DIY Painted Wall Headboard

If you want a unique, one-of-a-kind and affordable headboard, how about painting a headboard on the wall? If you like to change decor often, you can easily paint over it to make a new look. You can customize it to the color and design you want. That’s what I did to make a unique headboard in our apartment in India.

The first time I shared the inspiration photo for this project was way back in October 2010:

Inspiration Photo

That was only 3 days after I launched this blog! In February 2018, I spent three weeks in India, working in the apartment. I finally painted this:

Painted Headboard Wall Finished

I’m happy to see this idea come true!

Why did it take so long to get things done? Two reasons:  1) There was a lot of trial and error with architects and contractors from half a planet away, and we got so frustrated that we stopped working on the apartment for a while, and 2) My husband and I both worked full-time so there was limited time to go to India.

How to make a painted headboard wall

As you’ll see below, I used stencils for my headboard wall. But you don’t have to use stencils. You can paint whatever you want. I mostly hope to inspire you to see a different way to do things than the usual way, which is to buy a wood headboard or upholstered headboard. You don’t even have to paint all the way up to the ceiling. You can paint a square, rectangle, arched or rounded shape on the wall in the area where you usually see headboards.

The original inspiration photo was published in an Australian décor magazine, Vogue Living. It is a mother-of-pearl door from India. To make the diamond shapes like you see in the door, I used stencils from Royal Design Studio — the large Star Diamonds Wall Stencil and the smaller Star Diamonds Furniture Stencil:

Star Diamond Stencils

Mother-of-pearl has a metallic quality to it, so I painted with shimmery paints. I used Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes in Bronze Age, Smoked Oyster and Aged Nickel. And I made a custom copper.

Stencil Creme

There’s a copper color Stencil Creme (Copper Kettle) but I didn’t have enough. So I mixed these colors together to make a yummy rich glowing copper:

Custom Copper Color

First, I painted a base coat with a taupe color, Asian Paints Silk Route, back in 2015!

Asian Paints Silk Route

I thought this base coat would make it easier to build rich color than stenciling directly on a white wall.

Now, 3 years later, I dabbed and swirled one of the shimmery Stencil Cremes over the Silk Route paint. I think this was Aged Nickel? Or it could have been Bronze Age. I’m sorry I didn’t keep notes.

Metallic Base Coat

Here you can see the mottled metallic look made by the shimmery paint:

Shimmery Base Coat

It’s a little blotchy but that gets covered up a lot by the stenciled pattern.

So many of these photos will be bad, I admit it! I painted most of this at night with bad lighting. The lighting was even worse than usual because one of the wall sconces stopped working.

Here you see I painted the big diamonds along the edges first. Then I filled in the middle with the small diamonds:

In Progress

This is 10 feet tall! It’s hard to tell by the photos how tall it is. It took many hours to fill in the whole pattern. I had two of these small diamond stencils, so I could work in two areas at the same time while paint dried.

Almost done!! After painting all night until about 4 a.m.

Almost Done

I remember being really sick and coughing so hard it hurt while painting this. Why keep painting? There was limited time before I had to go home to Chicago. And I’d already waited more than 7 years to paint this! So I didn’t care how sick I was. I decided not to climb to the top of the ladder and finish that top row at 4 a.m. when I was so tired and sick. I left it for the next day.

Once this was done, it seemed like it needed something more. It just didn’t “feel finished.” So I painted some more. I added dark borders and scrolly stencil patterns on the edges:

Adding Borders

The scrolly pattern is a custom stencil cut with my Cricut Explore, with a vector illustration purchased from Shutterstock.

Ahhhh! This feels better! It feels done!

Finished Painted Wall Headboard

Are there enough diamond shapes here?!

Also, I “pounced” or dabbed bronze and silver colors over the patterns with a brush to make an antique and “slightly dirty” look:

Close Up of Pattern

The day after, I was so tired from painting till 4 a.m., I crashed with the phone next to me, probably in the middle of Instagramming. When I opened my eyes, I saw this. The rich, multi-patterned look I worked so hard to make:

Scene in Master Bedroom Pattern Layers

It’s a little thing, but this view made it all worth it!

