Creating a Headboard From an Old Door

For months we focused on downsizing and moving out of our old home. We sold and donated lots of furniture believing we were going to live full-time in our RV. We put many items of sentimental value in storage. Maybe one could argue that we didn’t downsize enough, but we really got rid of a lot of stuff.

Despite our years of planning and preparation, we changed our minds. We bought a new home and faced a dilemma. We didn’t have enough furniture to fill the house!

We sold our king-sized bed to our old neighbors, along with all the old bedroom furniture. Our new home had a huge bedroom space. But we had nothing to sleep in–no bed, no bureaus, no nightstands–nada.

Although large, the problem with the layout of our new bedroom is that we wanted to keep the bed’s headboard up against the dormered wall. We were sure we wanted a new king-sized bed, but we couldn’t find a headboard that was short enough for the bed we wanted. The wall curved in at 48″. Most king headboards–even the short ones–were at least 52″ in height.

I wanted a shabby chic feel to the bedroom ensemble we purchased. The most important consideration for us at our age was the size of the bed and quality of the mattress. We found Broyhill mattresses which were really split twins on a king metal frame. These beds had the memory foam mattress, gel cooling systems, and the remote control reclining and snore feature.

Then I got the idea to use an old door for the headboard. We could adjust the headboard to whatever height we wanted by using 2″x 4″s cut to the length we needed.

One of the nice things about Frenchtown is that it has a plethora of antique shops with old doors. I found a shop a block down the street which had a (dare I say) crusty old door with the veneer peeling off. I do not exaggerate when I say it was crusty. But I wanted it anyway, because I thought it would be perfect. It measured 80″ in height, a standard height for doors, which is coincidentally the same width as a king-sized bed.


Shown here is the door, puttied, restored, and reveneered in spots. Joe measured and attached 2″x4″s to get the bed to the right height.

I painted the door antique white. I purposely picked an asymmetrical door when standing on its side. I wanted people to know that this used to be a door. I didn’t want it to look new or like a factory-made headboard. I really wanted a look that was a bit more shabby than chic.

Painting: If this was a high end piece of furniture, I would have primed it first. However, I planned to eventually sand the chalk paint down to allow some of the wood and rough spots through. I painted it with General Finishes Antique White Chalk Paint. I chose not to use poly coat, because in this case, the poly coat would have yellowed the off-white paint color. After the paint dried, I sanded down the corners to give it a slightly distressed look. Finally, I painted “Hers” and “His” in acrylics for our corresponding sides of the bed. (We’ve always slept on the same side of the bed for over 35 years.)


Here is the finished door. (Notice my side of the bed is the bigger side.)

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You can see the finished headboard fits perfectly under the roof dormer.

Of course, you can do this type of project and design it to fit your own unique design needs and bed size. There are old doors aplenty here in Frenchtown (probably at a substantially lower price than I paid for this one.)  But it might be something to consider if you’re looking for a specific style of headboard and are tired of the MDF junk currently available at even the high-end the furniture stores.

My headboard project is just one of the many furniture upcycling projects I’ve gotten into since we moved here. I’m proud to share it with you. If you like this idea, feel free to steal it and make it your own!

I’ll feature more on the other furniture projects in a later blog.

Thanks for visiting,





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