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The January Big Build

Well HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I know its a bit late for that, but this is the first time I've had this year to sit down and write a new blog post. Many of you will know that we always close down for about a month just after New Years. It gives us time to catch our breath, then plough on with odd-jobs, refurbishments and new ideas.

This year, aside from the usual little tasks, I decided I wanted to further open up the #outdoorliving components of our pods. #Summer may seem like a distant dream right now, but warmer weather will soon be with us (please!!), and I wanted to get a head start on improving the outdoor space. Mother nature has done a great job, but we thought we could add a little extra so you can enjoy her work.

The major job has been for Orme, our 2 +2 pod which is rapidly becoming our favourite (we shouldn't have favourites, I know, but hey here we are!). We've further opened up the garden for a start. Doubling the space, and opening up the view of our little coppice stream (nant goedlan in #Cymraeg / #Welsh) babbling along below. But that's not the best bit!!

In my infinite wisdom (obviously), I decided we needed some covered space outdoors, a space to gather around the fire, somewhere to put up your feet and read a book, or just to cuddle up and watch the romance of the serene North Wales sunset dappling through the woodlands at the end of another fabulous day.

Sunset seen through trees at Emlyn's Coppice glamping
Sunset through the coppice

Now for a start, that means we needed some new furniture to enable the actual sitting part of that beautiful thought. There's something undeniably charming about DIY projects that breathe new life into old and discarded materials, and I'm a big fan of up-cycling. If you're a fan of recycling, creativity, and cosy living spaces, then building a pallet sofa is the perfect project! With just a few simple (ish) steps, you can transform humble used pallets into a stylish and comfortable addition to your home or business in my case. So, roll up your sleeves, grab some paintbrushes, and let's get started on this delightful adventure!

First things first, let's talk about pallets. These wooden platforms were initially designed for transporting goods but have become increasingly popular in the world of furniture design. Pallets are sturdy, affordable, and eco-friendly, making them an ideal choice for creating unique and sustainable pieces. You can often find them for free or at a minimal cost, making this project budget-friendly too, And with a few texts to our tame builder mate (thanks Eryl), a number of pallets were picked up or delivered to the Coppice free, much to the chagrin of The Good lady of the manor, who hates the yard looking like a scrap heap!

The luckiest part for me, was that Eryl found some awesome pallets, with close planked tops, meaning I didn't have to take a million planks off only to nail them all back on (seriously thank you so much Eryl). However, I did have to spend a good number of days power sanding the tops so you guys don't get splinters in your bum!!

These better quality pallets were a little limited in numbers, especially as I want to build something in the future for Ayr and Offa, so I used the more normal wide pallets for the guts of my project, thankfully despite being different sizes, it didn't take much cutting to marry them up in an "L" shaped base,

A quick wood treatment to make it look nice and keep it nicely preserved and I had something looking not dissimilar to a patio sofa set. I've added rubber doorstops to the base as feet to lift it off the ground as well.

The seat backs had me head scratching for a little while, Obviously they're just another set of pallets, sanded and treated. But as the lower pallets are all open on the back side, safely bolting them together was my issue. I definitely didn't want someone leaning back heavily and landing flat on their back behind the sofa. But with the addition of some of the left over wood from the offcuts, well screwed in, I was able to bolt through in multiple places to make the backs safe and secure.

With the base in place, it was time to add the finishing touches to turn this recycled wooden marvel into a cozy retreat. Now, I'll be honest, sewing isn't my forte, so I did give up on the DIY at this point, and ordered some custom base cushions to create a welcoming haven of relaxation.

But wait, we're not done with the sofa just yet! If you have been inspired to create a recycled pallet sofa, and you've got this far? You could elevate the aesthetic appeal of your pallet sofa, consider adding some stylish extras. Place a wooden or glass top on one section of your L-shaped sofa to create a stable and practical coffee table. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, drape some fairy lights around the backrest or hang a dreamy canopy above for a touch of whimsy. Let your imagination run wild! For me, I decided to go big or go home! where to put this carpentry masterpiece?? That was the next question, and that's where the #bigbuild bit of this January came in.

I had some sleepers left over after the Orme deck build late last year, so these were pressed into action first, luckily being almost exactly the size I needed when put together in a square. After digging out a flat space for these to sit on, I just had to top up the middle with gravel and voila! we had a base..., Sounds easy eh? I may be blissfully forgetting the days of barrowing nearly two tonnes of MOT and golden gravel from the carpark, 60 or so metres down to Ormes Garden, and the next few days of resting my poor broken back!

But I started by romantically describing a cosy covered space, and clearly we haven't got that! So back down to the builders merchants, and leaving with a far lighter wallet, I had timbers (100mm x 100mm fence posts), screws (make sure they're the outdoor use variety), postfix cement and some roofing sheets! I had no design, except a vague daydream in my head, but with powertools in hand, I set too.

First and foremost, envision the perfect spot for our shelter. Is it nestled under the shade of a large tree? or strategically placed to capture the best views? The choice was easy in the coppice, Its both sheltered AND has an amazing view of the sunset through the trees.

Now it was time to roll up my sleeves and start building! I Began by measuring and cutting the fence posts to the desired height, allowing for the bit that would go underground, and aiming for a height that allows me (a 6' 1" bloke) to comfortably stand and move around underneath. The goal here was to create a happy and spacious outdoor oasis!

Next, it was back to digging again (oh how I hate thee), four holes in the ground at the corners of my swanky new base. Placing the fence posts into the holes, and making sure they were secure and level was a little frustrating on my own, but post fix cement is quick to set, so it wasn't too long until I had a sturdy and strong foundation to the shelter.

Next was the top frame, 3 lateral, and 2 longitudinal beams were cut to size and then measured up for the cross lap joints. I am notoriously bad at making exact cuts to the measured mark, so when I was done and finally hefted these (damn heavy) beams into place, I was more surprised than anyone when they slotted together tight and securely.

I put two more lateral beams in, halfway down the posts on the back and far sides to tie the whole thing together. I've left it otherwise open for now, but I am considering harvesting some goat willow and filling the back in with willow rods. We'll see how time goes for that. Finally Some corner pieces, cut to suit the angles and provide a little extra support to tie things down and make sure the roof never goes for a wonder in winter storms, which is more and more of a consideration in recent years (thanks #globalwarming ). So that was it, time to get up the ladder and get the roof panels in place and I could start shifting the sofa behemoth into place.

So what do you think? We've dressed the arbour with solar fairy lights to make it that little more magical, and I found these solar pendant lights that "promise" up to "18 hours of use from a single charge"..... we shall see what a Welsh Winter does to that figure.

Its been a labour of love, and I think it perfectly compliments the deck we put in earlier this year and really enhances Orme's outdoor living vibe.

I do have plans for Offa and Ayr too, but those are for another day.

Building a pallet sofa has not only been a rewarding DIY project but also a beautiful way you can showcase your creativity and reduce waste. Watching your once-discarded pallets (yes alright, my builders discarded pallets) transform into a stunning piece of furniture will fill you with a sense of accomplishment and joy. So, why not gather your materials, put on your overalls (got my branded with the Emlyn's Coppice logo and I love them), and get ready to craft a cosy oasis. With a little bit of effort and a whole lot of imagination, you'll be lounging on your unique pallet sofa in no time! Happy building!

Have you been inspired by this to start your own build? Would love to see your efforts!

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