Thursday, February 19, 2015

DIY Midcentury Coffee Table

Since moving in together, josh and I admittedly have never owned a real coffee table. Our living room is fairly narrow and it was hard to find one slender enough to fit comfortably, so we've been using a storage ottoman as a coffee table for over a year now (you can see it in action in this post.) The ottoman has actually been great - it's the perfect size and also stores two upholstered stools inside for extra seating, so we've been very happily living with it. That is, until we got a new living room rug. All of a sudden that black ottoman with a patterned top no longer seemed to work in the space, and I knew we needed a real, adult coffee table. But finding the right size still proved to be tricky, so instead of spending hours searching and measuring, we decided to take the easy route (in this case) and make one. With all of the wedding meetings and planning, josh and I haven't had time to do a project together in a while, so it was a lot of fun putting it together and adding another custom piece to our home. Here's how to get the look!

What you need:
- 4 angle top plates
- 4 16" wood taper legs
- 1 wood panel (our's was a 18" x 48" pine board)
- Interior wood stain (ours was a dark walnut color)
- Polyurethane
- Foam brushes
- Electric drill
- Measuring tape
- Wood cutter (optional)
Total cost: ~$50

And here's how to make it:

Step 1: Sizing
Start be deciding how long you want your coffee table to be. We could have kept our top piece of wood as is, but thought it might be a bit too long, so josh made a line and then cut about 8 inches off, making the top of our coffee table 18 inches by 40 inches.
Step 2: Stain
Next, your ready to stain all of your pieces! I used a small foam brush to stain the legs and then a larger one to stain the front and back of the table top. One coat was plenty to give us the color we wanted, but feel free to add additional coats if you want it to be darker. This part would ideally be done outside, but since it's below freezing in Boston and our back patio is currently just a giant snow storage unit, our bathroom became our workshop. If you do this project inside, make sure you are in a room with ventilation (and the fan on HIGH) to avoid getting light-headed from the fumes. :)
Step 3: Polyurethane
Once your stain has dried (at least 2 hours), give the legs and top a generous 2 coats of polyurethane to seal the wood. Use a matte or satin if you want the finish to be more textured and a glossy if you want it to be more shiny. I used a matte for this project but think I may go over it again with a glossy to give it a little shine and help it resist water better.
Step 4: Add legs
Once everything has dried, add the legs! I personally love the mid-century modern look of angled, tapered legs, so decided to use the angled part of the top plate, but you can also use the level side if you want your legs to be straight up and down. Just use a measuring tape to situate the plates the same distance from the sides in each corner (we did 3 inches from the ends and 2 inches from the sides) and then screw them in using an electric screwdriver. Then, just screw your legs right into the top plate and flip over.
And voila! An easy-to-make coffee table that has a small footprint and a modern look, all for just under $50. Oh, the things that make me happy in my twenties. My 18-year-old self would never believe that I would get this excited over furniture. But there's just something about the addition of the coffee table that really makes the space feel like home, vs. an apartment where we just use whatever mismatched furniture we have. We ate our first dinner on it last night and felt pretty grown up. Plus, I love how it looks with our new rug! What do you think?


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