DIY Headboard for the IKEA Malm Bed
For Week 7 of the One Room Challenge, I’m excited to show you my DIY headboard for my son’s plain old IKEA Malm platform bed. I’ve officially spent more time scrolling for ideas for this headboard makeover than it took to make this thing. You could do totally do this–and create a whole different look in just a couple of days!
The IKEA Malm Bed
It’s simple and plain–perfect for transitioning rooms throughout the years & it’s incredibly affordable. Up against this black wall? It just doesn’t work.
What do you do when you want something MORE? You decide to do a DIY headboard. And then? You scroll. There’s a bunch of ideas out there: Upholstery, slipcovers, reclaimed wood, paint, etc.
After scrolling, I hadn’t found what I wanted, though. Hmmm…
A Caned Headboard?
I fell in the love with the look of a caned headboard, with its light stained wood and throwback style. This bed, from Pottery Barn, is a great example of the look that inspired me.
But, it’s not just the headboard–it’s the bed. And, it’s $1700.
You can actually find headboards similar to this for about $200, but in order to get what you really want, why not make it?
I started scrolling for “caning” to buy. Turns out, you can ONLY order it online. Since I was making a queen size headboard, I would need over 5 feet. It was going to be about $75, before shipping. This is where I started to mentally panic. What if I screw it up? Will it get here in time? What if I pick the wrong color? No, no, no. I needed a less pricey option–I was sure I could find something different.
A Table Runner!
I spent time thinking of material I could buy at a store, just so I could see the coloring and imagine it in-person. Then, it dawned on me: All I wanted was texture and color. I had already planned on building the wooden frame. I jumped on Amazon and looked through placemats and table runners. If I wanted sections within the frame, placemats would have been ideal. But, I was convinced I wanted one long piece, so I ordered this table runner:
At $15 and 72 inches long, this was right up my alley. I loved the woven look, and the color seemed great. Even better? Ordering from Amazon meant I could return it if it showed up and I didn’t like it.
I Changed My Mind
I loved the table runner. It was perfect. And, then, two things happened.
1: I installed a light in the bedroom that I fell in love with at World Market. It’s gray.
2: I decided to move a different dresser into the room–which is darker brown with gray tones. (The other dresser project is on hold.)
Are you seeing a pattern? Gray. Not natural wood. Not brown. Gray. The good news? Woven fabrics can be stained. I set to work.
I started off with Weathered Oak, since the coloring is soft, but there are gray undertones. The problem? Fabric takes a lot of stain. This was not a full can to begin with. Halfway through, I ran out. After buying another can, I learned a lesson: Once you get to the bottom of the can, you get splotches of gray. The fabric was beautiful, but there was one section with strong gray tones. Lucky for me, I had a can of Classic Gray. Would it be a bad idea to apply a second coat on top of the first?
I won’t bore you with the details. It worked. It also reminded me that I don’t learn from my own lessons. #1 Always buy the bigger can of stain. #2 The bottom of the can of stain will feature stronger colors–even if you’ve mixed it well. GAHHHH.
In the end, I stained this thing 3 times. But, it’s beautiful. You’ll see the finished product below after the third coat.
Making the Frame for the DIY Headboard
To make the frame, I used the measurements from the Malm bed. This thing is 66.5 inches (queen size). Because I wanted to add depth on the sides and top of the frame, I added 3/4 inch length on each side. That brings the top length to 68 inches. (66.5 + .75 + .75 = 68…are you with me???)
I used 45 degree cuts to make the frame, so the longest part needed to be exact. I chose 1 x 4 pine boards for the frame.
The two longer edges of the frame featured the longest angle point at 68 inches, cut at 45 degrees. The two short ends had the longest angle length at 18 & 5/8 inches length.
You have to remember to create trapezoids, which means you’ll be flipping the boards over to cut the other end.
