I’m pretty sure that if my husband had the opportunity to do a Terminator and go back in time to stop Pinterest from being born he would. It gets me, and him by association, into more trouble than I’m willing to admit. Due to the somewhat unholy combination of a lot of free time after my layoff, a creative nature, and f*%$ing Pinterest, I have more projects currently in process than any one person probably should in a lifetime. He’s pretty glad to see the end of this one because for a good portion of the process I wasn’t sure if I would actually pull it off.
Here’s a little secret about me: I don’t handle failure well. At all.
On top of that, I’m pretty sure I’m starting to head into The Change because there is no other explanation for the lightening speed at which I can move from perfectly calm and rational to wicked witch of the west.
So yeah, this was fun for him. Still, he was way more patient with me on this project than I was.
What I wanted was a headboard or something similar for my guest room. The guest room accidentally ended up with a purple theme when I found an awesome purple vintage vanity at a consignment shop. It was one of those things I wasn’t remotely looking for, but couldn’t leave the store without it once I saw it.
Here’s what the bed area looked like before I started.
Pretty plain jane, right? I got rid of the red comforter. Actually, I got a duvet cover for the red down comforter that was on the bed before the purple vanity of destiny arrived.
After looking around on Pinterest at various options, I was almost settled on making an upholstered headboard. And then I found this.
Perfect! It would make that plain cream colored wall much more interesting! The only problem was that there were no instructions. I search the interwebs but couldn’t find a tutorial anywhere. No matter, I thought. I’m crafty, I can do that!
(That statement right there is where the Universe laughed at me. I imagine great gales of guffawing laughter pealed out of a Zeus-ian booming voice. And probably thunder. No, definitely thunder.)
I started by gathering fabrics in various shades of purple and gray. Since there would be sixteen 18″ squares in all, I chose six fabrics, including the one I am going to eventually use to make a bed skirt for the bed. In order to get at least 3 squares out of each fabric, I bought a yard and a quarter of each one. Actually, first I bought a yard of each and then remembered that math isn’t my friend. If the squares are 18″, I needed at least another 2″ on each side to be able to wrap around the back of the board and staple it. Don’t be like me, folks. Get a yard and a quarter at least the first time.
Why yes, that is a fitted sheet. I found that set of sheets at Goodwill for $7 and that’s the future bed skirt material.
I went to a local fabric store that carries upholstery supplies and bought a 1″ thick high density piece of foam that was 6′x8′ in order to have enough for the 6′x6′ total area I wanted the finished product to cover. At $69 this was the most expensive single component of the project, but the silver lining was that they cut the foam into 18″ squares for me at no charge. This was a definite bonus because that stuff is not easy to cut and I wasn’t looking forward to using my electric knife out on my front lawn. I bought high density because I wanted it to be comfortable enough to sit up against like a head board, but low profile, and I didn’t want to add batting on top of that because batting would wrap around and be stapled on the back. I wanted the squares to butt right up against each other to keep the lines as straight as possible.
At Home Depot I bought two sheets of 1/2″ OSB, which stands for Oriented Strand Board. It’s cheaper than plywood, but still plenty sturdy. I didn’t care that it looks like smashed together chips of wood because I was covering it anyway. I bought 1/2″ because my original plan was to screw the squares together using Simpson ties, or something similar, so I wanted the squares themselves to be sturdy. This turned out to be way overkill because Plan A went down in a screaming ball of flames. If I were to do this one again, 1/4″ sheet goods (either plywood or OSB) would be sufficient and the finished product would weigh A LOT less than mine does.
My Home Depot cut the squares for me at no charge, but I’ve heard that some HDs charge for this. The downside to having them cut it turned out to be that they weren’t exactly the same size, and not all of them were exactly square. Normally I’d be pretty easy-going about that, but when you’re piecing squares together into a whole bigger square it turns out that size does matter.
If you are working on upholstery projects I HIGHLY recommend a pneumatic stapler. It is life changing. I bought this one from Amazon and it is awesome. So far I’ve used it on my dining room chairs, a bench I rehabbed, a chaise I did with a friend, and now this project. It makes projects go so much faster you won’t even believe it.
Covering the squares is pretty straight-forward. I spray glued the foam to the boards, but you don’t really have to. Then it’s just a matter of cutting the fabric, ironing it if needed (don’t skip this step – you’ll be sad if there’s a crease because it will show and getting it out later is more tricky), and stapling the fabric to the back side of the board. I stapled the corners first, and then worked on opposite sides. The best way to get it really tight is to put your knee on the edge of the board while pulling the fabric taught and stapling the bejeezus out of it.
This part of the project goes pretty fast, and lulls you into false complacency. DO NOT BE LULLED! The rest of this project is a right wanker.
I laid the squares out on the floor in different patterns until I came up with one I liked.
As I mentioned, my original plan was to connect all the squares with metal ties. I was going to mount them in four strips of four squares because that would be less weight than one solid piece.
This is where those Universal guffaws come into play. Not only is math not my friend, physics is kind of a butthead too. Because there was no way to attach the middles of the strips to the wall without having it show on at least one end, we just attached the top and bottom. And then the middles bowed out because the whole setup wasn’t rigid enough and the part about physics being a butthead.
I can neither confirm nor deny the magnitude of the meltdown that occurred at this point. You can add up the aforementioned almost pathological hatred of failure and the also previously mentioned whoremoan issue and draw your own mental picture, and then know that whatever you come up with doesn’t hold a candle to what actually happened.
After I came off the roof we revisited the project and Jason came up with Plan B. We would back the whole thing with fiberboard and screw the squares into that.
This one went down in an even bigger ball of flames than the last plan because each time a screw was placed the squares shifted ever so slightly. Only we couldn’t see that until the whole thing was assembled and we turned it over and it was an unholy mess of cattywhompusness. Nothing lined up. No way was I hanging that up. In addition, fiberboard isn’t really rigid enough either and trying to move the thing was like trying to carry a giant, very heavy noodle.
It’s a really good thing that I’m pretty good at unmaking the things I make because I’ve had to do that a lot.
I took it apart. Again. While taking it apart I came up with Plan C, which involved yet another trip to Home Depot, more plywood and liquid nails.
We picked up two sheets of plywood and Jason cut and connected them to make a 6′x6′ square. I snapped a chalk line down the center of the board and, starting in the middle, started puzzling the squares together. Remember how I said they weren’t exactly the same size or all square? This is where that came into play. I had to move the squares around and flip them different directions when the fabric pattern allowed in order to get them as lined up as possible. Then we glued those suckers down with Liquid Nails and put weights on them and let it cure overnight.
And lo, it worked. But it still had to be mounted and now it weighed considerably more than I originally anticipated. We located the studs and measured carefully and snapped chalk lines and measured again, and then put the brackets on the back of the piece and really big wood screws into the studs in the wall.
Even with all of our careful measuring it still took four tries to get the holes in the brackets and the screws in the wall exactly lined up so that we could hang the top of the eleventy-hundred pound piece like a picture. We put the same brackets on the bottom of the piece, but let the two end holes stick out and those were screwed into the studs as well.
Finally. FINALLY!!!! it all came together and I’ll tell you right now, that room is staying purple until the end of time because neither one of us wants to take that monster down ever again.
But it’s a pretty good-looking monster. I love how it turned out, and I have enough fabric scraps to make coordinating throw pillows to bring it all together. It really makes a huge difference in that room!