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9 different ways to use sleepers indoors

When talking about timber sleepers, we tend to commonly associate them with outdoor use. From retaining walls and pathway edging to raised beds and garden furniture, timber sleepers have been popularised in recent years as a way to add style and functionality to our gardens and other outdoor spaces. But in this article, we’re turning our attention to all of the wonderful ways that sleepers can have a place in our indoor spaces. too.

You see, just as this fantastic garden material can be used to add a touch of character, charm and natural balance to our outdoor living areas, they can also reflect and mimic similar effects inside of our homes.

In fact, in recent years, more and more homeowners, DIYers and interior designers have been welcoming the humble sleeper indoors as a way of creating a wide range of decorative and functional design features.

So, if you’re about to undergo a decorating or refurbishment project, why not explore your options when it comes to doing something a little different and bringing the traditional garden sleeper, inside of your home?

Can sleepers be used indoors?

If this is a question that’s spinning around your head, you’re not the only one. You may be thinking that sleepers may not be the most suitable of materials to bring inside of your home.

Many railway sleepers have been previously treated with chemicals such as creosote, which isn’t indoor-friendly, and so for that reason, you’d be completely right. However, it’s all about choosing the right sleepers, for the right purposes.

Rather than creosote-treated timbers, you should opt for pressure-treated timber varieties or hardwood options that are safer to use.

But, asides from that, timber sleepers are a superb choice of material for a range of interior design projects. As a budget-friendly, strong and highly versatile material, sleepers are equally as useful indoors, with an endless number of possibilities for their use. So, without further ado, let’s explore this further…

How can sleepers be used inside of the home?

1. Sleeper mantle piece

On a chilly winter’s day, nothing beats curling up on the sofa next to a crackling, toasty fireplace that warms through the house and your bones. Whether you’ve got an electric fireplace or a traditional wood-burning fire, a fireplace is a fantastic aesthetic and functional addition to any lounge or dining room.

There are a wide range of different materials and fireplace styles, but if you’re looking for something that gives off cosy country-cottage vibes, sleepers are a superb choice for creating a rustic and natural-looking fireplace mantlepiece.

Compared to many other options available, this is a relatively budget-friendly way of creating a fireplace feature. And, if you’re opting for something a little more minimalistic, yet charming and aesthetically pleasing, sleepers work well to do this, whilst creating an attractive centrepiece.

Whilst there are pre-made options out there, if you fancy yourself a DIY project and are looking to save on costs, then a sleeper fireplace is actually something you could easily install yourself.

Plus, it’s a great way of using any leftover sleepers that you may have from a landscaping project.

There are a few ways to approach this – you could either create a full-frame with two upright sleepers and a third sleeper to create a mantlepiece or simply use one horizontal sleeper to create a single mantle shelf fireplace.

For obvious reasons, you’ll want to avoid using creosote treated sleepers. Rather, pressure-treated sleeper varieties are more suitable. And, if it’s the more rough and ready look that you’re going for, you can sand the edges to achieve an uneven effect.

fireplace mantle made with sleeper
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2. Plant pot

There’s no denying the fact that houseplants are trending at the moment. They’re a great way to bring some greenery into your home and there are many studies that indicate that house plants are also good for our own physiological and physical well-being. For many budding botanists or ‘plant parents’ the art of collecting and growing indoor plants also serves as an enjoyable hobby and interest, too.

It is so easy and will save money on buying pots. Mimicking the design of an outdoor raised sleeper bed, you can easily create a plant pot shape using sleepers. And if you’re worried about the pot leaking water, use a waterproof membrane to line the inside of the pot, before filling it with soil.

For smaller indoor plants, such as succulents, you could use one sleeper, cut to a length of your choice, to create multiple pots. It’s super easy and a great way of showcasing plants and flowers.

plant pot made out of a timber sleeper

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3. Sleeper shelving unit

Creating a sleeper shelf is an easy and inexpensive way to add more storage space to your home. Despite their chunky and robust appearance, sleepers make for rather elegant indoor shelving features.

They are ideal if you’re going for a more natural look and they work well to complement a range of tones and textures. Sleeper shelving is on-trend and is the perfect choice for creating a horizontal feature piece on your wall as well as a functional storage space.

Whether you’re a bookworm, vinyl collector or simply want somewhere to store your belongings or show off your favourite ornaments, sleeper shelving is a great way to do it in style.

Quite often when you have a space to fill and are unable to find furniture that works within the dimensions of the space, the DIY approach enables you to create something that works perfectly for you. You can make this project as big or small as you want, depending on the size of the room.

Making your own sleeper shelves is a fantastic project for those who enjoy working with their hands and creating something new from scratch. And the great news is, you don’t have to be an expert carpenter or designer in order to create this show-stopping piece.

shelves made using sleepers
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4. Mirror even stylish full-length mirrors

Buying a mirror that fits perfectly to the size and shape of a space whilst working with the design and aesthetics of your interior isn’t always an easy task. So why not make one yourself?

Frameless mirrors are generally cheaper to buy than those with a framed design. Using timber sleepers, you can frame your mirror. Because sleepers offer superior length, they are ideal for making DIY full-length mirrors.

