April 25th, 2012

The problem with having a queen size bed and a penchant for vintage furniture? The apparent lack of queen sized headboard options pre-1970 or affordable new headboards that aren’t completely terrible. So, this meant for the past four plus years we’ve been riding headboardless against cold plaster walls while our pillows continuously crept into that seemingly bottomless pillow-eating crack and pretty much everything was terrible.

Enough is enough.

After staying at The Ace awhile ago and enjoying the comfort of their cushy headboards, I thought, “hey, I can DIY a big pillow thing for a headboard. Look how warm my head is! Look how my pillow stays in place! This is the answer to all my problems!”

Then I remembered how much I hate sewing. (So much)

Good thing my favorite crotchety canvas fabricator dude LOVES sewing and also had some vintage fire tarp laying around, you know, the exact same stuff I used for those sling chairs.

Um, I call this DIY delegating? I mean, I’m so happy I hired someone to sew this, but if you love to sew, the shape couldn’t be simpler. So…anyways…

I gave him some dimensions, a few reference photos and about $100 and he made me a giant box pillow headboard type thing out of used fire tarp in about a week. After getting CRAZY expensive quotes on solid foam, I ended up ordering 30 pounds of shredded foam (at about $1 a pound – FYI) to stuff it with. Then, boom, giant cushy headboard.

The dimensions I went with are:  72″w x 28″t x 12″d.

Even though I overbought foam for the calculated cubic feet needed to fill those dimensions, it didn’t end up being enough foam to stuff the thing tightly…and…maybe…I regret how deep I designed this thing to be.

It’s too deep!

At 12″ deep, the whole headboard bulged out way more in the middle (once stuffed) than I had anticipated. This bulging situation also ended up pushing the bed way too far off the wall. So, I am going to have my canvas dude fix it to be way less deep. Like 8″ instead of 12″. So, that means the foam thing won’t be an issue?

Yup? I think.

Narrower means it’ll be plenty stuffed and closer to the wall and then all will be right in the world. Hooray.

For a first run prototype, this worked out alright in the end. Admittedly, there are some kinks to fix and I would like to try making another one of these in a different type of fabric for our master bedroom.

Say what? Fire tarp isn’t super soft?

Nope. Not at all.

But it looks AWESOME.

Funny thing is, for all it’s issues, I just can’t get Iggy off this thing. He is in love with it. IN LOVE. But Bowie? Well, he’s not so convinced and prefers to stick with itchy kilim pillows.

What a nerd.

Headboard version 1.0? Still a bit buggy.

Version 2.0 in the works.

All in all, if you have a bed and no headboard this could be a nice solution. It’s totally customizable, totally affordable to make (or have made) and totally soft on your noggin.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Jan on 04/25/2012:

    Doggie tested. Doggie approved.

  2. Elle on 04/25/2012:

    I loved the Ace Hotel headboards too and have been thinking of trying to make one myself. I’m going to have to try it now!!

  3. PaiciaF on 04/25/2012:

    Seriously! What is it with the pillow creep into that crack?! I have resorted to a spare pair of pillows to shove down the gap (in a preemptive strike / dummy sacrifice against pillow swallowing)… But your solution is far more elegant.

  4. Suzy8track on 04/25/2012:

    Awesome idea…I’m just worried that if I do something like that, the cat will take it over just like lil’ Iggy or scratch the hell out of it.

  5. Crocface on 04/25/2012:

    Get that fucking dog off the bed!

  6. The brick house on 04/25/2012:


    NOPE. Never. That sounds so boring.

  7. Ellen on 04/25/2012:

    So it goes to the floor? I am fascinated and amazed and totally doing this but I need many more details

  8. annieb on 04/25/2012:

    Have your fabricator dude sew a baffle panel down the middle, that should eliminate the bulge….

  9. Chris on 04/25/2012:

    You might try having your guy add some baffles to the interior to stabilize the shape and keep the from moving around too much.

  10. annieb on 04/25/2012:

    or just use a column of solid foam as a baffle, then you won’t have seams…

  11. Chris on 04/25/2012:

    “keep the FILL from moving around too much”

  12. susan on 04/25/2012:

    8″ might still be too deep. You might want to consider making it 6″.

  13. Christa on 04/25/2012:

    I love it and don’t think it’s too deep in the pic. Your dogs are the cutest.

  14. Robyn on 04/25/2012:

    I like it! What about inserting some cardboard along the bottom half? of the headboard on both sides before putting in fill? I will give it a bit more structure along the bottom of the headboard but will keep it soft and comfy up top.

  15. suzanne on 04/25/2012:

    I love you. That is all.

  16. carl on 04/25/2012:
  17. PAppel on 04/25/2012:

    Try Joann’s for foam and use one of their 40% or 50% off coupons. In LA Times every Sunday. Also check websites for coupons.

  18. frank on 04/25/2012:

    You may want to get a piece of plywood cut to put inside to keep it flat against the wall. Might make it more functional in a thinner width.

