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Why buy a table when you can DIY your own?

Pssst… your home called. It would love a new coffee table to call its own, and maybe a set of side tables or end tables to keep the coffee table company. Your dining room and bedroom chimed in too, also wanting tables of their own. You could buy any random table on sale at IKEA or an import store, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, export a little of your own personality into a table you can design and craft yourself from repurposed materials.


1. Soda Crate Creations

“Salvage chic” style overflows with this shadowbox coffee table made from four vintage wood soda crates. Beverage crates like these are still fairly easy to find at flea markets and antique shops.  

  1. Arrange your favorite four finds in a square with the best lettering or logos facing outwards.
  2. Cut a sheet of plywood the same size as the square of four, then secure the crates to the plywood.
  3. Add the table legs of your choice; bonus points for repurposing the legs from another scrapped object.
  4. Fill the open areas in the crates with a collection of your favorite objects , such as sand dollars, vintage toys or seasonal decor.
  5. Next up, add a tempered glass tabletop rescued from a salvage shop.

Voila, you’ve made an uber chic, infinitely changeable coffee table.


2. Doors of Perception

Give new life to a salvaged, solid wood door – particularly one with interesting details or hardware – by transforming it into a durable new table. Full-size doors serve as excellent coffee tables;  narrow broom-closet doors or even tall shutters are ideal for making console or sofa tables.

  1. Set the door up on sawhorses outside, then gently sand away any splinters or rough areas while keeping the old paint or finish mostly intact.
  2. Add chunky, durable table legs or repurposed stairway spindles.
  3. Finally, give the entire table a coat of polyurethane for a protective finish.


3. The Well-Traveled Table

A sturdy vintage suitcase or travel trunk becomes a chic, slightly rustic coffee table , thanks to retro-inspired hairpin legs. A thrift store is a great place to hunt for your vintage travel treasure. Seek out an older suitcase with solid sides. Travel decals and scuffs from years of use just add to the charm.

  1. Cut a scrap of plywood to fit the inside bottom of the suitcase; this provides extra support for the legs.
  2. Add screws or nails to secure the legs to the board through the bottom of the suitcase.
  3. Make a set of similar end tables by adding taller legs to a matching pair of hard briefcases.

This table also provides hidden storage space to stash remotes, tablets or even a comfy throw blanket.

A quick note on choosing hairpin legs: The ideal coffee table sits about 16 to 18 inches tall, or just slightly shorter than the sofa seat. Subtract the thickness of the suitcase from the height of your sofa seat to determine the ideal table-leg length.


4. ReSIGNment

Old road signs – obtained legally from a street department no longer needing them – serve a new double life as both tables and pop art.

  1. Clean up whatever sign you can acquire, then cut a piece of MDF or plywood the same size to bolster the back side of the sign/underside of the tabletop.
  2. Purchase a set of table legs in a style that matches the feel of your room.
  3. Make them from pipes and fittings or repurpose them from another project piece. 

For a similar look, you can also make a table out of numerous vintage license plates, which are a bit easier to acquire.


5. Drumroll, Please…

Show off your love of music by turning an old, beat up drum into a one-of-a-kind side table or end table.  

  1. Pick a drum that has the leg hardware intact and that sits with the drum head horizontally, table style.  
  2. Remove the metal hardware, then peel the laminate color covering off the sides (or leave it intact if you want the drum’s rockin’ origins to remain obvious).
  3. Grab a large stencil – chevrons, paisley or interlocking geometric shapes, then stencil designs over the drum cylinder.
  4. Make a top for the drum from scrap wood, or go ultra funky and make a light-up table with a glass tabletop from a salvage yard or yard sale.
  5. To add lights to your piece, insert a strand of tiny twinkle lights inside drum, held in place with plastic cable clamps.


6. For the Record

Make a simple side table or two from vintage vinyl albums and a metal plant stand.

  1. Stack several severely scratched albums or 12-inch records atop one another. Be sure to save the one that looks best for the top.
  2. Use spray adhesive or a thin layer of glue to adhere the records to one another.
  3. Next use hot glue or construction adhesive around the rim of the plant stand to attach the record stack to the stand.


7. Urning its Place

A large, ornate garden urn adds a touch of class to any room with its new life as a side table. A modern resin urn works well in place of a vintage cement or plaster urn, without all the weight.

  1. First up, be sure to clean your urn up a bit.
  2. Then set a large cake stand atop the urn so the base of the stand fits into the opening of the urn. The weight from the cake stand’s base helps keep the top perfectly in place,
  3. For a more permanent tabletop, secure a decorative platter or serving tray atop the urn with construction adhesive or hot glue.

Have any other creative table ideas? Let us know in the comments.