For my next room upgrade, we’re going to finish working on the living room! I’ve been slowly working on this room here and there for a few years, but I’m ready to put the finishing touches on everything.
The living mood board:
For our first project: a new coffee table!
Why DIY vs Buy?
This is a question I get all the time when I tell people I’m working on another project. “Wouldn’t it be easier to buy?” Sometimes, the answer is yes! But here’s why it was a hard no for me:
Dimensions. We have a small living room and I had a very specific size in mind. This narrowed down my options by A LOT.
Cushion. This again narrowed down my options. I couldn’t get something fully upholstered because my cat completely tore apart our last one. But, I needed some kind of cushion for my husband to comfortably rest his feet on (this was non-negotiable!). That meant it had to only have a cushion on the top, which is really hard to come by. And even harder to find something in my style.
Storage. I am ALWAYS going to prefer something with drawers where we can tuck things away. Do I know what’s going in these drawers yet? Nope. But I will absolutely find good use for them.
Cost. I found a few options that I liked (none were perfect!), but they were all well over $1000. I ended up building mine for less than $250! And it meets all of my other requirements.
This coffee table was my biggest inspiration for the build. I loved the look of it, but it was a) discontinued b) probably really expensive c) not the right size, and d) didn’t have a cushion. But I knew I could build it, so let’s go!
Step 1: Build the Structure
Materials + Tools
- Edge Glued Panels. I used two 18” and one 16”
- Circular or Table Saw
- Pocket Hole Jig
- Wood glue
- Make Cuts: Top & Bottom, 2 Sides, Middle Support, 2 Shelves
- Use Router to Bevel Edges of Sides
- Pocket Hole Sides, Middle Support and Shelves
- Cut 1x2s for Base
- Attach Base
Once I figured out my final design and all my measurements, I was able to determine my cuts. I used the 18” pieces for the top, bottom, and sides, and the 16” pieces for the middle support and shelves.
The inspiration coffee table had this nice detail of a bevel on the sides, which I really liked. This is also why the shelves and middle support are not as deep. This was a simple step once you get your router to the right configuration. You simply clamp the piece down and let the router do its job. I don’t particularly love using the router because it’s SO messy, but I do always love the end result.
Next up, I added pocket holes to both sides and to the middle support and sanded everything down.
Then it was time to assemble. I noticed that my sides had a slight bow in them that I didn’t notice until I went to assemble. So, I used some clamps to get them straightened out. Since they’re soft wood this was relatively easy. Once I had them clamped perfectly, I added a few nails to keep them straight. Since the cushion will be covering the top, I was ok with adding nails since you won’t see the holes.
Then I was able to secure everything with the pocket screws, to keep everything extra sturdy.
I used the shelves as spacers to get the middle support in place. I didn’t need to nail these, so I just added glue and pocket screws.
Then I added the top using the same method as the bottom. At this point, I decided to hold off on adding the shelves until after I installed the drawers so that I would have more space to work with when installing the drawers.
So, I moved on to adding the base. I used a 1×2 and just built a square that was inset by 1 ½” all the way around. Once the square was built, I attached it to the bottom using a combination of wood glue, screws, and nails.
Step 2: Drawers
Materials + Tools
- Attach Slides
- Cut Drawer sides
- Cut Drawer front/backs
- Add pocket holes to front/backs
- Assemble box
- Cut and attach Drawer bottom
- Cut Drawer front
- Use Router to Bevel the top of the front
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a sucker for adding drawers whenever I can! I also had some leftover drawer slides, which made it even easier! I have an entire drawer-building tutorial available here that walks you through step by step. The main difference between this tutorial and what I did here, is that I’ve started using 1x4s instead of plywood for the drawer box, which is much easier and has a cleaner look.
For the drawer front, I again copied the inspo coffee table and did a simple piece with a bevel on the top. The bevel not only adds a nice detail, but it makes it so you can grab the drawer and open it without needing hardware. This was SO easy to build and install!
Once I routed out the bevel, I just lined the front up with my drawer and used clamps to secure it in place. Because I didn’t add the shelves yet, I had full access and it made this so much easier. Then, I just added three screws from the inside of the drawer, and voila!
At this point, I decided it was time to add the shelves. I removed the drawers and added some spacers to keep everything straight, then just screwed them in using the pocket holes.
I also added a piece of ¼” plywood to the back, where the back of the drawers was visible. I added a couple of blocks so that I could attach the plywood to something on the bottom, then attached it to the back of the shelves.
Step 3: Stain
I started with some wood conditioner, then went with my go-to combo of whitewash and Early American. Then I finished with 2 light coats of water-based poly.
Step 4: Cushion
Materials + Tools
- Cut plywood to size
- Cut foam to size
- Attach foam with spray adhesive
- Wrap in batting and attach with staples
- Wrap in fabric and attach with staples
- Attach to coffee table
I can’t sew. Like I look at a sewing machine and I truly don’t understand how they work. So, this is as DIY beginner friendly as they get! I used a piece of scrap ½” plywood to create a base the size of the top.
Then I cut down some 3” foam to the same size and used spray adhesive to secure it to the plywood.
Next, I wrapped it with some batting, and stapled around the edges, then followed that with the fabric! It was seriously really simple. For the corners, I decided to wrap them basically like you would a present.
Then I put it in place and added 4 screws from underneath the top to secure it in place.
We love it! It’s the perfect size for the space and we both agree the cushion is super comfy. Our cat has also been a big fan of laying on it 😻.
Now that this is complete, I’m excited to get to the rest of the living room. Up next, I’ll be building a small bench for extra ad-hoc seating. It’ll have a very similar feel, so here’s to hoping for a nice quick build 🤞