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10 Flea Market Finds to Use as Headboards

Make a Budget-Friendly DIY Headboard from a Flea Market or Yard Sale Find

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Old Iron Gate and Fireplace Mantel

Old Iron Gate and Fireplace Mantel

Photo © Leah French

Buying a new bed in a furniture store gets expensive, even if you opt for just a headboard. Instead of dropping all your cash with a retailer -- which may mean leaving the rest of the decorating for a later date -- look for creative headboard alternatives using inexpensive, vintage items. Here are 10 flea market finds you can use as headboards:

  1. Vintage Textiles: Hang a vintage textile on the wall behind your bed to create an instant headboard. Hang them with hook and loop tape, or stitch a casing to the back and mount a rod. You can use a vintage rug, tapestry, or quilt. Or, opt for an exotic suzani. You can even use a piece of cut yardage if you hem it on all four sides.

  2. Fireplace Mantel: Look for an old fireplace mantel from a flea market or architectural salvage shop. Use it as is, or paint it to match the woodwork in your bedroom. Fit a piece of plywood inside the opening. You can then paint or stain it to match the fireplace. Or, cover the plywood with quilt batting and fabric, which turns the fireplace mantel into an upholstered bed.

  3. Old Doors: Old doors make wonderful headboards, used singly or as a pair. Memphis interior designer Gwen Lausterer once hung a carved, Indonesian door as her headboard. For beds larger than a twin, turn a single door widthwise and mount it to the wall, or stand a pair of double doors upright. Use French doors for an airy, glass-paned look. Or, upholster wooden doors, flat or paneled, for an upholstered headboard look.

  4. Shutters: Hinge a row of old shutters together for a DIY headboard perfect for cottage decor. Use shutters of the same size for a uniform look, or use a mix of various sizes for a fun, random touch. You can paint them all to match, or leave them with their original painted or stained finishes. Mount the row of shutters on the wall, or just stand them behind the bed.

  5. Folding Screens: Folding screens with multiple panels are ideal as instant headboards. You can mount them flat to the wall if your bed fits flush against the wall. If you bed sits in the corner, just stand the screen behind the bed. Use a Japanese screen for traditional, eclectic, or Asian-inspired bedroom. Try an Art Deco privacy screen for that glamorous, Hollywood Regency look.

  6. Iron Gates: Iron gates look lovelier as headboards than most of the new metal beds on the market today. Depending on the size of your bed, you can use a single gate or a pair. Enjoy the original finish, even if it's rusty, or sand and paint them for a fresh, new look.

  7. Fencing: Just like iron gates, a section of iron fencing looks charming as a headboard. Opt for a rustic, country fence section, or look for the ornate cast iron and pointed finials of a Victorian iron fence section. If your bedroom has a cottage feel, you can also use a section of painted picket fence as a headboard. The look is particularly charming when paired with a patchwork quilt.

  8. Upholstery Cushions: If you're tossing an old sofa with worn-out springs, snag the seat cushions to use as a headboard. Wrap fresh fabric around the cushion like you'd wrap a present, and secure the fabric to the backside of the cushions with duct tape. Then, hang on the wall behind your bed, in a grid or row, with hook and loop tape. If you don't have any old seat cushions on hand, you can buy inexpensive foam to use instead.

  9. Drapery Panels: There are two ways to turn vintage drapery panels into a luxurious headboard for your bed. Make a bed crown coronet by attaching the panels to a semi-circle of plywood mounted above your bed. Or, hang a drapery rod behind the bed. For a dramatic fabric backdrop for your bed, just hang the draperies on the rod and keep them closed.

  10. Mirrors: Mirrors make lovely headboards, especially for narrow, twin-sized beds. For larger beds, try a vintage, three-paneled mirror that used to hang over someone's sofa. Or, hang a cluster of mirrors in a row or grid. Choose a style -- gilded, faux-bamboo, shell-encrusted, or scalloped, for example -- that complements the rest of your bedroom decor.

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