Looking for a DIY furniture project that won’t require a big investment? Work with recycled wooden pallets or crates instead of new building materials. A Pallet can be taken apart, combined, stained, painted, and fixed up to create low-cost furniture, artwork, and more. Wood crates and shipping pallets are often free for the asking—lots of businesses get deliveries in crates or pallets. Many will give them away to avoid paying for removal. Always ask first—you may stumble on a steady supply! Then, see how a little elbow grease and ingenuity can turn these raw materials into unique home furnishings.


Pallet headboard

A wood shipping pallet becomes an inexpensive (free, in fact!) headboard that adds rustic texture. A coat of turquoise paint gives the mismatched woods uniformity and polish.

Choose a pallet that fits the width of your mattress and is in good shape overall. Sand it carefully to avoid damage to linens and walls. Add a coat of primer as a sealer and then paint to match your decor. We opted for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence (and so dispensed with the primer—gotta love a paint like that!), which echoes the wallcovering. Secure the headboard to the wall or to a solid frame attached to the bed to keep it in place.


Pallet bookshelf

We created a reading shelf from a cast-off shipping pallet to match the nearby headboard. To make your own, cut a section from a wood pallet using our image as a guide. Cut a slat to size and screw it to the bottom of the pocket. Paint the piece to match the headboard or wall and let dry. Secure to the wall with mounting hardware using molly bolts or by screwing into wall studs. Bring comfort to your reading nook with colorful cushions and plush throws. Done!


Crate stack nightstand

Whether you keep your knitting or favorite books close by, old wood crates make a roomy nightstand. Use boxes of equal length and width for a uniform look but you can vary the depth on the top with two shallower crates for a step-back effect. For stability, use small wood screws to secure the crates to each other. Opt for boxes with larger dimensions for a finished unit that will offer a spacious surface for nighttime necessities.


Pallet pantry shelves

This project is as easy as hanging a painting. Screw the pallet directly into wall studs or use picture hangers rated for heavy mirrors or frames (they should be rated by the weight they can support). Install the cleaned pallet in the kitchen with the slatted surface to the wall, exposing the large crosspieces underneath. Use those chunky crosspieces as shelves for condiments, canned produce, pantry staples, and spices. Instant rustic charm.


Pallet hall tree

No space for a mudroom or coat closet? Make a wall-mounted hall tree with a painted pallet that can squeeze into even the narrowest hallway. We used a selection of leftover paints to jazz up the plain wood. Be sure to sand the pallet first so there are no rough patches to snag delicate scarves. Add hooks of different sizes and designs to keep things interesting and accommodate a variety of items such as keys, jackets, backpacks, caps, and umbrellas. And you never know when a walking stick might come in handy.


Pallet sofa daybed

Turn a twin mattress and a long pallet into a sofa that doubles as an overnighter for guests. We placed ours on lockable casters to make it easy to move. For a long pallet like this, a set of casters in the middle as well as both ends will make a stable seating and sleeping surface. Protect the mattress with a quilted cover, add a fitted sheet, then wrap with a pretty quilt for daywear. Top it with bed pillows in coordinating shams along with some pretty accent pillows. For overnight guests, pull back the quilt, add a top sheet and you’re ready to play host.


Pallet painting

Take the look outside. Boost the sunny personality of your porch or deck with a section of a pallet turned into painted artwork. Get a similar look in these easy steps. Lightly sand the pallet, leaving enough roughness to create character. Wipe clean with a damp cloth. Prime the wood to help paint adhere. Or, skip the primer if you like the rougher texture. Create your design with latex paint. When dry, sand again lightly with 220-grit sandpaper for a mildly distressed look.


Editor’s Note: Because they come into contact with all kinds of things, not all pallets or crates should be repurposed. Check them for mold and mildew. Pass on any with stains or odors, which can precede rotting. The porous wood may harbor bacteria, so scrub it with bleach and soapy water before using. Pallets with an HT mark have been heat treated to kill pests and bacteria.

It can be hard work to dismantle a pallet to harvest the planks. If your crate is rough with multiple grooves, scrub it clean with a wire brush. Besides cleaning, pallets usually need dismantling. Try a flat clawed hammer or a pry bar to avoid damaging the surface. Smooth rough patches with sandpaper or a wood plane before staining or priming and painting.


© Caruth Studio

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