A Whole Mess of Staples

1,250, actually. That’s how many staples I mercilessly shot into my poor IKEA FJELLSE bed frame, who’s feeling a little sexier these days because of it. I PROMISE all my posts won’t be this wordy, but this one’s important. Settle in, party people.

Usually when we buy new furniture, we do so because we like it. We can imagine it so clearly in our homes, making our tokhes more comfortable or garnering compliments with its good looks. But when Ikea decides to go and sell the plainest pine bed ever for the sweet, sweet price of $49.99, then we just buy it because it’s cheap.

To review, here’s what she looked like before.

So, so naked. How rude.

Unfortunately for FJELLSE, I really like upholstered beds. They’re awesome. I needed one. Only problem? Damn, they’re pricey. I searched high and low. Even the moderately priced offerings from CB2, West Elm and Ikea were more than I was really willing to pay, but more importantly not what I wanted to sleep on. Sleeping’s a very important activity for me. And I can daydream all I want about the beds I actually like, but that’s not going to get them into my apartment any faster than it’ll get Oprah to come over for dinner. And I’ve been dreaming about that one for years.

he Ella bed from Room & Board, the Tate bed from Crate & Barrel. Both $1,399.

So I realized pretty quickly that, barring an impressive lottery win, I’d be DIYin’ it. Once that epiphany registered, I scrambled my way to the internet looking for something cheap that I could immediately destroy without feeling guilty. My only requirement was that it be fairly solidly made and have decent looking legs. Incidentally, this is also my criteria for friends. Then, bingo. FJELLSE. Cheap, solid pine, with not-unattractive angle-cut legs. I went to the store, looked at it for about 10 seconds, kicked it lightly to test the sturdiness, and added the aisle and bin number to the list. Easy-peesy.

Little did I realize at the time, upholstery fabric is very, very expensive. I’ve recently been loving anything and everything upholstered in wooly, fibery felt, so that’s what I wanted. I had clear, inflexible ideas in mind. Dark charcoal grey felt. Yes. I went to a big fabric store in Chinatown and found the most beautiful, thick charcoal wool fabric you or I have ever seen. It was perfect. It was even organic. Of course, it was also $60 a yard. At 54″ wide, I needed four yards. This was absolutely crushing. Fabric store after fabric store, that actually ended up being the least expensive. My cheap and easy DIY bed was turning into a massively expensive shit show and I was pissed.

Filz Felt. Really nice company. Really expensive $89.50/yard felt.

So I did more research. I exhausted Ebay and the online fabric shops. Knoll felt is actually surprisingly well-priced (I mean, it’s Knoll) at $36 a yard, so since I was feeling desperate I trekked down to Chelsea to the Knoll Showroom to see it in person.

Man, that place was fucked up. There’s no signage anywhere, so you just have to know it’s there. It’s on the 11th floor of a building that you need a visitor’s security pass to get into. Once upstairs, there’s a front desk where the incredibly kind receptionist calls a sales associate by picking up the phone and saying shit like, “There’s a gentleman here requiring assistance with Knoll Textiles for use on furniture by another manufacturer.” I think if I had mentioned Ikea, they might have shattered a perfectly good Noguchi Cyclone table and fashioned one of those metal rods into a switch. Oh, and the felt was kind of a huge let-down.

Then, whilst moping, I realized: blankets. Wool blankets. And who makes the best, cheapest wool blankets around? The US of A Army, that’s who. God bless America.

So I hauled it to Kaufman’s Army & Navy Surplus in Midtown. I had my doubts about what would happen when my skinny-jeaned, child-sized frame entered such an establishment. Would I be greeted by a spirited, crew-cutted Hoo-WAH and then tackled to the ground for a testosterone injection? When the employee would inevitably ask me what in hell I wanted with a wool blanket in the middle of July, my plan was to lean over the counter, look him in the eyes, and clearly state “I want to cut it into little pieces.” I don’t like liars.

In reality, they were more than friendly. I found the blanket immediately, it seemed nice enough, and it was $25. P-E-R-F-E-C-T. When I signed the receipt and the cashier noticed I’m left-handed, he gave me a left-handed Kaufman’s pencil. No, seriously, the writing on the pencil reads correctly when held by lefties. Then he gave me a right-handed one too, “so people would believe me.” Good call, dude.

Read it and weep.

Here are the collected fabrics. The dreamy organic wool swatch is laying on top of the blanket. I know, it looks exactly the same. Cue happy dance.

Now, I learned a lot about wool through this, so I know there are a couple big differences between the super nice stuff that would have cost $240 and my $25 blanket. Firstly, the blanket is 30% synthetic. I don’t really care. More importantly, the nicer fabric is pressed wool, which I gather means it’s been pressurized to the point the the fibers magically bond to each other. The blanket, however, is woven, so when it’s pulled tight like I did, it does develop more of a texture. I actually quite like the texture though.

So here’s how the construction went down:

The original FJELLSE design has a shorter headboard than I really wanted, so I went to Home Depot and got a piece of 1/2″ plywood cut to be 4.5 inches higher than the original headboard. This was done by the same asswipe who cut my desktop, and I still don’t like him. Then I just screwed it onto the front of the headboard with four screws on either side and a few along the top and bottom. Yes, my computer’s open to my own blog. Subliminal messaging, duh.

