DIY coffee tables can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Yes, it can take some time to make, but once you've placed it in your living room, you can sit in smug satisfaction knowing you crafted that bespoke piece of furniture with your bare hands.
Whether you're drawing from designer inspo or being a bit more spontaneous, buying the raw materials (or getting them for free) can feel like an immediate quick-win. Especially if the coffee table you really want is super out of budget.
So we've scoured social media for some of the most stand-out DIY coffee table ideas. Some come with step-by-step guides, and others, a really transparent rundown of the costs involved so your expectations are managed right from the get-go.
These real people come from all walks of life, some are working moms, and some are stay-at-home superstars. So you can be sure that these ideas are attainable and affordable (financially, and without taking up too much of your precious family time).
Let's get to work!
DIY coffee table ideas
First things first: equipment. If you're already a little handy around the home, you may already own one of the best drills on the market. You'll need this for screwing in and securing your materials to create a DIY coffee table that's stable enough to hold your items, and of course, will be safe for the family to use.
1. Polly Coulson's color-blocked coffee table
You will need:
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Country Grey
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Olive
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Amsterdam Green
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Scandinavian Pink
- Flat Brushes
- Masking tape
- Sanding Pads
- Annie Sloan Matt Chalk Paint® Lacquer
- Begin by sanding the top and cleaning away any dust before painting. Polly used a mix of Chalk Paint® in Country Grey, Olive and Amsterdam Green to create a custom green base applied with a Small Flat Brush for a smooth finish.
- Apply masking tape to the areas you want to section off and build the pattern.
- Apply contrasting colors to the sectioned off parts. Remove the tape while the paint is still damp so it doesn’t crack. Polly used Chalk Paint® in Scandinavian Pink and varying mixes with Country Grey.
- Once the Chalk Paint® is dry, add some more shapes using masking tape to layer the design.
- When you’re happy with the pattern, gently fine sand it to smooth the edges of the pattern and tidy the edge of the coffee table.
- Apply Matt Chalk Paint® Lacquer to seal the paintwork. Apply two coats to give it a harder wearing surface.
2. Luke Arthur Well's faux marble table
'After scouring the internet, we found the ideal one for the room - the plinth coffee table from Menu. One problem, it costs about £1,600 ($2200),' says Luke Arthur Wells, an interior influencer and content creator.
'So, we set about thinking about how we could come up with something similar. We spotted these marble-effect tiles from Mandarin Stone with a beaut rust-color veining that sparked an idea. Could we cover an MDF box in tiles and create the same look?'
'There were a couple of issues we’d need to figure out, however. Firstly, there wasn’t a way realistically that we were going to be able to cut these tiles ourselves and keep the really clean lines we needed. This meant we had to make it beholden to the sizes that the tiles came in. Luckily for us, the Mandarin Stone tiles came in a square and rectangle format, at the same width. This meant we could use two squares for the top, two rectangles for the length on each side, and then one rectangle at either end.'
'Secondly, as the tiles had a flat edge, there’d be no way to piece them together without one raw edge of the ceramic showing at every join. We looked at how easy it would be to mitre these edges, we looked at tile trim, but nothing was really working for us.'
'Our solution, in the end, was to buy pieces of beading, miter the edges to meet at the corners and then sand them down into a smooth join. I then stuck it down with Gorilla glue, painted it black, and grouted it with the same dark grout to fill in the gaps. I was pretty happy with the final result!'
'The total cost was £165, compared to the price of the original, which is £1,600.'
You will need:
- 2 x 600x600 Mimica Nero Portoro Matt Porcelain tiles (available from Mandarin Stone)
- 6x 600x300 Mimica Nero Portoro Matt Porcelain tiles
- Tile adhesive
- Tile grout
- Gorilla glue
- Weights (or something to hold down the table while the glue is drying)
- Wooden beading
- Matt black paint (suitable for wooden beading)
- Masking tape
- Cut your MDF box pieces to size: you'll need 1 x 1200 x 600mm, 2 x 1200 x 288mm, 2x 576 x 288mm pieces of MDF.
- Secure the pieces of MDF together to create the box: Luke used a combination of Gorilla glue and nails
- Allow to dry: Luke used a variety of impromptu weights to allow the glue to dry properly.
- Chisel away the excess glue: the glue will expand so remove any that rises to the edge of the surface before tiling.
- Tiling time: use a flexible tile adhesive and grout to avoid cracks.
