Transformation Tuesday – Outdoor Pallet Sofa and an Unexpected Guest

I realize I just completed an entire week dedicated to the cold season of Fall and now I’m doing a blog about an outdoor sofa.  I promise you I’m not crazy.  The reason is because it was just completed, I’ve been dying to share it with you and I certainly wanted to share it with you before it was Christmas.  Otherwise, then you’d really think I was crazy!!

Do you recall that not long ago I was talking about Funky Junk Interiors Donna, and how she made a fab outdoor sofa from pallet wood?  We finally got around to making our own version of her sofa from the pallet wood we found back in August.  I say “we” extremely lightly!  The hubby (of Cathartic Cuisine) did all of the work.  I mean, I saw Donna’s post, had the idea we should build one too, found the pallet wood and asked him if he’d build it?  Does that count?

Well, the hubby has agreed to share with you how he built our sofa, and the lessons he learned in the process.  So, without further adieu . . . ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you . . . the hubby:

“Greetings, blogland.  I don’t often get over to the home decoration aisles at Blogs ‘R Us, choosing to stay in the sporting goods section, but Laura has had this project on my honey-do list for a while now, and I promised I would have it done before a forthcoming vacation, so I struck a bargain with her.  I would work to finish this pallet wood sofa on three conditions:

  1. I get to do it without being interrupted; once I’m started, I work unencumbered until the next big breaking point.
  2. She does the sanding.
  3. I get to guest blog about it.

Surprisingly, she was all in.  So, needless to say, I was stuck with my foot-in-my-mouth and had to get to work building the wood sofa seen here from Donna at Funky Junk.  Since Donna did such a fantastic job on the instructions, I’m not going to walk you through this step-by-step.  Instead, I’ll provide a few insights and simple ideas I had while working on our version to help give you more inspiration, should you choose to work your own magic on a pile of discarded wood.

First and foremost, make sure you have enough room to work.  This is not a project for a small parcel of unoccupied space.  You’ll need to be able to spread out your wood, discard your junk, and – in the interest of saving time – have multiple work stations.  For us, that meant the driveway.  Our garage is packed with furniture pieces Laura is working on and we don’t have the luxury of a workshop or craft room in this house.  So, a few extension cords and a radio converted our driveway into the perfect work zone for a weekend.

Second, make sure you have work gloves.  Pallet wood is not always safe.

Third, make it easy on yourself, particularly for those guys who are going to get suckered in to doing this job, eye-batting and “pwetty pweases” and all.  Rather than pulling out the entire cross pieces of the pallets, I opted to rip off the ends using my circular saw, as I knew from previous measurements that I wouldn’t need the entire lengths.  This cut down on a lot of tedious nail pulling.

Speaking of nails, definitely make sure you have a “catch all” bucket.  I keep one of these handy for every project I do.  I place it directly under one of my workstations.  It allows me to toss in every rusty nail, bent screw, splinter and discarded cut.  It also makes clean up a breeze, and is infinitely safer than letting everything fall to the ground to be swept up later.  With the penchant I have for walking around barefoot, I guarantee this step has saved me many tetanus checkups. 

Make yourself some cheats.  I knew I wanted to have the wood overhang the front of the frame by about a half and inch.  So with a square, I made a cut on a piece of scrap wood, then marked off my desired overhang.  I then used it to ensure that each piece of wood on the seat was straight and at the same length off the frame in front. 

If your wife is a furniture refurbisher, antique expert, or has even the slightest bit of design taste like someone I know, make sure you pick a selection of different types, sizes and colors of wood.  This apparently makes the couch more comfortable.  Or more visually appealing.  Or one or the other, I don’t remember which.  Also, don’t be afraid to lay out the wood beforehand to get a good mix and look (and to make sure she’s okay with it).  I used masking tape to mark each piece when I had finally achieved the right look.

Finally, have a loyal best friend nearby.  One who will look on eagerly at all you do, and won’t laugh too hard when you mistake: a 6-inch cut for a 16-inch one. 

Other notes:  We purchased the wood for the frame at Home Depot, since we didn’t have any extra 3×3 or 4×4 wood on hand.  The pallets were all picked up from college students moving around here during the start of the fall semester.  I utilized one 10-inch self-tapping wood screw for each frame joint, then surrounded it with four 4-inch exterior wood screws.  With the use we will get out of this piece of furniture over the coming years, I wanted to make sure it was good and solid.  Laura sanded all of the wood and finished the piece with Thompson’s WaterSeal Multi-Surface Waterproofer in Clear since this will be outdoors year-round..

I used three saws for the work.  However, a compound mitre would get everything done short of pulling wood.

