If you are on Pinterest, it’s likely you have seen lots of various pallet projects. Pallets are wooden squares that are used as bases to ship items. They are usually reused or discarded, depending on the condition of the pallet.
For months I have been keeping an eye out for discarded pallets, so I would be able to make one of these fabulous upcycling projects I have seen over and over again. Usually whenever I spot one that is being thrown away, it is in shambles and in no condition to upcycle. Then, one day coming out of Kroger I noticed this pallet by the garbage…could it be?! It looked perfect from afar, but I felt like there must be something wrong with it since they were throwing it away. I walked up to it and upon further inspection I really couldn’t find anything wrong with it. In fact, the wood was basically brand new, and it looked like it had barely been used. JACKPOT!!
I pulled up my car, picked up the pallet (it was heavy!), and tried to load it into my trunk. Uh oh….big problem. It wouldn’t fit in my trunk!!! I thought, “Ok, I will just put it in the backseat, standing up along the floor!”…..it wouldn’t fit through the door!!! This pallet was a lot larger than I was anticipating. With no way to transport it, I put the pallet back, and sulked all the way back home. Hours later, I couldn’t stop thinking about this pallet, and how I missed out on my chance to make something great!! Ughhh! Then, it dawned on me….I could maybe strap it to the roof of my car! I grabbed a bunch of bungee cords, and took off, heading back to Kroger!!
I was really worried my entire drive there that either someone had taken it, or it wouldn’t be possible to put it on the roof. It had also been raining very hard from the time I left it, so maybe it would be disgusting and slippery?? However, I pulled up and it was still there! Yes!! I put a towel across the roof of my car so it wouldn’t get scratched up from the wood/nails, and headed over to pick it up.
Since it had been raining, the pallet was soaked, and there were little bugs (aka, my worst enemy) crawling all over it!!! Ughhh!!! No!!!! I hit all the bugs off the pallet and picked up it. Um, did I mention this thing is heavy?? Luckily I was able to use my mega muscles and lift it up onto the roof, otherwise I would have been defeated again.
After I put it on the roof, I wrapped about 10 bungee cords around the sides and secured them through the windows to the inside of the car. This pallet was not going anywhere. I got into my car, and started to drive off, but not before I noticed 4 different people standing outside of their cars staring at me. I looked like a legit crazy person….but I didn’t care!!! I had a vision!! I drove on the slow side of the road all the way home, and when I pulled into the driveway, my husband was looking out the window shaking his head at me….
Did I cross the line? Am I crazy? I thought about taking photos while this whole process was going down, but I really actually felt super crazy and couldn’t bring myself to take any photos.
Anyway, let me tell you, it was worth it. All of it.
So…you are probably wondering what ‘vision’ I had for this pallet. Well, I immediately knew I wanted to turn it into an ottoman. We had just found our new couch, and our coffee table was much too large for the couch. We needed a smaller square table or ottoman. I thought the pallet was the perfect size! It wasn’t. It was too big, but I cut it down and then it was the perfect size (for real this time).
I am so excited to finally post about the ottoman!! I have been done for a few weeks now, but this is going to be a huge post, so I have been putting it off. I am going to do my best to explain how I did it, but feel free to ask any questions you might have. From the beginning, I had this vision of how I wanted the ottoman to look, and I thought it would be a pretty easy project….not so. I was talked into tufting the ottoman, which added another level of difficulty (and a lot of research), but I am soooo happy that I did it. Usually I wait till the end to show the final product, but I can’t wait! I am going to show you here, and then go step by step how I did it.
Yay! I love it!
So I started off with the pallet:
See what I mean about it being in great condition? The wood is practically new, and I would imagine that it was only used once…maybe twice, and for something minimal.
Next, I decided I needed to make it a bit smaller. It was just a little too big for the space. I cut it down to 36 inches by 30 inches.
You can see what both sides look like in this photo, and how I cut it down. As you can see, the bottom side wasn’t totally filled in with wood, and I didn’t want any foam sinking into those gaps, or to have a hard time stapling the fabric on. So I sanded the entire pallet really well (I wanted to get off all the yuckies), and then I added plywood to the bottom side:
I cut the plywood into 2 sections, so I could cover the entire pallet. Then I nailed the plywood onto the base, and sanded the top of the plywood and along the outside edges.
After I did this step, things came to a stand still. My next step would be to upholster…however, I still had not decided on a fabric. I went to a really nice fabric store and spent a lot of time going over the different fabrics they had. Part of me wanted to match to the pillows, but then I was worried it would be too matchy matchy. I started thinking maybe a solid color would work best…cream perhaps. But then I thought about how dirty it would get with my toddler, and deep down I wanted a print. I showed my pillows and couch to a designer at the fabric store, and she suggested a patterned textured fabric. I ended up buying it, but regretted it immediately.
I decided to think about it for a few days, and then asked my 34 closest friends how they felt about it (this is not a joke). Most people liked the fabric, but didn’t like it for this space. The base color was really brownish, and I just didn’t like it for the ottoman either. I felt like if I used this fabric, I would end up hating it and being mad about this whole project. So, I returned it. I had lots of suggestions from my friends….solid teal, solid purple, other patterns, cream, textured, chenille….so many options. I was spending lots of evenings looking around at fabric online, and trying to find the perfect one. Then, I found it. I found a fabric that was exactly the same as the grey ikat print I have on a pillow already (see grey pillow below), except it had yellow as the base color, not grey.
Ding ding ding!!! We had a winner! I placed the order, and then played the waiting game. After about a week and a half the fabric came in and I knew I made the right choice.
