Do I keep almost everything that I think I might someday use to make something? Yes, yes, I do. I don’t have a storage unit full of old junk or anything, but I’m not gonna deny being glad my parents have a pole barn… 😜
Anyway, in my last post, I shared how we replaced my youngest’s toddler bed with a twin daybed, using both nice wood and an old pallet. Well… I had more than one extra pallet, plus I had an old headboard that I’d been eyeing for a while as a possibility for kids’ furniture.
Now that I had my youngest’s toddler mattress too, I came up with the idea of making a little couch!
Our girls LOVE making a bed of blankets on the living room floor while they eat snacks and watch movies. However, if you’ve followed me much, you know that our cat makes this a problem. 😑😑😑 With a small little couch just their own, our girls could have their own place to sit and watch movies – and a place where blankets and pillows are safe. 🤞
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- Wood pallet
- Twin headboard
- 1×6 (you may or may not need this, depending on your headboard)
- 2” wood screws
- Paint, spray paint, or stain
- Toddler mattress and fitted sheet
- Extra blankets and pillows
Step 1: Measure and cut pallet. I measured my toddler mattress and found that it was about 28×52 inches. My twin headboard was 42 inches long and about 30 high. I wanted the pallet to attach to this headboard but also extend a bit farther on either side to support the mattress. But, I also wanted the pallet to be smaller than the mattress so that the cushioning would extend over the pallet/frame to protect little legs from bonking against the wood and corners.
I decided on making the pallet/frame 26×48. That would give my mattress room to overhang. I’d attach the headboard by its lower crosspiece, which would position the frame right where the normal bed frame would go – leaving the headboard’s legs right where they should be too.
How do you cut a pallet? If you’re on the crafty side of Pinterest/Facebook/the internet in general, you’ve probably seen a million different projects using pallets. Cutting one to resize it was not nearly as difficult as I feared! I lay the pallet on another pallet (I don’t know why I thought this would make things easier) on the garage floor and marked each board at the 26 inches I wanted for the width. The length of my whole pallet was fortunately a perfect 48 inches…which if I’m being honest was another deciding factor for my chosen length of 48 inches. 😆
DO BE SURE to first remove any nails from your cutting path.
Starting with the side that had the most crossing board pieces, I used my handheld circular saw and carefully cut across the boards to make the new width 26 inches. Then I flipped the pallet over and cut that side’s fewer crossing pieces. This then freed one whole side of the pallet to remove the excess width I hadn’t wanted.
Side note: If you need to shorten the length of your pallet and not just the width, you’d saw off one end of the long supports at whatever length you need. It’s probably actually easier to cut for length since most pallets don’t have bracing pieces on the ends – you’d just cut the middle supports to detach your extra.
Step 2: Screw the pallet pieces securely together. I still needed the long side piece to reattach it and complete my “new” pallet. So, next I grabbed a hammer and crowbar to remove the little crosspieces that I’d cut off. (See the above picture where that “extra” is on the floor.)
Once these were off, I was left with the side piece to slide back between the still-attached 26-inch pieces. This took a little work to get it in place, but after a couple whacks with my hammer it sat nicely back between all the crosspieces on either side of the pallet. To totally connect this piece, I screwed every 26-inch crosspiece back into this side piece.
As you can see, my pallet (the one on top is what we’re working on) was in ROUGH shape from the start. A few of the boards had to be screwed back onto the frame, and one split board I replaced with scrap. Since this new pallet is responsible for holding up my children, I absolutely made sure it was screwed securely together without any signs of weakness.
Step 3: Fix whatever is rough. You don’t have to worry too much about the appearance of this pallet. But I did want to smooth off any rough edges from my cuts, and I also at this time made sure to remove and/or hammer in any old nails that stuck up. Mostly, I went over the whole pallet with my sander and got it as splinter-free as I could. I dusted the whole thing once I was done, and then I was pretty happy with my pallet and moved on to the next piece.
Step 4: Prep the headboard. Depending on your headboard, this part could involve anything. Mine was old and scuffed up, plus had curved/carved posts that I refused to try to sand. I did sand the boards that ran from post to post, and I decided to leave these natural because I liked the wood.
As for the posts, I decided it would be easiest to spray paint them. So, I taped off the newly sanded wood and then sprayed the posts with a few coats of metallic brass spray paint, since that would look nice with some fixtures in our living room.
