Timber pallets, used to transport materials, are a familiar sight these days.
You often see them dumped at street corners or on rubbish tips.
But they haven’t always been with us.

Their widespread use didn’t come about until forklift trucks were developed in the 1940s – which just happened to coincide with World War II. Allied forces pioneered the use of these easy-to-load platforms to ship supplies and armaments all around the world.

Today, pallets are almost as ubiquitous as supermarket plastic bags – and often, sadly, just as routinely discarded. But the pallet offers enterprising recyclers a multitude of opportunities. Whilst their shape - squat and square - lends itself to the creation of unique furniture, the pallet’s raw, textured wood is also on trend for many contemporary shelving and storage schemes.

Recycling free, or cheap, unwanted pallets is not only cost effective but it also shows your customers that you care about contributing to sustainability.

If you haven’t thought about the many ways that pallets might work in your business, get inspired by the imaginative and stylish ways these have been used in the examples below.

Signage

The width and thickness of pallet slats make them ideal for making signs. Here are some of the simplest options:

Or, for those a little handier with a hammer, why not try some of these:

A self-supporting ‘A-frame’ sign. Notice the handles on the top, which make it easier to move around and take in at the end of the day

Image via Future Home Decorating

Paint and stencils have been used to great effect in this coffee bar.

Image via Columbus Monthly

And you don’t always have to ‘paint on’; you can also ‘cut out.’

Image via dogsandwood.it

Wooden table number markers. The ‘stand’ doesn’t need to be metal and/or wood. You could use an object, like bottle or small ceramic pot, that works with your business concept.

Image via palletlifeaustralia

Pallet timber can be fashioned into an arrow and used to mark the location of a pay point or bathroom.

Image via scavengerChic.com

Stack boards one on top of another to create an easel which you can use outside your business, whether it's a cafe, restaurant, retail store or something else.

Image via Havven

This is a clever Christmas tree fashioned out of pallet strips, but you don’t have to stick to a festive design, pick any shape that suits your business theme. Structures like this make great display sites or pin boards too.

Image via indulgy.com

Pallet timber with letters attached. These have a festive theme, but you could use them to spell out anything you like. Choose letters in a contrasting colour or material for a more dramatic effect.

Image via kirstinmurphy.com

This neon sign mounted onto a painted pallet adds a modern touch to the classic pallet.

Image via Vintage Marquee Lights

Paint a pallet and then offer menu options in a contrasting colour.

Image via intimateweddings.com

For a more flexible option, label the pallet 'starter, main course, dessert, drinks,' then use metal hooks to hang the changing menu on the pallet.

Image via http://www.brit.co/wedding-menu/

Furniture

Furniture can be fashioned from pallets, either by working with their ‘boxy’ shape, or by dismantling them and using the different sized timber pieces.

We love all the various styles of chairs you can make out of pallets. These can be sanded, painted or polished to suit the style of your space.

Image via Havven

Image via Havven

Image via Havven

This pallet rocking chair even uses recycled tyres.

Image via Havven

Add a cushion to make a beautiful armchair which can be used outdoors or indoors.

Image via Spaceshanty

This funky little two seater chair has been crafted from pallet slats.

Image via Pinterest

You can also make lots of styles of stools using pallets.

Image via Pallet Life Australia

These cute ‘Alice in Wonderland’ style stools and tables create interest in a balcony area.

Image via ilovepalets.com

Pallets can be used to create theatre style seating too.

Image via Havven

This pavement table and bench seat combination works beautifully.

Image via ilovepallets.com

Castors and a few cushions were all that were required to create this fabulous low-seater sofa, with magazine storage underneath. This would be ideal for a waiting, entry or chill-out area.

Image via indulgy.com

Use pallets to model useful seating around difficult room structures like pillars.

Image via diypalletfurniture.net

Pallets can be fashioned into banquette seating.

Image via welke.nl

This cool rope swing would work equally well inside or out. It’s a great way to make use of those tricky corner spaces.

Image via selfsufficientliving.com

Small tables can be made by re-fashioning and sanding pallets.

Image via goodideasforyou.com

Castors, for easy moving, have been added to a restyled pallet to create this stylish table.

Image via CC user Jonas Merian on Flickr

You could add a glass top to this to make a vintage-inspired coffee table.

Image via Havven

Side tables look great made out of light coloured pallet timber.

Image via Havven

Pallets work well for large tables too.

Image via 44thhill.com

This cafe features a rustic round table as its centrepiece.

Image via Ilovepallets

Re-assemble pallets into a fabulous ‘old school’ drinks cabinet, ideal for a retro bar.

Image via 1001pallets

Create a storage and display cabinet.

Image via recyclart.com

Pallet pieces combine to make a rustic chest of drawers.