Here is the “almost” finished frame with three sides cut:
I needed an extra pair of hands when attempting to glue and staple the angles, so I used a clamp. After gluing, I stapled the pieces together–on the back side–with my upholstery stapler.
After gluing and stapling, I wanted to secure it together with screws. I definitely could have done pocket screws here, but instead, I went in from the side.
I pre-drilled the holes, and then also created a slight sink with a large drill bit (just a tiny bit–like an 1/8 inch), so the screws could disappear.
Speaking of disappearing, I’m no carpenter, so I needed my angled corners to look a little more “fit.” I smoothed them out by filling the gaps with plastic wood. I like this stuff because it’s easy to use, it starts off pink, but dries natural. It’s also paintable and stainable. After it dried, I sanded everything down.
Makes me actually *look* like I know what I’m doing.
The Top & Side Edges
I wanted to add depth to the look of the frame, to cover the old headboard for a finished look. I went with the straight edge cut of 1 x 3 pine boards. The top had to be the same length as the outer measurement of the frame–for me, that was 68 inches. The two sides would match the side outer edges, but also extend down to cover the additional “bottom” piece. These sides ended up being cut at 23 & 7/8 inches. (That’s 18 & 5/8 for the frame + 5.5 inches for the bottom–see below)
Because I wanted the “frame” to sit above the mattress, I needed to cut a bottom board that would elevate it. For this project, I chose a 1 x 6, since the actual width is 5.5 inches. This would be the ideal base measurement. That board was cut at the 68 inch length. I mentioned above, the sides of this board would be covered by the side length boards, so this board is not seen much, but very important.
I wanted to feature a gray-ish stain, so I did a quick google search for how pine looks with gray stains. There are some great blogs out there where they show you a variety of stains on the actual wood. I loved the look of Aged Barrel. For the record, this is my new favorite stain.
I stained all my cut pieces, and then added that third coat of stain to my table runner that I mentioned above.
It was time to put it all together.
Attaching the Woven Fabric
I used my upholstery stapler to attach the end I cut previously–I’m showing how I did this when I get to the other end. I stapled the end and the two long sides, keeping the fabric firm, but not stretched.
Once three sides were attached, it was time to cut the end off for the right length. With scissors, I cut it slightly longer than needed–it had to have one of the woven ends peeled away to seal the cross-weave threads that run the length of the runner.
With a hot glue gun, I sealed the cross-weave threads in place to prevent them from unraveling. Doing this on the frame will actually partially glue it down if you’re not careful, so you may want to just make that part of the process, which is what I did.
After all the threads were sealed, I completed the attachment by stapling the end down.
Building It Out
Now it was time to attach the depth for the headboard–perpendicular to the front frame. I decided to use pocket holes to attach the sides and top to the front frame.
This is the top piece. I drilled five pocket holes along the length.
Clamps are an important part of this process, and if you don’t have the clamps that go with your pocket hole set, you can use other ones–which is what I did.
I used 1 & 1/4 inch pocket hole screws to attach the pieces.
The Finished Look!
This DIY headboard goes perfectly with the decor of the room. I love how the gray tones complement the black and white. The best part about creating this frame for the headboard is that you could use any stain color and woven fabric. What do you think?
Check out more details of this project in my stories on Instagram.
February 15, 2023 @ 1:01 pm
I love the woven look, ýou put it in a unique spot, wow! Do you think you could use a primer on the fabric first before using the stain? I might try that, you gave me a great idea for one of our guest rooms, tnanks!
February 15, 2023 @ 5:31 pm
I’m sure you could try it…I haven’t primed fabric, but if you have extra, like I did, you could test it. It was such an inexpensive upgrade to this space!
February 16, 2023 @ 4:44 am
Perfect solution! I saw this on another post and she used placemats and framed them on a chest of drawers. It looked better than cane, which like you said is expensive and rare nowadays! I saw these placemats at an older friends home today and told her NOT to give them away when she was finished. 🙂