I’ve got a relatively small townhouse garden (roughly 16 x 35 ft) and by the beginning of last year it was looking as tired and bedraggled as it possibly could. The large decking area was slimy and appreciated only by woodlice, and the sloping lawn and flower beds patchy and weedy.
So I had it redesigned to level the slopes, reduce the decking area and replace with new and to make better use of the sunniest part of the garden, a corner covered in withered tomato and courgette plants. The plan was to make it an area for sitting and relaxing, with a bespoke seat of some description. However, it was clear towards the end of the landscaping work that there was very little money left in the pot and so there was only one thing for it – pallet furniture!
Pinterest makes it look easy, but the reality is that decent pallets can be tricky to find. They come in many different shapes and sizes, and often the discarded ones are broken and dirty. Transporting them can be a pain too – they’re a pretty unwieldy size for the average car.
I had a look around a few building sites in the area but there wasn’t much to be had and was on the point of giving up when I happened to drive past a local printing company with a visible factory floor, and there were the pallets of my dreams! Printers’ pallets are tiny compared to normal ones as they’re used for stacking reams of paper. The top sides have solid slats and they tend to be clean and dry. And because they’re relatively dinky, they fit in the car no problem. The printers kindly let me take a dozen or so and so these became the building blocks for my garden seating.
This ended up only being a diy project only up to a point, because I didn’t have a sander, nor much time. Because the pallets were free, I spent the furniture budget on the services of Dave, a local handyman, who spent a day sanding the tops of the pallets, nailing them together and then painting them. It’s satisfying doing stuff yourself, but when you want something done quickly it’s even better to hire someone who can work more quickly and effectively than you can! As you will see from this photo, we just stacked pairs of pallets together, then the top was sanded and the whole thing painted.
And here they are, beginning to take shape – once pairs of them were attached one on top of each other, they were left as freestanding blocks, pretty much like modular furniture. Then you can have L-shaped seating, bench with table, or turn them lengthways or widthways, depending on how deep you like your seating. And in the winter you can stack them out of the way under cover if you want.
You can see in this photo the new seating area created from the where the vegetable patch used to be – it was levelled, then had a low wall built from sleepers and self-compacting gravel laid.
Once they were all assembled and painted, I faced the fresh hell of low budget cushions. Foam can be fairly pricy, then you have to find the fabric, and the sewing and just urgh no. I hunted around online for a bit and eventually discovered that the Ikea HÅLLÖ sunlounger pad was perfect for my needs. While I was in store, I grabbed some down cushion pads and discovered a remnant of the fabric of my dreams in a bargain bin! The cushions took about an hour to make – they’re made from single pieces of fabric with an envelope closure at the back.
And so there’s my pallet modular suite – we tend to keep it set up like you see it in the photos – a kind of chaise affair with bedside table, but if we need to seat lots of people we can turn the blocks lengthways and use one as a coffee table. It’s a lovely place to spend evenings too as the low sleeper wall makes a handy ledge for lanterns and a wine glass.
A year on, it’s still looking good apart from a little fading on the cushions but I’ve got enough leftover fabric to replace them in the future.