Friday, April 5, 2019

New Project Reveal! Our High-Tech Headboard

Back when I was young and naive, I decorated my house like a person who DOESN'T own cats. I used loose-weave fabrics and cushy floor rugs and velvet-backed frames with abandon, y'all. ABANDON. (Seriously, what monster decided black velvet was good on frames?!)

Now that I am older and wiser, though, pretty much every design choice in our house has the following criteria:

- How much cat hair will stick to it?
- How easy is it to remove said cat hair?

Aaaand that's about it. 

Now, for our latest project, let's step into my bedroom, if you please.  ::WINK::

Nearly six years ago John and I completely remodeled our bedroom to look like this:

I'mma spoil this for you right now: it still looks like this.  

Here's a photo I took yesterday:
I don't like a lot of change. What.

What you're not seeing, though, is how our headboard just got a huge upgrade. And I'm so excited about it, there is major Kermit flailage going on. Major.

 First let me explain the problems with the old headboard:

PROBLEM 1: (Brace yourself)

The headboard fabric was basically Velcro for cat hair. And of course - OF COURSE - both of our new girls love sitting up there. This was both super gross and making our allergies go nuts.

PROBLEM #2: This is what my bedside floor has looked like for the past few years:

Wires EVERYWHERE. Believe it or not, that's all for my phone; there's an extension cord, a headphone adapter, and a pillow speaker I need for my sleep app. (The speaker was then forever falling on the floor.)

John also had a cord and headphones on his side of the bed. We both kept our phones on our nightstands, so the cords fell on the floor during the day (where they turned into dust traps) and tangled around our arms and torsos at night. I can't tell you how frustrating it was just trying to roll over; I'd invariably snag my speaker wire with my arm, which would yank the phone off the nightstand, which would clatter to the floor like a gunshot, which would wake up John. Worst game of Mouse Trap ever.

Plus it looked terrible, white wires covered in dust all over the dark wood floor. Vacuuming was a perpetual game of Chicken.

Ahh, but I had a dream, my friends. A dream... OF A HIGH-TECH HEADBOARD.

First we ripped off the old fabric:
 And burned it.

(I kid.)

We kept the foam to re-use, though.

Next we added a laminated shelf top ($12 at Home Depot) and John cut a square into the face of the headboard frame:

This is hard to describe, but next we essentially created a new cushion piece - using the old foam on a new piece of wood - to stick ON this frame. So only the very front of the headboard is padded.

Here we're lining up the new vinyl fabric:


And stapling it in place:

We made the foam overhang the edges, so when we stapled the vinyl in place it created a rounded, padded edge. This was essential because I often sleep sitting up, and that edge hits right around my neck/head level.

 Quick Suki break, who assured us we could take our time washing the sheets; she had everything under control.


 Meanwhile, John painted the sides and front edges of the headboard frame to match the new vinyl:

He also built this custom cubby to slide into the frame:
He drilled holes in the back of this cubby for all the wires.

 Ready to see the magic coming together?

Finally, John screwed the cushion top in place (with Eva's help):
 ... and re-installed the headboard.

Now, let me explain this gloriousness:

During the day, the headboard looks exactly the same, minus all the cat hair: 

 The laminated shelf top is easy to wipe clean, and the vinyl padded front is super comfy when I lean against it. The padded edge means I can still sleep sitting up, too.

  John built these light switches in before, so they were already there, but lemme tell you: SO USEFUL.

(We could have used black switches & plates to make them invisible, but they're low enough that you can't see them from any other angle in the room.)

 Our pendant lights (which I made myself - here's that tutorial) are wired to come out at the bottom of the wall, then up through the hollow headboard to these switches. They're dimmer switches, so I can set mine low to read while John's asleep. We've used these babies every day for six years, and I still can't take them for granted - it's just that cool, being able to kill the lights while you're snuggled up in bed.

Now let's talk about that magic cubby:
 Again, during the day it's completely invisible, covered by our top pillows.
When we turn down the covers at night, though, you see this:

All the wires come through the top of the cubby, so there's no risk of them falling through and down to the floor.

The cubby is deep enough to hold our phones, my huge mess of wires, John's headphones - EVERYTHING.