Image via anthropologie.com

This reception desk is the perfect way to welcome your customers.

Image via Havven

Useful storage trunk.

Image via indestructables.com

Elegant organisation rack

Image via brit.com

Creative coat hooks can be made from pallet slats and old door knobs.

Image via homedit.com

Gardens + Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor seating areas are perfect places to use ‘up-cycled pallets’. Their rustic finish works beautifully with other natural textures like exposed brick, rough plaster and waxy, green foliage.

This cafe has created a wonderful informal, yet classic, outdoor seating space by placing large, comfortable cushions, in neutral tones, on top of pallets. Notice how they blend in particularly well with the wooden decking strips on the ground.

Image via interieur-inrichting.net

This outdoor couch has a slightly more modern feel, owing to its fresh paint job. Stacking and securing a couple of pallets on top of each other and covering them with large cushions could be a useful way to ‘hide’ imperfect surfaces like rough concrete or gravel.

Image via Pallet Furniture Plans

Add some bright colours to a garden space to create the perfect summer meeting place.

Image via bobvilla.com

Create a simple yet stylish bench.

Image via SHFT

Or perhaps a romantic bench for two.

Image via Pallet Furniture

Use pallet planks to create flat surfaces like the ones on this beautiful beach.

Image via white-ibiza.com

Recycled cycle racks - what’s not to love?

Image via CC User Eleanora on Flicker

This swing was cleverly fashioned out of pallets by attaching robust eyelets at each corner and using a half pallet as a backrest. The whole structure was then hung from a very large tree by beautiful ropes. This style of furniture would work particularly well when integrated into a wider ‘Moroccan theme’, perhaps including large outdoor ceramic pots and coloured glass.

Image via dumpaday

Pallet perches. There is not much work required to achieve these!

Image via archdaily.com

‘Living walls’ are very fashionable at the moment. They are ideal for outside spaces where you want to create a lush feel, but don’t have much space (or soil!). They are also great for covering unsightly brickwork. These pallets could even be bolted to the wall before planting. (Remember, the weight of the soil will make them heavy to manoeuvre, so get it in place before you start filling it up.) It’s a good idea to add a backing to the pallets to give the plants extra stability.

Image via hometalk.com

Pallets also make great containers for herbs and edible plants, ideal for cafes and restaurants. Simply lay a pallet flat for a ready-made vegetable and flower garden.

Image via selfsufficientliving.com

Or hang it on a wall and label your herbs.

Image via Neatologie

To make a freestanding garden, add a couple of ‘props’ at the back.

Image via selfsufficientliving.com

You can also hang additional plastic, glass or metal planters from the structure, or add mason jar lights for effect.

Image via StyleMePretty

Timber pallet slats have been used here to create attractive plant containers that ‘guide’ customers through the door.

Image via abduzeedo

Use planters fashioned from pallets to edge a raised outdoor seating area.

Image via findingberlin.com

This simple yet effective timber planter box makes a feature of its fixings.

Image via williams-sonoma.com

An interesting outdoor table fashioned out of two pallets features a 'living' centrepiece.

Image via CC User FarOutFlora on Flickr

Pallets make great benches with inbuilt drink holders.

Image via Outdoor Camp

The steps of this staggered planting structure have been fashioned by fixing pallet slats to a wooden ladder. This is a great way to add interest to a sloped area - and make a useful herb garden.

Image via selfsufficientliving.com

This classic outdoor dining table is made by placing pallets over a thin, flat piece of timber.

Image via AVSO

Create a safe walking path using pallets.

Image via 1001pallet.com

These recycling bins with blackboards let customers know where to put their rubbish.

Image via repinly

Lighting + Ornaments

Pallets offer a variety of different opportunities for creative lighting products and schemes.

This creative project took the humble pallet and turned it into a practical and beautiful chandelier. By cutting the pieces of the pallet into different sizes and configuring them in different ways, they create a statement piece that ever so subtly hints at its previous life.

Image via Homedit

When lit from within by a coloured light, this simple wall light creates a beautiful effect.

Image via Havven

These pallets are simply stacked on top of each other and then illuminated by neon lights.

Image via CC User Lee Haywood on Flickr

Use timber pallet slats to create hanging box lamps like these.

Image via Hative

These pendant lights with matching stools create a stylish restaurant decor.

Image via Ilovepallets

Create a 1950s diner feel by hanging glass lights from deconstructed pallets.

Image via springlights.net

Lights placed behind a pallet wall are cleverly allowed to shine through to give this restaurant an inviting glow.

Image via pinterest

Display + Ornaments

Anyone who has undertaken any kind of a fitout, knows how expensive new display units are. Luckily, there are so many ways that pallets can be used to lighten the load.

Timber pallets can easily be chopped up to form open shelving like this. These are ideal for cafes and restaurants where you want to keep an open, uncluttered feel that allows you to see customers.

