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HERE’S A (not so) SHORT STORY about how the headboard in the master bedroom in our first place came into the world.  Matt and I started out as one of those couples whose mattress sat upon a metal frame, college apartment style.  We threw on some white sheets and a comforter from Macy’s and called it a day.  The result was boring and ugly.  See for yourself. 

If you can’t tell, this is a photo of the 1980s nightstand that I painted a lovely cherry red.  But I think you can at least get an idea of how sad the bed looked.  After a long day at work, this was not exactly an oasis that we could use to relax and recharge.  Something needed to be done.  FAST.  But where to begin?

There were a few things I knew I wanted to introduce to our bedroom.

1.  OTOMI.  Otomi textiles are handcrafted by Mexico’s Otomi people, which is an ethnic group indigenous to central Mexico.  The Otomi women hand embroider cotton canvas with brightly colored threads in intricate repeating patterns that include animals and plants.  Pictured below is Grace Bonny’s Otomi headboard.  Grace is the founder of the ever-popular blog Design Sponge and author of a book by the same title.  Grace used an authentic Otomi coverlet she purchased from Jacaranda Home to make her headboard.  I love the repeating graphic, yet unique, patterns of Otomi textiles.  A must have for our bedroom.


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2.  DRAMA.  Who doesn’t want a little drama in the bedroom?  I envisioned that my drama would be manifested by a sky-high headboard like the one pictured below.  What did you think I was talking about?Vestavia Hills House - contemporary - bedroom - Dana Wolter

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3.  STRIPES.  Since the rest of our first house already had a bit of a coastal theme going on, I wanted to continue that in the bedroom with some stripes.  Stripes have the distinct ability to bring a tailored look to a space.  They also serve as a strong foundation for layering in other colors and patterns, especially when you’re talking about a thick two-toned stripe like the one pictured below.


Photo viaSince a headboard was something that I could easily (in my mind) make myself, I didn’t do much research on how much a headboard would run me.  I did see a few headboards at Pier One and HomeGoods for a couple hundred bucks, but none of those had the right mixture of Otomi, Drama or Stripes for my liking.  Go figure.

I spent most of my “research” time for this project on the DIY headboard tutorials I found on a number of design blogs. The best tutorial I came across was this one by the Centsational Girl.  Here’s a photo of the headboard she made for her daughter’s room.

Amazing, right?  I could do this (with Matt’s help, of course).  Especially because I planned to make an easy-to-cut square headboard without all the tufting, thus eliminating all the power tools necessary in the Centsational Girl’s tutorial.  Here’s what I used to make mine:

  • 3/4″ plywood
  • two-yards of railroaded upholstery fabric from Loom Exquisite Textiles in Pittsburgh
  • a large package of 80/20 quilter’s batting
  • 2″ thick foam by-the-yard (enough to cover the square footage of our plywood)
  • 4 “D” ring hooks
  • staple gun and staples

With some thrifty shopping and the careful selection of clearance priced fabric, all of these supplies cost less than $100 bucks.  We purchased the plywood from Home Depot and asked one of the workers there to cut it to size for us.  Like I said before, I wanted a really tall headboard to add drama and create the illusion of height in our otherwise tiny master bedroom.  What I didn’t realize is that the piece of wood I needed to DIY a dramatic headboard wouldn’t necessarily fit into Matt’s mid-sized sedan.

Upon realizing that the wood would not fit into our trunk I decided we should use straps to fasten it to the roof of the car.  Matt sent me back into Home Depot to buy said straps (at this point the headboard project was “my problem” and I had to figure out how to get the damn wood home).  We rolled the windows down and strapped the wood to the roof of the car through the open windows.

It wasn’t until the wood was ratcheted into place with my new, amazing straps that we realized we couldn’t open the car doors because the straps were conveniently doing their job of holding the wood securely to the roof (whist also holding the doors securely shut through the open windows).  Did I mention we both have law degrees?

At this point we did the only thing that two frustrated and exhausted weekend DIY warriors would do.  We climbed into the car through the open windows.  To this day I still don’t know how my six-foot tall, yoga-adverse husband was able to contort his body in such a way that he fit through the car window.  It must have been his sheer adrenaline fueled desire to get the hell home to watch football instead of standing like a moron in the Home Depot parking lot with his Lululemon-clad wife while all of the “real” men with Ford F-150s judged us.

Did I mention we had an awesome, right-up-front parking spot at the Home Depot on this great Sunday?  Oh, homeownership, you have a funny little sense of humor, don’t you?

Thankfully, we easily procured the remaining supplies from JoAnne Fabrics and transported them home without issue.  Following the steps on the Centsational Girl’s tutorial, we whipped up this gem in just a few hours. 

So I had my Drama and my Stripes.  But what about my Otomi?  With the help of Spoonflower, an online mecca for DIYers in need of patterned fabrics, I was able to find just the right amount of Otomi for my bedroom project.  Samarra Khaja’s shop on Spoonflower had plenty of Otomi-inspired fabrics to choose from.  I picked out a red and white Otomi print to use to make two accent pillows.  Check them out. 

I went with red to tie the bedding to the painted nightstands.  The small Otomi pattern on the pillows mixed beautifully with the wide navy stripes adorning the headboard.  Remember, you can always mix and match patterns if you use patterns with different scales and a common color.  Here’s how our bed looked when it was all put together.

eclectic bedroom by Adrienne DeRosa

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And that is my not-so-short story of how I used Otomi, Drama and Stripes to inspire a simple (once we got the wood home) and inexpensive DIY headboard.  The moral of the story is that you can take seemingly inconsistent inspirational photos and blend them together to create a coherent look.

Have you tackled a DIY headboard in your own home?  Having trouble deciding how to blend your contradictory design inspirations?  Drop me a line – I love to talk house!