Friday, February 7, 2014

DIY : pallet to decor

Hi y'all! With my bedroom makeover complete, I wanted to share one of the major projects for the makeover, my over the bed decor. Originally I had thought shelves with some pictures, art, an ampersand, and knick knacks, but once our bed was in our room, I decided there just wasn't enough room for what I wanted. I scoured Pinterest for all sorts of ideas and found several that I really liked. From mirrors to pictures collages to shelves to lights, there really is no shortage of decorating ideas to be found on Pinterest. (side note: you can view my bedroom makeover ideas board here.) Eventually, I decided I wanted a large piece of art/decor above our bed. After seeing so many pallet art pieces, I knew that's what I wanted. I could make it in any color, and I thought the pallet aesthetics would really tone down the "fanciness" of our room decor. But what quote or words would I put on the piece? That was a big problem. I knew I wanted it to be something meaningful, but something universal. Something that meant something especially to us, but also could mean something to others. I didn't want it to be overly personal, but still romantic. So I searched and searched and one day as I was driving to Lubbock, I heard this song and everything clicked.

Once I heard that song I knew what I wanted on my pallet art/decor. "In the shelter of each other we will live." I know there have been times in our marriage where we didn't live in the shelter of each other. We lived in the shelter of something else. So it means something to us to remind us to live in each other's shelter. It also means something when you're working for a congregation and you need to be reminded to live in the shelter there. And in the shelter of your Christian brothers, sisters... it's a perfect reminder for exactly who we are, where we are, and what we do. 

So now that you know the back story, here's the "how to" for creating this art/decor if you want to do something similar. 

1. Disassemble the pallet. I highly recommend this man's post, but I didn't have those tools so I had to do it by hand with just a hammer. It's entirely possible to do it this way, but do things slowly so you don't split your wood. 

 2. Determine your layout. I simply laid out all the boards until I liked the layout.

3. Measure your space and measure your layout. With all my boards laid out the way I liked, I measured them just as they were both width and height. Then I measured my wall space and realized my current layout was too large for my space. So I removed one whole row of boards to decrease the height. Then I cut some of the boards in half until the measurements of the new layout were what I needed to fit the space above our bed.  

3. Lose your mind and your temper. Attach pallet pieces perpendicular on the back of the piece to hold everything together. And this was the step that seriously made me hate the entire project and wish bad things on anyone who had ever repinned a wooden pallet project on Pinterest. This pallet was made from hard wood. So when I started simply nailing the cross pieces to the back, I bent nail after nail after nail. After about 20-30 nails, I decided screws would be the best answer. After I broke the head off of a screw, I decided drilling pilot holes would be the best method. After I broke a drill bit while drilling pilot holes, I decided the pallet was a worthy opponent and pallet projects are for people who enjoy mental torture. Seriously. Wooden pallet projects are not to be entered into lightly. If I could murder a piece of wood, I would have attempted to do so that afternoon. Only to realize I was dealing with the Chuck Norris/Liam Neeson love child of wood here and it was NOT going to allow me to murder it and probably would have roundhouse kicked me back to my previous world of Painted Card DIYs.

So... in order to preserve your sanity... if you decide to take on a wooden pallet project let me help you out. When you are attached the perpendicular pallet pieces to the back of the piece, take a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws, and slowly and carefully drill pilot holes first. Then you can use your screws and drill to attach the boards. And feel free to use this time to think, "Wow, I'm so thankful for DIYers who figure out the easiest/best/most resourceful ways of doing things and then telling the world about them. That Regina, Nobel Peace Prize nominee right there."

 At this point, you've either lost your mind and your dignity to a wooden pallet, or you've got your perpendicular pieces attached to the back and now your whole project has taken on a shape that actually holds together. High fives, fist bumps, and cheers all around!

4. Paint and paint and paint some more. I wanted our art/decor to look distressed and roughed up (like me after step 3), but I also wanted it to have a little color to it. To create the colorfully distressed look (did I just coin a DIY phrase right there????) I first painted two coats of black spray paint. Due to the large size of our piece it was one can per coat. 


Then I painted two coats of teal. More specifically Rust-o-leum's Satin Lagoon. Two coats, two cans. 

Done again!

Then I painted one coat of white spray paint, followed by two coats of rolled on paint. (The white color is Glidden's Oyster Shell.) And voila!! You really want to end with a coat of rolled paint so it looks even. 

Finally finished. Done and done!

5. Add your lettering. This step is going to be different for everyone, depending on your skill level of lettering. You can print out letters, cut them out and trace around them. You can stencil. Or you can just take a deep breath and try your hand at hand-lettering, which is what I did. I wanted a calligraphy-style lettering so I turned to Google for "how-to calligraphy". You can find lots of tips, tricks, and even video tutorials for accomplishing this and then you just give it a go. I started out with a pencil and very lightly did my lettering and used a sewing measuring tape to keep my letters similar in size and spacing. I did have to erase a lot and did a lot of trial and error, but it worked and turned out beautifully!

For the black I used (get this!) a King Size Sharpie marker. Yep. No fancy oil paint pens, no paint brushes and black acrylic paint, nope. Just a Sharpie. 

Based on the calligraphy tips I learned, I first wrote out the entire phrase, then I went back in to thicken the down-ward strokes to give the look of calligraphy. 

6. Sand your art/decor. After your lettering is done, it's time to start sanding. This was by far my favorite step. I started out using a sand block but quickly changed my mind and got out my Mouse sander. I went all around the edges first, then I worked on the end of each board to take off the paint in layers. I went down to the wood in places, down to the black in places, and sometimes I just sanded a little to let the teal peek through. 

When I finished the edges, I started working on places throughout the entire piece, just roughing it up here and there until I felt it looked right. This was my favorite step because you can really just play around until it looks exactly like you want. Sand a little here, sand a little there, here a sand, there a sand... well... you get the idea. 

7. Attach your hanging elements and then hang your newly finished art/decor piece in it's place and pray it doesn't fall on you while you sleep. I attached hanging wire to the back and used two anchored picture hangers to hang up the piece. 

And there you have it. It's a rather long story, but it's oh so worth it. I absolutely love the piece and it fits us perfectly. 

What do you think? If you were going to put a piece of art above your bed, what quote or phrase would you use?


  1. Very well done!! And the kids slept the whole time, right? lol

  2. that looks great! I was wondering why you painted black and teal if it was all white. duh, me. lol


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