Since I wanted the depth to look consistent from the side, I rigged this shoddy-ass structure out of cut 1.25″ square trim from New York Paint and Hardware and little L-brackets I had lying around. Good enough for me. Then I stained the legs (after testing a few options on one of the soon-to-be-covered rails).

Then cut the tops of the legs at the end of the bed down to the level of the rails. I should have done this before batting, but I didn’t think about it.

Like a damn cloud.

Cover the whole thing in batting, except the legs. I used fairly thick stuff from Joanne’s. I did three layers on the headboard and two on the rails. I wanted the bed to be cushy, but not so stuffed that it would lose its shape. The best advice I can give is to buy an automatic staple gun. Mine was $25 at Home Depot, which was only $5 more than the manual one. Seriously, do yourself a favor. Unless you like bruised and blistered palms. I also used 1/4″ staples, in case you’re curious.

Sorry I’m super messy and make no effort to clean up for pictures. Cutting the blanket was really easy, I just cut three 10″ strips length-wise (they’re about 85″) and used the rest for the headboard. Upholstery can be pretty simple, but it’s important to go in with a good plan to make sure there won’t be any exposed staples when you get to that final piece of fabric and realize you’ve done it all in the wrong order. Write it out. Figure out how to get it done without having to pick up a needle and thread. My plans were on sticky notes, which I subsequently spilled water on and then lost, but try to keep your plan handy and organized if you can. Or just read this.

Next comes the front piece. I wanted the front piece to be continuous, but I was okay with having seams on the front ends of the sides.

Of course I forgot to take a picture, but staple the backside of the fabric to the front corner, butting up against the edge of the underlying leg (this might be more clear in the final pictures). Then pull the loose end tight and staple onto the back. Then just go along the sides, stapling the fabric on the inside of the rails. Apologies for the woefully confusing wording, I should have taken more pictures but it’s really not too complicated.

I decided to leave the back open, which saved fabric and gives me the option of adding tufting later on. I like it just fine without it, but who knows when I might find awesome buttons. And that was it! Pretty easy, totally doable in a day, endlessly customizable. And one entire box of staples.

Here’s a pretty good view of how the corners are finished. I don’t mind mixing wood tones, so I used Minwax Fruitwood 241 since I thought it looked the best with the fabric and the rug.

Oh, and don’t forget. Wool fabric does shed, but I vacuumed the whole thing and it seems to have stopped.

So how much did all this nonsense cost? Here’s the materials breakdown:

1/2″ Plywood: $17.50

Fabric: $25

6 Yards of Batting: $36

1.25″ wood trim for frame: $9

Minwax stain: $6.50

TOTAL: $94

But I try to keep it real, so remember I also bought an electric staple gun ($25) and a box of staples ($5).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a naptime appointment I really can’t reschedule. Have a good weekend, y’all.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 7.23.10

    I bow down to your awesomeness. This is seriously amazing — you’ve really outdone yourself. It looks GREAT, Dan. Nice job!

    For future reference, you need to know about this place:
    (They have awesome customer service, so if you need help or have questions, definitely call them.)

    • 7.23.10

      Oh my gosh, that store! I need more projects now.

    • 7.26.10

      GAWD, you’re all FAMOUS now!!

    • 12.17.10
      Alan said:

      A late to the game question but did you use Ikea’s slats for holding up the mattress, or just go with the rail up the middle? thanks.

    • 12.17.10
      Daniel said:

      Slats! I used the sultan luroy.

  2. 7.23.10
    Eva Nebbia said:

    that guy at the home depot WAS a total douche baguette

  3. 7.23.10
    Ana said:


  4. 7.23.10
    Misa said:

    Awesome. This is what we in the soul-crushing corporate cubicle world refer to as “solutions-oriented.”

  5. 7.23.10

    Good call on the army blanket. Looks great! I may just have to steal it for a headboard I’m trying to make.

    • 7.23.10

      You go right ahead. But honestly, if you got rid of the wood headboard/nightstand combo and didn’t send it directly to me, I’ma be pisssssed.

    • 7.23.10
      Sarah said:

      I think she did get rid of it…


  6. 7.23.10

    You’re blog just keeps getting better. This idea is so good it’s ridiculous and you really pulled it off.

  7. 7.23.10

    Amazing! Man, everytime I see posts like this it kills me that we don’t have Ikea (or even something similar) here in New Zealand.

  8. 7.23.10
    Catherine said:

    Wow, you’re a bit clever you ain’t ya? I did consider the Grimen upholstered bed from Ikea as I’d seen it recovered in a recent edition of living etc. Unfortunately they didn’t do a superking size and as we don’t have wardrobes in our bedroom we wanted the biggest possible bed so me, the hub and bub could watch sat morning cartoons in bed with a brew (cup of tea). You already know what we went for in the end. Anyway the upshot is you are inspiring me no end. As a past uni student I liked a nice room but never went to the lengths you have. My interiors interest has only really come to fruition once I bought my first place some 8 years ago. Good for you for knowing what you love and being prepared to spend time and effort achieving it…I only wish I had 1/2 your energy. Can’t wait to see what else you get up to and just love the witty writings…your army store bit really made me chuckle. :-)

  9. 7.23.10
    Lena said:

    this is AMAZING! You are amazing! I already liked the desk a lot and then you go and pull something more out of your hat like it is nothing. I mean everybody could have one genious idea but two in a short time? Seriously, how do you get so awesome ideas and how do you know how to make an idea in this amazing after?

