Let’s (sort of) make a coffee table

It was one of those dreary, cool days not at all the long-promised sunny and 50°. Why, why, must forecasters say these things? Because of their talk, I had days to get my hopes up about cheerier weather only to be cruelly duped. I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by an unexpected nice day than look forward to a predicted one and be disappointed. Anyway, I just felt I needed to be productive somehow and hit the end of the day with something to show for it. (I don’t always feel that way – I believe in the power of sloth – but today, despite being tired, I wanted activity and results.)

I’ve never been one to drop money on furniture. It’s just not my thing. Second-hand and homemade generally works for me. I’m not against nice things, matching things, but it’s not a big priority. If you said to me, “Here’s $1,000. You can spend it on furniture, clothes, or food,” my order of purchase priorities would be food, clothes, furniture. If someone wanted to give me nice furniture that suited my style and preference (oh yes, I DO have those), that’d be another matter.

I needed a coffee table. The last one I had was one I made that even had a lower shelf, but it really wasn’t the right size or shape for the space. I think the top board was once part of a microwave cart that turned up – I usually wait for lumber to come along (and funnily enough, it usually does). The whole thing was always more ricketey than I like though, in large part because I used no hardware on the top so it would look nice and smooth like proper furniture. But the braces I put below never really did the job. I routinely put my feet up on the coffee table (that IS what they’re for, isn’t it?) and over time I suspect doing that – i.e. sort of pushing it away every time I propped my feet – added to the instability. Occasionally I’d try to “beef up” the supports but soon enough it would start to feel a tad shaky again. It was bothering me.

The other day, in a home improvement decorating fit mood, I just went ahead and knocked the whole thing apart. This isn’t my typical m.o. as I generally wait till I have a replacement on hand or in the wings. I briefly considered whether I should keep the top board and smaller lower shelf for something else, but decided they were both too big for any new projects I have in mind. I put them out by the road with a FREE sign and they disappeared fast.

But now I had no coffee table. Where would I put my feet? A cup of cocoa? A nice bowl of pasta? Gee, I really did use that clunky thing a lot, didn’t I. My preference for a better new one was either round and fairly small, or longish and skinny. Traditional coffee tables tend to be wider than what I want and dwarf the small space. (In fact, I did have a beautiful large pine coffee table that I found by the road in perfect condition that I used for awhile but ultimately gave to a friend with a bigger space. Before that I had yet another “found” one I’d painted and handed off to someone else. Both were men unfamiliar with the pleasures of owning a coffee table before that.)

Waiting for a new “perfect” coffee table to turn up or just the right board for a top seemed ill-advised. I needed something NOW. However, I’ve been whittling down my scrap wood and the pickins‘ were decidedly slim. Even if my plans for a quick-n-dirty table weren’t long-term, I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making something that was hardly better than what I just gave the heave-ho. Aha! If I was clever about it, I had just enough pieces to cobble a serviceable coffee table together.

I had 4 same-length boards of two different colors and widths. If I spaced them I could make the table wide enough and I could “hide” the fact they don’t match by putting two the same in the center, flanked on both sides by the other two to create a design (hot damn, that’s what we’re calling it). I could use the legs from the coffee table I took apart. And fortunately I had exactly two other pieces long enough to be leg supports.
Just the right size: 3 feet long, 14.5″ wide, slightly under 18″ high. You’ll do, little coffee table, you’ll do.

17 thoughts on “Let’s (sort of) make a coffee table

  1. Deb

    That turned out well and seems to fit the space from the photo. Very nice 🙂 Also, don’t you just love the whole ‘slap a free sign on it and watch it disappear’ maneuver…by far the best way to rid oneself of unwanted items and it works every time.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. writerinsoul Post author

          Really! I never heard of this kind of table. I like double-duty furniture (and other things) so long as both are up to their job – sometimes one or the other doesn’t work quite right.

          I am feeling both clever AND slow-witted because I only just realized the coffee maker could ALSO boil water for tea, cocoa, etc.


  2. Pingback: Fixin’ up the living room | WriterInSoul

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