Before I could do anything with the fabric, I had to go to Home Depot and have a piece of wood (thin wood, like plywood, really thin) cut to the exact measurement of the pallet. I would use this wood to put on the top of the pallet, and secure the foam, batting, and fabric to it. Next I purchased thick foam (can be found at Joann’s or any craft store), and batting (I used Morning Glory Great Glory Full Extra Loft Batting) as well. I cut the foam to the exact size of the top of the pallet (I used the thin wood as an outline, since it is the same size). After this, I used the thin wood to figure out where I would put my tufting buttons. I measured everything out, and spaced 11 evenly on the board. I marked where each one would go with a sharpie, and then drilled a small hole in the wood at each point. I didn’t take many pictures of this process because I was on a roll and not really thinking about it.
I did make my own button using a button making thing from Amazon. I really liked this brand because it came with the tool to make it, and it made it pretty easy. I read a lot of horror stories online though, about the buttons popping apart while doing the actual tufting-how frustrating. I nipped this in the bud but squirting a glob of Liquid Nails into the cover before securing the back on the button (if you make them, you will see what I mean). I didn’t have any buttons pop apart-thank goodness! I read a lot of tufting tutorials which helped me with the tufting and upholstering questions I had. You can see them all here:
Welcome to the Mouse House (Upholstering)
Ok, so next I layed the fabric face down on the carpet, and placed the batting on top of that. I used Spray Adhesive to attach the thick foam to the wood, and then placed that on top of the batting (foam down, wood should be at the very top, facing you).
For this next part, I would recommend you have someone helping you. Luckily I had both my mom, and my husband helping me, because I definitely could not have done this myself. You need an upholstery needle (found at Joann’s or on amazon, I used the 2nd longest one), and very thick string (I used a thin cord). I did the sides first, and then the middle. I put the cord through the needle, then did a double layer (kind of like how you can to to thread when sewing), and tied a knot at the end. I tied 3-5 more knots over that knot to make a large knot that would not be able to fit through the hole I drilled into the wood. I put the needle through the wood, then poked it out the front (of the fabric). Then I strung the button onto the cord, and came back through the same hole, out the back. This was a little tricky, because you can’t really see where the needle is going. I ended up putting my arm through the side and feeling where the needle needed to go. It was hard, because of the spray adhesive, but I still did it. When the needle comes out of the hole on the wood side again, then I tied more knots around the initial knot, ensuring it would not be pulled out. There are lots of methods for securing the buttons (check out the tutorials I linked above), but this is what worked best for me. I did each one, button by button, and it was very time consuming. I had my mom and then my husband (they each helped with half) make sure that when the needle poked through the fabric, the fabric was tight and not bunched up anywhere, and that the button was being pulled to the same depth as the other buttons. A couple times I had to go back and redo the buttons because they were not at the same depth (it looks silly if some are very deep, and some are not deep at all). I did this over and over until I had all eleven buttons in place.
Next, I took the pallet and glued the left over foam to the sides. I didn’t want any hard edges poking out, so I thought this would help with having a softer cushion on the outside. I also put the batting on top, so there are multiple layers of cushion.
By this time it was really late, and I had been working on this for hours, so I went to bed…..to be continued during nap time the next day!
So starting the next day, it was time to do the actual upholstering. I turned the fabric back to the ground, and put the pallet on top of the wood backing. I had to make sure that the side of the pallet I covered with plywood was facing up to me, so I had an even and solid surface to staple the fabric onto. First, I pulled the batting tightly up and around, and stapled that all the way around. Then I did the same with the fabric.
After this was done, my next step would be to attach the brackets that would hold the legs. I had to stain the legs that I bought at Home Depot, and let them dry.
I stained them using leftover stain from our wood floors, and then after they were dry I used Minwax Soft Wax Paste to wax them. I love how they came out.
While they were drying, I went back inside and attached the mounting brackets to the bottom of the ottoman. This was probably the easiest step. I made sure they were even, because I wanted the legs lined up with one another.
After the brackets were screwed in (the power drill is your friend here), I used a scrap piece of muslin to cover the bottom. I didn’t want the bottom to be exposed or have the possibility of little toddler hands playing with those staples on the bottom. I used hot glue to secure it around the bottom, tucking the edge under so it wouldn’t show.
Lastly, I used a pair of scissors to poke a little hole where the leg would screw in (you don’t need a big hole), and screwed the 4 legs into the brackets. Voila!!! Done!!! Yessss!!! Now, I know it’s not perfect, but I love how it turned out!
….my son loves it too!
Cost Breakdown (may contain aff. links):
Plywood for pallet backing: Free
Wood for foam support: $1.60
Foam: $7 (with 40% off coupon)
Batting: $10 (with 40% off coupon)
Button Covers: $4.99 (1/2 off coupon – don’t forget these!)
Fabric: $8.99 per yard x 2= $17.98, plus shipping= about $24
Legs: $3.65 x 4 = $14.60
Leg brackets: $2.38 x 4 = $9.52
Muslin scrap fabric: $1.20
Other things you might need (that I already had):
The total time it took to make this was probably around 4 hours. I think it was well worth it! What do you think?
If you like this project, go on over to Facebook and ‘like’ Domestic Superhero over there!
ATTENTION!!! This project is currently in a contest for Best Pallet Project on Bob Vila! If you like this, take a second and go vote for my Ottoman! I would totally appreciate it! UPDATE: I WON Bob Vila’s first round, and then championship round with this project!! Thank you for all your support!!!!
Like furniture DIYs as much as I do? Check out my other projects:
Thanks for visiting!