  10. 7.23.10
    patty said:

    I’m not sure which I love more: the bed or your completely amusing writing.

  11. 7.23.10

    I don’t know what I enjoy more…you’re home decorating creativity or your narrative. You are hilarious. Looking forward to your next post!

  12. 7.23.10
    Mom said:

    Love you, love the bed. I can’t believe how many fabric stores we schlepped through and who knew, all we need were army blankets? GREAT writer. I am waiting for that piece you wrote to appear in the New Yorker. Get on it babe… in your spare time, of course.

  13. 7.23.10

    That is so sweet, I did a bed along time ago wrapping a Modernica case study bed frame in White vinyl…. But I like your alot more… such a great idea. I’m new around here just started a blog yesterday..check it out, I will deff. be following yours


  14. 7.23.10
    natasha said:


  15. 7.23.10
    Jennae said:

    You have single-handedly made me want to rip my bedroom to shreds just so I can upholster a bed like this one. Especially since I already have an itchy wool blanket that I never use that would be perfect for this purpose. Damn, you’re creative!

  16. 7.23.10
    AM said:

    I totally have a crush on you. :-)

  17. 7.23.10
    Thessa said:

    I’m a big fan of your amazing ideas and writting. Please, do write long posts, always!

  18. 7.24.10
    decorarts said:

    Daniel (or is it Dan when you get to know someone?),
    You do an adorable job with your blog writing. I am older than most blog writers and readers (one more year to my half century) and I SO CAN’T DO DYI.

    This kind of stuff just did not happen in my youth and now the hubs makes enough $$ that I don’t have to. OK sounds snotty (I don’t mean to be), but it just happens to be true. (I keep it real too).
    As a general rule, I snooze over those posts in my google reader. Mark ’em read asap.

    Not yours.
    Very entertaining and a wonderful job!
    All the best, Lynn

    • 7.24.10
      decorarts said:

      Oops looks like I can’t even spell do it yourself! DIY!! LOL. Lynn

  19. 7.24.10

    Well done DK! I have to say that I think I’m to blame for this. If only I hadn’t introduced you to HGTV when I lived with you! You’re doing an amazing job! What happened to the little brace face 13 year old I lived with?!?!?! I’m sure you’re wondering what happened to your “live in big sister you never had”….3 kids later. Miss you and wish you were here. Listening to your dad on a business call right now!


    • 7.24.10

      Sky! Who knew all those hours spent communing with Suzanne Whang on House Hunters would really do me a solid later in life? I miss you, hope we can catch up next time I’m in LA. Say hi to the little ones, Ryan, and the dogs for me! Your kidlets are cute to the extreme.

  20. 7.25.10
    Kyli said:

    I LOVED this post! I’m not even that into upholstered beds, but I couldn’t stop reading…First that to-die-for desk, and now this. What can’t you do? As a long time Australian reader of D16, I now have one more thing to thank Anna for. Your blog.

  21. 7.25.10
    Kyli said:

    Woops, that last comment should read “one more thing to thank Anna for introducing me to…your blog”.

  22. 7.25.10
    unabridged said:

    Awesome! With all those staples in it, your bed is probably now magnetic. Best be careful.

    Also, the Home Depot woodcutting guys are always jerkwads.

  23. 7.25.10
    jeannette said:

    it does look totally beautiful, and your inspiration was awesome. i’m going to get an olive aemy navy blanket for my orange creamsicle guest room.

  24. 7.26.10
    Nat said:

    man, you’re too freaking cool for words. That’s all I”m going to say. Keep up these absolutely mind blowing posts! :)

  25. 7.26.10
    Kristen said:

    Love your blog….always like a good IKEA hack…but not as much as I like a good street find hack! I lived on the upper east side for several years and got all of my lumber for DIY from Century Lumber (or maybe it was Lumber Century?) anyway on 2nd Ave, btwn 96th and 97th. They are nice, will cut to size, and even deliver (though only curbside, and I don’t remember how much it costs) Looking forward to some more posts!

    PS You really had me when you removed all of the telephone wires before you painted!

    • 7.26.10

      Thanks, I’ll definitely check them out! ALWAYS looking for ways to avoid the big orange HD.

    • 10.9.10

      TRAGIC UPDATE: Century Lumber has closed. If you’re in Manhattan, I like Prince Lumber in Meatpacking.

  26. 7.26.10

    i’m not exactly sure how i came across this blog a few weeks ago, but i just wanted to say it’s (without sounding too cheesy) super inspiring seeing the things you make. i, as a male, have hit the age where i can’t help but stare at tools in store aisles and read a bunch of DIY blogs and whanot and imagine the possibilities. in addition, i haven’t the slightest clue how to make or build anything, but blogs like yours make me want to learn… this has become a daily stop for me, even if it’s not updated daily. so thanks!

  27. 7.26.10

    Wow, I just reupholstered my FJELLSE bed too and was considering doing the sides and footboard too, but couldn’t find cheap enough fabric to make it worthwhile! I just may do it if I can find an army store by me!!!

  28. 7.26.10

    Again, another fabulous DIY plus hilarious narrative by Dan! Thanks for this blog. Soon, you may replace apartmenttherapy altogether in my heart because 1. You’re way more funny and 2. I can actually afford to do the stuff you post.