The cubby is low enough that I don't bump the edges when I'm sitting up; I have plenty of padded area on my side.

The only way this would be better is if I had retractable wires for all the excess, since that still tangles up. Having the cords in the middle of the bed, though, means no more knocking my phone onto the floor! No more getting lassoed when I get out of bed or roll over! And everything is hidden and tucked away during the day, so no more giant dust traps that I can't vacuum!


I hope you guys find some inspiration here, even though it's not the most exciting Before & After. I love problem-solving through decor, and now every night when I come to bed and see that clean spot of floor at my bedside, I get the biggest smile. Ahhhhhh.

Oh! I should mention my original plans involved building a speaker into my side of the headboard, for when I'm sleeping sitting up, but since that's only 20% of the time I nixed it. It'd be a great addition, though, if you're like me and listen to something to help you fall sleep. (Right now I'm using the app My Sleep Button with my pillow speaker. [Not sponsored.] It takes a lot of focus, but definitely helps if I can keep my mind on it.)

Right, your turn! Tell me your best home decor solution: how you hid something ugly, organized your storage, or just plain made a space work better for you.

Or, if you don't have a success story, tell me what you want to fix! Maybe we can crowd-source some solutions here, I love a good challenge.


Hey, did you remember to order that thing from Amazon? No? Then how about using my links to grab it now, since it helps support me and John and the blog? (USA, UK, Canada.) 

You can also check out my storefront to browse for stuff you absolutely don't need, but will probably want anyway.


  1. My home decor solution is pretty lame but it made me happy at least! I nailed together some leftover shelf inserts from my Ikea DVD shelving unit and turned them into shelf separators for my larger bookcases. It was literally just nailing three bits of wood together but I was able to use up some of those extra inserts that I've been hanging onto for forever, and it also lets me organize the contents of my bookcases in a better way. So definitely a win for me.

    (I should add that I don't have access to power tools so this is about as fancy as I get with my home decor solutions ha ha)

  2. Someone abandoned an 18" long glass shelf in the laundry room of my apartment building. (probably a bathroom shelf) I cleaned it up and installed it INSIDE my spice cabinet. Now I have 2 levels of spices instead of digging around and lifting up spice jars in the cupboard I can see them all at once!!!!!
    And it was free.

  3. Our sink completely fills the counter it's in, so there's no space at the back for wet brushes, sponges, dish soap, etc. The sink is also rounded so suction cup baskets just kept falling off. We bought one of the wall rails from Ikea to mount on the wall behind/above the sink, along with 2 hanging baskets and a few hooks. We left the metal 'floor' inserts out of the baskets. Now we have places to hang or place the wet items so they can drip into the sink, and it stays nice and neat!

  4. That's really cool. I've found a way to make some of my wires (kind of) retractable. In my bedroom I have a cord holder on the back of my nightstand which I've put one end of my phone cord through. From there the wire hangs down the back of the nightstand nearly to the floor and then back up a bit to the outlet. I've attached a lead weight to a ring which the cord is fed through. After a bit of trial and error I found the right weight which allows me to pull the slack up and plug in my phone. When I unplug the cord and let it go, the weight pulls it down until the end is held by the cord holder again

  5. Living in the midwest, I needed a storage solution for hats/mittens/scarves that the kids could easily reach. I found a 3 "shelf" magazine rack where the parts that holds the magazines were canvas (basically a canvas sling). The rest of the rack was a nice black metal with scroll flourishes. I put each kid's name on one of the slings and my hubby and I shared the top one. I hung it on the wall at kid level. I could not believe how much of a difference it made. Since it was right by the door, the kids actually put their stuff in their respective slings.

  6. I eliminated the need for a bulky drying rack by installing a tension rod in the laundry room to hang the items that I don't want to go in the dryer. So easy but so essential!

    Also, can you let us know what pillow speaker you use?

    1. Nice! And sure thing; I just added the pillow speaker to my Amazon storefront - but I'll go link it in the post, too.

  7. Oh, I would love to make this happen in my apartment! I'm just not sure we have the space - our bedroom is TINY and we already can't close the door because of the bed.

