Small Space Solution: Headboard with Shelves
My friend Jude (one of the comedians featured in an episode of "Would You Woodwork?" ) asked me if I would build her a couple of small nightstands. I said sure. But when I looked at her space, I saw that she only had about 9" of clearance on each side of the bed, and such small nightstands would probably look weird and make cleaning the floor around there a nightmare. I also noticed that she didn't have a headboard, so I suggested that instead of nightstands, I build her a headboard with integrated shelves. I started looking online and found a wealth of inspiration from architect and designer Gio Ponti. I was particularly inspired by the design of the Parco dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento, Italy. I showed the headboards to Jude and she said, "Hell ya!" First things first, the piece had to be custom fit to Jude's space. So I grabbed some butcher paper and we mapped out exactly how big the headboard was going to be and where it was to be placed. We cut out paper versions of the shelves to make sure that everything looked right and since wearing a helmet to bed is less than ideal, I made Jude roll around on the bed to make sure she wouldn't hit her head.
The piece is made from a single sheet of Maple plywood. I first cut the headboard itself, and then with the leftovers, cut the shelves and supports.
While I don't mind seeing the edges of plywood, it's not the look I wanted for this piece; so I decided to edge band all the shelves and around the headboard. Edge banding is attaching thin strips of wood to the edges of plywood or particle board or MDF to give the appearance of solid wood. The stuff I used comes in rolls and has glue on one side that melts with a hot iron (you can get a special one, or use a household iron) onto the edge, and then use a roller to secure. After it cools, I used a tool to trim off the excess and then sand the corners for a seamless finish. You can see the difference it makes below.
Working from the measurements I took at Jude's apartment, I carefully mapped out where the shelves were to go on the headboard. Then to make sure the holes matched up, I marked the holes on the shelves and supports as well. Then I drilled pilot holes, and did a dry fit to make sure everything looked right and make it easier to assemble once I had applied the finish. All systems go!
Then it was time to put on the finish. I wanted a smooth finish with no brush or roller marks, so I decided to spray on Minwax Oil-Modified satin finish polyurethane. The one I selected did not have to be mixed with anything and could be poured right into the sprayer. I had never used a spray gun before and I guess it was beginners luck, because it looked perfect after 2 coats. Not wanting to tempt fate, I left it alone. The whole thing didn't even take a quart.
I attached a cleat made from a 1x6 (just ran it through the table saw at a 45 degree angle like this guy did) to the top of the piece, and another 1X4 to the bottom to make sure the headboard stayed flush against the wall. Then I just screwed the other half of the cleat to the studs in Jude's place and voila! Headboard!