DIY Modern Headboard with Built-In Storage

Oct 6, 2016 By Jo-Ann
DIY Modern Headboard with Built-In Storage

By: Julia Marchand

When my husband and I bought our home two years ago, we selected it because of its size, layout, and the price was right. However, as with older homes, there was one thing that it was seriously lacking: storage. With only two closets in the entire house and no usable attic or basement space, we’ve had to explore creative solutions for our storage woes.

diy headboard

Our long, narrow bedroom needed appropriately-sized furniture to fill and mask its awkward shape while also giving us plenty of shelving and secret storage, so we designed this easy, modern headboard. Ever since we brought it in, we’ve been so pleased with the polished look it brings to the space and the amount of stuff we can secretly stash away. It may look like a big project, but since it’s just a few big boxes, it’s definitely something you can do! Are you ready to find out how?

diy headboard


• (2) sheets of half-inch thick 4’ x 8’ plywood
• (5) 2”x 3”x 96” studs
• 2” finishing screws
• 3” finishing screws
Wood glue
Wood filler
• Dark Walnut Danish oil (or your choice of color)
Paint in your desired color
• (4) 18” x 12½” x 9½” wooden crates


• Miter saw
• Cordless drill
• Clamps
• 1” spade bit
• Orbital sander
• Carpenter’s square
• Tape measure
• Pencil

diy headboard

Step 1: Measure the Space
Measure your space to find out what will fit. Since our room is long and narrow, we wanted our headboard to fill the entire width, which makes the room look wider. I’ll share my measurements, but keep in mind that your room or preferences may necessitate different sizing, so make adjustments as necessary.

Step 2: Cut Your Plywood Down to Size
The headboard is constructed of three parts: the center for secret storage and two identical side shelves for easily accessible storage. The three parts make for better mobility if you decide to rearrange your furniture and for easier construction since you’re dealing with more manageably-sized pieces. Here are the cut dimensions:

For the center secret storage:

• Frame:
o (4) 5’ long studs for headboard width
o (4) 32 ½” long studs for headboard height
o (4) 7” long studs for headboard depth
• Front: 3’ tall x 5’ wide piece of plywood
• Sides: (2) 3’ tall x 1’ deep pieces of plywood
• Top: 1’ deep x 5’ wide piece of plywood

For the two side shelves:

• (4) 35” tall x 1’ deep sides
• (4) 23 ¾” wide x 1’ deep tops/bottoms
• (2) 22 ¾” wide x 1’ deep middle shelves

diy headboard

Step 3: Build the Frame for the Center
Lay out two 5-foot studs and then place two 32 ½-inch studs between them to assemble a large rectangle. Pre-drill two screw holes at each corner with a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws. Dab some wood glue (according to the package’s directions) at the first corner, and then screw the two pieces together with 3-inch finishing screws while holding it in place. Continue to join each corner this way until your rectangle is complete, and then repeat this step to create a second identical rectangle. Join the two rectangles with four 7-inch pieces of wood to make the box frame.

diy headboard

Step 4: Attach the Front Panel
Place the front panel of plywood on the frame; clamp it in place and pre-drill holes about every seven inches through the panel and into the frame. Remove the clamps and attach the front panel with wood glue, then clamp in place again. Screw the panel in place with 2-inch finishing screws. You will have a half-inch of extra plywood above the frame. This is so the top lid will settle perfectly into place.

diy headboard

Step 5: Attach the Center’s Sides
Use the same method as above to attach one 3 x 1-foot plywood panel to each side of the center storage box. Again, you’ll see an extra half-inch above the frame for the lid of the box to rest inside. Since this headboard is designed to rest against a wall, there is no back. This is super handy if there’s anything really big that you need to store long-term—just pull the frame away from the wall, place the item in and push it back against the wall!

diy headboard

Step 6: Create the Lid
Grab the 1 x 5-foot plywood panel and settle it into its spot on top of the center box. Mimic lifting the lid off to access the storage so you can decide where it would be comfortable to put the finger holes. Ours are seven inches in from the sides of the lid. We marked this in pencil and then used a 1-inch spade bit to drill the two holes into the top.

diy headboard

Step 7: Build the Side Shelves
Lay out two 23 ¾ x 12-inch panels of plywood and place two 35 x 12-inch panels between them to create the frame of one shelf. Using the same methods as before and 2-inch finishing screws, construct this box. Measure and mark the center of the box and slide a 22 ¾ x 12-inch shelf into place. Carefully pre-drill, glue and screw this in as before. Duplicate this process to create the second side shelf.

diy headboard

Step 8: Polish It Up
Follow the instructions on the wood filler to cover over the screw holes. After the wood filler has dried, sand down the filled screw holes so the wood filler is flush with the plywood. Sand any other rough areas and the edges to create a smooth surface and brush away any dust.

diy headboard

Step 9: Stain, Paint, and Style
We matched the stains of the headboard and the crates so they would look cohesive. I love how the crates can act as drawers or frames for vignettes. They can also be stacked creatively in front of the shelves to create a mobile nightstand. I am constantly changing my mind about the layout of my surfaces or finding some new trinket that I want to incorporate into a display, so this versatile headboard is exactly what I need.

diy headboard

Inside the headboard, you can hide folding chairs, unused picture frames, musical instruments and so many other items that fit awkwardly in closets. You can also slip in handled storage totes with smaller items, like holiday wrapping supplies, inside. They’re out of sight but still easy to get to when needed.

This is a really easy project for beginning builders and it definitely helped to make our bedroom space more functional. Plus, it was a fun element to decorate around! Whether you live in a tiny house or a townhouse, I think just about everyone could use a little more storage space. What would you hide inside this headboard?

Julia Marchand is a DIYer at her rural roost of a home in New Hampshire. When not working, Julia enjoys nothing more than completing DIY projects around the house, such as her current headboard project. If you are looking for plywood for your headboard or other projects, you can find a wide selection on the Home Depot website here.

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