{DIY with style} How to Add Nailhead Trim to Furniture

When I began working on the redesign of our master bedroom, one of my main goals was to create a cozy reading space in bright corner by our two sliding glass doors. I found a fabulous new chair - the Meloni Arm Chair {affiliate link} that is not only gorgeous, but also met all of my criteria for comfy reading. An ottoman was also on my must-have list, but my budget was tight, so I ended up purchasing a super inexpensive, faux leather ottoman, and then I added just $10 worth of nailheads to take it from cheap to chic!

If you followed my progress on the One Room Challenge last fall, then you've already seen the completed photos of the room that include this ottoman, but I thought it was about time I share the tutorial!

I chose this particular ottoman because the faux white leather was perfect for brightening up that corner of our bedroom and tying in with the white background of my drapes, while the base has simple, modern lines and matches the color of our other furniture. 

When it arrived, I liked the lines of the ottoman, but it just looked a little to plain and didn't quite fit the style of the room. And as is often the case - you get what you pay for! The ottoman was really chipped up - but fortunately it was nothing I couldn't fix with with a combination of my wood stain marker and my stain blend-fil pencil.

Once I had the ottoman looking as good as new, I was ready to make it look even better! I wanted to add a nailhead detail to tie in with the chair - but what color? Brass to match the nailhead detail on the chair seemed the obvious choice, but the table next to the chair is silver, and I didn't want it to feel out of place. What I ended up with are two rows of nailheads - brass along the top, and silver along the bottom. Now the chair, ottoman and table look like they were meant to be, and the ottoman looks a whole lot more chic than it did before!

Ok, so now you know my why, but let's talk about the how! I started by purchasing the nailheads from my favorite fabric store. They have an entire wall of nailheads of every size, shape and color.

Despite all these options, I couldn't find silver and brass nailheads of the exact same size?! But fortunately the size difference is so minimal that it's not noticeable on the ottoman. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how inexpensive nailheads are - 3 cents each for the brass ones I picked, and 5 cents for the silver! I purchased 120 of each color - so all in my cost was under $10!

This was my first time installing nailheads, and, in addition to being a bit labor intensive, there was also a bit of a learning curve. But once I found a good method, it was smooth sailing! And by watching Friends reruns while I worked, the time flew by. :)

Here are the supplies I used {affiliate links}:

Since I was going to install two parallel rows of nailheads, I knew I needed to keep them quite straight and that eyeballing it wouldn't cut it. To make it easy, I used a piece of wide painter's tape and lined up my rows of nailheads with the top and bottom of the tape.

To evenly space my nailheads, I used a ruler and a Sharpie to mark every half and inch along the top and bottom of the tape.

I didn't want to hammer the nailheads directly in to the tape, as I knew it would make it difficult to pull the tape off later without having some of it stuck beneath the heads. Instead, I used my thumb to press the very tip of a nailhead into the wood at the location of each Sharpie mark to make indentations that would be visible when the tape was removed.

After using a nailhead to mark 4-5 inches worth of nailhead locations, I tore off the tape up to that point, revealing the small indentations in the wood at the spots where I would hammer in the nailheads.

When I began to hammer in the nailheads, I first tried to hold them in place with my fingers, but I was having problems with the nails not going in straight, or bending half way in. That's when I grabbed my needle nose pliers, and they did the trick!

I used the pliers to hold the nail steady while using my tack hammer to hammer them in. The small head of the tack hammer was much easier to work with than a full size hammer head - especially for the row of nailheads that was right up against the faux leather. Sorry for the blurry photo - I was working alone and it was hard to get the photo while using both hands to hold the pliers and hammer. ;)

I continued along using this plier/tack hammer method until I caught up to the blue tape, then I repeated the process of pressing a nailhead in to the marks on the painter's tape, removing the tape, and hammering in more nailheads.

It took me several hours to complete both rows of nailheads all the way around the ottoman, but I am thrilled with how it turned out!

The nailheads not only help the ottoman look perfect alongside the chair and silver side table, for only $10, it also gives the ottoman a more chic, high end look that better fits the style of the room!

Now that I know how much impact a row {or two} or nailheads can have, I'm looking around the house for other pieces of furniture that could use a little upgrade!

How to add nailhead trim to furniture - $10 makeover

Below you'll find a collection of all of the other projects from our Modern Metro master bedroom makeover:


  1. I love your ottoman and the entire bedroom!! I found a very inexpensive ottoman at Home Goods a couple years ago and also tried my hand at adding nailhead. I wish I had the selection you had. And, then recently I sold it. I love how you mixed your metals to make it work for your space. It looks beautiful and I'm certain it must be used frequently.

  2. Love this project and the awesome tutorial! Thinking of a few things around my place that could be totally spiffed up with this trim ;-) Would love for you to link the project at our Something To Talk About link party today to share it out too! http://bluwaterlife.com/2015/02/something-to-talk-about-link-party-3/

  3. Great tutorial! I like how you marked the holes. Good tip!

  4. I love how this turned out and I am completely envious of your master reading nook!! I would love to have you link up with us at Talented Tuesdays tomorrow starting at 9am CST http://tastefullyfrugal.org

  5. Beautiful ottoman! I love the trick for marking the nail placement. Thanks for sharing at Something To Talk About Link Party!

  6. Using two different colors of nailheads was a very clever idea. I bet you are really enjoying that quiet reading corner, I know I would.

  7. Awesome tutorial for adding nailheads! I love the look on your ottoman.

    Thanks so much for sharing on Show Me Saturday!