Lettered Headboard Tutorial

I love the look of lettering on walls and furniture (see my kitchen wallpaper below) but I just don’t have the moolah to spend on such things, so I try to come up with my own quaint techniques.

Sample of Kitchen Wallpaer

While I was changing the color of the little bedroom (formerly yellow, now pink) I was ready to update the headboard of this old bed. 

Bed Before

The twin to this one is out in the cottage. I have a matched set because my sister and I shared a room when we were very young and had matching beds.

Over the years the finish has worn off in places and the structural members have changed but I still have the matching headboards and footboards.  (Why, oh why, can’t I get rid of anything?)

Headboard and footboard

  Alas, I don’t have a room where both will fit together so I decided to do them over one at a time and each differently.  Here is my initial effort for the pink bedroom.

First I sanded the finish just to rough it up and wiped it down with mineral spirits to remove the dust and any grime I missed.

Sanding the finish

 Then I primed the bed with Kilz (because the can was open from priming the door to the cottage).

Headboard and footboard primed

 The next part was little tricky because I had recived a free pint of Benjamin Moore paint from the seminar I attended here. I wanted “Mourning Dove” by Martha Stewart but the Benjamin Moore dealer would only mix their own color so I picked “Meditation” which was close but not eaxactly what I wanted. I went to work adding some leftover-from-other-projects greens, some white and some dark blue to “Meditation” and came up with a near  match to “Mourning Dove”.

Paint tester on Mourning Dove swatch

 The real trick to mixing is to make sure you mix enough for the entire project. Then I gave the bed a couple coats of Jo’s “Mourning Dove” (which looks tan in the photo but is more grey with a very slight green cast) applied mostly with a foam roller.

Bed with primer and “Mourning Dove”

Finished with “Mourning Dove”.

Footboard in "Mourning Dove"

 Then I began to cut the stencil from an old office folder for the wording to be applied to the headboard.


 I knew I wanted the lettering in silver and I had two options: satin nickel or silver.

Silver on the left, Satin Nickel on the right

 I did a test swatch using each paint with the stencil onto a swatch of “Mourning Dove.” (Note: If you test the stencil before it is fully cut out, use it upside down [meaning wrong side taking the paint] so you don’t obliterate the markings for the rest of the cuts. Guess how I found this out?) Here are the results.

Silver on top, Satin Nickel on bottom

 It turned out that in certain light you couldn’t even see the satin nickel because the color tone was so close to the base color (Mourning Dove). I did use Satin Nickel to add a little zing to the knobs.

Satin Nickel with Mourning Dove

 Finally I had the entire stencil cut (which was a bear).

Fully cut stencil

 I taped it to the head of the bed and masked off everthing else with blue painters tape. The tiny pieces inside the letters d, a, o and f were held down with a tiny piece of double-stick tape.

Stencil ready for spray paint

  I sprayed silver on the stencil twice and a light dusting of satin nickel.

Stencil with spray paint

Here’s the result. 

Stenciled headboard

 A quick look at the bed in place in the pink bedroom. Remember the satin nickel on the knobs? Full reveal after a few more projects are complete.

Stenciled Bed

 and maybe one more shot .  .  .

Full effect . . . Subtle

 Sidebar:  I’ll show you the stencil preparation procedure in a future post.

This is a tiny room but very handy when the house is filled with guests. And don’t get attached to the picture on the wall because I forgot I have wall sconce lamps for this room. Decorating, for me, is never a “done deal”.  I think I inherited that from my mother.  What have you moved around and tweaked lately? Is change good or just constant?

I’m linked to the paint party at
Furniture Feature Fridays

Domestically Speaking




Author: Jo

Welcome to The Glade, where the second generation of renovations has just begun and the mania about our home, music and other passions fill our days and nights. We’re Charlie and Jo in the music world; Mary Jo and Charles to family; and JoJo and Charlie to each other. We are renovating a midcentury house in a Victorian historic district where we want to live there the rest of our lives. It's a 1946 house located in Maryland. We were married in this house. Thus far (pre-blog) we refinished cabinets, added a window seat (still working on the cushion), rearranged a wall in the guest house due to sink/vanity replacement, planted a vegetable garden, and other quick and not-so-quick fixes. So this latest zeal for construction is the result of my having lived here since 1997 and feeling a need to ready the house for the next chapter and beyond.

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