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5 Easy Ways to Add Nail Head Trim

January 20, 2012
5 Easy Ways to Add Nailhead Trim by Upcycled Home

That title is kind of a lie. I mean, nailhead [is it 'nailhead' or 'nail head' trim? I don't know so I will use them interchangeably to suit my own whims] trim is one of my all-time favorite finishing details, but it’s not always easy to do. Especially if you are doing close-set nails. You have to get things all straight and even, and sometimes the nailheads like to bend if you don’t hit them straight-on. And then you are all cursing the manufacturer for making obviously defected nails, because YOU know how to use a friggin hammer, dammit!  Or if you are less-confident in your DIY skills, maybe you are even blaming yourself for thinking that you were capable of such a clearly complex task or that nailhead trim was ever a good idea in the first place. Or heaven-forbid, you are blaming me for posting that stupid blog post about how “easy” it is to add nail heads [but I don't want that, so that's why I'm giving it to you straight, right up-front].  And we won’t talk about the finger-pokes and sore thumbs which WILL occur with any good nail head project.

Nail Head injury by Upcycled Home

Exhibit A – blood shed during my own recent nailhead project

But, BUT all things considered in the vast scope of home decorating/design projects, nailheads [autocorrect keeps changing that to 'railheads'  so I'm thinking it must be 'nail heads'?...or autocorrect just sux] really can be a relatively easy way to perk up a piece. A few examples from my vast design archives, with the full eye candy assortment available on my Nail Head Trim Pinterest board.

1. Add nail heads to dressers, cabinets, or other case goods

You can go simple and follow the lines of the piece, or get more elaborate and go with something fancier. Here is one of my recent projects – a lacquered grasscloth covered console, with lots [985 to be exact] of brushed pewter nailheads that followed the lines of the piece.

Grasscloth covered console with silver pewter nail head trim detail by Upcycled Home

Check out these A-MAZING IKEA hacks by Tina Sindhal [with google’s roughly translated how-to instructions here or on IKEA HACKERS here], blogged about here by Meera [who also has a great design blog BTW].

Source: houzz.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And I cannot believe the intricacy of this piece, simply stunning [as captured by Robin on Happily Home After].

Source: happilyhomeafter.blogspot.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And how about this cute little piece by Bungalow 5 [who has so, so many inspiring and beautiful pieces with nailhead glory, I could do a whole post just on their items]

Source: houzz.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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This guy is a little simpler, and perfect for testing out your tolerance for nailhead DIY.

Source: craftgossip.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And this one is kind of the ultimate Simple Nailhead DIY.

Source: ikeahackers.net via Melissa on Pinterest

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And finally, this tres adorable little dresser, perfect idea for a kids’ room or nursery. And another easy IKEA hack [I’m thinking this one looks like Hemnes but Malm or Rast would be perfect too].

Source: freshhomeideas.com via Melissa on Pinterest

2. Add nail heads to chairs or sofas [kind of a duh but they can make all the difference]

Don’t have the budget to reupholster a chair or sofa, or other upholstered piece you’ve grown tired of? Perk it up by adding decorative nail heads.

Here is a fancy version.

Source: revelryeventdesigners.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And another really fancy version [LOVE.]…wish I knew who made it.  [Also love the descending-sized picture frames in punchy colors.]

Source: abodelove.blogspot.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And here is a basic version.

Source: google.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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How easy would it be to add nailhead to those ubiquitous Parsons chairs?! Very.

Source: athome-furnishings.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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Here is a great tutorial on adding nailhead to upholstered chairs, via Isabella and Max Rooms.

Source: isabellaandmaxrooms.blogspot.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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3. Add nail heads to an existing headboard

Fixing up a headboard with nailheads is much like sofas and chairs–sometimes adding a little metal or new pattern can be just the change you need…until you have the budget to replace or reupholster.

This genius piece is super-simple and made of [ply?]wood, but dressed up with lovely nail heads. Rustic, chic, easy…love all three!

Source: flickriver.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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A common headboard style with an easy shape to add nailhead trim to.

Source: centsationalgirl.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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Maybe something in a basic wingback? This one is from West Elm, but you could DIY a plain wingback upholstered headboard to add nail heads.

Source: westelm.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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Same here–a very easy DIY to add nailhead trim around the edge of an already-upholstered headboard.

Source: potterybarn.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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A super-great tutorial by the always-ingenious Janell Bealls of Isabella and Max Rooms [for the headboard, below].

Source: isabellaandmaxrooms.blogspot.com via Melissa on Pinterest

4. Add nail heads to doors

This is especially fun for livening things up if you have plain old hollow-core or masonite doors. All you need is a ruler/measuring tape/level, painters tape, nailheads, a hammer, and a little [or a lot] vision.

Here is a simple pattern with how-to instructions from Martha Stewart.

Source: marthastewart.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And here is something much swankier, but GOR-GEE-OUS, by Nicky Kehoe.

Source: nickeykehoe.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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Or how about these sleek and simple black doors with silver nailheads? I feel these would be entirely appropriate in my own home.

Source: houzz.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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Love these beauties as well. I really want to do something like this to our horrible, boring hollow core closet doors.

Source: houzz.com via Melissa on Pinterest

5. Add nail heads to walls

Ummokey-dokey so maybe if you have plaster walls this isn’t a great option, but if you have drywall or that tacky god-awful 70′s wood paneling on your walls, this could be an option for you to create something really different and interesting and amazing. Yes, accept that you will have some holes to fill if/when you decide to remove nails…but that, my dears, is what they make a little product called SPACKLE for.  Don’t be afraid of nail holes, they are so, so very minor–like zits you can cover with the right makeup–and easy to erase. Spackle. And if you are super-DIY you could upholster your walls before adding rnailheads like the pros below.

*UPDATE*

So I had to add my own little ingenious recent use of nailheads on the wall–for decoration but also to help hold up grasscloth wallcovering that I didn’t want to bother with applying the “regular” way. You know, with wallpaper paste and permanence. See there, those little black dots under the top arch of the shelf? They be nail heads my friends.

DIY Grasscloth on Bookshelves by Upcycled Home

A beautiful but simple example of gray fabric walls with nailhead detail by Mad Genius Mary McDonald [aka MG-McD].

Source: housebeautiful.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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And a great how-to for adding fabric and nail head trim to those wood-paneled walls by Kristi at Addicted 2 Decorating.

Source: addicted2decorating.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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Around cabinetry? Holy shit, I SERIOUSLY DIE.

Source: stardust-decorstyle.blogspot.com via Melissa on Pinterest

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As for where to buy nailheads/nail heads? Well, of course you can go to your local fabric store like JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, but the options are likely to be very limited–think standard size 7/16″ in brass, nickel, pewter [if you're lucky] and in small quantities. And for some of these projects, you’re going to need more than “small quantities”. So a couple of great online sources you can check out:
http://www/diyupholsterysupply.com

http://www.dadsnails.com

http://www.upholsterysupplies.com

http://neupholsterysupply.com

And you may want one of these babies–a nail head setter–though I personally don’t think it is absolutely necessary if you are willing to be all anal and measure everything out. You can get them at any of the upholstery suppliers listed above for $10 or less. Now, get nailing!

Nail Head Setting tool by Upcycled Home

Using a nail head setter can make the job of adding nail heads easier.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2012 10:13 am

    I totally enjoyed all of the wonderful ideas using decorative nail heads. Sure did give me a lot of good ideas for new projects. I always like to use the 1/2″ nails, & mainly use the decorative nails, when I am upholstering leather, because I find they don’t bend as bad & using the right hammer is so important. And you are right……….a few bad words usually slips out when applying these nail heads. LOL

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