The magic of wood pallet furniture
By Esther Dianah | June 3rd 2021
Finding a spacious bedsitter is more like a treasure hunt and the current housing design by developers is making the situation difficult. So, what happens when you try to squeeze furniture into your tiny house?
You go for flexibility, and wood pallets are the trend now. They are simple, save space and are versatile.
Mercy Malingu shares her experience with pallets in her studio apartment. "I decided to use pallets because they are economical," she says.
When she got her first job, she did not have enough money to buy a couch. But while surfing the internet, she came across wood pallets, which ultimately changed her taste for furniture.
"I saw on Pinterest creative ways to make your house a bit warm and cozy even without the luxury of buying traditional things like a couch," explained Ms Malingu.
She says that is when she came across a community that dealt with pallets. "I could see that the pallets bring so much convenience, are classy and make the house look so organised and simple."
She says for people starting life on their own, pallets are an ideal option. "It only cost me Sh4,500 to make both my chair and table from pallets and that included the labour, material and even the paint used."
Every piece of furniture in Malingu's house is made from pallets. Take her bed, for instance. "I chose a pallet bed because it is convenient and serves multiple purposes. I don't just sleep on it!"
The pallet bed is convenient because it has a storage drawer underneath it. "I live in a studio and the bed saved me the trouble of getting a closet. The drawer beneath my bed was key because of saving on space."
While living in a small space, storage is particularly important because you do not want your place looking cluttered.
The drawers can be used to keep stuff that is rarely used instead of having things scattered all over.
"I put clothes that I rarely use in one of the drawers under my bed. I have another drawer for clothes I use a lot, including workout outfits," Malingu says.
"When things such as clothes and buckets are stuffed under the normal bed it looks funny, but the pallets are covered and nicely organised. The pallets also have a sense of decor."
The bed cost her Sh7,000, this is cheaper than the normal furniture.
"You can even install lights beneath the bed, you only need to find a person who can do it well," Malingu says, allowing her to get creative.
"It's very romantic to have the lights beneath the bed!"
In a small space, everything must be put into use. "Some people find my table weird because of the spaces in between but I love it because I can see under it and I can place things there as well.
Benson Odhiambo, a carpenter, has an open-air shop at Fedha Estate in Nairobi's Embakasi area where he creates beautiful furniture using pallets.
He told The Standard that he chose pallets because they were the most affordable material at the time he was starting the business.
“I could not afford the hardwood, so I started sourcing for softwood, which I used to make pallets,” he says.
For four years now, Mr Odhiambo has made pallets for countless customers as the furniture's popularity keeps growing especially among single people.
“Sometimes I get up to four clients who need pallets, and on good days I get even 10," he says.
"It takes me two days to make the furniture if the deposit is paid promptly." This is unlike the traditional furniture that takes up to a week or more to complete.
Odhiambo agrees with Malingu that pallets are affordable and unique. “The other beds are expensive as compared to pallets, which only cost about Sh.9000 on the upper side," he says.
"The chair costs between Sh4,500 and Sh10,000 depending on size.”
He insists there is no class attached to the furniture. “I serve all clients, everyone is looking for pallets now."
"Families mostly come for tables and shoe racks, while those starting out come for beds and chairs." The pallets can also be used to create bed-cum-seats. The bed can fold over to a seat, saving on much needed space and cash.
The foldable seat also comes in handy when one has sleepover guests. But Odhiambo says many people shy away from the multipurpose pallets because they are slightly expensive.
Malingu says pallets are cost effective for people starting out on a low budget. "They are also very classy because they are not so common, and bring warmth and coziness in the house."
She loves being unique, she says, and has achieved this by using the pallets.
"I would advise anyone to go for it because of the class it brings out," she says.
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