This is a really special DIY that I got to do for my daughter’s big girl room! She requested rainbows and floral so I thought a DIY upholstered rainbow headboard would be so fun. It felt like this project took awhile but that was due to all the trial and error. I am so happy I stuck with it, I smile every time I see it!
Here is how I made this DIY upholstered rainbow headboard.
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Tape your pieces of foam to the wall to determine how long each foam piece needs to be. Mark with a sharpie where you will need to cut. Cut the foam with a bread knife or an electric carving knife if you have one. I used a bread knife. Here is a good video on how to do it. As you can see in the picture below, mine is still not great but much better than I did on my upholstered waterfall bench. Don’t worry, it didn’t show through.
- Shortest foam – cut to about 46″
- Middle foam – cut to about 55″
- Long foam – cut to about 65″
This is going above an IKEA Slakt bed for reference.
- Foam (3 Poly Round Bolsters Diameter: 3″ Length: 72″)
- Painters tape
- Bread knife or electric carving knife
I wanted this headboard to line up with the Ikea Slakt headboard (since it was going above it) so I marked two lines on the plywood for that width. Using the longest piece of foam as a stencil, I traced around it onto the plywood to determine the arch for the board making sure the foam ends lined up at the marks. We cut the arch slightly smaller. My husband cut ours with a jigsaw, sanded it, and used tack cloth to remove the dust.
- Longest piece of cut foam
- Plywood (Ours was a 2×4 ft piece, 1/2″ thickness)
- Tack cloth
We leaned the board against the wall where we wanted it to hang. Using our laser level, we picked a middle spot and marked the wall on both sides. We removed the board and lowered our laser level by about 1/2″ (which when you are done would raise the board up) and marked (with a pencil) along that line on the wall. We put the board back up and marked the board as well. Draw a line across the entire back of the board. This is where you will attach one of the French cleats.
Using left over plywood, cut it at 45 degrees to create your French cleats. Google French cleat if you need more details.
We used wood glue to attach the first French cleat to the back of the plywood arch at the line we marked earlier. Then, we screwed in 3/4″ screws (this will depend on how thick your plywood is) and clamped it.
- Plywood arch
- Laser level or a large level
- Backing – left over plywood, wood glue, 3/4″ screws, clamps, table saw (for one long piece) or miter saw (for narrow cleats – like hanging a picture frame – it would need to be precise)
Wash and dry the fabric per the instructions.
Cut a long strip of fabric for each piece of foam. Be sure to leave enough fabric to upholster the plywood arch. I laid the fabric out and rolled the fabric around each piece of foam to figure out where to cut. It doesn’t need to go all the way around as you won’t see it and this fabric is stretchy. I did not cut the lengths at this point because I was not sure how I was going to cover the ends.
- Fabric (2 yards)
- Fabric Scissors
Using the left over fabric, upholster the plywood arch. I did not have any batting or thin foam but I would recommend using some in between the plywood and fabric as the fabric is a bit sheer. Pulling tightly, staple the fabric all around the plywood and trim off any excess fabric.
- Plywood arch
- Left over fabric
- Batting or thin foam (if you want)
- Staple gun and staples
Treat this like a science experiment. Be very precise! I basically did the bucket method but in a large steel cooking pot. Sometimes I would heat the water up on my stove but I turned it off when I was dying the fabric. I only had room for 1.5 gallons of water so I cut each formula in half. This is very important!! Pay attention to the formulas and adjust based on how much water you use. At first I used the 3 gallon formula with only 2 gallons of water and my pink did not look right! I had to redo it. Speaking of that, in case you do make a mistake or just do not love the color have color remover on hand. It works really well. I had to use it twice, so don’t feel too badly if you have to use it too!
The pink and orange I stirred in the water for about 10 minutes each (I added the cup of salt and teaspoon of dish soap like the instructions said) and did 20 minutes of the colorstay each. For the periwinkle, I did not want a dark color so I only stirred it for maybe 2-3 minutes before it looked great. This fabric takes dye extremely well. I forgot to add the salt and soap for the periwinkle and did not feel like doing the colorstay and it turned out beautiful. I did not include all the detailed steps in this post, so be sure to read the instructions on the bottles or review the Rit Dye tutorials online before starting.
- Three fabric strips
- Angelic – Fuchsia and Petal Pink Rit Dye
- Poppy Field – Tangerine, Sunshine Orange, and Petal Pink Pit Dye
- Periwinkle – Indigo Rit Dye
- Rit Colorstay (I am not convinced this was necessary for this project)
- Rit Color Remover (If you want it on hand. You use the entire packet so get more than one if you think you will need it.)
- Look at the Rit Dye website for a list of all the supplies (you should have everything at home already)
Attach the fabric to the foam rolls. I made a huge mistake with this. I tried going the glue route and it was fine but very messy and the fabric had wrinkles in it when I was holding it up to the board in an arch. I tried to pull the fabric tighter and still use glue and it was not working well enough for me. I pulled the fabric off of the foam (this made holes in the foam and left glue on the fabric that I really couldn’t remove). If you could only see the hidden parts of the fabric, haha, it is a massacre.
On to what worked! I ended up using my electric staple gun and it worked like magic. I love this thing. I wish I would have tried this first but oh well, now you do not have to make the same mistake.
First, I glued the longest piece of foam to the board with a hot glue gun to keep it stable. Then, my husband and I stapled the pink fabric all the way around the back of the board. My husband stapled as I kept checking the front to make sure it wouldn’t wrinkle. Then, he stapled the front as I held it tightly as we made our way around. You need to get the staple gun way under the foam so it is tight but not too much so it makes the foam misshapen.
For the orange one, I did this myself. I stapled a little more than halfway around with the fabric facing downward as close to the pink foam as I could. Then, I placed the foam where I wanted it (no glue) and did my first front staple in the middle of the arch. I worked my way to the left and then I went back to finish up the back and front of the right side.
For the periwinkle, I did the same process but when I got to the front I really pushed my staple gun far underneath the foam so that the fabric and staples would not show.
For the ends I stapled them tightly to the back of the board and folded them around the sides a bit and stapled again.
- Dyed fabric
- Foam rolls
- Plywood arch board
- Hot glue gun
- Electric staple gun and staples
Attach the bottom half of the French cleat to the wall. Find the studs and screw in the screws (that are long enough to hit the studs). Slide the headboard onto this piece, adjust left or right and you are done!
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