DIY Book Headboard

The new apartment was still feeling a little empty and un-lived in so Simon and I set about on this fun little project! It took as about 4 days to put it all together but most that time was spent sourcing the materials so if you were smart about it (and know where to get things – unlike us) then you could do it in a day easy.

 

1. To start this project I needed a lot of books – I tried yard sales first but ended up finding all my books at thrift stores. Some stores charge way more than others for the books, so I set myself a budget of $1 per book.

2. Choosing the books can be difficult! You want as many hardcover books of the same size as possible as this will make laying out the books much easier. I ended up using 27 of the 42 books I bought.

3. Measure up the size you would like your headboard but make sure it is about 1cm in from where the mattress ends on either side. This helps give the illusions that the books are simply there and not attached to anything. If like me you can’t transport one large piece of wood home you can get two pieces which will then be secured together.

4. Put the wood how the finished headboard will be so that you can mark the mattress height. Marking this is so that you know where on the boards the books should start.

5. Now move the boards to somewhere they can be laid flat and you have room to move around them. Choosing the layout for the books is like finishing a jigsaw puzzle. You need to place the books in lines of the same height books and make sure  the books extend over the edges of the board at least a little on both sides. I found the books on the top and the bottom row can be different heights but the books in the middle rows must be the same height.

6. Once you have an order you are happy with make sure you number the books so that if they get mixed up you know exactly where they go back.

7. When securing the books I used small nails, I left 2-4 pages free above the ones I nailed down. I started with the second row from the top as this would give me a nice straight line to work with. Next I nailed down the top row and then moved my way down from there. If you are using two boards of wood rather than one make sure that you use sturdy books where the join is and add some extra nails.

8. Once all the books are secured you can move the headboard into place – you will need two people for this! Now those loose pages need to be secured. Using double sided table stick down the top pages. If there are pages that lay fairly flat you may want to leave a few loose. To create the illusion of how a book would look if it were just sitting open on a table stick the pages so a bump is created. Be creative with how you secure the pages, you don’t want every book to look the same. However the bottom row of books should have the pages secured as flat as possible so that they do not get caught on pillows or sheets.

9. Now its time to enjoy your creation!

 

187 thoughts on “DIY Book Headboard

  1. Hi Kassandra,

    Your creativity knows no bounds! Looks great. My mum would suggest it may get a little dusty (she doesn’t know how conscientious you are at housekeeping!). For those after a low maintenace version, consider building a frame around the books and laying a piece of 3 mm perspex on top – kind of like building a 3D picture frame.

  2. What an amazing idea and a great way to surround yourself with beloved book! Love the colors that old book pages turn and there is nothing like the smell of a book. Great job!

    • I think this would make a great wall or you could do something like this inside a large box frame. If you do something I would love to see photos :)

  3. Hello! Beautiful headboard, and I may be stealing this idea, but thats because its so beautiful, I want one for myself, and it is a great use out of those old books I have laying around! I want to ask, how did you hang/mount your pieces of wood onto your wall?

    • Thank you and if you do something I would love to see pics. I have a very solid bed frame so it is actually just resting against the wall but if your bedframe won’t support it then you could always add a few screws into the wall maybe leave a couple of books off where you want to attach it to the wall and then attach those books at the very end once it is up.

  4. What a waste of books. Books are sources of knowledge and to be nailed to a board so no one can read them is a shame. Use a bookshelf as headboard but don’t ruin the books.

    • Half of them are in languages I can’t read, most were bought for 25c and the reference books are well out of date. But I did find a few books from the 20′s that are now sitting on my bookshelf because like you say, they were simply to beautiful to not be able to flick through. So I don’t think it was a wast at all, more of a saving of books if anything.

    • Most of the books I have found , nobody wants to read, so nail away. The books are happier as part of a creative idea, than sitting wasted in a thrift shop. Just sayin…

    • Hey Emma, The pages of the bottom row of books are stuck down extra well so they dont catch when you prop up the pillows agains them :)

  5. Oh, Kassandra,

    I knew you were in sooooo much trouble when you mentioned nailing and gluing books. … The confirmed bibliophiles would be lighting torches and heating tar all over town. But, I like the concept, and I will take the sacrilege one giant leap forward. I have been collecting old books on religion (as opposed to old religious books) and have quite a number. (I have been fascinated by the human need for religious guidance…) Nailing them to a board would be soooo deliciously poetic, and I will have the double whammy of sleeping soundly beneath the protection of so much religious thought and expended energy!

    Thank you for the wonderful idea and suggestion, but keep your head under your pillows for a while.

    • my bedbase holds up the whole headboard – if you think your bed base won’t hold it up you could try attaching it to the bed for extra support

  6. What happens when one props pillows up against it to sit up and read in bed? Probably not possible to read in bed anymore. In my opinion not a very practical idea, but certainly creative.

  7. This is a great idea! But, I’m concerned about dust and those tiny book worms. Any ideas how to keep the dust and tiny book worms away?

  8. This is lovely! I may have to forgo the patina of older books though and do what I can with new ones. I’m allergic to dust/mold of old books! I used to have to do any library research in nurse gloves and pray I wasn’t stupid enough to rub my eyes.

