Crafty Adventures: How we made an outdoor pallet sofa sectional and turned a boring corner into a little garden oasis
Paddy works in shipping and receiving, and tons of pallets are recycled by his warehouse on a regular basis. I’d been seeing lots of recycled pallet furniture ideas on Pinterest and really liked the outdoor pallet sofa posts that kept popping up. We had this corner in our garden that nothing was going on in, and I thought it would make a perfect summer reading lounge, or a cute little conversational spot for our next summer party.
Paddy brought home six 35″ x 50″ pallets in good condition. As soon as we had a free weekend day with some sunshine, we started the sanding phase. We don’t own a belt sander, but were able to rent one for a couple hours from Aurora Rents in Seattle. You might be able to find a similar rental shop in your area as well.
Our sanding job wasn’t super smooth, just enough to take the really rough splintery parts off, especially around the edges.
The following weekend, we made some time to stain them with weatherproof deck stain. This was to protect the wood in the rain, and it also gave the pallets a nice dark wood finish. We picked up the stain and brushes at the Home Depot. It is pretty oily stuff, so we’d highly recommend putting a plastic drop cloth down to protect your patio area from getting stained as well.
We took turns staining the pallets. The stain was really fumy, it gave me quite a headache by the time we were done.
The next day, after the pallets were dry, it was time to assemble.
We leveled the ground a bit, and then stacked two on top of each other in an “L” shape. We then screwed them together with long wood screws around the edge planks. We opted for screws instead of nails, because it would be easier to unscrew them apart if we had to move the sofa at some point.
We also bought some reed fencing to wall off the walkway between the side of the house and the fence, and create a private little corner. You can buy a roll of reed fencing at most stores with garden departments. They are only about $35.00 for a 6 ft x 16 ft roll, and make a nice little summer privacy screen. They aren’t super sturdy, so my guess is that we may have to replace it by next summer.
We screwed on the last two pallets on as the back of the sofa, forming a corner backing.
Here’s where I had to do most of my research and planning: cushions. I googled and googled and couldn’t find a decent instructional about how to actually make the cushions or where to buy the foam (and which kind). I determined that I needed upholstery foam, preferably at least 3″-4″ thick, and possibly an outdoor kind. When I started looking for that online, it proved to be really expensive. I would also have to get an electric knife to cut it, and find rolls of it that would be wide enough for our 35″ wide outdoor pallet sofa.
Then– somehow, during all that googling, a dog bed came up in the search. A dog bed that was exactly the size of the pallets, and 5.5″ thick. It was found at Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Supplies, and it was water and tear resistant, and it was on sale. All signs seemed to point to these dog beds as the perfect solution. I ordered two of them, and they arrived within a week. The model I ordered was the “Ultimate Dura-Ruff® Dog Bed,” in case you need to get one. They were still expensive at just over $100 each, but it was actually cheaper (and much less work and waste) than making them myself would have been.
For extra rain protection (and because sage green wasn’t my desired color), I googled waterproof outdoor fabric until I found some orange outdoor furniture fabric at Buy The Piece. It was $6.59 a yard, and I ordered 13 yards of it. This ended up being way more than we needed to cover the cushions and pillows, but it’s good to have extra for repairs.
Not being the best seamstress, I just wrapped the fabric around the cushions like a present, and superglued it. Probably not the best way, but it worked out fine and I can always re-cover them and repair them if necessary.
Next, I found some dog pillows (it turns out dog beds and pillows make great furniture cushions and pillows) at the local Fred Meyer for $15 each on sale. I bought three an sewed covers for them.
I got through the first cover with my old sewing machine, and was in the living room cutting more fabric when Paddy and I heard a click, then another click, and then my sewing machine whirring at full speed. We ran into the back room and found my sewing machine going by itself, smoke billowing out of it and threatening to burst into flames at any moment. We quickly unplugged it and decided that the incident was the sewing machine’s swan song. We added it to the dump-run pile, thankful that our house didn’t burn down, and wondering if we have a poltergeist that we didn’t know about.
I finished the rest of the pillow covers by hand. It wasn’t too bad.
I tried out the new corner lounge and it was very comfortable. To add an Eastern flair, I bought a mosquito net on Amazon and some outdoor pillows at Cost Plus World Market (also on sale!) and completed our garden oasis.
I am looking forward to reading in the shade on our outdoor pallet sofa on the next lazy hot weekend day we have this summer!