  29. 7.26.10

    I’m still sleeping on a twin mattress, on top of a bare box spring that’s lying on the floor. My pillow is made of hockey jersey material and my comforter is secretly the dinosaur sheets I had when I was like 4. I don’t understand how we’re even related, but I’m loving this stuff you’re doing to no end. Keep it up!

  30. 7.26.10
    Anittah said:

    Your timing is perfect — I have to upholster a west elm platform leg bed because the platform is actually a killer shin attacker. Thank you for taking the time to share your awesomeness!

  31. 7.26.10
    Lisanne said:

    Unbe-f#*@ing-lievable. (I inserted symbols to protect your child-sized frame.)

  32. 7.26.10

    You. Are. Hilarious. I can just picture your “skinny-jeaned, child-sized frame” entering an Army Surplus store (even though I have no idea what you look like) and the image makes my soul happy. I actually read this entire post- normally I skip the long ones and just look at the pictures. Good job holding my attention, sir.

    Oh and the bed looks f*cking amazing!

  33. 7.26.10
    frederika said:


    Tucking, folding, turning-under?

    Did you make a hospital corner at the top of the headboard
    or did you cut the excess and fold the ends under?

    Similar question about the footboard/rail junction.
    Did you double the end of the rail fabric at the vertical junction
    at the leg?

    • 7.26.10
      Dan said:

      Oh gosh, I don’t really know too much about upholstery, I just sort of did what felt right. The top corners of the headboard are hospital corners (if you’re looking at the headboard from the side, the fold is like a 45 degree diagonal line from the top corner on the front of the headboard to about an inch down on the back). The footboard/rails: I stapled the ends of the footboard piece on both SIDES (just past where the legs meet the rails), then cut a slit on both sides of the legs and folded the fabric up– no staples on the legs themselves. Then I stapled the rails at the corner where the rails meet the legs (where you can see the seam in the pictures, the rug is at the end of the bed)– if you’re using a patterned fabric, you’d staple on the backside of the fabric at the corners. At this point, if you pulled the loose end of the fabric so the staples are exposed, it would go away from the footboard, so it’s pulled towards the back, doubling over the staples. So I think the answer to your last question is yes?

      I know this sounds awfully confusing and it’s really hard to explain, but I promise it’s pretty simple. And that’s just the way I did it– I’m sure there’s more than one way. You could probably also sew seams on the front corners, but I thought the measuring and accounting for the stretch would be too difficult. I hope any of that made sense or helped you out, if not definitely let me know and I’ll try again!

  34. 7.27.10
    Sarah said:

    Could you kindly tell me where you got your comforter?

    • 7.27.10

      It’s actually just a blanket and it’s from my Grandma’s house. It’s probably at least ten years old, but your comment inspired me to look into it. Oddly the company still makes them for a pretty penny: http://www.brahmsmount.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=11M2

    • 7.30.10
      Sarah said:

      Thanks so much for the legwork. That is a pretty penny, but it’s a pretty blanket…

  35. 7.27.10
    Jay said:

    Hey Dan, great job on the bed, looks great.

    I have the same frame and noticed that you used a wood stain on a part of the frame. I was wondering if you had to sand any of the wood to remove any protective coating before you applied the stain. It seems like there is a layer of varnish or something on there already that has to be sanded off first, but its hard to tell.

    • 7.27.10

      I did sand very lightly and also used two coats of stain. I’d say it’s a good idea to sand, however the Ikea site does say it’s untreated wood, so it might not matter.

  36. 7.27.10

    What an awesome project, thank you so much for sharing. I am obsessed with upholstered beds, unfortunately I am having a hard time getting the husband on board with it. I’m sure if I show him this project he will be convinced. And your account of how you put it all together is hilarious, I was laughing out loud at my desk…my co-workers probably think I’ve lost it!

  37. 7.27.10
    Ishi Lou said:

    Well I freakin’ love it. Good work! I smiled when reading your plight to get the right fabric, for less than a months rent. I got my dark grey felt/fleece stuff (it’s felt, but is super soft) for $4 a yard, and had a 50% off. JoAnns drives me nuts (due to babies, and people with no shopping cart manners) but it was worth it in the end. My completed headboard is the kid sister to your DIY it seems:


  38. 7.27.10
    Townerson said:

    This is amazing. My coworker just sent me your blog and I am going to bookmark it and hug it daily.

    I also judge friends by their legs, but they do not know this.

  39. 7.28.10
    saba said:

    You are a genius! Just to establish how awestruck I am
    I never leave comment anywhere.ever.
    I am a Bangladeshi living in Montreal(just to show I’m not even a regular designing-blog-reading-comment-leaving-crowd)

  40. 7.29.10
    Renee said:

    This is AMAZING! I would love to do this with white linen fabric but I’m not too sure it would come out as awesome as this. Excellent job!

  41. 7.29.10
    Taylor P said:

    How did you manage to pull the fabric so tightly by yourself? I’m considering doing it but am not sure if I should invest in canvas scissors or if those would damage the wool. Thanks!

