before and after

before & after: lori’s bed + kristen’s dresser

by Grace Bonney

i’m so smitten with today’s final makeover i can’t stand it. lori danelle turned wooden pallets into an adorable bed for her daughter and did a seriously bang-up job. i’d be happy to take a nap in here and now, thanks to lori’s diy steps, i could build one myself! lori was inspired by projects like ashley’s pallet daybed and decided to put her own spin on the idea. i love the color palette she used in the room, too. it’s such a cheery place to hang out! great work, lori!

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

CLICK HERE for kristen’s dresser makeover after the jump!

today’s final makeover comes from kristen fountain davis. she rescued this sad dresser from a secondhand store and decided to hand-paint a design on the drawer faces. i love the wild feel to the final look and, of course, the kittens. furniture and kittens? two of my favorite things. thanks for sharing, kristen!

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  • Both are gorgeous!

    My only concern with the bed is a practical one: splinters. I know in her DIY steps she talked about sanding it, but with the wear of children roughhousing in/around their beds, I wonder if that will really be enough? (Or maybe I was just a really rough and tumble kid, hahaha.) Either way, I would think painting/coating it in something would add another layer of protection? Maybe some sort of clear finish?

    But regardless, it’s BEAUTIFUL and oh so cool. As you said, Grace, I would love a bed like that myself. :)

  • Those pallets are treated with horrible chemicals so they don’t get eaten by termintes during long sea voyages and storage in warehouses. No child should sleep in such close proximity to them.

    • meghan

      not all pallets are treated. a lot are, but they can be cleaned, stripped and coated to prevent any of the chemicals from leaching through. we deal with this every time someone works with a pallet and we’re sure to inform the owners of the project to protect themselves or kids from this.


  • Absolutely LOVE the dresser. What a gorgeous pattern she painted on the drawer fronts! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s topped with my two favorite things: A kitten and cupcakes.

  • I love pallet reuse, but I do worry about all the sharp corners (or at least they appear sharp in photos, maybe not?) for a kids’ bed… or any bed for that matter. I’m an adult and I find myself getting beat up on sharp corners when I’m fully awake, I can’t imagine what would happen in a bed like this if I was half asleep! Maybe round the corners just a bit?

  • How can anyone think the bed is rough or creepy?? It’s gorgeous!! And I’m sure Lori wouldn’t make a bed for her daughter than had splinters and dangerous chemicals spilling out of it!!

    This is ingenious. I’ll be keeping an eye out for pallets outside the back of my local DIY store (if they’ll let me ‘upcycle’ them)

    I just love these before and afters – so inspiring, L x

  • The pallet bed makes me think of the Boxcar Children books — did anyone read those? Very creative and more eco-friendly than buying an ikea bed or something…

  • I think the pallet bed is awesome! And only pallets from overseas are treated with chemicals. Domestic pallets are usually not, and both are marked with the initials of how they were treated. I actually looked it up on wickipedia the other night, since I’d like to make a pallet daybed for our studio.

  • ok LOVE the wheels on the pallet bed! I have to say that I would personally have painted it, but then….I have this bad tendency to paint EVERYthing!

  • I’m in the process of decorating my sons room and his headboard consists of Two palettes that I was able to purchase from Lowes for $5 each! I don’t know if they were treated, but I sanded mine and used polyurathane to seal them.

    I love the idea and think the toddler bed is so cute!

    To see mine, stop be my website http://www.home23duncanboys.com

  • Companies (or at least the one I work for) pay a deposit on every pallet they receive their merchandise on. Check with the store manager before you take pallets, or they might give you a hard time. :)

  • You never know what has been on those pallets. Could be pretty nasty. From personal experience (working in a grocery store and auto parts store) I wouldn’t be comfortable burning them!

  • I love the bed… and knowing Lori, I can tell you that she would not let her children sleep in anything that was potentially poisonous or dangerous, so let that put your minds at ease! This bed is great!

  • I think the end result looks great

    but am with a few of the others that this may not be safe wood and wouldn’t take any risk when it came to putting it in my house.

  • That is one of the best makeovers I’ve ever seen! Love love LOVE when someone can turn an everyday piece of nothing into something so fab!!!