- Lay tiles: Lay the tiles, paying close attention to placement, one side at a time, and allow them to dry for 24 hours.
- Grouting: Use a charcoal-colored grout to fill the crevices between the tiling using a small spatula. Luke used his fingers but did not recommend it due to the staining!
- Beading: Cut your beading to the length and width of your table.
- Glue beading: Using the Gorilla glue, secure it to the table edges.
- Tape beading: Using masking tape, secure the beading in place until the glue dries.
- Sand corners: Once dry, sand down your corners to give them a rounded look.
- Paint beading: Using the black paint, paint your beading (it will need approximately three coats).
- Grout gaps: Fill the gaps around the beading after painting.
3. Eman's incredible plywood table
You will need:
- Minwax in Pickled Oak
- Wood glue
- Oak plywood
- Table salt
- Clamps or weight
- A damp cloth or rag
- A bucket
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Corner braces
- Edge banding
- An iron
'I saw a cross leg coffee table design that was way out my budget so I did what any DIYer would do and I built one... And I’m obsessed,' says @homewitheman.
'A coffee table is very functional and also one of the main pieces in a living room so I wanted to use high-quality oak plywood stained with Pickled Oak by Minwax (available at Lowe's). I stacked two sheets on top of each other for the top and legs to make it look thicker.'
'I glued my pieces together using wood glue, making sure to brush it on evenly. Tip: add salt between boards to keep them from slipping around while the glue is drying. Try to evenly distribute clamps or weight across. And then I went around with a wet rag and wiped off any glue that seeped out.'
'The legs are a cross. They are two sheets glued together for the long part of the leg and for the shorter leg. I used a bucket to figure out what height I wanted my coffee table, I liked it best when the height was a little shorter than the couch cushions. I stacked all of my legs and cut them at the same time to avoid any possible variation between height if I cut them separately. Always cut with the nice side of your wood down.'
'I sanded with 220 grit to get everything smooth. To attach my legs, I didn't want to complicate things and add pocket holes so I used corner braces. And since the middle leg is pretty long, I added four braces on the inside corners. Then I added edge banding (ironed on and trimmed) to the sides of the top and the edge of the legs showing.'
4. Sam's small space DIY coffee table
Whether this is your first home project or you're well-versed in the world of do-it-yourself – it's best to have a plan. Here one homeowner did her homework to create a characterful DIY coffee table with a warm finish. We love the mix of rustic wood, coupled with the best coffee table books on top.
'Us amateur builders loosely followed some plans and made this custom coffee table for about $50. Small space living is our main reason for DIYs, we customized it to fit our space,' says Sam aka @thelovedhome_
'We used inexpensive 2x4 and 2x10 pine boards to create our table. Adding simple pocket holes, and distressing to give it an aged look finishing up with Golden Oak stain. It was a really easy DIY project and easily customizable.'
You will need:
- 2x4 pine boards
- 2x10 pine boards
- Wood stain in Golden Oak
5. Becky's hands-on budget coffee table
How stylish is this contemporary round coffee table? Pairing blonde or pale wood with Pampas in a goldfish bowl vase, Hurricane candles, and a woven tray is coffee table decor dreams!
'I searched and searched for my perfect coffee table but nothing was in my perfect but nothing was in budget... Which meant DIY,' says Bex Elizabeth, aka @harps_andco.'
You will need:
- Oak dowels
- Wooden cable
- Drum wheel
- Round wooden
- Electric sander
- Chop saw
- Nail gun
- Gorilla glue
- Liming wax
- Saw off one side of the drum
- Cut dowels to size, glue, and stick to the drum
- Cut some pads to stick to the bottom of the drum so it doesn't scratch the floor
- Lime the tabletop and dowels
- Fix the tabletop with screws from underneath so they don't show on top. Check the screws are the right length first.
6. Heena's Ikea upcycle
There's an interior Ikea hack for everything, including DIY coffee tables. And, this upcycle (courtesy of Heena Gardner's handiwork) looks so much more high-end than its original foundations. If you can't afford an electric drill or aren't confident handling a hammer (sore thumbs – we've been there), you'll be pleased to know that you won't need sharp nails.
'As always, when you can’t find something you like with the right price tag, you just have to make it yourself! I was inspired by waterfall tables and set out to create a similar look with an old IKEA tabletop and some dowels.' says Heena Gardner.