  19. modernhaus on 04/25/2012:

    And on movie night, you can throw it out on the floor in the den and lounge on it??
    You know what? I really love that thing. And I’m beginning to think every room needs something made out of old military canvas or fire tarp.

  20. jeannette on 04/25/2012:

    awesome. and, as your fans have noticed, if the pookies approve it’s got to be all good and totally soft enough. very good looking, too (one reason the pooks likes to pose on it). kudos to your sewing guy and to the discovery of FIRE TARP. who knew?

  21. Alice @LAX TO YVR on 04/25/2012:

    Awesome! When I saw the headboard at the Ace I also considered making my own version. Hope that version 2.0 is a success!

  22. eliza on 04/25/2012:

    ugh, lady, you are ridiculous. and by ridiculous, i mean awesome. you knew that, though, right?

    i love your guest bedroom. maybe best of all the rooms in your house.

  23. Ryann on 04/25/2012:

    LONG time reader, first time commenter — Huge fan.

    Love the prototype and can’t wait to see version 2.0. Seriously, just add this to the list of ideas/furniture/art I want to steal from you – may have to reproduce this, I love what it does to the room.

    In fact, if you ever decide to sell your house, please sell it to me.. furnished. To be surrounded by so many beautiful things would definitely be worth the heat and commute from Hemet.

  24. Nick on 04/25/2012:

    Me loves this so hard….

    We stayed at the ace in Portland, with the same heardboard last weekend and wrote about it this morning with pics of the room….


  25. Mr. Modtomic on 04/25/2012:

    Why does all the text and pics start dead left on the blog? Is it just my PC or is this on purpose? It wasn’t always like this was it? It’s kinda driving me nuts. I keep trying to “scroll over” to get it off the edge.

  26. Kevin on 04/25/2012:

    Super job! I want a whole floppy squared off sofa like this in modular cubes. Would this thing stay put if not against a wall or would a reinforcement or weights be needed?

    @CROCFACE: Dogs belong in the bed unless there is business going on.

  27. jmk on 04/25/2012:

    Mr. Modtomic – You are so right about the photos starting exactly on the left edge. I too always try to scroll over. Otherwise, love this, love the site.

  28. sarah on 04/25/2012:

    I have major bedroom envy

  29. Kathleen on 04/25/2012:

    So comfortable looking! My cat would totally take over a squishy headboard as her own little palace. I agree with sewing in some baffles (or using a piece of thick foam in the middle) instead of reducing the depth.

    I found a queen size headboard that is about 12″ deep and has sliding doors on each side with a space in the middle. It reminds me of something a kid might of had but it works perfect in my space as I have no room on the side for nightstands.

  30. Kara K on 04/25/2012:

    Modtomic & JMK-
    Might be a setting in your computer. On my PC the display is fine, but on my iPhone everything is against the left edge.

  31. Kathryn on 04/25/2012:

    How itchy are the kilim pillows? Itchy like wool or itchy like little hairs attacking your skin? I have been wanting one; but they always looked a bit not so soft.

  32. Krista on 04/25/2012:

    Wow, I love how your burl nightstand juts in front of the headboard a bit.
    What is the source of the white bed frame?

  33. THE BRICK HOUSE on 04/25/2012:

    Krista – It’s an old Ikea bed, but they no longer make it
    : (

    Kathryn – Depends some are super scratchy some are less so. I usually turn them over if I want to put my face on it.

  34. THE BRICK HOUSE on 04/25/2012:

    I have no idea why the site is doing the far left thing. It’s being redesigned…so, it should be fixed soon?

  35. onehsancare on 04/25/2012:

    Is he going to modify the existing headboard or make a new one? If he made a new one, you would be the coolest dog mom in the world and Iggy would have the best bed in the dog universe.

  36. THE BRICK HOUSE on 04/25/2012:

    Modify? But I want to make another one for the other bedroom as well…

    Plus maybe I’m having some dog beds made, you know, maybe. (Totally)

  37. Lunaluna on 04/26/2012:

    Don’t modify! LOVE it – so different! I fear a thinner version would make it look …well….thin. I adore that firetarp so rugged yet elegant, LOVE the colour. Sewing guy did a great job. Doggies love it anyway 🙂

  38. Tamsin Allen on 04/26/2012:

I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award on my blog –

    If you don’t participate in awards, memes or blogging games then feel free to ignore the tag.

    Thank you for inspiring me with your blogging.

  39. JD on 04/26/2012:

    looks great Morgan.

    as other people have mentioned you could do baffles, but – and now we may be getting to crazy – i would actually do a liner in a cheap muslin, so much easier should you ever want to wash that thing – i know it is fire tarp, but just thinking down the road, i’ve had a couple foam breakdown situations and it can be messy. you could baffle the liner and there would be no external seams to worry about.

    i’ve seen soy-based foam on eBay that might work too…

    love that fire tarp. good luck with 2.0

  40. kristen on 04/27/2012:

    daym! those pooches are cute!

  41. Christina on 04/27/2012:

    Brilliant as usual!

