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July 17, 2017

7 inventive ways to give a pallet a new life

Design Houzz
IdeaDekor IdeaDekor/for PhillyVoice

Part of the joy of this feature wall is that it has an uneven surface and a patchwork effect. But while that gives you some freedom in terms of neatness, you won’t want to risk splinters whenever you touch it, so be prepared to do a lot of sanding.

Pallets can be used in a surprising number of ways around the house and garden. There are the really simple ideas, starting with laying them on the floor and plonking a mattress on top for a basic bed, as well as the popular industrial-style coffee table on casters. But there’s much more you can fashion from these slatted-wood structures. For inspiration on using them to create sofas, living walls, and bulletin boards, read on.

Maciek Platek - Interior and Architecture, original photo on Houzz

1. Nestle one into a nook.

You might not want your main sofa to be such a DIY affair, but for an occasional reading spot, a pallet daybed could work perfectly. And a dinky little seat like this requires very few skills, as the sturdy casters simply screw into the base. (Make sure you choose a type strong enough for the job.) To get the best from the wood, sand it so it won’t give you splinters or snag the cushion, and then give it a few coats of the finish of your choice, be it a matte varnish, stain or furniture oil. Ask a helpful person in your local DIY shop for tips on the best finish to achieve the look you’re after. Also be aware that not all pallet wood is porous, so it may repel certain types of products.

You can get foam cut to size online, and if you’re not handy with a sewing machine to make a cover, it’s a simple job for an in-house tailor at a dry cleaners.

Sven Fennema Fotografie, original photo on Houzz

2. Fashion a sofa base.

On the other hand, if your foam is thick enough and you smother your pallets with soft, comfy pillows, you can make something extremely cozy, as seen here. Lacking wheels, this sofa is even easier to put together than the previous example.

Choose your covering with care to avoid anything that looks too dorm-roomish. Here, some beautiful pale linen does the job, and color-coordinated pillows add to the soft, Scandi feel of this large living space.

Related: Move your desk under a sunny window for better productivity 

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

3. Build a planter.

Pallets are naturals for this conversion project. There are various approaches to it — here, the DIYer achieved a living-wall effect.

When planting, consider the shapes your plants will grow into, and position your choices to ensure they work well together before committing them to soil. Here, for example, the top row has small, vertical flowers, which allows space for the plants in the row below to burst out of their linear confines. Elsewhere, spongy mosses contrast with spiky fronds and danglers. Stick to a limited color palette too. Here, greens dominate, with just a dash of purple and creamy white.

A planter like this seems (maybe!) like a simple project — and it’s definitely not hard, even for DIY novices — but there is a bit of ingenuity needed in building the lining.

Painting pallets is one good way to make them more indoor-friendly. But unless you’re using a paint or stain designed for sheds or other outdoor wood (meaning it’ll color the pallet but the grain will still show through), be sure to use a primer, or you’ll be fighting an uphill battle with your paint.

A note on safety: Choose pallets whose origin you can trace. If they’ve been carrying food, for example, there could be residue that might lead to mold. If the wood is splitting or flaking, this indicates rot, and the pallets should not be used. Most important of all, check the pallets for an HT stamp that confirms they have been heat-treated (rather than treated with toxic chemicals). If there’s no HT stamp, don’t use them.

Elayne Barre Photography, original photo on Houzz

4. Top it off.

Making a low table by stacking up three or four pallets couldn’t be simpler. But a slatted surface isn’t exactly ideal for a table. You have a couple of options. You may find that some attractive trays will suit your needs perfectly. Or you could get a piece of particleboard or MDF cut and paint it. (The particleboard will work best sanded; it will still have an interesting texture and it’s lighter than MDF.) Or go sleek and classy as the owners of this minimalist garden have done and get some tempered glass cut to size. If the rest of the table is free, it’s an expense you might be able to justify.

Related: Get more coffee table inspiration here

IdeaDekor, original photo on Houzz

5. Panel a wall.

This wall may not have been made with pallets but the idea is transferable — if you’re prepared to put in the work taking apart dozens of the things.

To make a paneled wall like this, you’ll first need to attach battens to the original wall, to create somewhere to nail your strips to. Panel pins are made for this kind of job.

Part of the joy of this feature wall is that it has an uneven surface and a patchwork effect. But while that gives you some freedom in terms of neatness, you won’t want to risk splinters whenever you touch it, so be prepared to do a lot of sanding. Pick pallets of different sizes, and if you can find some that have been painted, throw those in the mix too. You can see how good it’ll look.

Going Home To Roost, original photo on Houzz

6. Put up a bulletin board.

This small pallet piece has been used in a beautifully simple way. First, it shields the desk from a sunny window, taking the edge off the glare. Second, it works as a bulletin board where items can be hung in the slots or pinned to the wood.

Related: See how this kids' room was made with wooden pallets

7. Make it sleek.

Pallet coffee tables are often seen in industrial-style rooms, with big, chunky wheels attached. It’s become a bit of a classic look, but you can easily move the trend forward a little by choosing hairpin legs instead. These are widely available online and come in all sorts of colors, as well as natural metal, and result in a far more delicate take on the idea.