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At the tail end of the summer, Margaret Wright found herself on Amazon ordering pool noodles. It was easily one of the strangest things she’s ever added to her cart, given she doesn’t have a pool to put them in. But the Charleston, South Carolina–based photographer didn’t have swimming in mind when she bought the foam tubes. They were for her guest bedroom—to create a pool noodle headboard, specifically. “They sat in my house for five months before I completely figured out how to make it work,” she recalls. 
The creative took inspiration from the tufted wall-to-wall feature designer Brady Tolbert featured on his DIY channel—it reminded Wright of a luxe hotel. “I wanted our guest room to be nicer than normal because we usually have a lot of out-of-town visitors,” she says. Wright’s vision for the idea quickly evolved into an arch, and that’s where the noodles came in. She combined the outdoor accessories with pipe insulation tubes, the kind you’ve probably seen in a water heater closet, and wrapped everything in velvet. Below, she walks us through the $300 DIY.

The Supplies

  • 10 1-inch-thick pipe insulation tubes
  • 4 pool noodles
  • 2-inch-wide insulation foam backer board
  • 1 1/2-inch-thick queen memory foam mattress topper
  • Low-heat hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • Spray adhesive
  • Tape
  • Box cutter
  • 8 yards of fabric of your choice
  • Queen-size box spring (optional)

Step 1: Map It Out

Decide what size you want your headboard to be. Wright’s outermost tube is 60 inches tall and 90 inches wide so that it would be large enough to extend beyond the queen mattress and nightstands. Tape a few pool noodles together end to end to create your border, eyeballing the shape of the arch. Craft the other channels (Wright made five total) using the pool floats for the outermost edges and the pipe insulation tubes for the inner layers. “I’m sure there is a mathematical formula I could have followed to make a perfect arch, but I never figured that out,” she says, laughing.

Step 2: Back It Up

Cut the foam board for the backing to roughly the same dimensions as the combined channels. Pro tip: You might want to make it slightly smaller so it’s hidden within the arched edges. To achieve a truly seamless look, you can also adhere fabric to this part, too.

Step 3: Cover Your Curves

“I’m a major velvet person,” says Wright, who scored panels of emerald green fabric from Fabric Wholesale Direct on the cheap (samples from Etsy were $40 alone). Trim the textile into strips long enough to cover each tube. The pipe insulation pieces will be precut, making it easy to tuck the excess around it, but you’ll have to split the noodles open yourself with scissors. Glue the fabric to the inside of the seam.

Step 4: Fill in the Gap

Measure the remaining empty middle space inside the channels. Cut the mattress topper and foam board with a box cutter to fit within the dimensions of the half-moon opening. Coat the board in spray-on adhesive and attach the topper. Then spray the topper with the adhesive and lay the velvet fabric on top. Hot-glue the edges around the back of the structure.

Finally, adhere the tubes to one another before gluing the arch to the upholstered center. Put your leftover scraps to use by stapling them around your box spring so the whole thing looks like one complete piece.