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Reclaimed Timber Hidden Wardrobe Headboard With Lighting

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Reclaimed Timber Hidden Wardrobe Headboard With Lighting

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That’s quite a title, isn’t it? There really wasn’t another way to write it without missing out one of the things that make this project so unique and beautiful. Using reclaimed timber is a wonderful thing; it has so much character and of course, comes with the added satisfaction that you’re giving the material a second life. It’s not without it’s challenges though, especially when it’s different sizes and full of nails and screws! If you’re planning to take on this project, prepare to do so with a good helping of patience and determination.

Why bother?

Seems like a lot of work, right? Why not just buy a wardrobe, a headboard and a lamp and have done with it? Well besides missing the point of this blog and my general attitude to most things, that wouldn’t have helped us with our problem. Space.

The room is a decent enough size but it’s an odd proportion. With the bed against the wall we had too much space at the foot of the bed and no where sensible to put a wardrobe. This project means we can have two (his & hers) Ikea wardrobes, with all the convenient options those come with, while avoiding actually seeing Ikea furniture. Don’t get me wrong, Ikea do some fantastic stuff but somewhat intrinsically… it’s not especially unique.

Framework

To get things started. the main structure of the wall is a scant framework skinned in 9mm plywood. There’s a single top plate and bottom plate separated by three studs. Screw the plywood directly to the frame.

Tip: When you’re ripping plywood sheets using a circular saw, clamp one on top of the other as a guide.

I used two standard 2440mm X 1220mm sheets trimmed to 2000mm X 1220mm and sized all of the scant to match this. The end result is a reasonably cheap but very strong base structure on which to attach your reclaimed timer.

Reclaimed Timber Cladding

The thing that really makes this project stand out is the reclaimed timber cladding. It creates a kind of “feature wall” in the room while also becoming a functional piece of “furniture”. We got our wood from a local pallet company for free. They give them away as firewood but as you can see it’s far too beautiful to just be burned. I believe they’re actually packing materials from large shipping containers, they are strapped on to large heavy items as buffers to prevent damage. There’s a whole mixture of different hardwoods.

Tip: Be careful when cutting reclaimed timber, there could be nails or other fixings which could damage your equipment or, worse still, cause you serious injury.

To attach the reclaimed timber to the wall, each piece was screwed in from the opposite side. This was really tricky and took a lot of time and patience. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to do it and not have any fixings showing, which was important to the final look. Each “course” of wood was separated using a small spacer to allow for expansion, this also made it easier to accommodate differences in the widths of the pieces. Your experience will, of course, be different depending on what sort of reclaimed wood you use. Have a clear idea of how you want it to look when it’s finished before you start, it’s important to think ahead. We went with a kind of running bond pattern like in a brick wall. This meant we had to do a lot of trimming and as each piece was a slightly different starting length, every single one had to be measured individually! The joys of reclaimed timber.

Wiring & Supports

Sockets

In order to have lighting without lamps, we decided to use a Phillips Hue light strip along the top edge to create a diffused up-light effect. We also need to charge our phones at night so mains sockets (or wall outlets for readers in the U.S.) were a must. To keep everything looking clean from the front, this all had to be hidden.

I used a junction box and some terminal block to wire up three sockets to a mains plug. It’s essentially a custom 3-way mains adapter. Make sure everything is earthed properly and use 2.5mm core wire so things can’t get too hot. Put a 13A fuse in the plug and it should be nice and safe.

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Two of the plugs are either side of the wall at the back attached to a piece of white melamine furniture board. The board is there to hide the open section of wall exposed by the offset of the wardrobes. It matches the material used by Ikea and so blends everything together nicely. The other plug is at the top for the light strip.

Doing things this way may seem a bit odd but it avoids changing any of the wiring in your house. This in turn avoids the need for a minor works certificate (I believe).

Supports

Depending on what type of cladding you decide to use, this whole thing gets very heavy. The last thing you want is for it to fall on you during the night! To avoid this somewhat undignified demise, it’s important that it’s fixed to the wall.

“The last thing you want is for it to fall on you during the night!”

I used four pieces of scant, cut to length to match the width of the Ikea wardrobes. These are then attached to the wall using metal l-brackets with more brackets at the other end for fixing to the wall. They slide neatly over the tops of the wardrobes and by keeping them fairly close to the centre, you can’t see them from the ground.

Human step ladder.
If you don’t fancy getting the stepladders out, then use normal ladders and then just stand on your friend. They won’t mind.

Get your wardrobes in position and slide the whole wall back until it’s flush against them. You’ll need at least one other person to do this, it’s heavy! Fix the support brackets to your wall with some decent fixings appropriate to your wall type. Screw through into the wall from inside the wardrobe to tie everything together. Use plastic screw covers to hide the screws in the furniture board.

Lighting

The jewel in the crown of this project is the halo it projects on the ceiling and the wonderful diffuse lighting it creates in the room. Using a smart lighting solution such as the Phillips Hue light strip seen here means you can also dim and change the colour of the light. If you are trying to keep costs down you could use a simpler form of LED strip lighting but you’d have to add a switch somewhere. At the time of writing, you can get the one I’ve used for about £70 which I feel is money well spent.

It’s a pretty straightforward installation. Use the self-adhesive backing – or some double sided tape if you’re using another brand of light strip – to adhere the lights to the top plate of the stud frame. Take care to not place it too close to the front as this could cause a hard shadow from any pieces of wood that protrude past the top of the frame. Then simply plug it in to the socket you installed at the top of the frame.

Architrave

To finish the whole thing off and add a visual frame that really makes the wall look like a piece of art, I made some custom architrave. It’s really just some pine boards ripped to a width that match the total thickness of the wall. Then there is another narrower piece with a mitered end that attaches to the edge of the board and flows around the front corner. To attach the two pieces I used pocket screws and glue and then planed it flush to hide the join. To drill the holes for the pocket screws I used my KregJig R3, it’s a wonderful thing. If you’re interested in pocket hole joinery read my article on why you need a jig…

Each of the side boards was countersunk and then screwed into the outer most studs on the framework. I intended to plug these holes with some scrap pine but to be honest I’ve never got around to it. The holes are deep enough that you don’t see the screws and it look neat enough for me. There is a final front piece that is mitred at both ends that sits along the top. It’s simply tapped and screwed in from the top to keep it in position. All of the pieces have a small chamfer on each edge added using a trimmer with a 45° cutter.

Paint finish

It’s worth mentioning how we finished all of this. We wanted to keep the natural differences in timber colour and grain visible but also brighten the whole thing up so we went with a whitewash effect. There are various ways to do this but the way we did it was really simple. Using a paintbrush, blob some cheap white emulsion at various spots on the wood and then rub the paint over the entire surface with a damp cloth. Leave it to dry for a minute it two and then give it another rub. It’s that simple.

The finished article

To finish things off I added a couple of small side tables using some of the left over reclaimed timber and attached them to the wall using brackets.

Let me know if you attempt this project, I’d love to see what you come up with. Happy Making Stuff.

Crin

Crin

A lifelong fan of making and breaking things. If you can do it yourself, why wouldn't you?

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