How to Repurpose an Antique Headboard

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Have you wondered about how to repurpose an antique headboard? I will walk you through the steps I took to transform an old headboard.

A quick note that this post includes affiliate links and I will receive a commission from items you purchase but at no additional cost to you. I am presenting you with my own opinion and honest review of the information provided. If you want to read the entire disclosure statement, please click HERE.

The Back Story

Being an antique dealer is little bit of a hazard. If you happen to be in a relationship with someone who is an antique dealer, you have my sympathies. I can only imagine the situations you have been put in and the furniture you have had to carry.

A good example of what I am referring to took place a couple of weeks ago. Mr. SLH and I decided to take some time for ourselves on a Saturday to stop by an antique store that was about an hour away. Fair enough. Right? Seems reasonable.

Sure enough, once in the store I found a pile of goodies to refurbish and sell. The lady at the register knows me and was kind enough to share that a local village nearby was having a “Village Wide Yard Sale”. What? Seriously? Not more than 2 minutes had elapsed between the end of her sentence and me starting the truck to drive to the village. Mr. SLH was in tow muttering something about lunch and being hungry. What? There is no time to eat! We have to get to the village wide yard sale.

Now that I type this, I can understand why Mr. SLH is sometimes reluctant to go antiquing with me. . .

Anyway, we found the village and low and behold – they DID have an enormous village wide yard sale. Everyone along Main Street had stuff for sale in their front yard. There were old blenders, books, children’s stuffed animals, old drinking glasses, lamps and more. I passed by most of this stuff.

Then, I stumbled upon a house that was having . . . wait for it . . . a BARN sale. Oh yes. There are many great things in old barns whereas garages may or may not have a good find or two.

Including antique Victorian headboards.

How to Repurpose an Antique Headboard

Victorian Bed before

Step 1 – Cleaning

The photo above shows the antique headboard AFTER it was scrubbed down. It had been in the barn for quite some time and it was dirty. So I hosed it down and then scrubbed it down using a bucket of Mr. Clean and hot water. Then I let it dry in the sun for an hour or so.

I know, you are thinking “Why on earth did she buy this?”.

The short answer is – because it has potential. I loved the acorn carvings and ornate design. Details like this always look great when painted.

details of the headboard before

There was some existing paint on the headboard that I could not scrub away.

Details of headboard 3

You can get a better idea of the details on the headboard from the photo above. The headboard was made out of oak but the carved detailed were made out of a different type of wood – perhaps mahogany.

Step 2 – Prep for Painting

After the piece had dried in the sun, I brought it inside and I lightly sanded the surface. This helped to ensure that the wood was clean by removing any remaining dirt or grease. It also created a surface for the paint to adhere to. Once I was done sanding, I wiped the entire piece down with a mircofiber cloth.

Step 3 – Painting with MMS Milk Paint

For those of you who don’t know, I have collaborated with MMS Milk Paint. These are unique paints that come in a powder form. You mix the paint by adding water at a 1:1 ratio. For every cup of powder you add a cup of water.

MMS Milk Paint SLH 10% off

I used MMS Milk Paint in the color Farmhouse White. If you click on the link enclosed to purchase any milk paint, use the code SLH10OFF to save 10% on your purchase.

Painting the headboard

So why I do I use MMS milk paint as opposed to another paint? Milk paint has been around for centuries and was how paint was originally made. It has unique qualities that allow it to create an aged appearance that includes a crackle finish or natural chipping. Because this headboard is already more than 100 years old, I felt using milk paint was in keeping with its age and character. In short, old furniture should look “old” even after being repaired and painted. Milk paint ensures that old furniture still retains its character and age.

The first coat of paint always looks a little scary since it can be splotchy and uneven. However, by the time the second coat is applied, there is once again hope and all is right in the world.

Two coats of paint on the headboard

This is how the headboard looked after two coats of paint. To ensure there was full coverage, I ended up applying a third coat of paint. Sometimes darker woods painted with light colors require three coats of paint.

The photo above shows how the piece looked after three coats of paint. When the front had been completely painted, I flipped the headboard over and painted the back.

Once the paint dried, I used a putty knife to scrape away any loose or flaky milk paint. Then I went over the entire piece with some 220 grit sandpaper.

Headboard after being painted 4

After using the putty knife, this is how the headboard looked. Finally, I used MMS milk wax to seal the piece and protect it.

Step 4- How to Repurpose the Antique Headboard

I decided that this would make a beautiful architectural piece on its own.