    In terms of storage problems: let me sing you the song of my life. We bought a credenza/TV stand that is SUPER useful for storage.... it's too big for the corner we bought it for, but there's no other place to put it. So, we got rid of vertical storage space for it and now it blocks a bit of the door. And there's blank walls above it. We know we need shelves, but we haven't the faintest clue about what KIND go best in a corner above a TV.

    So many others, but that's my biggest Irk right now.

    (On another note, I'm a total lurker, but I read all your posts. Planning our honeymoon for next January, and we're intending to go to Orlando. Hope we wander into you while we're at the parks!)

  8. So I had been using a tiny kitchenette table that we inherited from hubby's aunt before we got married as my sewing room cutting was too small, I had propped up some cardboard on the one end to make it hold a bit more, but eh. So I was looking online for how to build a good sewing cutting table. and then I started looking to see if anyone was giving away any tables. And someone was!!! So we got the table, and hubby made "feet" to raise up the table so it now sits at a comfortable height for me to cut things on. Then hubby bought some lumber to build shelves to go under the table to store all my sewing stuff (one of these days I need to get in there and actually put stuff on the shelves!) now I have a wonderful cutting table that is big enough to hold my cutting guide and sturdy enough to use my rotary cutter on all parts of it. yay!

  9. I need a headboard. I currently don't have one at all. I would definitely hire you and John to design and build one for me.

  10. I measured poorly when I bought my living room entertainment unit, which turned into a blessing in disguise. The unit totally covered my thermostat BUT! It wound up being the right size to cut a hole in the back of one of the shelves so the thermostat peeks through and I can cover it perfectly with a piece of art.

    I never knew I wanted to hide my thermostat before, but now that I have I'd never go back!

    1. Oooh, love it! I've seen people add hinges to art frames to hide their thermostats, which is another smart solution. (And now I'm embarrassed to admit that ours is just THERE, plainly visible, lol.)

  11. I have an old, old tin top table which has a wooden base and chrome legs. I love it immensely! I think my grandma had one like it. Anyway, it's missing a drawer in the wooden part and I would love to figure out how to make, or find a person who can make, a replacement drawer. If I remember right, the drawer was divided into 3 parts for forks, knives, and spoons, I assume.

  12. I installed coat hooks in my laundry room, near the ceiling, and use them to hang my ironing board. The hooks are just the basic coat hooks that have a bigger hook on top that kinda has a curve on it and a smaller hook on the bottom. The curve in the upper hook is perfect to hold the foot/bar that stand on the floor and supports the ironing board when it’s being used. So my ironing board hangs on the wall, out of the way until I need to use it. And, as a bonus, the handle of my steam mop is the perfect size to hang off the food of the ironing board so that keeps my steam mop out of the way too. (Unless I need to use my ironing board, but that’s not very often,)

  13. Your new headboard is great! My two cats have chewed through so many phone charging cables and ear bud cords - I can't believe your two left your plethora of phone-related wires untouched! To safely charge the phones, I drilled a hole in a largish Rubbermaid container and fed the cord of a powerbar through it. Now the phones/ipads can be safely charged inside the container (with lid).


  14. This is the coolest thing. We got a Roomba for Christmas, and it's such a pain having to pick up the cords and everything every time we go to run it, and I'm always worried about the cats chewing on the cords. I'd love to be able to tuck them away like this.

    Our home decor is sadly still very much what it was when this was my grandparents' house since we lack the money to really do what we want, but we have worked in a few cheap pieces that really help us out, like a lamp with shelves from Wal-Mart on my fiancee's side of the living room. I have a table I claimed for my laptop and everything, but there was just nothing on the other side, so that really solved things.