This boho chic patchwork pillow is another DIY project shared here on the blog:

DIY Stenciled Patterned Pillow

Here are shots of the room:

Tassel

Block Print Bedding and Curtain

Master Bedroom Simple Furnishings

Chinese Chest Nightstand

Simple Master Bedroom

It’s furnished simply. We spend only a few weeks a year here so we don’t need much stuff. And everything gets very dusty in India, even indoors, so the less stuff we have, the less stuff we have to clean.

Some walls still need more art. But the “headboard wall” is complete. Finally.

DIY Painted Headboard Wall

Oh Boy, Charpoy

The entrance area of our apartment in Chennai, India — the India pied-à-terre — is mostly empty right now:

How to Stencil DIY Tutorial: Indian Design Floral Damask Wallpaper Wall Stencils

We got that cute low table with the little cushioned seats from an Indian online shopping site, Urban Ladder. It’s their Kivaha table. The table is supposed to be in the living room as a coffee table. But this entrance area was so woefully empty, and I needed to photograph this wall I painted, so I styled up the tiny bit of furniture available. The focus of this photo was mostly the wall, anyway! See how to paint a wall to look like this, visit my tutorial at Paint+Pattern. And click here to see how to make those hanging lanterns. Yes, these lanterns can be easily DIY’d!

I’m dreaming of our next trip to India, and doing more decorating and furnishing of the apartment. For this entrance area, we need seating for visitors. And I’m looking for a charpoy. What’s a charpoy? Check out a Pinterest Board full of ’em to see! It’s a wood and woven bench/daybed/cot. An iconic piece of Indian furniture. Here’s a charpoy you can get in the U.S. from Restoration Hardware:

Restoration Hardware Charpoy

My plan is to find a charpoy in India, vintage or new, on our next trip. Or I may have our carpenter build the wood frame and I would weave the seating myself. You can do that, you know:

Then, I would stencil patterns with white or light gray paint on cream color fabric, and sew a cushion cover and fill it with foam. It would look something like this, a cushion on a charpoy shown at HELLO Blogzine:

Charpoy Cushions and Pillows shown at HELLO Blogzine

And of course, I would paint stencil designs on more fabrics to make pillows. I’d look for white embroidered chikankari fabric to make pillows. Maybe cream or light gray or white sari fabric or cream color sari borders too, if I can find such a thing in colorful India.

You see, I’m keeping the apartment light, like Scandinavian white in India, as shared here in a post years ago.

I know for sure one of the pillows will have sheesha mirrors sewed on similar to the John Robshaw sheesha pillow:

John Robshaw Sheesha Mirror Pillows

I have packages of Darice mirrors found at Joann, and yeah this pillow will be another DIY. Maybe I’ll sew the mirrors in rows over painted stripes. We’ll see!

The end goal is a charpoy with a riot of patterns, with quieter colors.

And oh yeah, here’s the mirror that will hang above the charpoy:

Mirror for India Apartment

But this dang mirror! I bought it many years ago and since then it’s lived in our basement and a storage unit. It’s JUST a smidgen too big to pack for checked luggage on Etihad without incurring big extra fees. Ugh! And the mirror really can’t be disassembled without damaging it a lot. Believe me, I’ve thought of all ways to get this mirror to India. But I’ll figure out a way sometime, that’s for sure!

We’ve already hauled this rug to India to put in this space: It’s the Beaumont Adileh VII2 Talisman Rug from RugsUSA:

RugsUSA Beaumont Talisman Rug

I thought that rug would look great with the charpoy, cushion and pillows.

Here’s another shot of the entry area:

Nomadic Decorator India Apartment

Hopefully after our next trip, there will be a very pattern-full charpoy piled with cushions and pillows here!

And yes, you can paint on fabric to make your own designs. See links to a whole bunch of stenciled fabric projects I’ve done, in my post about how to be a fabric designer with paint and stencils.

And oh boy … in addition to looking for a charpoy, I have a lot of DIYs to do on our next trip, huh?

DIY Saree Curtains and the Brightest Light Bulb in the World

Nothing like trying to sleep with a bright light bulb shining in your face. Imagine the bright bulb is not in your room, but it is in the NEIGHBOR’S house! And it’s shining into your bedroom through open windows. That’s what happened to us in India this summer.

