How to Turn an Interior Door into a Headboard
Repurpose a paneled beauty for a bit of classic master bedroom adornment
Doors in homes built before 1950 are typically made of solid wood, whether oak, maple, chestnut, or mahogany. They've got heft, and they make a satisfying thump when you knock. They also have sturdy stiles and rails that frame handsome panels in a variety of configurations, depending on the home's architectural style.
At most salvage yards you'll find row upon row of these paneled doors, many made from old-growth timber, typically starting at about $60 each. Among my favorite creative reuse projects is to tip a series of these doors on their sides to serve as wainscoting along interior walls, a trick I learned from Brad Kittel of Discovery Architectural Antiques in Gonzales, Texas.
Or a single door can be used as a platform for a hanging daybed suspended by chains, a fun idea that This Old House reader Kodie Ketchbaw put into action as a way to create extra seating on the porch of her home in Old Hickory, Tennessee. A door can also double as a bulletin board in a home office. Simply glue cork sheets to the recessed panels for tacking notes. Or, brush the panels with blackboard paint for kids to doodle on.
For my own door "upcyling" project, I made a stylish wall-hung headboard with built-in sconces that serve as reading lamps. Follow along for the how-to.
Wood Interior Doors
Panel configuration is the first factor to consider when shopping for a door to convert. Be sure to pick one with evenly spaced squares or rectangles that are the same size and shape. That way, when you turn the door on its side, the design will be symmetrical. Craftsman-style five-panel doors with rectangles stacked one on top of the other like ladder rungs are ideal, as are Art Deco–style doors with a single recessed panel in the center. I chose a ladder-type door in oak from The Demolition Depot in New York City.
Door height is also key; most are between 70 and 96 inches. While you might be lucky enough to find a match for a standard 76-inch-wide king-size bed, for anything smaller, you'll have to cut one down. For my 60-inch queen bed, I trimmed from the top and bottom to maintain the door's proportions.