    • 7.29.10

      I just used regular kitchen scissors and they were fine, but a fabric store could probably recommend something. About pulling– for the headboard, start by stapling once in the middle of each side, pulling tight (top-bottom, left-right). For the rails, I started by stapling each end and then stapling the top part of the fabric for about a foot (not really worrying about pulling, just making sure the fabric went far enough down so the staples wouldn’t be visible once the mattress was on it), then going back and stapling the bottom, pulling tight with one hand while the other stapled. Mostly I think it’s just about using a LOT of staples, like pretty much without any space in between them. It also helps if your stapler doesn’t have a safety button you have to push to use the trigger, it just makes it a bit more awkward to use. Good luck!

  42. 7.29.10
    Jordan said:

    Absofuckinglutely amazing!!

  43. 7.29.10
    Peg said:

    Love this post! You inspired me to read through the rest of your blog, and I’ll definitely be back to see what else you get up to!

  44. 7.31.10

    Beautiful! I’m so impressed!

  45. 8.2.10
    bethh said:

    Thank you SOoooooo much for this great post! (I found you via Ikea Hacker) I’m in the market for a new bed frame and I think you just pulled me back from the precipice of paying $1,000 for one.

  46. 8.2.10
    Jasileet said:

    I have a Dalsev and I’ve been lazing around waiting for someone more motivated than I to plan out an upholstery scheme for that baby. I toyed with blankets but they rip. I never thought of a wool blanket from the A/N Store no less. Way to go. I’ll try this soon. Thanks.

  47. 8.3.10


  48. 8.3.10
    Heather said:

    Absolutely amazing! I’ve been looking for an upholstered headboard for a while and then saw your bed on ikea hacker. I’d love to do the whole bed frame like you did but we are planning on moving in about a year and I worry I won’t be able to disassemble it. Can you still take yours apart or is it there to stay?

    • 8.4.10

      No, I think the one downside to this is that the upholstery does conceal the screws that keep the bed together. To take the bed apart, I’d have to re-expose the front corners as well as the center of the footboard, but it’s possible I could just re-staple the fabric once reassembled. Otherwise, I might just have to replace the fabric on the rails and footboard (the headboard would be fine), but I think it’s a worthwhile trade-off– our lease is for a year so who knows, I might be moving again in a year too!

  49. 8.6.10
    tomthans said:

    Dan, this is amazing. I usually hate personal blogs, but yours is quality. I stumbled across yours because I just moved and was looking for reviews of the Fjellse bed from Ikea – I was just planning to stain and finish it but you’ve inspired me to try something completely new! So thanks for sharing your beautiful bed with the world and for helping me jazz up my own room.

  50. 8.6.10
    Erica Walch said:

    Great job — I second the electric stapler recommendation for any project requiring more than 10 staples. If you ever have the chance to visit one, Harbor Freight Tools is a discount tool/hardware place — generic tools that work just fine and waaaay cheaper than the Depot (but they don’t sell lumber, pipes, etc. just tools).

    Your bed is great!

  51. 8.6.10
    Lydia said:

    Wow! That’s an incredible bed! Fantastic idea to use the army blankets!

  52. 8.8.10

    this is insane!! I have a similar frame from IKEA as well. Was going ot replace it but this is great! better than having to repaint the whole dang thing again. HA! my DH is even in the Navy…have to check with him about old wool blankets.

  53. 8.11.10
    Sharon Hagen said:

    Good for you, Dan! I’ve been thinking of doing an upholstered headboard for a while, so here are some thoughts on tufting that I think will work. What do you think ?

    Drill small holes in the desired tufting pattern through the plywood backing before the construction and batting process. ( I’m also thinking of adding a layer of high-density foam under the batting.) After the upholstering step, make covered buttons out of the same fabric. There are different-sized covered button forms at sewing or fabric stores, but you have to experiment to see whether your fabric is too thick or not. Otherwise, buy a small amount of thinner wool or fabric (such as linen) of your choice for the buttons. Or use actual buttons, as you said, but I think it would defeat your tailored look. Stick a long needle with a large eye threaded with multiple strands of a strong thread such as linen from behind the plywood through all the layers, loop through the button and back out through the hole and pull tight to create the tuft. Wrap the strings around a thin nail placed horizontally across the hole behind the plywood and tie off. Voila!

    In the different strokes for different folks category:
    One could cut down the height of the legs for a better proportion. Also , a variety of replacement legs in many styles are available at upholstery shops or online.
    One could paint the legs a matching color for a more unified look, or upholster them too.
    Some one else (like me, for instance) might consider framing the headboard in finished hardwood. Adds to the expense, though, and more carpentry, wood finishing,and fiddling.

    You da man, Dan!

    • 8.11.10

      Thanks Sharon! My big plan for adding tufting (which, to be honest, I’m not sure will ever happen… I kinda like the bed without it) was to figure out where I want the buttons, mark the spot on the back of the ply (remember, the back is all exposed), and drill two holes to either side of the mark, leaving about a half-inch in between. Then stick the long needle through from the front so that loose ends of the thread come out both holes in the back and then tie them tightly together. I’m probably offending anybody who knows anything about upholstery. Your way is probably much better…

      Oh, and be careful with the foam– for this particular bed, since I added the plywood to the front of the existing headboard and then batting on top, it does give the mattress a cozier fit in the frame since I lost about an inch with the additions. So make sure you consider that, you don’t want to pad the bed to the point that your mattress doesn’t fit! Speaking for myself, the batting is quite cushy enough, but it’s a matter of personal taste. Also, about the legs, it’s true that you could swap them out but there’s a center support beam with three legs that would need to be changed accordingly. Not a big job at all, just something to keep in mind. And wrapping the headboard in wood… mmmm yes please.

