When we moved into this house last year, the sum total of our furniture was a rug, one dining chair, a bed, and my grandpa’s old steamer trunk. Our first few dinners were eaten on the floor, using the trunk as a table, then gradually we acquired a real table, some more chairs, one of those fabulous Expedit bookcases from IKEA… But the thing we were really stuck on was a couch. It needed to be comfortable enough for any overnight guests, big enough for two people to sleep if needed, and fit the unusual dimensions of our living room. This last requirement, and our budget, was what precluded most of the store-bought futons and sofabeds we looked at. Finally, we came upon someone selling a bunch of shipping pallets on ebay for a penny, and we had our answer!
Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that simple! First off, there seems to be a bit of a controversy surrounding the safety of using shipping pallets in the home. People are concerned about everything from chemicals to cockroaches spewing out of their pallet furniture and into their home. Fortunately for us, the insanely talented Donna over at Funky Junk Interiors has created a friendly guide to selecting and treating pallet wood. (She also has a *bunch* of other great pallet-upcycling ideas – definitely worth a look!)
We bought far more pallets than we needed, which was a good thing because some of them definitely weren’t suitable for this project. Once I had selected the ones I wanted to use (unfortunately there weren’t 4 perfectly matching ones, so you’ll notice the ends are a little mismatched in the photo) I started by washing them with hot soapy water to remove the visible dirt, then left them in the sun to dry. The next day I made up some dilute bleach solution in a spray bottle, gave them a good soaking, and left them to dry again. Then I used my orbital sander to sand them smooth – this took *forever* but it’s worth doing it properly so you don’t ladder your tights every time you sit on the couch! – and sealed them with a clear varnish.
The two mattresses are ex-display Sultan Fonnes from IKEA. They’re made from high-density foam (memory foam’s cheap and cheerful cousin) and are slightly smaller than a standard single size, so fit our little space nicely. I wouldn’t ordinarily sign up for the task of keeping a white couch looking clean, but these have handy zip-off covers that can be chucked in the washing machine whenever necessary. I actually ended up preferring this style over a normal futon because if we have two guests who don’t necessarily want to share a bed, we can use the two mattresses separately and avoid a scandal 😉 I also really like that the pallets are wider than the cushions; as I mentioned in a previous post, our living room is too small for a coffee table, but this solves the problem nicely, as well as providing a little bedside table when the couch is being slept on!
Finally, add a bunch of colourful, mismatched cushions, and you have yourself a fine little couch!
(Project I most want to do next? Update that boring light fixture… but I’m waiting for Adam to finish building his CNC milling machine for that one. I’m so proud to have a husband who builds his own fabrication machines!)