  15. Bren12, your retractable cord idea is brill.
    We've done loads of things!
    Some favourites: soon after we bought our house, we installed a cantilevered bench in the kitchen nook (two walls; it's an inside corner). Being cantilevered means it's super easy to clean under. Used pre-finished hardwood flooring for the top. We could pack so many kids and friends in!
    Storage. One favourite is hinging the back of a stair (short flight, boxed in stairs). Used a piano hinge. Openable storage, and it works beautifully.
    We noticed the space at the top of the basement stairs was boxed in: opened up a wall in the dining room to reclain an area about 4' square! we installed a tall skinny window in between the studs, put in a platform with a foam topper, and we've got a window seat! (of course it has a liftable seat, for MORE storage!)
    This weekend, we're adding a windbreak on our deck. Make BBQing even better!
    -Carol S-B

  16. I remember reading your posts when you were doing this reno 6 years ago! Still beautiful, and now more functional.

  17. My master closet has like 14 foot ceilings yielding lots of mostly unusable space. I screwed some sky hooks into the ceiling and hung some pulleys so I can hang my sleeping bag and a mesh bag with my second comforter for my bed. I screwed some lash cleats into he wall and that allows me to raise and lower the stuff I've hung. It's a great way to store some bulky items in otherwise unusable space. And I like that the rope that I used is hot pink. :)

  18. Do a search for "retractable iPhone cables" -- lots of options out there. When we converted a bedroom into a hobby room/office, I used elfa shelving from the Container Store for my Mac and printers. I needed a pull-out keyboard shelf and luckily found one at Ikea that was being discontinued. It works great! I also picked up a bunch of free laminated boards in the neighborhood -- they used to be an entertainment center -- and purchased a (again, soon-to-be-discontinued and on sale) steel cabinet base. I now have the materials to build a stand for my oversized printer/scanner/fax.

    My bedroom is tiny, so when I redecorate, I'm going to build recessed shelving. I know it doesn't work for renters, but if you own, it's a great space saver -- here's one how-to:

  19. I remember when you redid your bedroom! I can't believe it's been 6 years ...
    I have my TV on one of those IKEA Kallax shelves. Since it has no back you can see all the cables and cords from the TV and video games and it looked so ugly, until I spent a day taping them all to the thin shelves. Not a very impressive hack, but it looks soooo much better. The cord chaos in the corner of the room I hid in an IKEA cable bag which is another brilliant invention.

  20. Not a DIY decor hack persay. Yet I do love the smart light bulb I put in my bedroom lamp last year. Being able to tell the Google Mini to turn it on when I'm coming up the hallway or turn it off after snuggling into bed is wonderful. :)

  21. I fall asleep listening to old radio shows - mostly 'Gunsmoke' and 'The Saint'.

  22. I use the tension rod idea, too, but over my tub for extra drying space.
    My kitchen shelves were too thick to accommodate my two layers of mugs and glasses, so I bought some of those footed wire racks--three exactly fit the width of the cabinet and make the two layers much more accessible and visible.
    Turntables on almost every shelf in the kitchen, especially uppers.
    When I use lidded boxes or bins on upper storage shelves (with light-weight contents only, like extra hangers, plastic containers, decor items), I place them upside down; much easier to grasp the lip of the bin or the grip opening on a box than pulling at the bottom to slide it off. --dbc

    1. I use two tension rods -- one at the top and one at the bottom -- to make a curtain of Christmas lights in the living room window. Just wrap the lights top to bottom, arranging the space between as you go. Be warned -- unless you use LEDs, a curtain of light gets pretty warm!

  23. We remodeled my laundry/utility room to include a wall to wall closet to seal off the junk, now the rest is my home office. In the closet is our pantry and the coolest thing I've ever seen for storing canned food is from There are several sizes to fit cabinets or closets. Seems like silly cardboard items, but mine are years old and still like new! If you try these, definitely watch the video on how to fold them. They ship flat for cheaper rates.

  24. You are making me glad I have the Cameo instead of the Cricut. My design software doesn't show me a font until after I buy it and install it. ;) I'm doing a lot more baking than crafting lately. A friend paid me to make two triple chocolate mouse cakes for her husband's birthday. I charged her $30 each and I think I should have charged more. Those suckers are expensive to make.

  25. My coolest project right now is that I took the very large, totally unorganized box of "important" papers and got it all hung up nice in some hanging file folders! Nothing new, just glad I finally got it done! I also hung up some wire paper organizers on the wall (I didn't even try an on-the-desk in-box with my cat), so that I have a place to put papers before they are ready to be filed away long-term!


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