  54. 8.14.10
    Anjali said:

    So awesome. But I have a pre-upholster question for the frame…

    After buying said FJELLSE frame, I put it together to make sure I had it right before attempting the upholster DIY.

    Thing is, my mid-beam seems to be “mobile”. Just sitting down to fast on one corner of the bed causes my mid-beam to swing/bend to one side and the whole bed kind goes off kilter.

    Did you notice this? Did you find the holes in the midbeam sized properly to the screws? Or did you use a driver to stick these screws in? I am scared to even toss and turn while sleeping in fear of the FJELLSE frame giving way. I’m on the petite side but am confident I have the strength to put together my Ikea products.

    Anyway, I need to sort this out before I can eve attempt to your uber-cool upholster. Any feedback would be great.

    • 8.15.10

      Hmmm. I don’t really have any problems with the mid-beam on mine, although I do remember those particular screws being the most difficult part of the assembly just because of force required to get them really tight. Are you positive you used the correct screws for that part? Mine is still a little moveable (you can kind of turn it back and forth a bit), but it definitely doesn’t move to the degree you’re describing or affect the rest of the frame.

      If your whole frame is going off kilter, it sounds to me more like the side rails need to be tightened more than the mid-beam, which I think is really there more to support the slats. I didn’t try to find a drill bit (I did the whole thing at like 2 in the morning, hardware store was closed) so I used the little ikea allen wrench, but the best advice I can give is to get those screws as absolutely tight as you can make them. If the mid-beam is still giving you problems, you might try drilling two holes on either side of the existing screw and driving some wood screws into those since more than one point of attachment won’t allow it to move back and forth. Hope that helps and good luck!

  55. 8.20.10
    Cait said:

    That looks amazing! If we hadn’t just redone a bed for our room I’d follow your tutorial in a heartbeat!

  56. 8.26.10
    ksuzannec said:

    I love this and plan on making a version of it myself. Did you have to buy just one blanket? What size was it?

    • 8.26.10

      The blanket was marked 62″ x 80″, but it was actually several inches larger in width and height, so I only had to use one! I think that’s the standard size for these. Of course, I also left the back unupholstered and I have a full bed, so you’ll need to adjust if you’re going to go about it differently, I had almost zero leftover fabric. Good luck!

  57. 8.27.10
    SusyQ said:

    This is Fantastic and you are hilarious. I am so happy to have found this article during my countless research hours on how to upholster a bed frame. I am about to attempt this process on a sleigh bed frame, Wish me luck!! or call me crazy. Here is a link of the $4,500 bed that I will try to recreate (minus the tufted buttons, that’s too much work and not enough experience):

    I love your creativity. If I can pull this one off then I might try to build a desk. Just kidding.

  58. 9.8.10
    Joy said:

    First off, I wanted to say I LOVE your blog. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful decor ideas.
    I loved this post so much that I was inspired to upholster my own IKEA bed.
    Yours looks much nicer though. :)

    Here’s what mine ended up looking like:


    • 9.8.10

      Thanks Joy, it’s super cool for me to see somebody take this project and make it their own! Good job! Super smart with the two pieces of wood, btw.

  59. 9.9.10
    Nina said:

    Ok. GENIUS.

    But now that i took MY bed apart…I dont know HOW to put it back together!!!

    Do you have the instructions for this thing?


    • 9.9.10

      You can see the assembly instructions for the Fjellse by going to this page and clicking the Fjellse link! Good luck!

  60. 9.10.10
    Adeebah said:

    Oh my god you are amazing! I’m buying the Fjellse too, but had only picked it because it was the cheapest thing I could find (poor college student, what can I say). When I googled Fjellse your bed was the first image that came up – you make it look soo good! Although I’m not handy at all, you have given me inspiration. Maybe after I get through the initial hurdle to building the bed I’ll try to spruce it up. I will defs be stalking your blog from now on :)

  61. 9.23.10
    Michele Hayden said:

    This is really great! Thanks for sharing this….and the blanket idea, brilliant. Upholstery fabric is so expensive and this is an excellent idea. I love seeing things re-purposed things creatively!

  62. 9.29.10
    Cait said:

    Just wanted to mention that after I saw a picture of your bed on a friend’s blog (and commented back in August) I was inspired to do something similar in our guest room. You may have already seen that I linked back you your post a couple times, and I wanted to let you know that I’m guest blogging sometime next month and will be including another link to this fabulous redo in that post as well.

  63. 10.5.10
    Cait said:

    You may already know this, but Kate Pruitt from Design*Sponge has a post on Currency today and linked to your bed if you click on the part that says Bedroom 3! Go you! https://getcurrency.com/blog/customizable-and-budget-friendly-bed-frames

  64. 10.19.10
    Karen said:

    Holy crap, I am so impressed by you. Awesome blog.

    Also, I have that same round side table. Love!

  65. 10.24.10
    Zack said:

    This blog really motivated me to step up my bed from living on a box spring.

    So today, I went out and bought the bed, and all the items needed, and 14 hours later.


    Got it all done.

    Thanks for the great step by step. Really enjoyed building this whole thing.


