Create This Cottage Style Picket Fence Headboard


Whether it’s cottage style, or simply a garden theme, this picket fence headboard will be a lovely focal point in any bedroom.

Garden romance is so appropriate for a cottage-style bedroom, but this one works beautifully in a young girl’s room too.  Combine it with a picket fence painted around the room, add a floral bedspread and you are well on your way to a room that child will never forget!

This project is a basically a replica of a picket fence front gate with a gently curving top and bottom.

Material List:

  • 7 1x6x4’ pine boards
  • 2 1x4x5’ pine boards
  • 11/4-inch drywall screws
  • Interior latex satin paint
  • All-purpose primer (optional)
  • Water-base polyurethane (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Circular Saw/Jig Saw
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Screwdriver with Phillips bit
  • Soft rags
  • Paint try or old plastic bowl
  • Pencil

Project notes:
Project instructions are for a double bed (54 inches wide). Increase width by adding boards to both ends of the headboard to maintain symmetry. The highest point is the center board (5 feet), gradually decreasing down to the end boards (4 feet).

1.  For the pickets, cut 7 1×6 boards to 4 feet. Cut 2 1×4 to 54 inches. Use a carpenter’s square and circular saw to mark and make all cuts.

2.  To duplicate the look of the pickets, cut a curved pointed top.  Use a plastic coffee-can lid as a template for consistent curves.  Draw the curve on all seven boards and cut out using a jigsaw.  A scroll blade cuts fine tooth curves.

3.  Sand all boards with a 120-grit sandpaper to remove pencil marks and any dirt. Decide which surface will be the front of the board.

4.  Before assembling the headboard, finish all the boards with a paint wash.  Pour a small amount of paint in a paint tray or old plastic bowl.  Dip a rag or clean white sock in paint, and squeeze out the excess, the “wash” paint onto the front and sides of the headboard.  Rub the boards in a circular motion along the grain- like you would wash a car.  For a more translucent wash, dilute the paint with a small amount of water. Let dry.


5.  Mark the center of a 1×4 (27 inches). Use this support board to represent the floor. Lay boards on the floor with the reverse facing up. Use a support board to represent the floor. Lay one board at the center of the floor board, 1 foot up from the floor board. Using the center board as a guide, measure down 4 inches from the top of the board and place the next two boards at that height, one on either side. Measure down another 4 inches from the second set of boards and add another two boards at this height. Repeat once more for the last set of boards (the bottom of these boards should be level with the floor board). For the width of the headboard, space each board 11/4 inches apart.

6.  When the headboard boards are in position, place a support board horizontally across the boards so that the top of the support is 4 inches below the top of the end board (44 inches from the floor). Place the bottom support board horizontally across the boards, 14 inches from the bottom of the end boards.

7.  Attach the support boards to the headboard boards, using 2 drywall screws in each headboard board. Before tightening, make sure all boards are square. Do any touch-up sanding at this point.

At this point, the headboard can be attached to the wall behind the bed using self-anchoring molly bolts and 2-inch drywall screws, drilling through the support boards.  Or, you can attach the headboard to the metal bed frame by drilling holes through the end pickets to line up with the holes in the bed frame.  Use machine bolts, washers and nuts to hold the headboard in place.

We decided not to finish the headboard any further than the paint wash, but here are two other options.
• After applying the paint wash, seal the headboard with polyurethane.
• Instead of applying a paint wash, simply prime the headboard with a multi-purpose sealer, sand it and paint with the product of your choice.

The washing technique doesn’t get the wood wet enough to raise the grain.  If you prime the wood pieces the boards will need to be sanded when dry, using 220 grit sandpaper.  Sand it and paint with the color of your choice.

Most lumber yards or DIY stores will cross-cut lumber to the correct length. All you have to do is ask!  If you are using a circular saw to cut the boards to length yourself, try using a roofer’s speed square as a guide for the circular saw.  The speed square has a lip that rest against the edge of the board, making a perfect guide for the saw.


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