DIY: Headboard turned Coat Rack

By Kate Riley August 24, 2009

One month ago, I bought a spindly old fashioned twin headboard at the local thrift store with every intention of turning it into a bench.  I’d seen the idea traveling around on some blogs, and loved it.  The headboard cost me a total of $12 dollars.

After some thought, I decided I had less use for a bench, and greater use for a coat rack in my guest space.  I had a bare wall, so why not fashion the headboard into a rack for scarves, sweaters, jackets, robes, or hats for my guests ?   You may recall, I’ve done this before, turning a footboard into a message center with some white and chalkboard paint.   

So I decided to do it again, but this time with a headboard.  I also used a different paint technique to give my coat rack an antiqued look.  Now, the twin headboard has been transformed into an architecturally decorative piece, providing both form and function. 

Follow along and I’ll show how I turned this:

headboard side before

into this: 

headboard from side after

First, take a look at the headboard that I brought home from the thrift store.  You’ve seen these before.  They were popular many decades ago.  Not so much anymore. 

headboard before

The wood was in pretty poor shape.  It would be fine to refurbish the headboard by simply staining or painting it, but it just came across as too old fashioned for my taste, so I repurposed it for a better cause.  

Step One:  I cut the bottom legs off with my compound miter saw.  I’ve recently learned to operate this bad boy, and Mr. CG is cool with that fact that I have a big time crush on him. 

cut with compound miter

Step Two:  I sanded the piece with a coarse sanding pad to remove any debris or trace of remaining varnish.  This piece was pretty dried out, so not much was there. 

sand headboard

Step Three:  I removed the spindles with a saw from the center for a more modern look, and filled the holes with wood filler. 

Step Four:  I primed my piece with durable primer so my paint job would last. 

spray primer

For my new coat rack, I wanted to “antique” the appearance of this older piece to pay homage to the fact that my wood had been around for several decades.  I wanted that vintage French distressed paint treatment with creamy white paint and exposed wood edges underneath.  I’ve used this paint trick before to “antique” these candlesticks

If you desire the same look, but your wood is in poor condition, or is a paler tone wood like maple or natural oak, then what can happen is when you sand away your creamy white paint, you expose that poor wood condition or pale wood tone underneath.  In such circumstances, I prefer to cheat.  I like to guarantee a rich espresso tone underneath my cream paint.  So I fake it.  Here’s how.

Step Five: Paint just the edges of your piece where you want the “wood” to show through with espresso brown paint.  Allow to dry. 

rustoleum espresso spray paint

Step Six: Paint your piece with your color of choice.  I chose to spray with a favorite: Rustoleum’s ‘Heirloom White’.  I allowed the paint to settle for 30 seconds, then I used my fingernail underneath a slightly moistened paper towel to scrape away the white paint and expose the “wood” (brown paint) underneath. 

swipe with finger

Note: I have used sandpaper in the past to expose wood edges underneath my paint job.  Sandpaper works just as well, but this is another alternative.  I like this moist wipe away technique because it guarantees the result I want.  And if I scrape too much white paint, I just spray over the smear, and start over. 

Here’s a glance at my finished paint job:

french paint job

Step Seven:  When my paint was dry, I attached ‘D’ ring hangers to the back of my headboard.  I also attached three brown hooks to the front that I found at my favorite salvage warehouse

attach d ring

attach brown hooks

I’m really crazy about these deep brown iron hooks against the crisp white paint. 

dark colored hooks 

Before and After:

before and after 

I am loving the “new” architecture of this coat rack.

headboard on wall

We’re expecting a lot of guests this autumn during the harvest season, so now they have an extra place for their fall scarves, hats, and mittens. 

coat rack with scarves  

The total cost for this rescued and revamped coat rack, including paint and supplies ?  $25 dollars.  Consider making one for your own home for a lot less than retail, and it will be much more original. 


  1. This is lovely and what perfect timing! How did you know I was thinking about getting a coat rack for my new place?

  2. Oh i love this!!

    and, thanks for the tip about spraying under neath where you want rich brown to show through.
    And especially big thanks for the tip about wiping off the paint while it is wet!!!
    I usually sand after i am done, and it is a lot more work!!

    Great post.


    barbara jean

  3. Ms. Kate, you absolutely inspire me. You make it look so natural for a beautiful woman to operate power tools and have a cabinet full of paint and sundry fix-it-up items. I want to go on a shopping spree to Home Depot.

  4. I love, love, love it! I read your other post about this painting technique, but for some reason this time I really got it. I have a hard time taking sandpaper to my projects, so I will have to give your technique a try on the next piece.

    Thanks for sharing your beauteemous projects!!! I always learn so much from you! :)

  5. BTW I forgot to tell you… Girl Power!!! I love the picture of you using the miter saw! Aren't power tools the best?? They just make me feel so…. mighty… like we can conquer the world (or at least make it prettier), one piece of furniture at a time! ;)

  6. Wonderful project. The finished coat rack looks great. My husband gave me a compound miter saw for Christmas one year. The salemans at Sears was stunned. Don't know what I liked better, the saw or the saleman's expression.
    You will find a lot of uses for it.

  7. Great project, Kate!! Thank you so much for giving a detailed tutorial on how you do the distressing…I wasn't sure how everyone was doing that when it's wet.