And, because they are a strong and sturdy material, you don’t even need to mount your new creation on the wall. You can simply stand it upright with a few supports or lean it against the wall.

sleeper mirror
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5. Indoor furniture

We know that sleepers are a fantastic choice of material when it comes to making outdoor furniture. But actually, the inside of the home offers even more opportunities to experiment with making some pretty cool, fun and creative furniture pieces.

And, as with any DIY furniture, you can create sleeper furniture to any size, shape and height to achieve a finish that really is made for your home.

Dining tables are one of the most popular uses of sleepers indoors. And it’s not surprising. A sleeper dining table is robust and offers the perfect rustic, country house look.

You can also use sleepers to create coffee tables and side tables as well as bench seating that doubles up as a nifty storage space for children’s toys, books, shoes and other homely belongings.

sleeper table

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Some people have gone one step further and used their skills and creativity to create bed frames and floating beds, home office desks built into the wall and even armchair and sofa sets using the classic timber sleeper.

The real beauty of using sleepers to create bespoke household furniture is that it’s a natural material that works so well with other materials. For example, if you’re making your own sleeper coffee table, a glass top is a fantastic addition that will give your design a modern twist.

If it’s a touch of industrial that you’re looking for, sleeper tones and textures work well with metal materials such as copper piping and brass.

And for those soft furnishings, whilst your sleepers can provide a sturdy and long-lasting base, adding cushions and throws is a super way of mixing between textures and designs.

Good Wood Gift Shop Wickham
Image Source: Good Wood Gifts Wickham:

6. Kitchen island

Is your kitchen in need of a new look? If you’re opting for a natural look and feel, you may want to consider creating a kitchen island, using sleepers. Offering a different look to your standard island or breakfast bar, a sleeper design works well with a range of kitchen styles.

And, if you’re trying to do up your kitchen on a budget, creating your very own kitchen island is cheaper, and easier, than you may think.

With just a few simple materials from around the house or your local DIY shop, plus a few hours of works, you can have your very own unique piece for the kitchen that will not only look great but also provide extra storage space, too.

You can create an island that is completely tailored to your space, without the bespoke price tag. Use a range of other materials to complement your island design as well as lighting and accessories.

sleeper kitchen island

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7. Sleeper coat rack

Sick of all of your coats and jackets being flung over the bannister rail or on the back of chairs? It’s time to get yourself a coat rack!

For something more personalised, budget-friendly and unique to your tastes and family lifestyle, why not make your own using timber sleepers?

It’s so easy to do. Simply cut the sleeper down to size, sand and stain as you wish, before fixing it to a wall. When it comes to choosing the pegs, there’s an opportunity to get creative. You could choose traditional hooks, or if it’s the shabby-chic reclaimed look that’s calling you, why not try using old doorknobs, taps or industrial parts?

Whilst you may not have these things spare in your own home, it’s a great excuse to visit your local charity shop and antique store to rummage around and explore what’s available.

You can also add your own personalised touch. Why not carve the names of your family members into the timber sleeper? And for the little ones in your family, you can attach the sleeper to the wall at a lower point so that everyone can reach their coats and jackets!

The top of the sleeper can also double up as a shelf, creating the ideal spot for car keys, bags and anything else you may need as you’re rushing out the door.

sleeper coat rack

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8. Sleeper wine rack

Anyone who sees themself as a bit of a wine connoisseur or enjoys a glass or two from time to time needs a great wine rack for storing away the goods, ready for a Saturday evening with a takeaway or special celebration with family and friends.

Making your own sleeper wine rack is the perfect project for avid DIYers, carpenters or craft enthusiasts. It is really unique way to add a bespoke touch to your home. And, homemade sleeper wine racks are also a wonderful personalised gift to give to family and friends for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries.

The great thing about this idea is there are tons of different ways to incorporate the sleeper into the design. You could cut holes in the sleeper, like the design below, or you could attach pegs to the side of the sleeper. The possibilities are endless!

sleeper wine rack

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9. Sleeper Toilet roll holder

Now, a toilet roll holder may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of how sleepers can be used indoors… But actually, this is a superb way of adding a touch of personalised charm to your bathroom space.

And, it’s a conversation starter. When guests visit our homes, whilst entertaining generally happens in the garden, kitchen or living room, most guests will also visit your toilet at some point during their stay with you.

‘Where did you get that fabulous toilet roll holder?’ – I made it myself using timber sleepers. And that’s exactly what you can do.

You don’t need to be a carpentry expert to execute a really fun, yet stylish design. It’s really easy to do, and a great way of using up any spare pieces of sleeper timber from your garden.

Take the design below for example. They have used leftover copper piping to create the holder, with two insets for storage of any extra rolls. It’s really elegant, and great if you are trying to add elements of natural-looking, rustic features throughout your home.

loo role sleeper

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Where to buy sleepers for your next DIY project

sleepers at Equestrian Fencing

Seen something in this article that’s caught your eye? For all of your sleeper supplies and accessories, shop online from a range of products.
We stock and can deliver a variety of sleepers including French Oak, Treated Softwood and Tropical Hardwood sleepers.

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