract the height of the mattress and box spring and you have your height of the feet.  (If you don’t have a saw that can cut 4x4’s, just determine the dimension before you go to buy the lumber and they can cut it for you.)
  7. Cut (3) 2x4’s the length of the inside width of the frame.  These will run cross-ways and sit on the 2x2’s supporting the bed.

  1. Now screw the end width board (1x8) into the long boards (1x8’s).  These boards should be flush with the end and keep the  these boards the same distance apart by placing the 2x4’s throughout the width.  
  2. You now should have a 3 sided box and you are ready to install the feet at the end of the bed.  Shim the frame up to the desired level by placing wood or anything underneath the frame the hold while you drill.  The top of the 4x4 feet should be even with the 2x4’s which sit on the 2x2’s.  Place a 2x4 on the 2x2’s next to where you are drilling to ensure that they are flush.  
  3. Drill 3/8” bolt holes through the long ends of the frame and the 4x4 posts.  Fasten with 5” or 6” bolts and washers.
  4. Now do the same with the 4x4 feet at the top of the bed.  Only this time, you will need to come in by 3.5 inches from the end of the board.  The extra 3.5” will be inside the headboard and the bed itself will not be.
  5. (Notice in the picture that our bed does not have the 3.5” extra on the end, or the feet.  This is because we tied the bed frame straight in to the front of the headboard posts and slid the supporting feet in place under the bed once it was set up.  This is a viable option and you can take 3.5” of your long boards.  Just take another 3.5” or so off of the 2x2.  As you see in the picture, I don’t have room for the 4x4 feet at the end and I believe I went back and cut the 2x2 shorter.


  1. Measure the outside distance of your frame.  It should be 1.5” wider than the inside frame.  This will be the inside width of your headboards, and the length of your crossing boards.  (if you are attaching the frame to the front of your headboard, and not inside, you should line your posts up with the frame ends and determine your width.  Be sure to give yourself enough room to install a furniture fastner or “L” to the post.)
  2. Cut your 4x4’s to the desire height.  (Ours are 65.5” tall).  
  3. Now cut (2) 39” 2x2’s and screw them into the sides of your 4x4’s, flush with the back.
  4. Now cut (7) 1x6’s to the length of your measurement found in step 1 of the headboard.
  5. Lie the 4x4 headboard posts with attached 2x2’s down.  Lay the 1x6 boards on the 2x2’s and space them out appropriately.  This is where it is important to try and buy straight boards at the lumber store to avoid gaps.  You can space each board evenly with nails if you wish.
  6. Once all boards are set up as desired, nail the board to the 2x2 with small nails.

Headboard Mantle 

  1. Now for the mantle.  You can make the mantle as big as you want.  Ours is a 1x8” on top of a 1x6”.  Cut the 1x6” 5” longer than the width of the headboard for an overlap effect, and the 1x8” 4” longer than the 1x6”.  With wood glue or nails, fasten the 1x8 to the 1x6 and let dry.  You want them to be even and flush on the back edge and hanging over evenly on each end.
  2. Once dry, screw the mantle assembly on top of the headboard.  Again, be sure it is flush with the back of the headboard and evenly hanging over each end.


  1. When staining the wood, a great method is to apply stain with a brush and then wrap an old towel with a board and drag firmly across wood.  This allows the stain the remain in the holes and pocket of the wood and gives light and dark contrast. You can always stop here if you like the dark stained look. Our accent wall in our bedroom is a dark brown, so we continued on with cream paint cover to distress.
  2.  For the rustic look, we painted over the stained wood with a cream, and then lightly sanded with a sander or sandpaper.  There is really no science to this, just go a little at a time and step back and take a look.


  1. To attach the frame to the headboard, simply push the frame in between the posts and sink a couple of screws through the frame and into the inside of the posts.
  2. If you are attaching to the front of the headboard, get a couple of furniture attachment “L”s.  They are simply a 90 piece of metal the which you can screw one end into the frame and the other into the post.

Finished Project


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