DIY Minimal Woven Headboard

I have a real love for the hard black + white mix. Something about it feels direct and fresh, and after the past decade or so of seeing so many bright, light, low-contrast interiors, it feels like such a solid direction — as well as an easy departure. Paint your trim and a key piece of furniture in black and you’re good to go.

While I wanted to makeover my bed in black and white, that mix can get stark if you’re not careful. To keep things from looking too flat, we decided to do a headboard made of woven rope and colorful fabric strips. I really loved the feel of this first work by Russell Leng – it seemed like just enough color to keep things interesting.


– basic headboard frame (this Ikea frame is what we have)
– rope of your choosing (though we used this hammock rope). The length you need will vary depending on the size of the rope, but get way, way more than you think. Wrapping around the frame, we used at least 400 ft.
– about 1 yard x 3 yards of fabric
– staple gun

If you don’t have a headboard like we had, you can build a quick one out of 1″ x 1″ pine rods, or assemble a basic frame from copper or galvanized pipe.

Step 1:

DIY Minimal Rope Headboard

In hindsight, I’d suggest starting from the top of the frame and working your way down. This way, if you have too much space leftover at the bottom, it’ll just be obscured by your mattress. Since I went from the bottom-up, to get the look I was going for (with no gap between the top of the frame and the rope), I had to shift everything up to the top once I was done.

DIY Minimal Rope Headboard

Tightly tie off the rope at the center of your frame, leaving a good amount of slack at the end in case you need to adjust at any point. Going in one direction (it doesn’t matter which) loop all the way around the frame. Keep the layers of rope pushed closely together so that the gaps that form look natural. Check the tension and make adjustments as needed throughout the process.

DIY Minimal Rope Headboard

Make sure you’re keeping the rope as taut as possible as you go, otherwise you’ll have to go back and tighten everything at the end, which can be kind of a pain.

Step 2:

DIY Minimal Rope Headboard

Once you reach the top, tie off to the last loop. Then go back, untie the first knot at the beginning of your project, and retie it around the first loop you made. Secure with hot glue if you feel the need.

DIY Minimal Rope Headboard

DIY Minimal Rope Headboard

Step 3:

Tear or cut your fabric into enough strips to extend the length of your frame, going vertically. Vary the size a bit for a more interesting look. I used leftover strips from a failed attempt at shibori. For a similar look, you could tie-dye strips of fabric in indigo or buy a large shibori scarf to make into strips.

DIY Textured Rope Headboard

Arrange them across the top of the frame until you figure out a configuration you like.

Step 3:


Begin to weave the strips through the rope, keeping the top of the strip draped slightly over the top of the frame. I found it looks best – and holds best – when you slightly reverse the weaving pattern of the adjacent strips.


Since I liked the blue dotting of the Fragments piece, I kept the blue strips sparse and uneven. There’s no real rhyme or reason here – be sporadic with the weaving and have some fun! Every so often, throw a super-evenly-woven strip in there (for instance, I occasionally wove over 4, under 4, over 4, under 4, etc…). It’s a good way to keep things looking intentional.


Step 4:

Once you have a pattern you like, make sure the strips are even at the bottom. Staple the strips onto the bottom of the frame. Turn the headboard around, and pull the strips taut at the top to make everything even, then pull out slightly to create a natural looking bowed effect for dimension and texture.




Once things are where you want them to be, drape the top of the strips over the top of the frame, and staple to the back of the frame.





If you don’t have a headboard or are trying to change things up, making a headboard frame out of copper or galvanized pipe would be great for a slightly more industrial look. I used strips of dyed fabric here, but you could play around with different kinds of ribbon, rope, wood strips, or even something like bike tubing!


Meg Kemner gained her informal education at Space 1026, beginning in the print industry and weaving seamlessly through roles in photography, editorial, digital media, art, fashion, interiors and graphic design. When she isn't hunting for new and strange materials at local hardware stores and flea markets, Meg consolidates her creative work at MK Dept. of Treasury and writes the Design Milk DIY column.