    It looks beautiful! :)

  8. This is so great! You have such vision for turning junk into functional ART! Thanks for showing us how you did it!!

  9. Great transformation, Kate, and you made it into something that will actually be used! Good idea with the paint too.

  10. You are just the most clever girl. Don't you feel powerful wielding the miter saw?!

    I can't wait to get to my computer every morning to check out what new idea you've come up with. Thanks for inspiring all of us.

  11. I love that idea. Thanks for the great step by step instructions. You make it look easy.

  12. Love this one, Kate! I love how removing the little spindles gives it a whole new, fresh look. And you're so right…you know that no one has this exact piece anywhere in the world!

  13. OMG! I love that coat rack. I can't wait to show you all my chairs…I just need to sew up the cushions. They're going to be lovely. BTW, I love your use of thrift. My mother and friends always rag on me for picking up furniture of w/e off the side of the road or buying from thrift stores, but things that are old and shabby can be be new and beautiful with imagination, sandpaper and paint. Great job!

  14. That is absolutely wonderful! I love it! You give me such inspiration with your fun ideas! You have now made me such a fan of Heirloom White. :)

  15. This is beautiful! I love it, you have such great ideas. Just what I need for my daughter's playroom.

  16. Girl you've done it again. Please keep inspiring me. Love your blog and thought I'd let you know…

  17. You never cease to amaze! I just featured you on my blog! Check it out, and THANKS!

  18. LOVE this idea! It's totally inspiring. :) I hope you'll add it to my Inspiration Tuesday blog party if you get the chance!

  19. Love it! I've got the perfect spot for something like this,, Now I've got to find a headboard,, thanks for sharing,, your blog is a real inspiration.

  20. Love this idea! I just bought an antique sewing table (that I blogged about today) and am thinking about how to paint it. I quite like your distressing idea, and it sounds so simple!

  21. smartness girl! plain smartness! and SOOO jeaulous of the saw- *sigh* oh how I love power tools!

  22. Genius idea! I love the way it looks, and I am with you, those hooks are fantabulous!


  23. Such a transformation! Thanks for sharing the painting technique you used. I have some furniture that needs a paint makeover and I just may try this. Thanks!

  24. Completely brilliant. Yet again. Love, love, love it! And workin' the mitre saw, impressive!

  25. You are so amazing with this stuff – teach me your ways!!

    And I wish I had a garage to do stuff like this in… *sigh*

  26. BRILLIANT INSPIRING CREATIVE…I am in awe of your talents. Thanks for inspiring me.

  27. Oh, how cute. I'm trying to redecorate while working with what I've already got…

    but I just don't have the knack.

  28. Wow! My husband and I were just talking about needing a coat rack for our entry way. I've past up headboards very similar to what you used but never again! You're awesome!

  29. My goodness, YOU are who I want to be when I grow up! That is simply fabulous. Love the painting technique, thanks for teaching us!

  30. I love it…..that is such an awesome idea. I have done the sanding look with the sand paper and I like it. I really like the headboard / coat rack…so neat. Thanks so much for sharing.

  31. What a great idea! This was a very interesting and informative stop! I will certainly be back to see what else you do! Have a great day!

  32. Thaaaaaank you for teaching us how to give the antique look when painting white over a light colored piece. The espresso paint is genius!! I have been asking around how to do that and nobody has even understood my question. :)


  33. I am in love! I am envious of your miter saw skills. I am going to have to get some of those skills! Great work, lovely piece, keep inspiring us!

  34. Gorgeous!! I've been wanting try refinishing an upcoming project with an antique look. Thanks for all the pointers! I don't know how you have the energy for all of these amazing projects…

  35. Looking the before picture of the headboard, I would never guess that is the same piece! Fabulous transformation! I love your idea of turning it into a coat rack…and a stylish one at that!

  36. I am totally in love. Great idea KATE. I hope you will link up to my Roadkill Rescue party. It wouldn't be the same without you. ;-)

  37. Seriously… amazed!! you make this all sound so delightfully simple and yet I know I could never do this myself in a million years! It turned out so fun!

  38. Amazing! You have such vision. Wish I could borrow you at my place for a month or so! :)

  39. I absolutely love this idea. In fact I loved it so much, I went out to my local thrift store and bought a $3 headboard. I want to put it in my daughter's room. Hopefully I can make mine look as great as yours did!

  40. I love that! I love reusing old headboards and I've never seen it done like this before! Good job (and I love the hooks!) ~Ashley~ shanty2chic

  41. Just wanted to let you know that I linked to this on my blog. It is amazing, and I am always in awe at all the wonderful things you create. Thanks you for being such an inspiration…I love the new blog too :)

  42. Hi CG,

    I just discovered your blog LAST NIGHT, and I need to tell you I am in love with your projects, ideas, enthusiasm, etc. I have taken a sabbatical of sorts from decorating (kids, work, and school got first dibs on me), but now that I am done with school, I am ready!

    You have inspired me to get back to my personal roots and start again. I am going to start with slip-covering a chair, then hopefully make something similar to your coat rack! I have an abandoned headboard I rescued a few years ago, and it was waiting for me to use it.

    I am now going to be a regular follower! :)

    Keli in Cali

  43. Love this! Really great idea for headboards that seem to pop up all the time. I am wanting to buy my first electric saw. Would you suggest the mitre saw as an all around good first saw? I had thought about a sawsall too or a jig saw…..

  44. Hey, all of your images for this are broken now… just thought you should know! I’d like to see how this is done but all I see are a bunch of big exclamation marks :(

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