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If you’ve been following along on my antiquing adventures then you know 2 things about me:
1) That I spend a fair amount of time at estate sales.
2) That I’m all about a serious bargain.

Enter this perfectly distressed, cane-backed French Provincial headboard that I recently found in an Oak Ridge, TN garage for… wait for it… just 10 bucks! I couldn’t believe the estate sellers had priced it SO low — especially considering how hot French antiques are right now. I vaulted over a pile of old lumber, pulled off the price tag and hot-footed it straight to the check-out table to pay before anyone else could lay claim.

Once I placed it in my guest room, I remembered one small detail about older headboards — they’re short. Often much, much shorter than modern headboards. So short, in fact, that the pillows dwarf my new French beauty:French Provincial Headboard Before
The good news is that this is a very easy fix. I could have raised the headboard by placing it on wood blocks but that’s unstable and, with any shifting of the bed, would cause the headboard to bang against the wall, damaging the paint. So, I decided to rely on an old designer trick and attach the headboard directly to the wall using a readymade version of a French cleat. A true French cleat is made of interlocking strips of wood that fit together like so:
How to add a cleat to the back of a headboard to raise it
source: wikipedia

But, I’m no woodworker, so I shopped around and found this metal version at my local hardware store that uses the same principle. You just attach one half, with the open angle on the bottom, to the center back of the headboard:
How to add a cleat to the back of a headboard to raise it
Then find the center of the wall where you plan to hang the headboard, measure up from the ground to determine where you want the raised headboard to be, then attach the other half (with the open angle on the top) to your wall. The brand I bought even came with a little spirit level so making sure that my headboard would hang level was a snap. Note: I lucked out and hit a stud so adding wall anchors wasn’t necessary.
How to add a cleat to the back of a headboard to raise it
Then you just lift up your headboard and carefully lower it till the 2 metal angles slide together. The great thing about a French cleat is that because the object is supported along a rail instead of in just one spot — like with a D-ring hanger — you can slide the object a bit in either direction to get it perfectly centered.

Voila, a much higher headboard in just a few easy steps: French Provincial Headboard After Raising It Up
Here’s a before and after to better illustrate the difference: Before and After pics of a headboard that was raised
Annnndddd … just for fun, here’s what really goes on at Chez Camille whenever I work on projects. These are my girls Sophie (left) and Phoebe (right). They’re my little shadows and love to “help” mommy by playing on top of any surface that has my attention:Before and After pics of a headboard that was raised
As the mom to 2 wild-and-crazy canines, it’s literally impossible for me to get out my camera without these 2 photobombing. I’ll take their smiles to mean they’re happy with our new/old headboard:
Before and After pics of a headboard that was raised
What do you think of my $10 find? And have you used a French cleat in any of your projects?

Adventures in Antiquing: Take a Virtual Tour of a TN Spring Antiques Fest
Adventures in Antiquing: Trending at High Point Furniture Market
Adventures in Antiquing: How to Restore an Old Wooden Bowl
Adventures in Antiquing: Upcycled Storage for Dog Toys
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Clinch River Spring Antiques Fair 2013
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

20 Responses

  1. Farima@HGTV says:

    Love the headboard, but love your pups even more. :)

  2. hgtvcamille says:

    Thanks Farima, they're my little hearts. :)

  3. Carolina Moon says:

    French design "French" solution. Somehow, appropriate.

  4. janbyron says:

    I never really knew what a cleat was before this demo!

    • hgtvcamille says:

      Hi janbyron! Yay, I love sharing a new trick with you guys. :) French cleats are the bomb! Designers use them for so many things — like hanging a heavy mirror or artwork or attaching floating shelves. Think of them as the easy way to hang anything (especially heavy or oddly shaped things) flush against the wall.

  5. Kimberly says:

    I have an old headboard that I just distressed and now love even more than before. However, it was so short that it was invisible. :( I saw your blog via Pinterest, went to my local home improvement store, and had my headboard mounted using your suggested "Hangman" (in less than 15 min.) and viola! I may never leave my bedroom now! Love my new, taller, "seeable" headboard. Thank you for sharing your awesome idea!!

  6. Carl says:

    Carl in Honolulu
    How do you hide the fact that the headboard legs do not touch the floor?

    • hgtvcamille says:

      Hi Carl in Honolulu, that's a great question. I was lucky in that the bedding mostly covered up the now too-short headboard legs in my guest room. Another option would be to move the nightstand closer so it could help obscure the shorter legs too.

  7. Joan says:

    Our original, 51 year old bed also has a short headboard. I`ve thought about attaching it to the wall, but the side rails attach to it. Any ideas?

  8. google says:

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker
    who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me
    breakfast simply because I found it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this matter here on your blog.

  9. Angela says:

    Oh Camille, this is exactly what I needed! I have a similar headboard from a thrift store and I love it, but it's way too short. Going out to get hardware tomorrow to do this! Thank you :)

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H. Camille SmithCamille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors...


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