Mounting Hardware

To ensure the headboard could be safely mounted to the wall, I used D rings that were rated for holding a weight of up to 50 pounds. Then I attached picture frame wire between the D rings. The headboard is fairly heavy – so I would recommend attaching the mounting nails/screws into an existing wooden stud. (It’s not safe to hang it in drywall only since the headboard is fairly heavy)

Final Result

Following are some ideas of how to repurpose an antique headboard. Feel free to pin any of the images below to your Pinterest boards. That way you can book mark this post for future reference.

Repurposed Antique Headboard 1

You can repurpose the headboard by attaching hooks on the bottom and using it in a variety of purposes.

  • Use it in your entryway to hang coats, hats, scarves etc
  • Use it in your bathroom to hang towels
  • Use it in your kitchen to hang pots and pans
  • Use it to hang gardening tools, dry herbs, or dry florals
  • Reuse it as a headboard by mounting it directly to the wall

For the purposes of these photos, I used some push pins to give you the idea as to how this would look if hooks were attached. However, I recognize that some people may prefer to use it as an architectural piece and for that reason, I decided not to add hooks. (Which would require drilling holes and using screws to attach the hooks).

You can read about the Green Cottage Dresser and see some “before” photos by clicking the link. It’s a dresser from the 1930s-1940s and I just recently took it to the shop.

Details of Repurposed Antique Headboard 2

You can see how the milk paint did its thing and naturally chipped away which created an authentically aged look to the headboard. This is why I love using milk paint.

Repurposed antique headboard 3

Here is one more view from the side. I am particularly happy with the subtle chipping effect.

Repurposed Antique Headboard 4

Here is one last photo of the repurposed antique headboard.

Oh and after Mr SLH and I bought the headboard, we stopped some place nearby and had some sandwiches. Needless to say, I happily paid for lunch.

Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration. When you are out and about antiquing and thrifting – keep an eye out for old headboards! Oh and make sure your antiquing partner is well fed.

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  1. Great fun blog! And good suggestions how it use it.
    I would hang it over my mirror in the hall way. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hello Charlene- Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the post. Do you happen to have any cement planters for sale?

    1. Yes! We must keep Mr SLH fed and the blood sugar levels healthy. Definitely important. Thank you for commenting!

  2. STOP IT!!!! WHAT?!? This is genius. It’s GORGEOUS, Anna!!! I LOVE the detailing and the arched, curvy features on it. This would be so beautiful in any chosen manner of display. I’m amazed!! This is my favorite one that you’ve done!! SO GOOD!!!

    1. Hi Rachel! Thank you for such kind and encouraging comments! We should go thrifting together!

  3. Such a fun read and stunning transformation. Great ideas for repurposing. This blog is slowly , but surely, training my eye to envision pretty and practical potential in old objects; thank you for that!
    Mr SLH probably deserves a black n white cookie.

    1. Hello Susan! Thank you for taking the time to read the post and comment. I am glad you find the information helpful (which is my goal).
      Yes, Mr SLH deserves a black n white cookie and possibly some ice cream.

    1. Hello Kathy-
      Thank you so much for reading the post and for commenting! I am glad you found the information helpful and inspiring.

  4. Such a great way to give this piece fresh life, Anna! I love the color you chose and all the ways we can use something like this in our homes too. They’re fabulous! It’s been forever since I’ve been to a barn sale or a big yard sale like that so I can’t wait to see all the goodies you brought home and I’m so excited for you! Big hugs, CoCo

    1. Hi CoCo- Barn sales always have the best stuff! That’s one of the benefits of living in upstate NY! Thank you for taking the time to read the post and comment.

  5. How did I miss this post?? This piece is gorgeous Anna! Using pieces for a new purpose is my kind of project! Pinned all of your pins so others can see this idea!

  6. Hi Anna! I loved this post so much that I’m excited to tell you this post is being featured this week in Tuesday Turn About Link Party! And it’s being pinned to our TTA Pinterest board too! Thanks for sharing and I hope to see you at the party this week!

  7. Beautiful idea, I would like to have seen the whole thing on your wall. I might like to try this. We are either building or buying a new home and I love old things and have a collection of different things.

    1. Hi Judy – Thank you for the feedback. Planning and decorating a new home sounds like a big but enjoyable task. I too love old things. Thanks for commenting.

  8. UGH!! Why WHITE?? I’m 75 and HATE white anything!! When I lived in a 150 year old farmhouse, NOTHING was white except the outside paint, and it was trimmed in dark red!! Sorry. You could have saved some of the beautiful wood finish.

    1. Hi Carol – Well you aren’t alone. I get a number of comments where folks would prefer if the wood weren’t painted. To each their own. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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