    I may try some dying treatment with tea. If you’re interested I can let you know about the results.

    Cheers!

  9. I love this idea – what would happen if you used a clear shellac to cover the
    books to give them a clear coat. It would get rid the problem of pages ripping,
    and make it easier to dust. Just not sure what it would do to the pages.
    Any ideas?

  10. I gave your idea a try last night and I think it turned out nice. Used an old set of encyclopedias, set of children’s books and some old medical dictionaries. It was fun finding specific pages that related to my wife and I in some way. Here’s my Flickr page with the result.

  11. Great idea – for anyone else looking to do this head to your local library. Most of them sell their old books for less than $1 a piece, some as low as $0.25 and not only are you getting some books for your project, but you help support the library programs.

  12. LOVE IT!! I am stealing your idea for two twin beds. I want to do them with children’s books. I am thinking colorful illustrated pages would look good., and they would mount flatter, easier to install and switch out when the pages get damaged or dirtied; and glossy pages might be easier to dust. I also thought buying a series of books that all come in the same size.
    But if I am to do it for myself, I love the variety of colors of pages and thickness that you have done here. Bravo!!

  13. I am crazy about the book headboard!!! I love to read, but the only time I get to read is at night. This headboard is my dream board!! The only drawback is I love books and It would be like hurting a good friend to nail all thoes wonderful books to the wall. Thanks for sush an inspiring idea!

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  16. Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is great, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about DIY Book Headboard / Design Every Day .

  17. Hi Kassandra, This is such an amazing idea!! This is exactly what I was looking for, and I can’t wait to get started and make my own. I’m curious to know what type of materials you bought, in terms of the type of wood particularly. I’m also assuming the sizing of each book matters. Did you buy the books all based on the same dimensions? Carpentry is not my strong suit at all, so any extra tips or advice would be terrific. Thanks!!

    • Hi Jenny,
      I was on a budget so when we went to the hardware store we chose the cheapest large pieces of wood that were still thick enough to stand without warping… you can always just ask the staff and they can point you in the right direction! When buying the books you just want to find as many that are the same height as possible (width and thickness doesn’t matter as much)… the trickiest but most fun part is laying out the books… it is a little like a jigsaw puzzle! Good luck and I would love to see photos when you done

  18. I work at the local library and we receive donations of books all the time – too many to process and put to good use. Furthermore, those “yellow” pages are really a fungus that attacks books and will spread through an entire collection. All of this to say some books just need to be cast aside…..This is a great use for cast-offs and I LOVE the idea for a children’s headboard.

  19. Fantastic! I am circulating this project among my creative writing circle friends and am going to do it once I moive into my new home with my fiancée. Thank you for sharing this and for the detailed instructions!
    Love from a foggy Milan, Italy

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  21. This is fabulous. I found you from the A Pair and a Spare fashion blog. You could do this in a child’s room with kid’s books, and to add more color in an adult room you could use art books, which with patience you should be able to find cheaply in thrift stores.

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  24. I thought of an extra step that can make this a more finished and seamless project – paint the wood base the same color as the wall it is mounted on!

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  26. As a used Book seller, I can tell you that if you use outdated books for this project, it is ok. Not every book is valuable or even useful. As for bugs, if you are paranoid about them, bake your books for ah hour in a 250-300 degree oven. Do NOT bake them any higher than that. Paper combusts at 415 degrees F. The books will dry out. mold and mildew will die and little bugs too. You could also freeze them for 24 hours if you have room in your freezer. I love this project, I have a lot of books with bad spine damage this would be good for. Also there are a lot of books out there like encyclopedias and farmers almanacs that are almost free. Love this Project. Trying to convince technohubby that it is just that cool, that we need to do this.

  27. Ficou maravilhoso! Odesafio é encontrar os mesmos tamanhos de livros. Qual seria o resultado se usássemos diferentes tamanhos?!

  28. As a librarian, I just want to say that this is a fantastic use of old books! At some point, there is a time when books can be used for alternative purposes and this is wonderful! I am very much looking forward to trying this great project for my own bed!

  29. Wow, this is amazing. What a great way to make your bedroom both cosy and stylish! I love books and find this idea to be absolutely faboulus!

  30. found this post on one of my pinterest boards. love this idea. I would seal the books with a clear coat like I use to seal wood, so they can be cleaned easily.

  31. I like the idea and the look of it. But, it would be tough for anyone with asthma or allergies. Those books would get those little bugs too I think. I have a lot of books on my shelves and see teeny fuzzy things every now and then.
    Laura recently posted…Found a Mountain CabinMy Profile

  32. Knocked out by your originality and the beauty of your bedhead. I’m using Reader’s Digest condensed books for my project. (Stack them and pour latex paint over. Use either in construction or to decorate bookshelves.) Their literary value is dubious, they’re abundant,virtually unsaleable and nicely made. Special editions have pretty covers and gilded edges.

  33. What a Wonderful idea! How about this? Using the colorful hard covers and stick them in upside position on the board.

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  36. Books get silverfish especially old books. I would not recommend this idea. Better to cover the headboard wood with the lay flat fiber polyfill batting and cover it with a material you like. No silverfish that way.

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