|Image from Marthastewart.com|
Semi-gloss paint (or your preferred finish)
Batting (I would suggest several layers just to make it a little more plush)
Fabric circles, optional
Pinking shears, optional
20-gauge brass wire
Mantle Headboard How-To
First you want to sand down the mantle & wipe down the wood - as you would with anything you are trying to refinish. Prime and paint the mantle & let dry completely. If you are looking for something that is fairly flat, go with a satin paint, for something a little more flashy, go with a semi-gloss paint. A high-gloss will be very reflective, but if you are into it, go for it!
Cut a board to fit the size of the opening in the mantle (minus a little room for the batting & fabric). Drill holes in the plywood for the decorative buttons if you want a tufted look. Cover the board with batting, cutting the batting 4 inches longer all the way around, then secure it to the board with a staple gun. Cut the fabric with enough room to cover the batting. Place the board batting side down onto the fabric & secure the fabric with a staple gun. Remember to pull the fabric tight & fold the corners!
If you have chosen to add buttons, they used both buttons and fabric circles, which they cut with pinking shears from contrasting fabric 1 inch larger in diameter than the buttons; fold the circles in the middle and snipped a slit for our button shank to fit through. Insert an 8-inch length of 20-gauge brass wire back to front through each hole in the board. On fabric side of board, thread a button with a shank through the slit in the fabric circle. Bend wire and push it back through the hole so both ends of wire are on back of board. Place board face down on work surface. To secure button to board, thread it through a plain button on the back of the board and knot the wire by pulling it tight, causing the fabric to form a rosette. Repeat for each tuft. Add the buttons. (I copied Martha's text here, as I think she explained it WAY better than I could have.)
They suggest using mending brackets to attach the headboard, I would use at least two on each side, maybe one on the top for good measure. Screw each bracket into the back of the plywood & into the mantle. Make sure the screws aren't too long so that they pierce through the wood or the mantle! The site then suggests using L-Brackets to secure it to the wall. Because it's top heavy I would definitely suggest securing it to the wall in some fashion.
Here is the website link for reference: Mantle Headboard and happy DIY-ing!