Coffee Table Ideas

I see great coffee table ideas frequently. Coffee tables are one of those pieces of furniture that can be cleverly crafted from various leftover materials or easily created by upcycling other items. Since they typically bear little weight, their structures can be rather simple, thus allowing a creative mind to try their hand at a custom piece of furniture.

Most of these coffee tables are relatively easy to recreate, and the materials to make them are often free or of minimal cost - always a plus when frugal decorating!

Vintage Trunk Coffee Table Idea

As shown above, this could quite possibly be the best frugal find I've ever come across while in an antique shop or warehouse. This wonderful piece was a mere $7.00...marked down from the already reasonable price of $12.00. I found this piece at TollBooth Marketplace in Columbia, Pennsylvania, an antique warehouse I've blogged about before. Not all of their pieces are this cheaply priced; most are what you'd expect to pay in such an establishment. However, a good find is always lurking if you take the time to search.

Rustic Appeal!

I wasn't sure if I was going to use this as a coffee table or a storage chest, or if I was going to use it indoors or out. I was quite attached to the coffee table that was residing in this very spot, but change is always good, and the greenish chippy-paint patina and weathered wood of the trunk seemed to fit too perfectly with surrounding elements and colors in this room. So, out with the old and in with the...older!

Heavy-duty Hardware

The chunky hardware alone was worth more than the entire piece and made me realize that walking away from this trunk was not an option. A little vacuuming with a brush attachment removed any cobwebs, minor dirt/debris and loose chippy paint. Aside from that quick clean-up, it was ready to be placed in its new spot. I may do a light rub of mineral oil over the exterior at some point, but for now, am quite happy with its appearance.


A Simple Hinge Latch

Unique Items Display Well on this Rustic Coffee Table

Some rusty display elements seemed fitting for this coffee table idea. I created some metal spheres from mattress springs and found an old propane fuel cylinder on a hike through the woods that already had a rusty finish - hints of the cylinder's original green finish peek through.


This coffee table idea couples well
with my rustic barn wood bench.

It's easy to find vintage trunks to use as coffee tables - I see them frequently at antique shops, yard sales, and even Salvation Army stores. If you truly love this coffee table idea, replicating the one I found would be relatively easy. Purchase new wood or look for used free wood on Craigslist. Do a Google search for chippy paint, as there are many tutorials, products and methods for achieving this finish.


Restoration Hardware sourcebooks for future inspiration.

Scale is important. Does your coffee table fit the length and height needed for your sofa?

For other similar coffee table ideas, look for vintage tool chests, shipping/military trunks, steamer trunks, cedar chests, old toy boxes, or build one of your own. Old benches are also great when repurposed as coffee tables.


Wooden Crate Coffee Table Idea

Simple Crate-Style Coffee Table

Use this idea to create a similar coffee table with lots of unique appeal and attitude. Leftover wood scraps, such as the various pine pieces used for this project, are perfect when perfection is not your ultimate goal! The random plank widths give this coffee table character. Check Craigslist for free scrap lumber.


This coffee table fits many design styles:
rustic, industrial, contemporary.

Achieve an aged finish with tools and sandpaper.

Flathead screwdrivers can be used to pry and roughen edges if you so desire.

Read the crate coffee table tutorial for more details.


Outdoor Skid Coffee Table Idea

Create an outdoor coffee table with a repurposed skid.

Skids are great for a multitude of repurposing projects. One super simple repurpose is to use it as a coffee table. Check Craigslist for free skids or inquire at stores where you see them stacked up outside. The one used here was from Lowes.

Stack and connect same-sized skids for a more complex. Magazines and books can be placed between skid levels for tidy storage. Consider using this idea indoors.

Skids are typically treated to resist pests and inhibit water, because of this, they often do not absorb stain well. You may have sand them for better stain absorption. Use caution and wear a mask to avoid inhalation of any chemically treated dust.


Use deck stain or paint to color coordinate your coffee table to outdoor furniture and decor.

Go easier still and use paint instead of stain. Do a spot test. If paint will not adhere, spray primer will be a quick remedy. If matching your skid coffee table to your existing furniture is not your thing, consider making it a statement piece by using a bold color like lime, turquoise or orange

Consider adding casters or locking industrial wheels to the skid base to provide convenient mobility.

Other Coffee Table Ideas

Get more inspiration from these simple ideas!

A clever repurpose of items results in
a one-of-a-kind piece.

Use this fun idea to create a full-sized
coffee table for indoor or outdoor use!

For more window repurposing, see the old window ideas page.


A super simple repurpose yields a super-neat look!

Reuse old items in new ways. This upcycled ladder coffee table was seen at Anthropologie in San Jose.

An old door gets new life.
It doesn't get much easier than this!

A group of tree stumps become a clever alternative to the typical coffee table. Add a round glass table top from an old table to create a more useful surface!

Stacked tree trunk slabs create a warm, natural look.
Use this idea to create end tables and nightstands.

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