ISSUE 19  |  The Wedding Party

Just Add Pillows: The DIY Headboard for $35

May 12, 2015 1:00 PM

BY Margot Guralnick

“Whatever we don’t already own, we’ll make ourselves.” Remodelista directory members Dale Saylor and Joe Williamson of design-build firm Hollymount gave themselves this challenge when they moved with their young son to a characterless two-bedroom rental in New York’s Chelsea.

We dropped in on them not long ago–see the DIY New York Apartment–and were particularly taken with their easy, inventive uses of drop cloths and other inexpensive textiles. Case in point: Their cloud-like pillow headboard inspired by Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela’s ethereal guest rooms at Les Sources de Caudalie hotel in Bordeaux.

“All you need are lightweight bed pillows–the cheapest ones from Ikea are perfect–and thumbtacks,” Saylor told us. “We spent a lot of time discussing what to do. But when we settled on this approach, we were done in a matter of minutes.”

Photography by Michael A. Muller for Remodelista. 


  • Bed pillows, such as the polyester-filled Slan pillows from Ikea; $1.99 each. N.B.: You need enough to form a grid from mattress top to ceiling.
  • Brass thumbtacks (two per pillow). A pack of 60 Brass Thumbtacks is $1.30 at Home Depot. 

Total expenses: less than $35.


Above: Saylor and Williamson began by measuring their grid: “We wanted the headboard be the width of the bed and extend to the ceiling. We had our hanging bedside lights in place and used the center point between the two as our start point.” (The lights hang from Ikea solid birch Ekby Valter Brackets, $4 each. Get more lighting details here.)

Above: After steaming the pillows (“they were incredibly wrinkly”), Saylor simply tacked them to the wall in three vertical rows. “We initially planned to ombre the pillows, but ended up taking the simplest approach.”

Above: The tacks are applied in the top two corners where the stitching meets. The pillows are light enough that the bottom corners are left hanging.

Above: To created a tiered effect–and make the grid come out evenly–the pillows are slightly overlapped.

Above: No hammering necessary, thumbs do the trick

The Finished Look

Above: Fifteen pillows and 30 tacks is all it takes.

Dream big: All sorts of cushions and configurations work; get inspired by more pillow headboards here. And see more DIY headboards, including a Lace-Like Wallpaper Headboard and 5 Instant Headboards.

Take a tour of Dale Saylor and Joe Williamson’s whole apartment in Rental Rehab. And go to Remodelista Favorites: Our Top 10 Weekend Projects for more DIY ideas.