Side note: A few other things I thought about for headboard/back “legs” options:
- Build a backrest from wood that would match the legs I’d make for the front.
- Forget about a backrest altogether and just make legs so it was more like a bench/ottoman.
- Use another pallet to make a bookshelf that would be accessible from the back of the couch. (This was really tempting after it had worked so well for the daybed’s headboard.)
Anyway, if you don’t have a spare headboard, there are other options.
Step 5: Attach the headboard to the pallet. I decided to have the nicer side of my pallet be the front, so I flipped my pallet to stand with this “front” side on the floor.
After positioning my headboard against this top “back” side of my pallet, I realized I needed a board placed along the headboard’s lower crosspiece between the posts before I attached it to the pallet. This was so that there was no gap between the headboard and the pallet – this headboard will be the back legs of the couch, so I wanted it VERY secure.
After a quick measurement, I cut down a 1×6 to 39 inches long and sanded the corners smooth. I next placed it so that there was equal space on either end of my pallet’s back. I also wanted it sticking down enough to cover the pallet parts on the underside, while also sticking up enough to help hold the mattress in place. Then I quickly held it in place and screwed this 1×6 into my pallet. This created a much nicer backside for the couch frame.
Next I lay the headboard in position over this 1×6. This was far easier with the 1×6 because it gave me more room to secure the headboard than if I’d only had the pallet’s narrower back piece. I made sure the crosspiece was centered on the 1×6, and I checked that my legs would be equal lengths from the bottom of the pallet – this would keep my couch level. Holding it in place, I quickly screwed on the headboard.
Step 6: Attach 2×2 legs to the front. Flipping over the pallet and newly attached headboard was a little tricky, but this was a good test to find that it held together very well. With the front side now up, I set about figuring out my front legs. I decided to make 4, and they obviously needed to be the same length as the back legs from the headboard. Those were 9 inches, measuring from the bottom of the pallet.
So for my 2×2 legs, I cut them each around 12 inches so there was enough room to attach them to the pallet. I then sanded their corners really well, partly to protect little feet likely to bonk them and partly to complement the back legs. After sanding, I used a pencil to mark 9 inches on each leg.
I then held one leg at a time in place so that they were on the inside of the pallet’s front piece, with that mark touching the pallet right at 9 inches. I made sure they were level, and then I predrilled holes to make sure screws didn’t split my wood. With a few screws, I then secured the legs in place.
I did try to position the legs so that a crosspiece would also help hold the legs in place, just for added support. Mostly I spaced them in a way that I thought would support weight best. 🤷♀️
Step 7: Finish the front legs. Again to complement the back legs, I used the same metallic brass spray paint and double coated the 2x2s. I should note that I waited until they were attached because I wasn’t sure I had enough paint if I screwed up a leg. Also, I didn’t bother protecting the pallet from any overspray because it wouldn’t be visible anyway. I did cover the back headboard wood that I was leaving natural, just in case any spray got that far.
Step 8: Add the soft stuff! My couch ended up being heavy but not too heavy to move around our living room. 👍 It was all hard edges so far, but now was the time to make it comfortable.
First – and I’m glad I’d thought of this early on so that I wasn’t worried about making the pallet pretty – I took a toddler mattress cover that we’d barely used and put it on the pallet as if the pallet were a mattress. This not only hid the less-than-beautiful pallet but also protects from any splinters or roughness of the wood frame. It fit well enough but didn’t go down over the back because of the headboard. No worries, though – the back actually looks really nice because of that 1×6 and the natural wood, so I didn’t need to hide the pallet there anyway. (See a few pictures down.)
Next came the mattress itself. Once I lay this in place, I let out a sigh of relief that this was going to be a winner. It fit really nicely, overhanging a few inches on either end and in the front to add comfort and protection from the wood frame.
All that was left after that was to add another mattress cover (you could use any sheet or blanket too, just tucked under), blankets, and back pillows.
I had my nicely styled version, but the girls came up with their own. 🤣
It’s now been a few weeks since this couch has been in action, and I’m so, so glad I came up with this idea. The girls don’t fight over who lays on our main couch anymore because now they can push this couch against that couch lengthwise for a wider cuddling area. They can both sit comfortably on their couch for snacks and drinks. Or, it can move to just the “perfect” spot when one particular 4-year-old wants to lie down and watch movies.
All in all, 👍👍 for this one. It was quick, it was easy, and I didn’t have to buy anything.