IKEA coffee table hack

If you Google “Ikea hacks”, there will be thousands of examples of ways to customize your IKEA furniture. There are endless possibilities to update your seemingly mass-produced table, chair or shelving unit. I love looking through these posts because it teaches you to think outside the box and envision another purpose for all those Lack tables you have in your basement.

When living in a small space, the one piece of furniture that I feel is THE most important is the coffee table. It will be the place where you eat, drink, study and put your feet up on (even if you’re not supposed to). When we moved into our last apartment, the living space was very narrow, so I was on the hunt for a coffee table that was the perfect size for the room. We needed something that was narrow, not too low, had some extra storage, and preferably wood – all while looking good too. I loved the look of the simple dark iron framed tables with rustic wood shelves, similar to this one from CB2:

CB2 framework credenza

However, as simple as the designs were, the price tag was not so simple. Enter IKEA. Their Vittsjo series has a set of nesting tables that have the iron frame look I was going for. Plus, two tables means you can expand the space as you like, or push them together when you aren’t using it. I’m not a fan of glass, so I created wooden table tops to fit the dimensions. Easy enough, right? It took a better part of a weekend, but I am definitely happy with the result.

Step 1 – Purchase and cut wood to fit

You can find pieces of unfinished wood at hardware stores or lumber yards. I used a large 3/4” pine shelf board and asked them to cut into two sizes (they will usually do this for free). Make sure you don’t get anything thicker than 1” because then your nesting tables won’t nest. The larger table top is sized 17 3/4” x 35 1/4”, and the smaller table is 19 3/4” x 19 5/8”.

Step 2 – Sand and stain the wood

This was my first time staining, so it was a bit of an experience. I used a Stain + Polyurethane combo product, so I didn’t need to do a topcoat afterwards. I did two coats to get a rich walnut colour. Tip – use a staining sponge instead of a paintbrush, and don’t use too much stain for each coat. I have a few noticeable drips on the edges of the wood that dried a bit darker than the rest.

Step 3 – Secure hardware on underside

To ensure your table tops don’t slide off the frame, you will need something to fit underneath the wood and is the same width as the inside dimensions of the frame, which would be exactly 3/4” from the edge. You can use extra pieces of wood, but I used some metal brackets I found at the store. Just anything that will prevent it from shifting.

Brackets underneath     Brackets underneath 2

And you’re done! You can easily pop these out and switch it back to the glass tops if you want, since they aren’t attached to the frame. Other ideas would be to do a whitewash on top of the wood stain to give it a weathered look, or even use slats instead of one big piece.

Coffee table hack 2


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