    Have you thought about creating an interior wooden frame out of 2 x 4’s – like a pallet but not an actual pallet. Then wrap with batting and use your existing shredded foam. This might give it just enough interior strength to stay upright but enough padding to be super comfy.

  42. Amy on 04/27/2012:

    FABULOUS! I love it and the size. What are foam baffles? I like JD’s idea re: the cheap muslin liner idea for cleaning!

  43. Lisa on 04/27/2012:

    Neat idea. And makes a great dog perch! I saw somewhere recently that you can also get black painters cloths that chimney sweeps prefer to white ones. Not easy to find, but out there somwwhere.

  44. Teresa on 04/27/2012:

    Love the prototype and your blog! I’ve been reading it for a few years but never leave comments. I just had a thought about the next version for the master bedroom. What If you build a platform style (case study) base with hair pin legs or something metal. But build it longer than the depth of the mattress so that the cushion headboard sits on top. Then you don’t have to make it as tall as the prototype. Just make it higher than the mattress. Hope that makes sense?? If you like the idea I can try to sketch it for you.

  45. Ajka on 04/28/2012:

    What a neat idea, I would have never thought of it.
    Love you chivvies!

  46. Sarahjane on 04/28/2012:

    I love the headboard! I have a few yards of vintage velvet and am wondering if it would be too flimsy to sew into a headboard. Hmmmm. . . . I am wondering about ths baffling idea that multiple commenters have mentioned too.

  47. Habitual on 04/29/2012:

    You can get custom cut foam for under $150 in the sizes you listed.
    I love the Ace Hotel aesthetic and those headboards are great! Well done!

  48. Rick on 05/01/2012:

    Oh my girls would love that as much as Iggy. They’d be there every night if I let them.
    Yeah foam, down, polyester wrap, are all increasing in price. I would agree with some of the previous posts and have an insert made, if you dont sew, with sections, baffles, to add more stability. Walmart used to sell sheets of 4 inch foam but now they have done away with their sewing and notion departments. You could have spray glued the 4inch piecs to get your 12″ headboard. More stability would have been ideal but I like the look you have myself.

  49. Headboard on 05/03/2012:

    I jus Love the headboard you made! This is great inspiration for every DIY enthusiasts!

  50. Libby on 05/05/2012:

    It’s lovely. Several baffles sewn to the inside of the headboard will keep it from expanding.

  51. Jonathan on 05/12/2012:

    I like this idea and am in the market for a new bed so I’m definitely going to steal it. I can’t sew to save my life, though so DIY is out. Looking at your dimensions, a twin size futon mattress would be a few inches taller but otherwise very similar to a more shallow version. They’re usually tufted and you can make/buy covers or just throw a fitted sheet on it if you ever want to change things up as well.

  52. Greg on 05/13/2012:

    Love the photos on this post, just great!

  53. Frank on 05/16/2012:

    I like how the headboard is not the typical ones you see, its fluffy and has personality. Do you see yourself changing the fabric of headboard slip? If you do what pattern or material?

  54. redneckmodern on 05/24/2012:

    as folks have mentioned, baffles… but you could also tuft it. with cool buttons or washers or what-not. the string/twine/cord could also be a nice accent. easier and more DIY than sewing in baffles.

  55. ursonate on 05/26/2012:

    It doesn’t need to be thinner, it needs some interior structure to help hold it up. Think of it like abdominal muscles. If the muscles are lax, then you get lots of sagging. Maybe you could get a minimal amount of upholstery foam and then fill out the rest with the shredded foam.

  56. Ve on 06/09/2012:

    An alternative to this idea would be to start with a twin size mattress. They usually measure 75″x 39″x 6″ (spring style) You could then wrap with batting and decor fabric. After using the batting they would be more like 8″ deep. Just a thought. 🙂

  57. Holly on 06/23/2012:

    Do you have suggestions on where to get reasonably priced tarp or something similar? It would be great to have a cheaper alternative…what I found was hundred’s of dollars!

  58. Carrie on 02/08/2013:

    Could you email me the name of your the guy that did this for you?

    I would love to get one made for myself, but am not in the lease crafty and don’t have a whole bunch of money or resources to find some one else to do it. That would be absolutely wonderful! -carrieepurcell@gmail.com

  59. lisa on 02/21/2013:

    i tried and love it. made almost as thick and the two cats that did take over the bed now sleep on the headboard : )

  60. sue kubecka on 05/24/2013:

    Love the idea; I’ve been looking for something for the Queen we have in the RV w/no luck; this seems like it might solve my problem & eliminate those awful big pillows that slide. Thanks.

  61. Natasha on 11/03/2013:

    Love this idea! Do you know anyone in NYC who could make one? Also, what material would you suggest instead of the tarp?

  62. Nathan on 04/06/2015:

    Hey there, 3 years later this bed is still absolutely awesome. Wonder if you ever ended up making 2.0?

    Would love to make this before summer comes around in NYC.

Comment It Up!