You will need:
- An old Ikea tabletop
- 8 x 2" x 48" dowels
- Wooden paint of your choice
- Liquid nails adhesive
- One 2′ x 4′ tabletop
- Sheet sander
- Miter saw
- Small roller
- Behr paint emulsion in shade Swiss Coffee
- Sand the tabletop: Heena used an old IKEA tabletop she had around, but you can really use any tabletop for this project. Feel free to skip this step if you’re working with an unsealed piece. She sanded hers using a sheet sander so the paint would stick better.
- Cut the dowels: cut each dowel into three 16″ pieces using a miter saw. They don’t have to be exactly 16″, but make sure that they are all the same length so that the table is balanced.
- Attach the dowels to the tabletop: dry fit them first before applying the Liquid Nails adhesive. Let it dry for a few hours before proceeding to the next step.
- Prime and paint: Heena started on the bottom and the dowel legs before flipping the table over. A brush worked well on the legs, while a small roller worked best for the tabletop.
For more information, and to see a visual step-by-step guide, head over to Heena's blog.
7. Roz's recycled chip foam glass coffee table
We've all heard of the saying 'One man's trash, is another man's treasure' and this DIY coffee table quite literally delivers on this. Using chip foaming found in your online packages, you can create a lightweight glass coffee table using the material you might have thrown in the trash.
'Our first DIY project when we moved in was the foam coffee table. We recycled some chip foam from some delivery packaging glued into a cube,' explains Roz aka @process.doc
'We needed to stabilize it so it wasn’t wobbly, so we used four huge bolts from the development’s construction site in each corner. These raise it up from the floor slightly as well as give the top a level surface to sit on. The glass top was just repurposed from our old dining table that we needed to replace.'
'We still have loads of foam left so I‘d like to make a matching side table but just need to figure out how to stabilize it if it’s taller.'
You will need:
- Recycled chip foam packaging
- 4 x large bolts
- A glass table top (Roz repurposed one from an old dining table)
8. Tina Rivera's Target dupe
As convenient as our hardware and furniture retailers can be, different variables including the type of materials used, the physical shopfront overheads, and even logistics can influence the price point.
Of course, all of us have different budgets, and if you don't think it's worth the price tag, why not try and experiment at home? The midcentury modern coffee table referenced here is actually now out of stock – another 'off-the-peg' shopping dilemma.
'I really wanted the wood and wire Hearth & Hand coffee table from Target but wasn’t willing to pay $139.99 for it,' says Tina Rivera aka @triveras_brightwoodlife.
'It's a fairly simple design so I knew I could recreate it! I used a 36-inch round wood board from Lowe’s that cost $48.84 and 4 16-inch black hairpin legs from Amazon that cost $21.99. I already had the stain, sealer, and tools on hand so this coffee table only cost me $70.83! Half the price.'
9. Emily Tanner's 'perfectly-imperfect' DIY
'I was looking for a giant coffee table…and for a reasonable price, but no dice,' explains Emily Tanner aka @tannerdesignco, an interior designer from Columbia, South Carolina.
'After scouring the internet and not finding anything I liked, we decided to build our own. Using just 2x4’s and 1/4” cement board, we built the base and added a few skim coats of Ardex Americas feather finish cement-based underlayment. A sealer was crucial. You know, to prevent red wine stains. Then we were good to go!
It’s 42”x60” and perfectly imperfect.'
10. Jaq's plant pot and pizza lid combo
This super creative DIY black coffee table is made from a combination of garden and kitchen equipment. Who knew what is essentially a planter and oven tray could be a match made in interior heaven?
'Feeling pretty chuffed with myself' says Jaq Croft, aka @revisionistalondon
'Here’s a money-saving tip for a side table... Buy a larger plant pot and fit a pizza oven tray on top! Store mags/cushions drinks inside!'
This DIY coffee table cost under £28/$38... A perfect piece if you're looking for living room ideas on a budget.
11. Nadia's Nordic-inspired coffee table
Elegantly low? Check. Scandi-inspired? Check. Curvaceous silhouette? Check. We can't think of anything we dislike about this DIY modern coffee table. This three-legged piece, made by Nadia aka @floranceinterior has Nordic influences with its light wood and curvilinear shape.
Team this with other neutrally-colored soft furnishings, homeware, and accessories, and create a cozy living room experience by playing about with textures for tactility and to add interest.