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Storage Headboard

Store bedtime books conveniently close in this custom headboard you can build in a weekend. Pick the wood and finish to meet your mattress size and decor.

Headboard with side storage compartments

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw and straightedge or a table saw
  • Random-orbit sander and 120-grit discs
  • Cordless drill and countersink bit
  • Driver bits
  • Tape measure
  • Painter’s tape
  • Combination square
  • Hammer or compressor and brad nailer
  • Stud finder


  • See Cutting Diagram for lumber required
  • #8 x 1-1/2-in flathead sheet-metal screws
  • 1-in finish nails
  • 1-1/2-in finish nails

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Each side tower will hold books and provide a place for your wallet and keys or a spot to charge your phone. Select the size headboard you need and finish you prefer. Then review the appropriate assembly instructions. If you choose to build the thinner version without storage, skip to (Assemble the Headboard) below and start with Project Diagram, Drawing 7.

Make the Columns

Step 1

Using a circular saw and straightedge, cut strips of plywood for the column backs (A), and column sides (B) (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram). Cut the parts to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List), sand the panels, and assemble using glue and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Good to Know

Plywood thickness varies and can affect the fit of parts. Before cutting any remaining parts, verify the dimensions against the actual project as it is built.

Step 2

Secure the shelves to the column of the headboard

Cut the column faces (C), shelves (D), and filler (E) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Sand and secure to the back and side. Assemble a second column creating a mirror image for the opposite side of the headboard.

Good to Know

You can assemble parts using glue and screws, nails and a hammer, or a brad nailer. The glue does most of the work; the fasteners primarily hold parts together while the glue dries.

Step 3

Add the column fronts to the headbard

Cut a piece of medium density fiberboard (MDF) to size for the column fronts (F) and headboard (G). Glue and nail the column fronts to the columns (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). The headboard panel is what ties the columns together and is the first part that will need to be modified for length when adapting the building plan to the size of your bed.

Good to Know

Combining multiple materials lets you take advantage of their strengths. Use MDF for the face of the headboard because it makes an excellent painted surface. Birch plywood weighs less, but is stronger than MDF when glued together.

Assemble the Headboard

Step 1

Add the headboard panel to the headboard

Place the columns on the floor and apply glue to one column (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Use the second column to support the headboard on the opposite side while you glue and nail the headboard (G) to the first column. Repeat for the second column. When the glue has dried, sand the face of the headboard to prepare for the trim installation. For the thinner version without the storage columns, cut the back rails (P) to length from 1 x 3 poplar boards. Then glue and nail the column fronts (F) and headboard (G) to the back rails (Project Diagram, Drawing 7).

Step 2

Cut the headboard trim components (H), (I), (J), and (K) for your bed size (Project Diagram, Drawing 3 or Drawing 8). Sand the parts and ease the edges as you install each part to make the finishing easier and faster.

Good to Know

There are two components to the front of the headboard: stiles and rails. A stile is a vertical element like a fence post, and a rail is the horizontal component.

Step 3

Add the top rail, use spacers to keep it running straight.

Cut 1-1/4-inch-long spacers. Start the top stiles (H) (Project Diagram, Drawing 4 or Drawing 8) 1-1/4 inches down from the top of the headboard.

Step 4

Add the remaining rails and stiles.

Continue gluing and nailing the headboard stiles and rails, working from the top and from one side to the bottom and opposite side.

Top and Trim

Step 1

From the remaining 3/4-inch birch plywood, cut the top to size. For the storage version you will use the top (L); for the thinner version you will use a narrow top (Q) (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Sand the panel and attach it to the top of the headboard (Project Diagram, Drawing 5 or Drawing 9).

Step 2

Begin at one end; cut a 9-inch piece of side moulding (M), a 6-inch piece will do for the narrow version. Hold the moulding end flush to the back of the headboard and mark the miter location at the front of the headboard. Miter-cut the part and nail it to the headboard.

Step 3

Nail front moulding in place

Cut the front moulding (N) to length, and cut a miter on one end of the trim to match the miter of the side moulding you just installed. Place that miter against the side moulding and mark the miter cut for the opposite end. Miter-cut the front moulding to length. Then glue and nail it in position.

Good to Know

The gap at the top of the headboard allows you to tweak the top edge of the mouldings more easily as you install them. Also, it allows the top rail to appear larger than it really is without purchasing a wider board.

Step 4

Mark side moulding length

Cut a miter on the second piece of side moulding (M), hold in position, mark the final length at the back of the headboard assembly, and cut to length. Secure with glue and brads.

Finish and Installation

Step 1

Use a wood filler on any exposed edges of the plywood parts. When the filler dries, sand the entire headboard so all of the faces are smooth and the edges are not sharp. Apply a primer and paint of your choice following the manufacturer’s instructions, sanding between coats with a 320 sanding sponge.

Step 2

To install the headboard, you have two options (Project Diagram, Drawing 6). If your bed frame has mounting brackets to bolt on a headboard, drive 1-inch-long screws through the bed frame into the headboard. The size of the screw and pilot hole needed so you won’t split the wood will depend on the holes in your bed frame -- a Lowe’s associate can help you select the right fasteners.

Step 3

If your bed frame does not have mounting brackets, secure a headboard cleat to your wall -- the cleat will fit between the columns. Locate the top of the cleat (O) 65-1/2 inches above your baseboard trim, and secure to the wall studs with 2-inch-long panhead sheet-metal screws. Place the headboard so the top rests on the cleat, and drive screws through the top into the cleat. Estimated costs: Twin, $150 + finish; full, $165 + finish; queen, $165 + finish; king, $179 + finish.

Step 4

Distressed finish headboard

For an alternate finish to the one shown, first paint the headboard with a base color (Retro-Colonial Blue, #4006-4B, shown). Then use a dry brush to apply a thin, feathered coat of a contrasting color (Woodrow Wilson Putty, #6006-1A, shown). Concentrate on dry-brushing the middle of stiles, rails, and recessed areas, leaving the edges blue.

Step 5

Colorful finish on a headboard

For a fun color that updates this headboard’s traditional look, try this deep mustard shade (Santa Monica Blvd., #ar825, shown).

Step 6

Dark painted headboard finish

Choose a dark headboard color (Ocean Storm, #4004-2B, shown) to contrast with a light wall shade.