Image via lookslikewhite.com

Use box shaped shelving to create a versatile and engaging display.

Image via Pallet Life Australia

These box shelves create interest with their jagged shape, making them appear almost like speech bubbles.

Image via Havven

Shelving doesn’t have to be symmetrical. The top two shelves here were fastened with a metal bolt at the back to keep them secure.

Image via 1001pallets.com

Pallets can make a perfect unit for hanging wine glasses or kitchen utensils.

Image via Havven

Recycling pallets doesn’t get much simpler than these shelves.

Image via rowhousenest.com

This vast display and storage wall could have many uses – and it’s so flexible that you could go from showing books to ceramic art in a matter of hours.

Image via atelierrueverte.blogspot.fr

Pallets have been used with other differently sized wooden packing cases to great effect in this deli’s display and storage unit. Think about including some wicker baskets to add texture to the mix.

Image via lokavore.es

Different timber sizes, textures and colours make for a stylish display area.

Image via Etsy

This storage scheme cleverly makes a virtue of the pallet’s narrow openings for storing bottles.

Image via vtwonen.nl

You could also use your pallets to showcase your wine collection.

Image via selfsufficientliving.com

Who could possibly resist these delights?

Image via CC User Inhabitat Blog on Flickr

Line your walls with pallets to turn your shop or restaurant into a gallery, which is great for displaying photos of satisfied customers.

Image via ilovepalets.com

Pallets can also be used to create a display table in a retail space or showroom.

Image via Planbredesign

A deconstructed pallet with a glass display bolted on top is great for a salad bar.

Image via designinspiration.net

Here, two pallets have simply been upended to create an attractive shop counter. You could also use stencils and spray paint to create a logo or list of items on the front of this structure.

Image via prettyblog.com

Pallets were reused to make this classic, simple serving area.

Image via designroomcornwall

Here, a granite top has been placed on top of recycled, sanded and stained pallet timber to provide a more durable and elegant surface, playing with contrasting textures and materials.

Image via apartmenttherapy.com

These would make great serving trays for cafes or restaurants. To ‘brand’ them, stencil your business logo on top.

Image via Havven

Pallets have even been made into clocks, proving that they are one of the most useful items of all time.

Image via 1001pallets.com

Pallet shelves, painted white, make a great place to display products in a shop.

Image via Cheltenham Road

Structure

If it’s not enough to fill your interiors with pallets, why not integrate recycled pallets into the very fabric of your building?

This cafe wall lets the timber do all the talking.

Image via brooklyntowest.blogspot.com

Here is a more open version of a timber pallet feature wall.

Image via Ilovepallets

A retro effect can be created by employing striking colour combinations.

Image via retaildesignblog.net

Recycled timber pallets have been used on the ceiling and one wall of this space to create a funky industrial look.

Image via aprilandmay.com

Who wouldn’t love to ‘powder their nose’ at this fabulous pallet vanity unit?

Image via Havven

This great room divider, fashioned from a number of pallets bolted together, is also hinged for great flexibility of movement. This is ideal for 'zoning' different areas of activity, or screening the kitchen or office of a cafe.

Image via lifebuzz

For a more filigree screen, why not try something like this?

Image via espaperblog.com

You could also create nooks within your restaurant or cafe with pallets.

Image via Ilovepallets

If you are undertaking a fitout, consider using pallet slats as sturdy balustrades. Make sure they are sanded though; you don’t want anyone getting splinters!

Image via lookslikewhite.com

Or why not go the whole hog and fashion a complete set of stairs?

Image via designrulz

Pallets even make for beautiful flooring.

Image via spaceshanty.hubpages.com

Create a rustic barn-style feature out of your door.

Image via buzzfeed

This takeaway booth is built entirely from timber pallets.

Image via 1001pallets.com

Create a pallet popcorn or hot dog stand.

Image via LizMarieBlog

Office Space

Office furniture can be prohibitively expensive and often uninteresting. Your workplace should tell your clients something about your style and ethos. So why not demonstrate that your business is innovative, eco-friendly and creative by incorporating some recycled pallet pieces?

When it comes to desk design, you are only limited by your imagination.

Image via CC User pierre vedel on Flickr

Image via LifeBuzz

Image via Havven

If your office has a yard or garden, how about creating a summer-house-style ‘meeting room’?

Image via CC User Dan Hughes on Flickr

Or a space with a slightly more ‘open’ feel?

Image via northtryon

These 111 ideas have shown you how the unloved by-products of the storage and transportation industries can, with a little care and attention, begin new, beautiful lives in your business. As you can see from the sheer number of designs here, you are limited only by your imagination when it comes to using pallets in all facets of your cafe, restaurant or office space. Best of luck and be sure to share your creations!

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