Crate Expectations! Easy upcycling for your home

20 October 2014

Your Home

If you’d like to add some unique, quirky and easy to make home-made furniture to your living spaces, then you could do worse than using old crates or pallets.

This is reusing at its best as you are breathing new life and functionality into a redundant storage container that can be adapted for your needs.  Using these can create a great shabby chic look, think loft-apartment or country cottage more than crummy bedsit!

Just search for ‘wooden crates’ on Ebay and you’re spoilt for choice, with ‘vintage “pre war” apple fruit crates’, ‘French wooden wine crates’ and ‘old wooden beer crates’ amongst the receptacles vying for your selection.  The prices vary per crate – and you will need to work out how many you will need, as well as add on the postage charge – but furniture or shelving made of crates is still very economical when you consider the cost of any kind of furniture.

This trend was brought to my attention by the fact that when my brother was updating his home decor, he used some French wine crates as on-the-wall storage boxes, and some vintage apple crates were mounted on the walls and filled with books, ornaments, photo frames and other colourful items.

The fact that the apple crates are so plain and unassuming in appearance, provides a perfect backdrop to the other items placed on them, and makes them stand out beautifully.  Some of the crates have lovely patterns and texture, and are an antidote to the uniformity of mass-produced and flat-pack furniture.  The crates can be painted if you prefer, ice-cream pastel shades or white can be particularly effective.  The choice is yours, and you’re bound to feel a sense of accomplishment once your stylish creations are made and ready to be admired!

The process can be as simple as attaching a crate to a wall as a shelving unit, or the crates can be combined together to create something as ambitious as a whole building e.g. a children’s playhouse to a garden planter.

You can create things for any room in the house, as well as for the garden or other outside areas, and there are also ideas for things that can be made with children in mind.  Pallets can be added together or pulled apart for their component pieces and their robust nature makes them practical and hardwearing. Something to bear in mind, is that crates that will be touched, or need to be wipeable, will need to be sanded etc.  More detail is available here on how to get the vintage yet practical look!

There are lots of ideas to inspire you on pinterest e.g. 101 DIY pallet furniture or Crate Furniture.

Here are a few of the ideas available out there:

trainer storage

Found on

This kid’s trainer-storage combines funky and functional and looks fairly easy to do.  My only qualms are that the styling may be the main reason it looks so cool, and it may not look quite the same without the bright colours and trendy plywood walls. My other very practical concern is that normal shoes (i.e. not trainers) would get a bit scuffed.  Overall, though, it has a great Wow factor for ingenuity and looks like it would do a great job in reducing trip hazards!



coffee table on wheels

Found on

This pallet coffee-table on wheels, with the addition of a glass top, is the perfect example of how something that’s been around the block and looks a bit battered and dented, can look amazing when contrasted with soft pastel colours and opulent, feminine soft-furnishings.  Compare and contrast! It’s great that this is portable as well due to the wheels, as this table can be multi-purpose in its usage.  One drawback appears to be that the height of the table itself is pretty low to the ground, but this lends itself to being unobtrusive.




Found on

I love the look of this storage unit/bookshelf as it is so quirky in terms of the placement and orientation of the crates, and the finished piece looks rustic and a unique way to display your precious ornaments and framed family photos.  This is a more ambitious piece in terms of size and technique, but the finished product is really impressive and a comparable shop-bought version would be very pricey.  I guess the proof of your workmanship is how sturdy the shelves turn out to be…



garden furniture

Found on

This garden set looks very professional in its construction, and I’m sure it would be lovely to sit and relax in the sun on this simple and streamlined outdoor furniture set.  Knowing the vagaries of the English weather, it would be essential to waterproof it, and also soften up the wood, with some comfy cushions that can be removed and put somewhere dry when not in use. The wood looks great in the great outdoors, and provides a lovely contrast to the green grass.

I hope that you’ve been inspired to tap into your latent DIY skills and  get creative with crates.  We’d love to see the fruits of your labours , so if you’d like to share, please send us an email at [email protected].

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