    • 10.24.10

      Oh my god, look at that!! Cool! Excellent job, sir. Isn’t the best part of this project that when you’re done, you can wipe the sweat off your brow and go to sleep in it?

    • 10.24.10
      Zack said:

      That truly was the best part!

      Thanks again, i think it was the wit in your copy that made it seem quite possible, and so it was.


  66. 10.27.10
    Snig said:

    Thank you for being a piece of what makes the internet cooler. I am totally doing this. I kchunk my staple gun in salute of your ingenuity and generosity in sharing.

  67. 11.2.10
    Adrienne said:

    You have continuously inspired me, I have been building stuff for our home, and I am sending a link to my 2 older sons who are students in london, and like to be clever with their space, but who also don’t have a lot of cash… your mother must be soooo proud of you!

  68. 11.13.10
    Ron said:

    Love the look! Was considering buying the same frame from Ikea too. So I Googled the name of the bed frame and saw your nifty blog :).

    Hopefully I can do something similar but maybe I’ll use velcro. I have the Karlstad sofa which looks chique and minimalist and they used velcro which seems to hold fine.

    I love the fabric you used. Looks very sleek with the batting puffing it up. I’m considering doing the same thing with the headboard but my only concern is any warping of the plywood in the summer I guess. Other than that it looks lovely, kudos!

  69. 11.28.10
    Marion said:

    I love this idea but we need a queen frame. Can you think of any reason I couldn’t do this with an Ikea Rykene queen frame? I would just saw off the wood that sticks out on the sides of the headboard. Thanks for any feedback. Love your blog!

    • 11.28.10
      Daniel said:

      Yes, you absolutely can! In fact, a few people have emailed me after following this how-to who have used that frame!

  70. 12.6.10
    Michael said:

    This looks great! I’m sorry if this has already been answered, but is there a box spring under the mattress or just the slats?

  71. 12.8.10
    Kent said:

    doing this over the weekend.

  72. 12.8.10
    jolanta said:

    i just found your website yesterday and LOVE IT! i can’t wait to do this to my bed… i was just thinking i needed headboard and this solves the problem! could you tell me if your bed was a queen size?

    i love your writing. keep it up. can’t wait to see what you’re up to next…

    • 12.8.10
      Daniel said:

      My bed’s full-sized, and unfortunately that’s the largest size this frame comes in, I think. But a few people have done the same thing with their RYKENE frames by just sawing off the protruding parts on the top of the headboard for a queen size!

  73. 12.21.10
    Zach said:

    I know I’m being a Johnny-Come-Lately with this comment, since the post is from summer.

    But…this is awesome! I might try to adapt the idea to build a couch, since I’ve been wanting to. Really like the blog!

  74. 1.16.11

    Yeah. You rock. This bed rocks. I am sufficiently impressed. You must be majoring in engineering or something at NYU …


    • 1.16.11
      Daniel said:

      Nope! Too much math! I like my liberal arts.

  75. 1.25.11
    jessica said:

    This is gorgeous. Theoretically you could felt the blanket first (although I’m not sure if 30% synthetic would felt) but it looks great regardless.

  76. 1.25.11
    Mo said:

    I LOVE it! Just found you from AT and laughed as I read along and all the way to the end – pretty good for ADD and 3 kids running about.
    Great resourcefullness. (that’s how I refer to my “lack of funds” for certain projects)

  77. 2.5.11
    Kate said:

    I love this!!! I have a bed that would work perfectly and you’ve inspired me! Unfortunately there are no fabric stores near me (its a crime) but I saw online that Joann’s ships. Can you let me know which type of batting you used, there are dozens on their website I’m a little worried that I’ll order the wrong thing.

    • 2.6.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh gosh, honestly I have NO idea. I’d say just use your best judgment… it’s not so much about what type/thickness batting you buy, but how many layers of it you use. Whatever’s comfortable for you (keeping in mind that you don’t want to overstuff because your mattress won’t fit back into the bed if you pad things TOO much). I’m sure it wasn’t anything fancy or interesting… just normal batting off a big roll. Sorry I’m not more helpful!

  78. 2.9.11
    sassafras said:

    Nice rug! Pakistani/Afghan tribal pattern veggie-dyed wool? :)

  79. 2.9.11
    Ms Lux said:

    Was considering a second hand Grimen till I saw this. Ikea in Ireland is uber pricey compared to dollars. But this is gorgeous! I’d like mine in gold faux velvet please.
    Rats, y’know I need an art college graduate boyfriend to help me restructure walls, upholster beds and design a balcony cattery and not whinge like fcuk constantly while doing it. So, kudos to you yung f’la.

  80. 2.10.11
    Robin said:

    omg I love this! have you submitted it to http://www.ikeahackers.net/?

    • 2.10.11
      Daniel said:

      I didn’t, but somebody did send it in. Over here!

  81. 2.10.11
    Leslie said:

    Very nice! I love the creativity!

  82. 2.10.11
    Paige said:

    omg–I have this SAME bed frame, and it looks a little 12yearoldboy-ish for me (I’m a 23 year old married female) right now…but I definitely don’t wanna buy another bed frame–ESPECIALLY since this one is solid wood…



    This looks so posh. You did a really great job! I will add this to my to-do/wish list.

    BTW–just found your blog via someone’s comment over at http://www.younghouselove.com …just spent too much time looking at your posts when I should be babysitting. I will definitely check back in later at a more appropriate::kid-less time.

