Here's our room before the project. Notice I left it like it really looks and without nice lighting.
STEP 1: I went to Lowe's and bought a piece of 4'x8' birch plywood. We had Lowe's cut it down to 76" inches (2 inches wider than the bed is) and then had it cut in two. You don't have to have that last cut, I just liked the way it looked with a seam once it was finished.
STEP 2: I put the two 2'x6'4" pieces of plywood on folding card tables in my garage--because I don't actually have a woodworking shop--and sanded the wood with an orbital sander. You can use sandpaper and do it by hand, but it is a LOT harder--and, besides, this way you get to use a power tool.
STEP 3: Apply a coat of wood conditioner (sold in the stain section at Lowe's--I got Minwax because that's the kind of stain I got). After it soaks in for about 10 minutes, you're ready to stain the wood.
STEP 4: Apply the stain. I used Minwax Polyshades because it has the stain and the polyurethane protective coating in one. This is their Bombay Mahogany shade--I applied 3 coats (with 1 day drying time in between each one).
STEP 5: For this project, we needed to attach the two pieces of wood together so that they could hang as one unit, but if you didn't cut the plywood in two you wouldn't have this step. This is Jay using brackets to connect the two pieces together. The boards are face down on our bedroom floor.
STEP 6: Attach the mounting hardware. This was the part I couldn't find online, but I found a great product at Lowe's called The Hangman Picture Hanging System. One metal strip is screwed into the wall (it even comes with a level in it) and one metal strip is screwed into whatever you want to hang. The strip on the item to be hung then slides down on top of the one on the wall. You can even slide the item along the strip if it isn't quite centered. It is wonderful. We got the 18" one, but it comes in several lengths.
STEP 7: Hang the headboard. With the wall mounting strip drilled into 2 studs (used our stud finder again) and three anchors, the 45lb headboard won't be going anywhere. The Hangman thing says it holds up to 200lbs if supported by studs, so I will definitely be using it again.
FINISHED PRODUCT: In true before and after fashion, here is the headboard complete with made up bed, new wall sconces, and new bedside tables. I also spend a lot of money while pregnant.
I don't have a fancy camera and the lights in my ceiling fan are all burned out so the headboard looks quite dark in this picture. You also can't really see the seam that I wanted to have with two pieces of wood. But trust me, in person it matches my grandmother's vanity nicely and is very shiny. This is one of my more successful home projects and I'm really glad to have found that Hangman thing.