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Create Your Own Unique Coffee Table

Coffee table with vase and books.

I don’t think most people spend a lot of time thinking about their coffee tables. This secondary, but incredibly useful part of most living rooms is available in a huge variety of styles, colors, sizes, and materials. Call me crazy, but walking through most furniture stores and looking at coffee tables can be challenging.

And by that, I mean it can be a challenge to stay awake. With the variety of ideas out there, and tools at our disposal, there is no longer any reason to stick with a cookie cutter coffee table.

A coffee table can be an important accessory that carries your design aesthetic through your living room, or it can be a very functional piece that anchors activities in your living space. Ideally, it should be both at the same time. There are tremendous options on the furniture market, but looking at unconventional pieces that can serve as a coffee table gives you an opportunity to express your individuality.

There are so many options if you are willing to think outside the box, so consider these unique coffee table ideas, and use them to open your mind to new design possibilities.

Rethink Table Design

Close up view of wooden coffee table and carpet with a sofa background.

Start by getting rid of the idea that a table is a flat, rectangular surface with four legs. Mid-century modern design played with different shapes in coffee table designs, and often used differently configured pieces as support for the table. Here are a few ideas to expand on this design aesthetic.

Factory carts on wheels or other industrial pieces not only make coffee tables that will start a conversation, but they are usually very sturdy and able to stand up to a lot of family wear and tear. Spoked wheels that are made from metal add extra texture and depth to this type of coffee table.

If you like the aged appearance of some rust or burnished wood tops, consider coating this kind of piece with a clear, water-based polyurethane to seal in the character after a good cleaning. This will stop any further deterioration and keep residue from rusty surfaces away from your carpets or flooring.

What Do You Love?

Some coffee tables are a collaboration. If you find legs or other supports that you love, look for a top that aligns with a similar design style and pair them up for the very best, I-did-it-myself creation. This could be a unique piece, like a spool or even a tire, or a set of supports like vintage wrought iron.

Most coffee tables sit 14 to 20 inches off the floor, so you have some room to consider different supports, while also having the flexibility to size the table top to fit your living space. If you’re not handy with tools, talk to someone at your local hardware store about ways to mount a table top on your one-of-a-kind supports.

Make It Environmentally Friendly

A photo of coffee on wooden table with nature background in garden.

Using recycled or sustainable materials will not only give you a statement piece for a coffee table, but will also help to keep materials out of landfills. Shop at your local thrift store or salvage yard and look for old crates, pallets, corbels, or windows that can be easily transformed into a functional and beautiful coffee table.

When using any older wood, consider taking the time to sand down surfaces and edges or you may get splinters when you put the table into use. And remember, any surface can be protected by a piece of tempered glass or plexiglass. Using tempered glass is an important safety distinction because if broken, it will shatter into small, smooth-edged granular chunks.

Regular (or annealed) glass will shatter into sharp shards that can easily cause injuries. Plexiglass is a cheaper option that is less fragile, but it will show scratches more easily. Either material can be purchased and cut to your specifications at any glass shop. Ask them for beveled and/or smoothly sanded edges.

Customize For Your Lifestyle

A small coffee table beside a comfortable chair.

If it’s storage you require from your coffee table, look for bookshelves or filing cabinets that meet your height requirements. If the height isn’t quite right, try laying it down to see if it works better in a different orientation. With a piano hinge and a simple topper, you can make any box-like shape into a coffee table with a lid that lifts to reveal storage.

Finally, don’t be afraid to think of new ideas that specifically serve your lifestyle. If you entertain a lot, maybe a coffee table with a built-in space for beverages on ice. If you want to bring more nature indoors, maybe a table that doubles as a terrarium for succulents, or an aquarium with fish would be just the thing to energize your living room.

If you want to add some drama, LED lights or light strips can easily be added under the table edges for some great ambiance.

Anyone can go online and get a standard coffee table delivered to their home. If you want your interior design style to reflect your personality and be as unique as you are, do a little digging and keep an open mind. By considering any interesting materials that reflect your style, you may be surprised at the unique coffee table you end up with.

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