  • This is great and reminded me of the pallet day bed you posted on d*s a while back. My husband recently brought three pallets home from work and these posts just gave me the idea to turn them into a doggy bed :)

  • I think I recognize some Anna Maria Horner fabric in the quilt on that bed. The bright colors really contrast well with the plain wood.

    The dresser looks an awful lot like the one my parents had. Definitely glad to see that old thing madeover!

  • The bed is cute but seems impractical from a mom point-of-view: how do you change the sheets? Also kids move around a lot in their sleep and I can only imagine this kid bonking herself on the bed in the night.

  • The bed looks great! .
    I would be very surprised if those pallets are not treated. They are made to last and to be used over and over again.

  • This is absolutely lovely from an aesthetic perspective; however, the whole Tylenol recall occurred because of chemicals from pallets (applied to prevent mold) leaching into Tylenol packaging. That would concern me unfortunately.

  • Sarah, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It would be pretty boring if everyone liked the same thing. As for me, I don’t like the bed. Sorry for being one of those pesky naysayers that you so dislike. ;-p

  • I do not like the bed very much, but I think it was a great idea. I’ve seen pallets used to make a table and even a sofa, but the bed was the best way to repurpose them. Imagination is everything!

  • I think it is important that people remember that the “naysayers” are actually individuals who are worried about the health and safety of a child. Which i think is a big deal. There is no way I would let my 3 year old sleep in that bed.

    • jojo

      there’s a difference between naysayers and concern and those that repeatedly seek to disparage someone’s parenting or assume something about someone without knowing the full story. there’s a lot of the latter happening and it’s pretty disappointing.

      i have a feeling the parents saying “i’d never let MY child..” would be pretty upset if someone came on to their blog to suggest that say, their strollers were unsafe. i find that parents can be some of the most judgmental commenters on the internet and it never ceases to amaze or sadden me how harsh they can be to other parents- especially when assuming that other people haven’t thought about the safety of their child.


  • Both projects are so well done–the pallet bed is really creative and Lori did such a great job on it- I am disappointed with the number of people who are saying negative things–if you can’t say something positive, why bother at all?

  • Can I state the obvious here? again? Pallets are treated with nasty chemicals. Grace, I know you followed up on a similar comment stating “they can be cleaned, stripped and coated to prevent any of the chemicals from leaching through. we deal with this every time someone works with a pallet and we’re sure to inform the owners of the project to protect themselves or kids from this.”

    but in no place in your post do you eldue this at all. Don’t you think it’s important to at least mention?

    Sorry, don’t mean to come down on you, I heart d*s, I’m just wary of any and all pallet projects…

  • I’m not a parent, but I do consult for the FDA and as the story below indicates, there may soon be regulatory review and changes re: the manufacture, use, and re-use of wooden pallets. Just something you might want to keep an eye on since these kinds of crafts are listed on your web site. Always good to have safety resources available.

  • i get my pallets from a kitchen and bath showroom near a T stop in boston. they set them out for free every week. it might be worth checking out some local showrooms if you’re looking for pallets!

  • i agree with Grace on everything! I think it’s offending to the creators to assume they didn’t think this through in terms of safety.

  • Oh, now why didn’t I think of that? What a neat idea! We’ve got an old calf barn made partially out of wooden pallets…it’s not nearly as nice as this bed though. In fact, the roof is getting ready to collapse, but the pallets can be reused if needed! The folks that used to live here were similarly inclined to use whatever was at hand…unfortunately, most of their projects were only half finished or obviously done while drinking a lot of alcohol!

  • Nope, sorry…I’m with the naysayers. I always use gloves when I have to deal with pallets at work. Is the bed so cute that it’s even worth taking a small chance of subjecting a child…anyone even…to long term chemical poisoning? I’m a fan of Design over Practicality and even Comfort (yep…I adore my Bertoia chairs!), but these “Pallet Makovers” are just a bad idea.

    Also, to agree with Marlo…why Grace, do you warn the contributor of the idea about the hazards of using pallets but not your readership? Not everybody reads all the submissions.

  • Grace, simply cleaning and stripping something you don’t know(and old) can expose yourself to various hazards. Inhalation of small dust is worse than doing nothing at all sometimes.