If you’ve ever been to India, you know that flavors are stronger, sounds are louder, the heat is hotter, colors are brighter and … well, actually, light bulbs do not shine brighter in my experience. Except for that one light bulb the neighbors have shining 24/7, right outside our bedroom window. Of all places, why there?!?

This single light bulb had the power to render eyelids useless. And there are privacy issues of course. It’s hard to drift off to happy dreamland when you worry about someone peeping in the window only three feet away.

Light Bulb

The window was naked because curtain rods were not installed yet. So we draped a saree over an open ladder. Classy times. That blocked 60% of the window. It was enough for the weary to get rest.

The next day, a few guys hung curtain rods on all of our windows, and I turned that saree into actual curtains.

Sew a Saree Curtain

I know there are many readers here from India who wear sarees, and please forgive me. I do worry that what I’m about to suggest is like suggesting we turn my clothing into curtains. But it’s so tempting. Sarees can have 18 and more feet of fabric, about 3 feet wide. And many are so beautiful. I know people will drape them over four-poster beds, people will drape them down walls, so why not drape them over windows.

Here’s the saree I turned into curtains for the India pied-à-terre master bedroom:

Saree for Curtains

It’s a simple beige silk, with white, gray and gold block printing and copper metallic thread accents. I bought it at a Craftmark silk show in Chennai many years ago.

Silk Saree

First, I sewed white cotton into lining, We found the plain white cotton at Nalli saree store in Panagal Park, Chennai. Let me tell you, it is not easy to find plain unadorned non-textured white fabric in India. It’s quite the hunt. And you get interesting looks when you describe what you’re looking for. Like, why?!? Given the millions of colorful, patterned, textured choices in India … indeed, why, except curtain linings should be as plain as possible.

Sewing the lining is simple. You sew down the sides, sew the top, sew the bottom. I sewed on a vintage Singer machine stand we found in India (tailors have them on roadsides everywhere) and I brought my machine from the U.S. in a suitcase! We had to get an electrical transformer that weighs about as much as a rickshaw, to allow me to use the machine in India.

Sewing in India

The biggest problem is wrestling with such large lengths of fabric, and keeping lines straight over the long haul. Be vigilant to ensure straight lines don’t creep into becoming crooked lines. Measure with a ruler and pin all seams. Your eyes can fool you into thinking you’re folding straight lines over many yards of fabric. A ruler will keep you honest.

And also, boredom. This was about as much fun as sewing hospital bed sheets.

Pinning and Sewing

Thrilled to move on from this boring task, I didn’t want to spend any more time with it to iron it. So the lining is wrinkled, but they face the outside so this isn’t noticeable.

Curtain Lining

For the saree, sewing was simpler because the selvedges made the right and left sides. Seams were needed only at the top and bottom hem. The hardest part here was ensuring both pieces of fabric wound up the exact same length. Measure. Then measure again. Then measure again. Measure one more time.

You will probably have to measure yet again. This will happen when the first panel is sewn and the two panels are no longer the same length. They were before. But they’re not now. You may want to punch something. Don’t. Measure instead. Make it zen. Turn on 80s dance music. Whatever you gotta do to deal with it. Remove pins from the second panel, measure, pin again, then measure again. Then measure again. Measure one more time.

Measuring took more time than sewing!

This is what I did for a whole day of my vacation in India. Pinning, measuring, sewing. Great times.

But the final result was … no more brightest-lightbulb-in-the-world shining through our naked window, and fears of waking up at 3 a.m. to see a face peering in. One day of work, many nights of peaceful sleep. It’s a fair trade.

Saree Curtains

So to address the obvious issue here …

Saree Curtain

Leaving part of the pallu design on one side was necessary to get the right length. (The pallu is the part of the saree that hangs straight down when draped over a shoulder.) I thought it would be like an irreverent cast-all-rules-out-the-window kind of look. It says I’m willing to break the curtain molds that bind us. But it is bothering me now. I might replace the bottom of the left side with the blouse fabric. It won’t be the same design as the right side, but it will be a contrasting border, and it might help this situation feel more balanced.

Saree Curtain and Vintage Singer Sewing