Photography by Margaret Wright

Published on February 1, 2021

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At the tail end of the summer, Charleston, South Carolina–based photographer Margaret Wright found herself on Amazon ordering pool noodles. It’s easily one of the stranger items she’s ever added to her cart, given she doesn’t have a swimming pool to put them in. But she didn’t have floating in mind when she bought the foam tubes. They were for her guest bedroom headboard. “They sat in my house for five months before I completely figured out how to make it work,” she recalls. 

The creative took her original inspiration from designer Brady Tolbert’s DIY channel tufted headboard tutorial (the wall-to-wall feature reminded her 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,” says Wright. The idea quickly evolved into a tufted arch—that’s where the noodles came into the picture. Wright combined the outdoor accessories with pipe insulation tubes, which you’ve probably seen in a water heater closet, and wrapped everything in velvet. Ahead, she walks us through the $300 DIY. 

The Supplies

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  • Ten 1-inch-thick pipe insulation tubes
  • Four 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
  • Eight yards of fabric of your choice
  • Queen-size box spring (optional)

Step 1: Map It Out

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

Step 2: Back It Up

Cut the foam board for the headboard backing roughly the same dimensions as the combined channels (make it slightly smaller so it doesn’t extend beyond the edges of the foam material). To achieve a truly seamless look, take it a step further by adhering fabric to the foam board. 

Step 3: Cover Your Curves

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“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). Cut the fabric of your choice into long strips that will cover each tube. The pipe insulation tubes will be precut, making it easy to tuck the fabric around it, but you’ll have to cut the noodles open yourself with scissors. Glue the fabric to the inside of the seam. 

Step 4: Fill in the Gap

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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. 

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Photography by Margaret Wright

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