    • 2.10.11
      Daniel said:

      meh, the kids can take care of themselves.

      Do it, do it! Then send pictures!

  83. 2.12.11
    T0MPB said:

    Wicked DIY skills.
    Hey listen, I’m thinking of buying the bed and in your pictures your mattress looks really nice and high, by which I mean you can make your bed properly (at the moment I really have to stick my hands into the bedframe to make mine, as the mattress is almost flush with the frame) is that the same with this bed.


    • 2.12.11
      Daniel said:

      The bottom of the mattress only sits a couple inches below the rails on this bed. My mattress is just a standard 8 inches thick. Hope that helps!

    • 2.20.11
      T0MPB said:

      It does, thank-you.

  84. 2.17.11
    angela said:

    Hi! I love your blog. And I am totally going to copy what you did to your bed. Except mine is a Bjorkvalla from Ikea from the late 90s. It has a natural woven headboard that I’m tired of. This is awesome. Thank you for being born.

  85. 3.3.11
    Latisha said:

    Where have you been all my life! I have been looking for a blog or website that spelled out how to upholster a bed frame and you have laid it out on the table with visuals and all!! Thank you!


  86. 3.14.11
    Michelle said:

    You are awesome. That is all.

  87. 3.14.11

    came over form notmartha…

    i was frigging laughing out loud, even better that i know the stores you’re talking about, your game plan for kaufman’s was bananas.

  88. 3.14.11
    Lynn in Tucson said:

    TRULY impressive. That looks fantastic (and makes me want to head down to the local surplus place for no good reason at all).

  89. 3.22.11
    jen said:

    You. Are. Awesome.

  90. 4.23.11
    Reese said:

    I am in love with you, Daniel. Marry me!!

  91. 4.30.11
    Nina said:

    Dude I am totally feeling you on the whole Knoll snottiness. I went there once and bought fabric based on a one inch swatch and then when it arrived it was too dark for the chair I wanted to recover (an egg chair). So I called and tried to return it saying I couldn’t tell it would be so dark from a one inch sample and they were all like “that’s why we only sell to designers because they know these types of things.” Ended up having to sink more money into a really bright red Knoll fabric that looked stunning on the chair.

  92. 6.5.11
    jenn said:

    is there a box spring under the mattress or just slats?

    • 6.6.11
      Daniel said:

      Just slats!

  93. 6.7.11
    James said:

    Hey wonderful project! I think i might try this one soon. Would a felt moving blanket (died charcoal of course) work rather than the Army blanket you used? Or wouldn’t it be soft enough?

  94. 6.9.11
    Anna said:

    This is an awesome step by step! My only issue is that I have a king mattress (currently sitting on the floor for the past year!) I’ve been trying to find inexpensive upholstered beds but it seems like DIY is the way to go. Any suggestions for a cheap king sized frame? Too bad that particular frame only comes in a full size =/

  95. 8.30.11
    Matthew said:

    i have a duncan phyfe that I got for a song on craigslist, with 6 chairs that need desperately to be reupholstered. i wanted to use pinstripe mens suiting – but this army blanket thing may be just the trick.

    though the idea of a bunch of herringbone mix and matches made of Salvation Army sports coats is also appealing.

    thanks for the idea daniel!

  96. 9.12.11
    Lefty Kate said:

    You had me at Left-Handed-Pencil! How freaking cool is that?!
    I’m a lefty, my husband’s a lefty, our daughter (3.5) is a lefty, plus my dad is a lefty.
    So I completely understand the absolute coolness of a “left handed” pencil!

    Okay, now to continue reading your tutorial (moving my daughter into a “big girl” bed complete with FJELLSE frame)

  97. 9.17.11
    Kevin Johnson said:


    Thanks for the inspiration! I was so excited so try this but I wanted a California King sized bed. Dammit, Ikea doesn’t sell that size, no long people in Sweden!

    Anyway, I built one out of 2x6s and 2x3s, it was pretty basic. Everything turned out pretty great overall.

    I had to order an oversized wool blanket (very hard to find!!) but this is what I ended up with:


  98. 11.10.11
    Christina said:

    Do you remember the size of the wool blanket?

  99. 11.16.11
    Star (thekillingcurse) said:

    You are a crafty one! Time to get rid of the nasty platform we currently have, find something simple, and give it an amazing Dan inspired makeover!

  100. 1.8.12
    Kristy said:

    Fantastic job – I’m really impressed. The finished result is a beautiful design.

    This may be an obvious question, but I will be moving within the next twelve months…if I were to only upholster the bedhead this would be simple to unscrew the bed again, right?

    Thanks in advance…

  101. 1.19.12
    K.Annice said:

    You inspire me! There are always loopholes! I can’t wait to DIY my entire place. You give me confidence.

  102. 1.20.12
    Meg said:

    You are awesome! Thank you!!

  103. 1.30.12
    Monika said:

    I know it’s far too late and please forgive me if someone else has menioned this already, but you can felt the army blankets by washing them in hot water–and they are maaavelous when they’re done and dry. To touch, that is, not to look at, as the wool shrinks unpredictibly–but becomes very dense and opaque. Keep it in mind for the next hack, when you’re creating some other fabulous thing.

  104. 2.1.23
    Jess Z said:

    You’re hilarious. I loved this. I can’t believe it only took one blanket!