    I went to Lori’s website and found out that her pallets were heat-treated(mentioned in the comment section not in the post itself). And none of your site or AT along with other website who feature this DIY bed mentioned that.
    A lot of people probably don’t even go nor read everything in the Lori’s post on her blog, I would appreciate if you include the whole fact inyour post as well, that way Lori won’t be critisized unfairly. Peole comments on what they see, omitting the fact and details won’t be fair to all of us(readers and the creator).
    Thank you.

    • aj

      starting next month we’re launching a new column that will teach people how to safely strip, sand, paint, stain, and do just about everything else you can think of to furniture. rather than get too deep into safety issues with comments, we’ve chosen to address this issue (and any other potentially dangerous before/after related activities) with a column to educate people.

      i’m can’t do anything about what runs on AT or other sites, but i can tell you that we all listened to this discussion and decided the best way to move forward would be to tackle these skills/activities on a weekly basis so that when things like this come up we can direct people to the post where they can learn how to do these things in a safe way.

      this heat-treated portion of the project wasn’t mentioned in the submission email i received, so i missed that. i will be sure to read all websites more closely next time, but we often use only the information sent to us via email, as our time is limited and we assume that the project owner has sent all the information they want included. that said, i will be sure to read more closely or send follow up emails if a somewhat controversial topic like pallets comes up again.

      i never want to put any of our readers in harm’s way, so i promise you we’re taking this seriously and looking into safe ways to work with pallets, which will be the subject of an upcoming post that is part of our before & after basis column, so people can learn what to do and not do when working on a project like this.


  • Wow. I’ve never commented here before. And the reason I’m doing so now is because I’m a little let down by the tone of Grace’s reply to the “naysayers.” I have to say, don’t have a blog unless you are willing to have negative comments. Grace’s replies are so defensive! It’s strange. It makes me like this blog less, frankly. The bed looks like an accident waiting to happen. It would be better suited in an adult loft space, in my opinion. Although I don’t see how I would keep from getting splinters.

    • levina

      i’ve always been willing to have negative comments here, i realize that’s part of running a blog. but it always surprises me that people who leave those comments seem to think that i won’t (or don’t have the right to) respond or disagree with them.


  • dear naysayers:
    yes, you’re entitled to your opinion, but so is grace. so is every other reader.

    i think the bed looks darling and would love to incorporate something like that into a child’s room, but of course i’m going to make it work for me (as each of you should too!).

    worried about splinters? sand it thoroughly!
    worried about chemicals? search for a pallet source that boasts un-treated wood (or just don’t use pallets, use fresh wood instead!)
    worried about sharp corners? round ’em off!

    yes, it’s more work on your end, but that’s kinda the point! the people that truly like the look and the creative process are totally going to be willing to go the extra mile, especially to make it their own unique creation to fit their own unique concerns/style/space/budget/etc.

    go Lori! go grace! wahoo!

  • I like the idea of re-useing such a trash product, but i have also spent a year handling pallets, and franky i dont think they would be able to be sanded well enough unless taken apart and put through a plainer and back togeather to be smooth enough for a childs bed let alone one that has a side. The idea however would be nice as a head and foot board for adults perhaps in a cottage. But i look at this and i feel the slivers i got through heavy cloves when i worked with these. Then as others said the chemicals, that is soaked into them, the chemicals they came across in their life of use. Gives me the creeps, looks good though…. Creative it just worries me,.

    The dresser on the other hand is what i would love to do with mine perhaps.

  • Cool idea on the pallet bed.

    The creators of any privately made item are NOT responsible for letting other people know about safety hazards. As a person who looks to d*s and other design blogs for inspiration, it’s still my responsibility to ensure my own safety, not that of the blog writers or people who submit their creations. I think people don’t want to think for themselves anymore. I would only consider making something after ensuring the safety of it myself because that’s no one else’s responsibility. It’s like blaming a homeowner because a robber got hurt in their house. (and no, I am not insinuating that people are “robbing” ideas, rather, that the homeowner isn’t responsible for injury caused by someone who should have thought for themselves and made a wiser decision)

  • Not all pallets are treated,you can find pallets that are untreated.I happen to work for a pallet company that does in fact make untreated wood pallets.It’s up to the person using the pallets to find out all they can.

