I wanted to make a headboard for the simplest of reasons: my pillow kept falling off the bed behind my head (more annoying than you might imagine). I had a number of features that I wanted to incorporate including making hidden shelves that could act as a nightstand and charging station, a hidden cubby for important documents and a means by which my aging cat could get up onto the bed without a great deal of effort. The solution I came up with that fit all these criteria and made for what I feel is a nifty esthetic.
Step 1: The Cat Run
I wanted to make the bed accessible to my aging (16yr. old) cat Zedd so I made a series of platforms or steps that he could wend his way through. Initially I was only concerned with getting him access to the bed but I later decided to give him a platform on which he could look out the sliding glass door in my room and two platforms from which he could survey his domain. I used a could of pieces of old memory foam and a couple of pillow cases to make it comfortable for him as well.
The pictures attached to this step are of the lack of the piece. You can see the holes in the vertical pieces that allowed my cat to enter from the side near the ground and go up in a zig-zag pattern to reach either the bed or the very top perch. Also visible are a the shelves from the back side which I made adjustable.
Step 2: The MDF Under Layer
I wanted to have an under layer that would sure up the cat run and give a sort of base structure for the later pieces. You can see the exit for the cat that ultimately would lead to the bed and one of the hidden shelves with two adjustable shelves installed. The Shelf pictured ultimately ended up being a third smaller so I could make a false bottom and hide the wires for the charging station within. I must confess this feature was a result a "happy accident" in that I had to shrink the shelf door so that I could open it without having to move the pillows on my bed.
There is a second shelf that is not obvious in these shots but is located in the top right of the piece. If it helps, they essentially occupy the spaces that are unneeded for the cat run
Most of design I worked out on graph paper and later moved it to SketchUp (I don't have a handy copy). As a result of the multiple layers of the surface of this project I first laid out the various pieces on my garage floor. Using a dowelling jig I layered the wood on with under layers of MDF. At that point it was amateur of fitting it together like a admittedly shallow 3D puzzle.
Step 4: Distressing and Staining the Boards
In some instances I used Pallet Boards but where I needed larger or more specific pieces I used regular pine board that I distressed. Cobbling together a number of techniques I found online I used an angle grinder, screw paddle (that thing that looks like its straight out of a Spanish Inquisition museum piece), the claw part of claw hammer and such. I then stained the boards which filled in all the marks I had just made bringing the desired imperfections into greater relief.
Step 5: Painting
I attached the boards using dowels which allowed me to remove several and paint them with one color then glue and clamp them to affix them more permanently. When painting the boards I mixed in 1 part Plaster of Paris to 3 parts paint to give the boards a grittier more weathered look. Also, I wiped excess paint off the boards similar to the technique I use to stain wood. The affect turned out better than I could have hoped!
Step 6: The Hidden Shelves
The hidden shelves I clamped while open as you can see in the pictures. It was important to make sure that I glued them open to avoid gluing them shut semi-permanently. Also, I had to make sure the shelves would all still fit with the other pieces they were touching to close smoothly. Once adjustments were made I cut grooves on the back and underside of the middle piece on the shelves so I could reach a finger or two in and open them. With magnets and the false shelf on the bottom I was really pleased over all.
Step 7: Secret Document Shelf
I also added a secret document shelf for my passport and birth certificate and such out of 1/8" plywood. You can just see the opening in the left most picture at bottom in the middle (tough to see I know). It was secured with two spring magnet latches. The addition really worked for me.
Step 8: Final Pictures
The last couple of pictures with my bed and pillows in place. I wish I had a couple of shots with Zedd coming out of the hole or sitting at the top but he passed away before I could - at least he got an opportunity to use it a bunch!