And last, but not least, a radio makes all the work better.
If you decide to do this, I wish you good luck.  I’d also like to thank you for letting me stop by and share this project with you!”
Thanks, Hubby, for putting together such a great outdoor sofa!  Here’s how it looked when it was complete:
Doesn’t it look great?
Here’s how it looks all finished and fluffed:

I really like the different wood tones and colors of the pallet wood and all of the stamps and markings:

For the arms, we used pieces of wood salvaged from an old futon frame.  We love their shape.

What he didn’t tell you was that the entire project cost us about $120, which isn’t bad considering some outdoor patio sets can run anywhere from $400 and up.  The most expensive part of the project was the fabric for the pillows.  Since it was the end of the season, Joann’s outdoor fabric was 50% off, but it was still around $65 for the fabric alone.
Another thing the hubby didn’t tell you was that he also sewed the pillows.  Yes.  I know.  Can you believe it?  He did give me a sewing lesson, though, in the process, so this once intimidated blogger may soon take to the sewing machine. I have a lot of sewing projects up my sleeves now.
The only thing “we” have left to do is figure out how to make the back of the sofa stand up on its own.  The way Donna built hers is the back rests up against her house.  The hubby is going to build a support for the back of it so we can proudly sit it out on our patio.  We’ll be sure to post an update when “we” finish the supports in case you’d like to add those too.

I picked out the bottom seat cushion ($20 on clearance at Target) and the color coordinated fabrics for the pillows, though.

Does that mean it can be called a “we” project?  I didn’t think so.

A big thank you to the hubby for doing such an amazing job!  It looks fan-tastic and I can’t wait to cozy up on it in the Spring with a hot cup of coffee, a good book and my favorite guest blogger!

Our finished pallet wood sofa was featured by none other than Funky Junk Donna herself!!  Check it out here!

It was also Featured here:

Inspiration Green
Dishfunctional Designs

Won a contest at the CSI Project:
Linking to:

At The Picket Fence
Beneath My Heart Best of September
The Shabby Nest Frugal Friday
Chic on a Shoestring
Miss Mustard Seed
Just a Girl Blog
The Project Queen
Sassy Sites Trash to Treasure
A Bowl Full of Lemons
Funky Junk Interiors – Favorite 2011 Outdoor Project

DIY Club


  1. Nicely done! (The guest blogging AND the sofa!) I especially love the “Gracie’s Cottage” colors you chose for the pillows.


  2. This is simply amazing that you tackled this and did such an awesome job! Totally magazine worthy here. Thanks for the tips too btw.

  3. Seriously incredible!!! I absolutely love how it turned out and your hubby did such a good job guest posting…he is hilarious! :-) You guys make a good team and your pallet bed is gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing it at Inspiration Friday this week!

  4. Wow, that turned out just amazing! Love the fabric you used for the pillows. It is just awesome!! :)

  5. Cool, how did you get all the nails out of the frame? I had to use a Sawzall to hack through the ring shank nails. You can’t pull those out of the wood so I was wondering how he got them apart!
    (I covered my living room wall with pallet wood, took LOTS of sawing and I went through a couple of blades)

    The sofa looks great!

  6. the bench turned out beautiful, i love pallets!

  7. Just the perfect place to sit with a cup of coffee and a good book!! I love how this turned out. And love the green in the fabric.


  8. So pretty & the green pillows make it!

    Warmly, Michelle

  9. Amazing! This looks great and the green print pillows really give it sparkle!

    Thanks so much for linking to Potpourri Friday. I appreciate your participation!

  10. This turned out so great! I really found your steps helpful and I love your pillows!

  11. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that we featured you and your hubby (grin!) at Inspiration Friday this week! We were so impressed with your sofa AND his blogging! ;) Head on over and get your I’ve Been Featured button!


  12. @Katy –
    I didn’t pull all the nails. Since the width of the boards on the pallet was significantly more than I needed, I used the circular saw to rip through the ends, thus bypassing two sets of nails on each board. I then used a large pry bar and a hammer to wiggle loose the remaining nails from the center of the boards. Sweaty work, but saves the blades. I lost a few boards in the process when they split, but still had more than enough.


  13. Where can i get 3X3?s and did you follow the same size measurements as Donna in Funky Junk?

  14. did you find a way yet to attach the back?

  15. Hi,

    I really love the sofa. I was just wondering how the back is fixed to the main body?

    Many thanks


  16. Hey – I absolutely love this sofa and think that making one will be perfect for one of our outdoor spaces.

    One question – how did you build the back supports? Mine will be in a screened in area, so resting it against a back wall won’t be an option for me.


  17. …but you don’t say how it is all attached… I’ve been looking for a side-view and description of how the back is attached to the seat. One individual didn’t even attach it, which doesn’t work for me. Can you give us any insight? The seat looks great, btw. I would love to do it myself, but just can’t get detailed directions. Thanks.

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