    It’s not Grace or anyone else’s responsibility but yours.I have to wonder what kind of people you naysayers are that can speak so boldly about other people and how they treat their own children.

    You should be ashamed of yourself unless of course you dropped by this persons house and had a lay down in the bed and got a splinter.

  • I don’t like the bed. My children would have nightmares in that thing. Reading comments here:
    I ran a successful poetry blog for 2 years and had my fair share of rude comments and critical comments. It’s part of blogging. I don’t think Grace was being rude. Even when I’m critical-I try to say something nice, but no one is perfect.

  • What are you guys even talking about this being a health hazard? Many pallets are heat treated and it’s pretty obvious that these are as the chemically treated ones usually have a light tint from the chemical residue. As for someone above suggesting that this ‘teaches their kids to live like a hobo’ probably wins for the most stupid comment I’ve ever read on a blog. Isn’t this what design is about? Transforming? Recycling? Imagination? Creation? Get over yourselves, no one is telling your children to sleep in it. I for one will be making one! Woop!

  • love the bed. and the dresser looks completely different!

    i wasn’t aware that you also had a parenting column, grace! ;)

  • Holy Moly, fellow adults! Reading some of these comments makes me not want to have a blog. Sadness. Just as Grace hadn’t read through the original post (where Lori says they are heat treated etc.), neither obviously did many of the people who left comments. I would also like to remind folks that there are many common household product that give off chemical fumes – carpets, processed fabrics, etc. I think the IDEA for the bed is cute, and that’s what I look to this blog for: IDEAS. It is a blog about design; not a woodshop class. We are all (presumably) adults and responsible for our own safety. I do not think it is fair to hoist that responsibility on Grace – it is never ending! Does everyone know how to use a saw safely? A hammer? A crochet hook? Also, there is no way to completely protect your kids, and every parent draws their lines differently. I’d let my kids sleep in this bed a million times before I’d let them eat at Micky D’s. But that’s just me, right? Everyone is doing the best they can. I think Grace is very brave not only for posting so many of these comments, but trying to address the concerns they contain. Good job!!

    The bed is cute. It could easily be modified in any number of ways to suit different sensibilities – that’s partly what makes it such a great DIY project. (Use different material! Paint it! Take the wheels off! I think it would make a really cute trundle sans head/footboard.) Also, I think this bed will wear really nicely… imagine the patina it will have after 50 yrs of kids and grandkids sleeping in it! ~Jen

  • Making pet beds, storage shelves, chairs, couches, tables, or any other furniture that people, especially children, will come into contact with is reckless and foolish:

    Pallets are made of wood, and will absorb deep into their fibers many of the substances they come into contact with, and off-gas or release them later when humidity and temperature conditions allow.

    Pallets are covered in urine and feces from insects, mice, rats, cats, dogs, humans, and other animals, especially when left in stacks behind warehouses and stores.

    Pallets are exposed to bacteria rich animal blood when used to transport meat to groceries and distributors, especially when refrigeration fails or a pallet is mistakenly left on a dock (a not uncommon occurrence) and a pallet of meat thaws, swelling its plastic packaging, bursting and dripping out of the cardboard boxes and onto the pallet.

    Pallets are regularly sprayed with various industrial-grade insecticides in warehouses and storerooms to prevent cockroaches and other disease carrying insects and rodents from nesting in or around them.

    Pallets are often doused with other toxic or carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals when used in transport. Ruptured drums and broken bottles are rarely reported because of the costly and time consuming EPA clean-up required, instead, things are mopped and hosed, and contaminated pallets are returned to service.

    Unless you know exactly where and when your pallet was used, consider it a toxic hazard and don’t bring it into your home.

  • C’est fabuleux la façon dont tu transforme la matière en intégrant le commun au cotidient d’une manière si agréable et originale.

  • Pallets which are not chemically treated are stamped as so. Avoid wood which is extremely heavy. Use Heat treated wood (marked HT) for interior projects. Its worth taking the time to ‘distress’ the heat treated wood.

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