I’ve been a bit of a scavenger all my life, so pallet-hunting was quite the thrill for me. NOT the case for hubby… he was a bit embarrassed of my enthusiasm when I pulled over to see if I could cram a pallet or two into the trunk of my Yaris, with two kiddy car seats (and kids) in tow… not quite. Those things are huge… and I may be somewhat spatially challenged. We ended up borrowing my dad’s pick-up truck and we now have a good stash of pallets for future projects. Woot!
Moving out to the country with our spacious yard, our first big project absolutely had to be patio furniture. There are tutorials and ideas all over the internet, but my risk-taking, adventurous and handy hubby took a chance and just started drilling and sawing… so dreamy.
First, we had to sort through our pallet stash and find pallets that were properly sized (there are many different lengths, heights and qualities). We used a palm sander to smooth the boards of each pallet, to avoid slivers and snags on fabric.
For our pallet couch, we ended up using:
- three full pallets (no cuts needed) for the seats,
- three half-pallets as back rests,
- scrap 4×4’s for legs (left in our woodshed by the previous home-owner), and
- a few 5/8″-thick deck boards (left over from our deck project), just because we had them and it seemed to ‘finish’ the look nicely.
Removing nails was tough as pallets are made from hard wood, but otherwise, even in the rain, it took just one day to put it all together into this:
So far, our cost was at $0 and time spent was about 4 hours.
The bigger challenge and expense would be the cushions…
By some divine miracle, we both agreed on the same outdoor fabric which just so happened to be the last-available piece at Rockland Textiles and, therefore, on sale – not to mention perfectly sized! Total fabric cost = $150
I figured I could save some money by sewing the cushion covers myself. I found a wonderful tutorial on You Tube including How to hide zippers and sew piping (whatever did we do before You Tube?!?)… Ready!!!
BUT... because we used the bottom/seat pallets in their original (massive) sizes, our cushions, too, had to be massive (i.e. custom sized). We also wanted a thicker/denser cushion (in order for the cushions to last a number of years and withstand the inevitable wear and tear of children). We priced out high-density foam at fabric stores, marine upholstery shops, online, second-hand; we even considered using pieces of foam mattresses. Ultimately, we found a local upholsterer on Kijiji who would not only supply quality foam, but would also sew the cushion covers for a decent price – and get it all done before the start of the summer (as many others were suggesting late August!). As much as I could have saved money by sewing the covers myself, I figured this route would not only save me valuable time (that I could spend with my family) but I would also feel good supporting a local upholsterer! Win-win. It all sounded too good to be true…
And sadly, it (kinda) was…
When the time came to pick up our completed cushions, we got a call from the upholsterer saying that we were accidentally “mis-quoted” and, in fact, owed more money. Had this unfortunate error been communicated earlier on, we would not have been as skeptical; however, it was only on delivery day that we were informed… Not wanting to lose our ‘deposit’ (i.e. our beloved fabric) and considering that the cushions were done and ready to go, we opted to meet somewhere in the middle on our pricing.
High-density foam (20+ years)
2 cushions 31″x 47″x 5″ = $137.00 (x 2)
1 cushion 41.5″x 47″x 5″ = $230.00
3 Cushion covers with hidden zippers and piping along edges: $60 each
So total costs (labour included) = $684.00
Sure, we could have saved significant money by opting for lower-quality foam or found some factory-made cushions in a box store, but we wanted something that would not end up in the landfill in a few years. These cushions are solid. The pallets are solid. This is a patio set that will last.
We considered staining the pallets, but opted to keep them au natural for now. We can always change the look by painting or staining the pallets, or by switching up our pillows or cushion covers. We chose to use random throw pillows (most of which we already had), going for a bit of a Bohemian look. Note: the throw pillows and covers are not ‘outdoor’ quality since we have the couch under a roof and we bring the pillows in daily.
Another great thing about this design is that each individual couch is, in fact, three separate couches, so you can change up the layout of your ‘pieces’ for different seating arrangements.
[Note: You can certainly save some money on a project like this by sewing your own cushion covers, but since the biggest expense is the foam, you might simply want to use smaller or cut-down pallets to minimize the required foam]
We were really going for the giant bed-like, low-to-the-ground feel for our couch and we’re really happy with the result.
In the end, the unanticipated additional foam expense did not ruin our day, or our opinion of local trades-people advertising on Kijiji (just be sure to get quotes in writing and ask for references), or our summer of enjoyment on this fantastically dreamy (and massive) pallet couch 🙂