Extreme Makeover: Headboard Edition

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver

Interior designer and Bachelorette star Jillian Harris shows us the best 'bang for your buck' tufted headboard DIY. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF JILLIANHARRIS.COM AND FLY PHOTOGRAPHY)

Interior designer and Bachelorette star Jillian Harris shows us the best 'bang for your buck' tufted headboard DIY. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF JILLIANHARRIS.COM AND FLY PHOTOGRAPHY)


Whether she won you over as the only Bachelorette star in history to opt for hot dogs and beer, or as the talented five-foot nothing on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, interior designer Jillian Harris is one of Canada’s favourite celebs.

A self-proclaimed “polished redneck,” Harris isn’t afraid to get a little dirty. Unsurprisingly, this small-town girl comes from a whole family of down-to-earth do-it-yourselfers, always on the hunt for new ideas, ways to conserve and make old into new.

“Since I was little, I remember painting, salvaging, re-finishing and hot glue-gunning. It’s an opportunity to chill out at home, get crafty — get artsy and come out of it at the end with something you are proud of!”

After purchasing a house, she was delighted to discover it came with “the most hideous upholstered headboards.” However, it seemed a waste to toss them, as ugly as they were, and purchase new, she explained.

“I knew the colour concept needed to change and I am a huge fan of tufting, so (I) figured out a way to do it without a drill and only using a staple gun — it worked so well! It was a 180-degree transformation!”

Knowing the Peace River, Alta. native is a professional decor doer-over, you may be asking yourself, “Can everyday people pull this off?”

“I’m the laziest DIYer, so the answer is ‘YES,’” she assures. “Literally cut your wood, cut your foam. Lay your re-measured fabric over top — staple, staple, staple — and throw that bad boy up on the wall!”

Not only is this reno simple, but Harris says that out of all the at-home upcycling you can do, this project will last for years and give you the most bang for your buck.

“A nice tufted headboard can cost anywhere from $800 to $3,000. I think I made mine for under $200.”

And the icing on the cake? “Custom tufting, custom colour.”

So if you want to thank handywoman Harris for your fabulous new headboard, she will be at BC Place’s main stage Oct. 12 and 13 during next week’s Vancouver Home and Design Show, or you can check her out on her latest on-screen adventure as design host for Love It or List It Vancouver, premiering Jan. 8, 2013.


- a piece of medium density fiberboard (MDF) cut to desired size (48” ideal height size)

- 2-inch foam cut to size of MDF

- cotton batting cut to the same size

- masking tape

- STRONG fabric cut to size

- staple gun, compressor-powered recommended (Home Depot rents them)

Headboard how-to:

Spread fabric across the floor and mark staple points with masking tape and a permanent marker.

With the headboard lying face up, spread fresh batting across the old headboard, (or your MDF, foam and batting if you’re doing it from scratch).

Starting from the middle, working your way out, use the staple gun to pop staples into all your markings.

Remove the tape and staple the edge fabric to the back.

Tips: Use strong fabric that won’t rip. Jillian used outdoor fabric ( a tight-weave polyester/acrylic) that worked great. Also, take your time making tuft marks, leave enough space at the top and make sure your top row is even.


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