Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Concept To Reality - Queen Size Shadowbox Headboard

Say for example you've decide to join the bandwagon and turn the vacant apartment over the garage into an AirBNB (primarily because you don't want to be a full time landlord). All the AirBNB advice online says to make your place stand out, make it different, make it INSTAGRAM WORTHY. No pressure, right? Suure.

Through hitting up great estate sales, we'd settled in a Japanese theme for the apartment furnishings. Most of the furniture was in place and I'd already made the noren curtains for the front porch. The final thing I wanted to make a focal point was the headboard for the queen size bed. I'd researched ideas online but didn't find anything that fit with our theme. 

One morning I couldn't sleep. I woke up at 4:30 am, didn't want to get out of bed. I laid there and turned over ideas for a headboard in my mind. Discarding each iteration as taking too much time, costing too much in supplies or being far too complicated to execute.

I thought back to the geisha doll in a glass box that my mom used to have and thought THAT'S IT! I'll make a shadowbox headboard! I turned this idea over and over in my mind to imagine how it should look, what should be in the shadowbox? 

When it was a reasonable hour to get up, I went upstairs and drew the mock-up of the idea I had on my office whiteboard. The idea for the mountains, sun and cherry blossoms in the shadowbox came from the shutter stock banner graphics I purchased as inspiration for the noren curtains.

The noren curtains I made were inspired by those you see outside traditional ramen shops. I found UV resistant canvas fabric by the yard and a pattern (which I could modify).

Now that I've explained the history of the noren curtains, we can get back to the headboard. I then began researching where to buy a 30x60in piece of glass. Turns out a piece of glass that large is really, really heavy and expensive. Scratch that. Maybe clear vinyl might work? Researched that, found the stuff they put in sailboats for "windows". Nope. That's not right either. Turns out Lowes stocks 30x60 pieces of Duraplex for $45. Sold. That sheet of Duraplex is exactly the right size and won't require any cutting!

There's plenty of documentation online for how tall and wide a queen size headboard should be. I took that information along with the actual measurements of wood sold by Lowe's (a 2x4 isn't always 2x4) and began sketching out the pieces of wood I'd need to buy.
Many calculations later, I knew the finished headboard would be 57 1/4" tall, 23 1/4" from the bottom of the feet to the bottom of the shadowbox, and 65 1/2" wide. Basically I was centering the wood around the 30x60 Duraplex sheet and if anything wasn't quite centered, the nail holes would be covered up by the final trim I'd use to frame the edges of the Duraplex.
The sides of the shadowbox were 4x4 pressure treated fence posts and they were quite damp with the pressure treating chemical when I purchased them. I let them dry out for a few weeks (laying them flat on the garage floor). After two weeks' time, I cut the posts to size and sanded all the sides, prepping it for painting with Rust-Oleum Black Satin enamel paint.

I used a pocket jig for the screw holes because I didn't want screws to be visible from the outside of the headboard. I attached the top and bottom 1x4x10 board to the two 4x4 posts with two pocket jig/screw holes on each side (8 total, 4 top, 4 bottom). Not everything lined up perfectly, but I knew any imperfections wouldn't be visible once the headboard was complete, so I kept working. As long as all my wood was flush at the front of the shadowbox where the Duraplex would go, all would turn out well.

The shadowbox has tree branches (taken from the tree in the front yard) which I wrapped in strips of black satin (I already had 3 yards of inexpensive polyester satin on hand) and hot glue silk cherry blossom flowers to the branches (continuing the theme of cherry blossoms from the noren curtains on the porch)

The background of the shadowbox would be a section of the canvas fabric I had left over from making the noren curtains, painted with imagery of a large red setting sun and a large black mountain range opposite the cherry blossoms. The paint I was working with is by Jacquard and worked extremely well with the outdoor UV-resistant canvas.

David gave me the great idea of illuminating the scene with an LED light kit from IKEA, giving our guests the option of having the ambient light on or off in the headboard with a simple toggle switch.
The backing of the headboard is a section of hardboard which I spray adhered the canvas fabric to once the painting was completed. Working on the flat concrete floor of the garage, I used a rolling pin to firmly adhere the canvas to the hardboard and flatten out any uneven areas. I trimmed off any excess fabric with a razor blade and then used shiny brass trunk nails to secure the hardboard to the frame of the headboard. (no photos taken of this process as it took two people and four quick hands to apply the spray glue and smooth out any lumpy areas!
I used Gorilla Glue to secure the branches into a section of styrofoam glued to what would become the inside base of the shadowbox. I used strips of masking tape to hold the branches at the desired angles and depths while the glue set.
Once the glue was cured, I could then begin to attach the silk cherry blossoms to the branches. These are technically peach blossoms, but they had the look and colors I desired.

I used a snap blade knife to carve away some of the styrofoam rectangle, giving the base of the branches a more organic shape. Using the same black satin material, I cut a large rectangular section of cloth and began to cover the styrofoam base with it, securing the fabric with sewing pins.
Using the hot air from an embossing tool (rather than a heat gun, which would be too hot), I was able to make the frayed edges of the fabric covering the branches appear less messy. The hot air made the frayed edges shrink/melt/vanish.

The lighting section from IKEA was the perfect length to fill the center of the shadowbox with ambient light from beneath.

I drilled small holes every few inches apart at the perimeter of the Duraplex sheet. The diameter of the drill bit was big enough to allow for a small finishing nail, but not so large that the head of the nail would pass through the drilled opening. The sheet of Duraplex was affixed to the front of the shadowbox with finishing nails and David sealed any openings with crystal clear caulk (so no little critters could make a home inside the shadowbox).

The wood framing the front of the Duraplex sheet is a decorative pine trim from Lowe's, miter cut at the corners and an extra strip of thinner, similar wood trim at the bottom of the shadowbox to further obscure the light source.

The fence post finials are the Harbor design from Home Lumber Company on eBay. I bought the 4x4 size but I should've ordered the smaller size due to the dimensions of the fence posts not really being 4x4 but are 3.5x3.5. Not a huge problem overall.

I'm extremely pleased with how this project turned out! It has been a long time since I dreamed up something I wanted to make and had the time/ability/skills to see it to fruition! 

 There are still a few little things the AirBNB needs (end tables for the bed, for one) but overall it is nicely kitted out. The rest of the pictures of the place are on AirBNB!: