Nursery News – Accent Wall

Last time we talked about the nursery, you were left with this:

and this:

and a promise that the accent wall for our baby boy’s room would be (and I quote) “rockin” and “boyish” and “hug-worthy”.  Let me just give myself a huge pat on the back…because it is.  It really is.  The accent wall is everything I hoped for and more.  

I know…you are just wishing you could reach through your computer monitor and slap me right now…kinda like when that girl crawled outta the television in the movie The Ring…but a lot less creepy and more out of anticipation than the desire to take my soul into Hades.  But just be warned, I am an avid movie watcher and I know how to defeat evil spirits.  Plus, I got Jesus on my side…and well, frankly, he would totally backhand any evil-spirited chick if they came close.  We are tight like that.

Back to the point.  We created a very masculine accent wall for our nursery & can’t wait to share it.  But first, let’s introduce you to our inspiration: 

That’s right.  They are shipping pallets.  And there is such a thing in the world as Pallet-Craft.  I know.  I googled it.  Pallet-craft is reusing the wood that makes up shipping crates or pallets to make something else….like a chair or a deck or in our case, an accent wall.  And since we wanted a very cabin-inspired-look-meets-contemporary-aesthetic in our nursery, we thought there was no better (or cheaper) way to get the great woods indoors…than to put wood indoors. 

After a WHOLE lotta googling about the safety of using the Grade III wood that makes up pallets, we learned that some pallets are treated with pesticides & fungicides (NOT GOOD) but that you can find vendors that use untreated lumber (GOOD).  If you or your vendor doesn’t know if the pallets are treated, there are certain precautions to follow when using the treated lumber.  In our nursery, we followed those precautions even though we knew the lumber was not treated.  Afterall, you can’t be too safe with a baby.

First, (after researching & calling local home improvement store managers to find a place that would give us free pallets of untreated wood), Jeremy picked up about two dozen pallets.  Then he took his sawsall to them, cutting through the nails and giving us disassembled wood planks. 

Then, he used an electric sander to remove any splinters and also to loosen any dirt or debris.   

After sanding, he thoroughly cleaned each plank & removed any loose nail heads before taking them into the nursery.  This is when we made our first mistake:  we sorted the wood by color.  It’s much faster to sort the wood by width…if you are planning on doing this at home.         

After you sort it by width, then sort it by condition…like put all the wood of the same width with large cracks together.  It helps.  Believe me.

Ok.  So now that the wood is prepped for installation (and you didn’t inhale any pesticides because you sanded & cleaned everything in a well ventilated area while wearing a mask!  Good for you…you will not die.  Not right now.  Not from pesticides anyway.),  now is the time to come up with your plan of attack.  We didn’t.  Mistake #2.

We knew that we would attach the planks with an air compressor and a brad nail gun…

(here’s our setting for you pallet-crafters),

but we didn’t know much else. 

In fact, we started with these nails (3/4″)…

mistake #3.

And ended up using these (1″):

Afterall, nobody wants a plank to come down on Baby Will.   

So we just started in one corner and nailed in a plank along the bottom of the plywood.  When we got to the corner, we just measured and cut an ugly plank to fill in the gap.  Rows 1 & 2 were pretty fast.  But then we got to the outlet. At first, we thought we would just cut a piece to fit around it.  Then my boyfriend suggested a door. 

I know.  It sounded crazy to me too. 

But then he explained.  He could cut out a piece of wood & attach it with a mini piano hinge to the nearby planks so that the outlet would be out of sight…and out of the reach of mini baby Bower fingers.  Plus, it could blend into the wall instead of having a bright white outlet plate showing. 

It’s not done yet, but that is what the plan is.  So for now, we cut the pieces to go right to the edge of the outlet plate sides.

Then we did the same thing with the next row.

That’s when mistake #4 occured.  When we installed the row #3, we didn’t make sure that the tops of the planks lined up evenly.  So row #4 didn’t line up.  We had to figure out a way to put a solid piece across the top without having huge gaps.

Again…boyfriend to the rescue.  He just took his circular saw and cut the top of the higher plank so that it would line up with the one on the other side of the outlet.

Setting the saw to the depth of the wood plank ensured that he wouldn’t cut through the plywood underneath…just the taller plank.

Can I just say that boyfriends with accent wall solutions are hot?

Because they totally are.

In the end, it lined up perfectly and we forged ahead.

When it came to the window sill, we just cut the end of the plank to fit perfect around it.

We did avoid mistake #5 by remembering to vary the widths of the planks.  Since we wanted this wall to look random (but not too random), we knew that it would be important to use the wider planks in a row every once in a while.  You can see we put about seven thinner rows between our thicker rows.  I think it helps create a very random (but not too random) look.

Oh – and if you are doing pallet-craft, it is important to take breaks.  We took the mandatory Smoothie-King break half-way through.   

After said break was over, we got back to work.

Or Jeremy got back to work and I got back to sitting down with my camera…

That’s when mistake #6 hit.  This time it had to do with levelness again.  When we built up either side of the window, the sides were slightly off.  The left side was slightly lower than the right side.

So we decided that the best fix would be to notch out the plank directly above the window so that it could fill in the cracks.  You can see here how the right hand arrow is showing you were we ‘notched’ the wood out.  The left arrow shows how we had to improvise with the wood planks (using various widths) to make it even.

We did this once before on a lower piece but that time it was because we ran outta the same width planks.  I don’t think it looks bad…in fact I love the imperfections of a wood wall.

My favorite imperfections are the cracks and the knots and the nail holes.  They seem so manly to me.  Which is good…because this is gonna be a little man’s room.

So ready for the finished wall?

Are you really really ready?

Ok…stop trying to strangle me through your computer screen…

here it is:

Pretty hot huh?

And because I am a dork, I mocked up some curtains on there so see if I liked it.

Ok.  Now for all you folks out there who aren’t completely satisfied with our pallet-wood safety precautions, it doesn’t stop there.

oh no.

Now comes the nitty-gritty.

After we finished installing the wood, Jeremy whipped out the vacuum.

He made sure each little dust particle was off this bad boy.

And then we applied satin polyurethane.  We decided to go with the spray type in a satin finish.  This way if the plank-people-lied and we had treated wood, it would literally have to rain outside, seep through our exterior, our drywall, our plywood and our pallet wood, and then Will would have to pick away the polyurethane and suck on the seepage to be affected by the pesticides. 

We felt pretty solid about the chances of that not happening.  And if it does…well, Will can have a kick-diaper story about the way he avoided death when he goes to pre-K.   

So that’s it folks.  One very accented wall…for the grand total cost of $15.  Since the pallet wood was free and we had a giftcard for the polyurethane, the 2.3 pieces of plywood & a half a pack of nails was our only cost.  Not too bad, huh?  I think it looks a heck of a lot costlier than that…plus we figure since it isn’t a baby-style wall, it can grow with Will as he develops into a young man.   

What do you think?  Does it look like a textural masterpiece to anyone else?  Because it totally tells me to hug it with it’s boyish good looks.  And does anyone else out there have a penchant for pallet-crafting?  Or maybe you had a cheap alternative to an accent wall yourself?  Was it painted on or was it a wall decal or what?  C’mon.  Tell me about it…nothing is hotter than an accent….wall :)



  1. Spun13 says

    I love this! You said that your boyfriend was gonna make a door for the outlet cover…I didn’t see any pictures of it tho…Did u guys ever get around to it? If so do you have any pictures of the wall after? Thanx!

  2. Renee says

    i’m doing a pallet wall myself, in the kitchen. i was hoping you could elaborate more on how you fastened them to the wall – so you just used regular nails ? did the nails blend in well with the color of wood ? and did they blend well with the color of the pallet nail heads that were left in the wood ? on which end of the pallets did you put the nails in ? like the middle of each piece, the ends ? did you nail them so the nails were right where the left-in pallet nail heads were ?

    • says

      We attached plywood to the walls using screws and put them directly into the studs. Then we used nails to attach the pallet boards directly to the plywood (that way you don’t need to worry about the pallet boards not being firmly fastened to studs because the wood behind it is! Yes, the nails do blend in. We put the nails in on the ends and in the middle a couple times. And no, we don’t nail where the old nail heads were…because there is a hole there. Hope this helps!
      xo – kb

  3. says

    What about bugs and their eggs? How do you treat them ahead of time? My inlaws paid top dollar for a room like this and a month later had bugs coming out of the wood.

    • says

      Well…hmm…didn’t really have an issue with that…don’t know if it was because we have regular exterminator visits or if it was because of leaving the wood inside the garage for a while and then later cleaning and sealing the wood but that is A REALLY interesting question.
      xo – kb

      • Roxy says

        What process did you use to “clean” the boards? Soap and water? Shake, rattle and roll? Windex? Since that fixes everything? Lol

          • Nathan says

            Hello Katie, I am in the process of building a small cabin and will be doing the majority of the interior in wood pallets and corrugated metal. I went on Craig’s List and found a wood planer. After pulling ALL of the nails, I am running the boards through the plainer. No need to pressure wash or sand. Works wonders! Your wall looks wonderful!

          • says

            SO COOL. I would love to get a planer but I have to warn you…you might want to still seal that if you are using chemically treated pallets. You probably already know that but just in case someone wants to follow your lead :)
            xo – kb

  4. kim says

    Awesome and so helpful. I am looking to perform the same thing for my soon to be “big boys” room. I;m updating his baby room. Great tutorial. I appreciate showing the mistakes. I’m sure it will help out a lot when it’s my turn to perform! Thanks again

  5. Kreta Knox says

    Doing a couple of accents walls in bathrooms and a living room when I came across this PIN on Pintrest. Half of them I don’t ever even go read the info on but today I was bored waiting on the hubby to finish grout and baseboards in the bathroom and this was a the best! Loved the photos and instruction but your wit and sense of humor sold me! Way to make it fun!

  6. Claire says

    Very nice, and thanks for the tutorial. I’m planning to do that myself in my soon-to-be house, in my soon-to-be tack room, but there’s one part missing: what about the plywood on the wall? How did you get it there (I’ve got to do it on the wall of an old small stable, and it’s quite irregular and worn).

  7. Amanda says

    I found a picture of the final project on Pinterest and really liked the crib bedding you had. I’ve been looking for something similar and was wondering where you found yours. Thank you!

  8. Angela says

    Hi. I love your project! It’s great!

    I might have missed this, but what is the thickness of plywood you used behind the pallets? I assume that you also don’t have any drywall behind the plywood, correct?

  9. Anita Pawluk says

    i am a fan of pallet craft..i fell in love with the idea, as i have access to tons of them for FREE. i seen someone had done there cottage floors in a chevron pattern. i loved that they didnt match in colour or size..and the floor was totally flat and even ( i could see me stubbing my toes on that floor) but i got hooked on the thought of doing my part to the they say reduce , re-use and recycle. i accidently stubbled on your i was googling pallets..thank you so much for sharing.. i love the wall..and to see it in your home. my mind is already is husband will crumble on yet on another idea for my pallet fetish!

  10. matt saunders says

    I’m in the process of doing something similar to a living area built into 1 corner of my barn out at the ranch but instead of bringing the pallet wood all the way to the floor I’m using old roofing tin as a type of wainscoating. Just dreading taking the pallets apart more than any of the other work because I need to use approximately 90-100 pallets. I’m also using them to make cabinet doors for the kitchen & bath areas. For the cabinets doors & other areas where nail heads may be prominent I’m using horseshoe nails. With their square heads they really lend an older look.

  11. says

    does the plywood also help to keep the nails which fasten the pallet wood from going into the drywall, leaving holes everywhere? thinking of doing a wood wall in our home, but don’t want to totally demolish the drywall behind. we, too, considered fastening the wood to plywood to try to prevent this, so I was wondering if this worked for your walls!? thanks!

    your wall turned out beautiful!

  12. Nancie Quinton says

    I have had this bookmarked/pinned for quite awhile and am finding tracking down untreated pallets if a bit of a challenge. I noticed you’re in Atlanta, any chance you recall where you were able to track down your pallets? I’m in Roswell so if your contact is still around I’d have no problems getting a truck to them. I think if I show my husband your husband’s handy work without more than the 3 pallets again he’s going to have a nervous breakdown. Thank you!

  13. Russell says

    Very nice! Do you happen to know how thick the plywood was that you used? I had the same idea on a wall that I am about to attack, but am unsure as to what thickness would be best. Thanks in advance!

  14. says

    I love this! My teenage son was looking for an idea for his bedroom. I can’t wait to show this to him! Thanks for the details on this awesome project & the chuckles this morning :)

  15. Devin says

    I want to do this to a wall in our guest bedroom, which will eventually become a nursery. But I am concerned about all these reports of bacteria and mold. Should the polyurethane seal take care of all of that? Also, have you noted any issues since this project was completed? I guess the mold is the biggest worry for me. I wouldn’t think a seal would do much good if mold was present since you have to rip down half a house to get rid of mold. Thoughts?

    • says

      We haven’t seen any evidence at all. I think that you would definitely have to let your wood acclimate to being inside and inspect carefully before ever installing. Most pallets are treated lumber (which is what makes this project more of a hassle because you want to seal those chemicals in that prevent mold from penetrating the lumber) so if you don’t see it on the outside, it probably has not gone inside the wood grain.
      xo – kb

  16. Dan says

    I have done a few pallet crafts myself, but nothing this big. Was all of your pallet wood the same thickness? When doing tabletops, I have to make sure they are all the same but not sure if it would matter as much on a wall?

    Luckily for me, there is a guy that sells 20 pieces of pallet wood for $1. about 45 minutes from me.


    • says

      It wasn’t exactly the same thickness. It was slightly different but since the pallets were from the same place, they were really similar.
      xo – kb

  17. Kevin says

    FYI, the most common size pallet is 40×48″. This might help everyone who wants to do this.Also, look for a mark on the pallet that says “HT”, which means heat treated, and not chemically treated, which of course is safer. Hope this helps!

  18. Nik says

    I am so thrilled by your blog and this idea!! Thank you so much for sharing, I’m attempting this weekend (lucky husband lol). How many pallets did you all end up using? I know people have asked, but any problems this far with the wall?

    • says

      If I remember correctly it was between 8 and 12 pallets. I’m sorry I don’t know exactly. And no…no problems at all.
      xo – kb

  19. Mark says

    A fantastic job for sure. And finding the untreated or heat treated (HT) pallets is absolutely important, especially if you put the pallet wood in the little guys room. One other thing I would add, which if someone already opined on it I apologize for the redundancy, inspect the wood with a fine tooth comb for stains. Even though the wood is untreated or HT, the history of use is not always known – in other words, what has been transported on the pallets and did any product spill onto the wood?

    Being a firefighter/paramedic for 30 years and being around warehouses, etc. where the pallets are commonly found, (fire inspections) I’ve seen it first hand. Just be very cautious when picking. Otherwise, have fun. I use the wood all the time.

  20. Erin says

    Best tutorial out there for a DIY barn wood wall! Thank you for being so thorough & informative :)) Cannot wait to do this in my bedroom!

  21. Marie Poirier says

    Oh wow, that wall is amazing!! I plan on doing this for our unfinished attic which, at the moment, does not have drywall yet. So I was wondering if I could just skip the drywall and only use plywood + the pallets? Do you think the drywall is absolutely necessary??


  22. Chelsey says

    I absolutely love this idea, thanks so much for the great detail-I’m going to be doing this for my soon to be baby boy’s room! I’m wondering though, what if the place I can get free pallets from doesn’t know if they are treated or not? Is the polyurethane spray and sanding prior going to be enough to ensure safety? Or do you know of another product to seal it well enough?

    • says

      There is usually a mark on the wood. I think if you read through the comments in this post, you can see that there is a mark. And I truly believe that poly and sanding is enough for my kids…but mine aren’t the gnawing type. I know some kids do like to chew on stuff just as a habit and I think that is one thing that could be problematic. But to be completely honest, I did a lot of reading about this and unless it is fumes or particles, most times stuff like treated wood is not going to harm a baby as long as the room is properly ventilated.
      xo – kb

  23. Melissa L says

    Love the wall!!! Great idea!

    But can we please talk about the Yankees hat in one picture and the Red Sox’s hat in the others… not good ;) in a NE girl’s eyes! lol

  24. Julie says

    Hi Katie –

    Aside from the sanding, what other techniques or process did you do to ‘clean’ the pallets? Or did you just sand and then apply the poly coating once installed? We are doing an accent wall and have gathered many old pallets – but have no idea if they have been treated or not. Any suggestions?! Thank you for your great post! :)

  25. Amy says

    i love this. I have terrible uneven plaster and lath walls in my laundry room that this would cover without having ripping them out and starting over.

  26. says

    Hi! Great post. We had laminate floors installed and have a lot of pieces left over. Do you think using those pieces might work as well? I’m thinking of doing a wall in our powder room.

  27. Daniele says

    Thanks for posting this! We are doing a wall in our media/music room. We plan on hanging about6 guitars thru the center of the wall! Cant wait!

  28. sara says

    Great idea! We are doing this in our dining room! Only question is, how did you clean the pallet wood? And who do you ask if the wood is treated or not? Thanks in advance! And great post!

  29. Penny says

    Thank you for the tutorial on this. We plan on doing this in one of our livingrooms. I love the country look it makea in a room. Great job!!!!!!

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