This isn’t the first upholstered pallet ottoman I’ve made, or that’s even in my shop, but it’s my new favorite coffee table for the front lounge. Pallets, spools, reclaimed wood-each can be handily transformed into furniture frames with a little ingenuity and elbow grease. Find some inspiration to create your own custom design. I was inspired by a photo of Le Corbusier‘s Villa Sarabhai in India.
Here, I’ll show you how to create a custom, upholstered ottoman that will set your friends wild with envy. Also, these are the PERFECT pet loungers if you have room.
Thanks so much to NailGun Depot for posting this project right here, and for making it possible for me to finally buy this BeA long nosed pneumatic stapler. It’s enough to make me want to install a mega air compressor and outfit each workbench with its’ own power stapler.
First, you need to choose the right size pallet.
Let’s quickly talk about pallets. Not all pallets are suitable for an upholstered ottoman. Choose one that looks new, is sturdy, and requires the least amount of retrofitting. Pallets are rough and uneven. That’s part of the charm and it’s a good conversation point when bragging about your custom created ottoman. For this project I chose a smaller pallet, probably about half the size of a normal shipping pallet. By the way, pallets are heavier than you might think, and those threaded nails need to be pounded back in so that you don’t snag and peel back a big layer of skin.
Let’s get to it.
- a chemical free pallet
- 1” x 4” pieces of pine or other wood to frame the bottom of the pallet
- 1 ½” long wood screws
- 2 yards of scrap fabric (burlap) to cover all but the bottom of the pallet
- a piece of 2” foam (two pieces can be glued together to create a large enough piece)
- 2 + yards of fabulous fabric
- spray adhesive for foam
- furniture legs and hardware
- black marker
- Drill and drill bits
- Upholstery staple gun (mine is pneumatic, but electric will work)
- Electric knife (to cut foam)
- Glue gun (optional)
- Measure and cut your wood pieces to fit the uneven bottom edge of the pallet
- Drill holes and secure the wood planks with screws so that they don’t interfere with the placement of the corner leg plates
3. Measure enough burlap or scrap fabric to cover all but the bottom of the pallet. It’s like wrapping a present.
***The standard upholsterer’s method to cover a square or rectangular frame is to secure the fabric with staples in the center of one side, move to the opposite side, then the two adjacent sides. You always start in the center and move out towards the corners, pulling and smoothing diagonally towards the corners, but leaving approximately 5-6” open at the corners for folding and fine tuning.
This upholstering technique is used for all angular pieces. START IN THE CENTER AND MOVE OUT TOWARDS THE CORNERS!
Now it’s time to cut a piece of foam for the top.
4. Place covered frame on top of 2” foam, making sure there’s at least ½” over hang on all sides. Trace around the pallet with marker.
5. Keeping electric knife blade perpendicular to the foam, cut foam as traced. Sometimes it’s helpful to spray silicone on your electric knife blade to help it glide through the foam. Spray foam adhesive on top of burlap base and center and press foam in place.
6. Measure and drill holes for leg hardware. You may want the leg hardware to be attached so that you know how far the fabric can come under the frame.
7. Measure and cut batting to fit over the foam and wood frame.
This is important-Do NOT roll the batting UNDER the bottom of the frame. Secure it on the bottom edge of each side rail. You don’t want a lumpy bottom edge where staples make dimples in the batting.
With this big of a frame, you almost always have to use your body for leverage. Don’t be afraid to prop it up on the floor to really get a hold of it.
8. Corners are crucial to make this ottoman look professional. Make neat, tidy, hospital corners that are smooth, unpuckered and clean. This is the same technique that you’ll use with your top fabric. Make it look like a professional upholstered it.
9. Trim off excess batting flush to the bottom rail.
10. Cut your fabric so that you’ll have at least 3” of excess fabric on each side. This is known as ‘pull’ and you’ll need it.
11. Place fabric on top. Align any pattern, make sure everything is straight and start with the center of one side. Pull fabric under and attach just like you did the batting, only pull the fabric under the frame bottom. It’s front to back, side to side, and move out towards the corners, leaving about 5″ open on each side of each corner so you can create that PERFECT fold.
***The technique of pulling and smoothing at a diagonal and out towards the corners is what shows people that you know what you’re doing. You want a smooth, even, slightly rounded top edge. You don’t want the top edge to look all boxy and loose. Your hands are your best tool. Don’t be afraid to make the fabric do what you want.
12. When the corner is just right, secure it with your stapler on the bottom of the frame.
THIS is how a corner should be upholstered.
Carefully work with the corner to get that hospital corner thing. You might have to cut out some extra bulk under there, but be careful not to cut too much away.
13.Trim off excess fabric, close around leg plates, attach legs. You may want to try different legs for fun.
14. (Optional) Create and insert a time capsule and cover the bottom of the ottoman with a piece of scrap fabric as a dust cover by folding the edges under ½” and stapling in place every 3” around the bottom, folding back at the legs. Some old time upholsterers place a penny from the current year inside the furniture.
The new upholstered pallet ottoman is a refreshing change of pace in my studio. I decided to try out my metallic gold ‘Nelson’ legs for fun.
As a dog bed, Shop Pup Bruno 2.0 loves to use this as his pet lounger when he rides along to help me work (eat dacron scraps).
Thanks so much to Nail Gun Depot who got this project going and encouraged me to finally purchase the BeA Long Nose stapler of my dreams. Sorry Orangey, you’ve just gone into semi-retirement.
Were Sorry This Was Not Helpful!
Let us improve this post!
Please Tell Us How We Can Improve This Article.