Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Favorite Finds: Jill's Mantel Headboard

My friend Melissa (whose bathroom was one of my first favorite finds!) shared her friend Jill's great headboard project with me and I was eager to talk more with Jill about it! Jill found a great old mantel in an antique mall and turned it into a headboard! Find out more below and be sure to check out Jill on pinterest!

What is your favorite find and where did you find it?

My favorite antiquing find is definitely my mantel! I was out with one of my friends in early December, and we stopped by 8th Avenue Antiques for their open house. I love 8th Ave because it is so crowded with treasures – the hunt is exhilarating! If you’ve ever been there, you know that the front room is divided into three big aisles, overflowing with items. But most people don’t ever go all the way into the back room, where there are essentially clearance items – old poster frames with cracked glass, ceramic plates with seascapes on them, old wicker vases, things like that. We were rummaging around, and my eyes swept across the back wall. There, behind an old bassinet and a big rocking chair, facing backwards, was my mantel. My heart skipped a beat. We went to dig it out, and once we turned it around, I knew I had to have it. It’s a beautiful cream color, with very simple, classic lines but not plain at all. The asking price was way above my college-student budget (which actually has no room for antiques at all – whoops) but I was able to bargain with the owner and he gave it to me for pretty much a fraction of the price. I think they just wanted to get rid of it, and I was happy to oblige!

How did you get the idea to turn the mantel into a headboard?

It was actually the last in a whole line of ideas. My room is already pretty antiquey – my sister says I have “grandma style.” Since my bed is cattycorner to the wall, I had no support behind my head and my pillows kept slipping off the top of the bed into the corner. I wanted a headboard that would fit my style already, and make a statement in my room. My first idea was to use old shutters. Once I started thinking along those lines, I realized I could probably use an old door as well. I scoured Craigslist for a few months, but nothing ever came up that I both liked and could afford. And then, one day, I was sketching out what I wanted the headboard to look like, and it occurred to me that I had pretty much just drawn a fireplace mantel. The fact that I found my mantel about 4 days later was totally fate.

What was the process of repurposing it?

Well, since the mantel was already beautiful, I really didn’t have to do much. I did take nearly an hour cleaning about 70 years of dust and ash off of it, though. The right side upright was a little wobbly, so I had to tighten some screws and add a little support to make it sturdy. I definitely did not want to repaint it, because I love the glossy cream paint – chips and all! Turning it into a headboard was very straightforward – all I needed to do was make the center panel. I had thought of doing a batted panel, but decided against it and went with a simple 2x4 foot bead board panel from Home Depot. They have pre-cut sections, so I just paid $10 for it and walked out! The color isn’t exactly right, but it’s very hard to tell. I’m so happy with it.

Is it attached to the bed or is it freestanding?

As of now, it is freestanding. Having my bed in the corner meant that I just had to put the mantel at the angle I wanted and then push the bed up against it, which holds it in place. I will probably attach it to the bed at some point, but as for now, it’s doing its job!

Was the process harder or easier than you anticipated?

Well, I had thought that I would need to do a lot more to get it to the point where I could use it, so I guess in that sense, it was easier. There were some tricky bits with attaching the bead board (making it level, nailing through the front panel, etc) but overall, it was really simple.

Any other details we need to know?

The man at the store said that the mantel was an original piece that had been taken from a house that was built in the 1940’s. I love the history behind that! Also, mantels work great as headboards, because they give you a great display shelf as a bonus!

Why do you love buying vintage/secondhand?

I’m extremely nostalgic – always have been. Last year, when I studied abroad, I had the opportunity to travel all over Europe and explore the histories of so many incredible places. While I was traveling, I collected postage stamps as souvenirs (which is great, because they are very cheap, don’t take up any space, and you can be sure you’ll always find them wherever you go!). When I got home, I wanted a cute way to display them. One day at Goodwill, I found a beautiful old gold frame, and the idea struck me to put all of my stamps in antiqued frames. My love for antique shopping was born as I began hunting through thrift stores and antique malls, searching for small gold frames to complete my collection. Eventually, though, I started looking for other things as well, and now I have a wonderful assortment of neat, old, beautiful things! I love to think about the events that my items have “seen” – all the Christmas mornings that happened in front of my mantel, the bedtime stories read in my arm chair, the conversations that took place over the tea served from my silver platter.. things like that. It just gives me a sense of connection to the past, and to the future as well, when I remember that I will be a part of someone’s nostalgia one day.

Jill, your headboard turned out so well and I love your thoughts on buying vintage! Thank you so much for sharing!

If you're new to Owl Really, welcome! Please check out my favorite posts and consider subscribing! :)


  1. well, of COURSE I love this repurpose! :) Mantel/headboards??? some of my best friends. The mantel as a headboard is perfect, and so easily used again someday as a mantel if Jill decides to.
    great job!

  2. What a great idea. I love it in white too. I'm finding that my tastes are changing and I like white furniture now. A little scuffed and loved is good too. This is a great look.

  3. That's so pretty! I love it in the corner like that. And I'd love to see the stamp collection, too!


Thanks so much for visiting and for leaving a comment! I try to reply by email to most comments - if you are a blogger user, please make sure you have your email address set so that you're not a "no-reply" user.