One of the questions I often get asked on the blog is “How did you make that lit headboard in your Budget Bedroom Makeover?” So today, I’m spilling all my insider secrets to you with a full tutorial.
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First, here are a couple of pictures to remind you what it looks like in the room, during the day:
And at night:
We did this in our bedroom makeover to save both money and space. Our bedroom isn’t very large and our furniture felt like it was taking over the whole room. So we got rid of most of the furniture, including the headboard and footboard on the bed.
Then, to make a big statement with very little money, I designed this lit headboard out of curtains and string lights.
Making your own lit headboard is quite simple really, and very budget-savvy.
- A curtain rod that extends to at least 70 inches.
- 3 or more curtain panels, and curtain clips if the panels are not back-tabbed or grommet-ted.
- 1-2 strings of white Christmas lights (80-100 lights).
- Small nails or tacks and a hammer. (You could also use 3M Command hooks if you don’t want to put holes in your wall.)
- Remote control plug adapter.
My bed is a queen size, so if you have a king size, make sure your curtain rod will extend to at least 86 inches, and you’ll probably need four curtain panels, as well as an additional string of lights.
When choosing curtains, make sure you find something that isn’t completely opaque or too transparent. You don’t want heavy drapes, but something that will let the light through without showing the strings behind it. Most sheers will be too thin.
My curtains came from HomeGoods, but I also like Tuesday Morning, Target and Overstock.
The curtain clips are important if you are using three panels because if you use rod pocket panels (the ones where you just slide the curtain rod through the pocket that extends across the back of the curtain) you’ll have a problem in the middle with the rod support.
You could also solve this problem by using four panels, so the support can sit right between the two middle panels.
The string lights need to be on white string if your wall color is light, like mine is, or green if you wall color is dark. The string should blend into the wall as much as possible.
Also, mine are not LED but I would recommend LED’s because you never have to worry about them heating up. I’ve never had a problem with these, but if I were telling you how to do this (which I am), I say go with LED for extra safety.
You can find the remote control light switch plug adapter with the Christmas lights in any hardware or home center store. The switch consists of a plug adapter and a remote.
You’ll plug your lights into the adapter and plug the adapter into the wall socket. Then you’ll put the remote at your bedside so you can easily turn the lights off and on from bed.
How to put your headboard together:
Decide where the bed will be going. You don’t want to change your mind once this piece is installed!
Mark how high you want the curtain to hang (86 inches if you you have a standard 84″ curtain and curtain clips), and then measure and mark 3 inches out from each side of the bed. This is where you will hang the mounting hardware for the curtain rod.
You want the curtain to extend a couple of inches on either side of the bed, to account for the bed linens fluffing out a little. This will give you a more balanced look.
Hang your Curtain Rod
Mount the hardware for the curtain rod, as well as the center support, following the instructions included with your rod hardware. You’ll probably also need a screwdriver and a level for this step.
Hang the Curtains
Attach the curtain panels to the curtain clips, and thread the clips onto the curtain rod. For a seamless look, join the edges of the curtain panels together on one clip, with the seams facing backwards to the wall. Then hang everything up to be sure it looks centered and balanced.
Remove the curtain and rod, and set aside.
Hang the String Lights
At about 4 inches below the curtain rod, nail 8 small nails or tacks into the wall at intervals of about 8-9 inches apart. (Because I’m just *that* cheap, I used a leftover unbrella light set that used to be on my patio umbrella, so my pattern looks more like a shell than a grid, like yours will.)
String your lights over the nails. (If you are using tacks, be sure to stick them into the wall beside the wire, not through it!) You can also use nails at the bottom of the string lights to make sure your strings line up the way you like, and stay put.
It doesn’t need to be perfect (as you can see from the picture above!), just somewhat consistent.
Plug the lights into the wall to check and adjust as necessary for even lighting.
Check the Remote Control
Plug the lights into your remote control light switch. This is important so you can turn off the lights from your bed without having to crawl around and unplug them each time.
Put it Back Together
Rehang the curtain.
Get your jammies on and climb into bed with a good book! You’ll have just enough light to read by, while still keeping a cozy ambiance in the room.
Check out my Budget Bedroom Makeover for more ideas, and let me know if you have any questions about this project!
Frequently Asked Questions
Speaking of questions, I’ve had so many that I decided to write a FAQ’s post. Check out all the questions to ask yourself (or me!) before creating a light-up headboard.
Lit Headboard Update
Since publishing this tutorial, I’ve had several readers write to let me know about curtain lights. Apparently someone thought to attach string lights to a header so they could be hung like a curtain. Brilliant!
Here’s an updated tutorial, using curtain lights:
- Hang your curtain rod centered above your bed. You'll need your screwdriver and level, along with the hardware included in your curtain rod set for this step.
- Insert the rod in its hardware, and check to be sure your curtain fits correctly. Remove the curtain and set it aside.
- Attach your curtain lights either to the curtain rod with matching zip ties, or use command hooks to hang them on the wall, just under the curtain rod height.
- Plug in the lights and set up the remote control according to package instructions.
- Hang your curtain.
- Position your bed in front of the curtain.
The original version of this tutorial (as outlined in the post above) still works just fine, especially if you already have a set of string lights you want to use. But I've had a few readers write in to tell me of these curtain lights, and they seem like an even easier approach.