Upholstered Pallet Ottoman Tutorial

Let’s just say I’ve been a little antsy to share this pallet ottoman tutorial with you. You see, a few weeks ago, a big roomy ottoman popped up on Pinterest with a comment that it was a pallet ottoman. Not so!!!  It was a West Elm ottoman that someone evidently thought could be easily copied using a wooden pallet. Here was the rub though; there was no upholstered pallet ottoman tutorial to be found anywhere.  (Can you hear the cavalry coming? ) Of course I can make create a tutorial for all of  you who want to upcycle a dumped pallet into a sophisticated, oversized, upholstered coffee table. EASY, PEASY!!! This is the one from West Elm.

I already had one big, beefy wooden pallet in my shop just waiting to be turned into a hip, industrial rolling table. But that one was too good to cover up, so I tromped through the snow in the parking lot of my shop and, after dropping the pallet on my left toe, (they are heavier than you might think!) I dragged it into my “cave” to dry out. After going back and forth on fabric choices, I was ready to get started. For the full tutorial, go to IndyStar.com and read my DIY Journal for January 19, 2013.

Here’s what it looks like right before it’s time for legs.

Now, since my column is limited to 300 words, let me add a few more words to let you know some my behind the scenes thoughts. This fabulous, giant coffee table would have cost me a lot less if I would have just settled for fabric I already had on hand. Not to be, I needed something fresher for your eyes and this small ikat print was just the right texture and weight.  Next, you can add any kind of feet you want, traditional, modern, casters, modern metal legs or any salvaged leg you might find. Keep the cost down–that’s the whole point here. And finally, pallets are  more sturdily built than you might think. It turns out that what you think are nails holding it together, are really nails that are threaded.  I don’t know how hard it is to pound those kind of nails in, but let me tell you, it was nearly impossible to pull them out!

Posted in ottoman, reuse, seating, tutorials, upholstery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

19 Responses to Upholstered Pallet Ottoman Tutorial

  1. Nikki Kelly says:

    Just a quick question, or more of a clarification. When you say to reinforce the pallet with 1×3 boards, where are you putting them? I can see the ones in the bottom where the fabric is attached, but are there any more?

  2. shellyleer says:

    Not unless you need to replace some splintered top boards. The bottom edge of pallets don’t have an even edge because they’re designed for the forklift blades to slide through. In order to have a straight bottom edge, you need to attach extra boards all around the bottom to form a nice, even bottom edge. Ge sure to let me see a picture if you make one!!

  3. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial on making a pallet ottoman. I’m not sure how to attach a picture, but you can see it on my website if you want.

  4. shellyleer says:

    That looks great. You did a fabulous job. For the foam, I ordered a piece of wide foam that is used for mattress padding. It’s from my supplier, Sunshine Foam, in Cincinnati. They sell retail. Tell them I told you to call. Congratulations!

  5. Martha says:

    Hi, what a great idea! I happen to have a couple pallets, and there are 3 sturdy looking ones a street over from me. I notice your DIY Journal is only accessible now by paying for the article, which I don’t mind, except it says “no photos”. I was wondering if your original articles does have photos and if I’ll be able to follow along with just the text. What nails are you pulling out (as you mentioned here)?
    Thanks for posting so many wonderful tutorials and info.

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  7. Katie says:

    I also made a pallet ottoman but I added wheels to the bottom and used 2 full size pallets for mine! 🙂 I LOVE your fabric. I just started blogging this week, I am now following your blog! 🙂


  8. shellyleer says:

    Great job. I make mine a little differently. I’ve added wheels to some in my studio, but for the WOW factor, I added custom legs. I’m in the middle of making two more, one for a demo I did for a show yesterday and another for my DIY column on HOUZZ.com. Stay tuned, I’ll post the final photos on my blog. May I suggest that instead of pulling all of that stuffing to the underside, stop at the bottom edge so the fabric is the only thing that rolls over that bottom edge. It will give it a crisp look, while still not being a danger to babies. I use all sizes of pallets. My landlord has shipments of kitchen cabinets coming in on a variety of pallet sizes. I’ve never seen so many different types of pallets. When I see one in good shape, I scurry over and drag them back to my shop. (Stacks of pallets are in my shop–Yikes, starting to hoard!)
    shelly leer

  9. Kaitrd says:

    Hi, I’m sorry if you’ve already specified this, I couldn’t find it, but where did you find the fabric for this project? Love it!!

  10. svella says:

    cool idea. however, you kids better check what pallet wood actually is. its usually from overseas, and soaked in enough formaldehyde, pesticides, and other nasty stuff that might freak out some peeps.
    but its really easy to make a simple wooden carcass.

  11. shellyleer says:

    Fabric came from Griffon Fabric in Carmel, Indiana.

  12. shellyleer says:

    Yes, you need a clean, new one.

  13. Julie says:

    Do you know what the name of that fabric is? I know you stated WHERE you bought it up above, but no the name of the fabric…. I tried to look at the original article, but it is only available in the Indy Star Paid archive, which I am unwilling to pay for 🙂 found you from a link of The Brick House blog post showing construction of your Rope Walls in your studio. BUT, I am local to the Indianapolis are also! yay, hoosiers, lol – following your blog now, and liked you on facebook… I am about to go back thru and see if I can find info on any upcoming upholstery classes locally (I hope) STOKED to find one local to the area!!!!!

  14. shellyleer says:

    I do teach classes locally. Right now, I’m in the middle of an online course. When that is sailing smoothly, I’ll be posting a new schedule. My shop is at 54th and the Monon Trail. 🙂

  15. lisa says:

    Could you tell me the name of the fabric? I have the pillows in that fabric and would love to make an ottoman, as well.

  16. shellyleer says:

    Sorry Lisa, I don’t know the name of the fabric. It was purchased at a local fabric store.

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  18. Sarah bender says:

    I was wondering now much fabric to buy

  19. shellyleer says:

    It depend upon the size of your pallet.