DIY Coffee Table

Cheryl Nuzum Reflector

In high school we all dreamed of the kinds of apartments we would have one day. I dreamed of beautiful tapestries, beaded throw pillows, strings of lights, and big plush couches for all my friends to lounge on. Then I got to college and learned the hard definition of b-r-o-k-e. I was more than willing to pay an extra $25 in rent each month for a furniture package rather than fork over several hundred dollars in new furniture.

Most of us are caught in the decision of hauling our high school bed and dresser down to the ’Boro or be left with the cheap, scuffed stuff from the tenants before us. Whichever choice you make, most likely you will still want to decorate your home in your own taste. I personally really needed a nightstand in my bedroom since my furniture package didn’t include one. I was gifted a hand-me-down one, thankfully, and not long after, creativity struck. This project was surprisingly cheap and it adds an extra flair of the dramatic to my bedroom. All you need is:

A plain table top

Stencil of your choice in design

Acrylic paint

Paint brush


While this table was a hand-me-down, it was originally from Ikea and is currently on sale. I got the stencil, paint and paintbrush all from Wal-Mart. The design of your table is entirely up to you but rather than paint the stencil directly, I chose to paint the center and four corners.

Step 1: Center the stencil on your tabletop and tape down the edges so it stays in place. I focused only on the center part so I taped off the rest of the stencil so the paint wouldn’t stray.

Step 2: Roll the paint container in your hands do not shake – it will cause air pockets. Paint one layer of the stencil. Wait about 10 minutes and paint another layer. Depending on how dark your table top is or how vibrant you want to color, you may want to do 3-5 coats. Let dry for a couple hours or overnight

Step 3: Based off the design I wanted, I decided to cut the stencil into four even quarters, assigning one quarter to each corner. I taped each piece down to minimize any slipping and risk smearing the paint. Again, do 3-5 coats and let dry for a few hours.

Depending how many coats you do, there may be some excess paint that flakes off once dried. I suspect I did one or two too many coats (full disclosure, I did more like 6-8 coats. I wanted to be thorough!), so once it dried completely, the white paint came off in a powdery substance when I ran my hand over it. However, once that top layer was brushed over, it was fine. I set my books and candles without any problem and voila! A side table was born.

The same concept could be done for nightstands, coffee tables, end tables, etc. There’s also a variety of stencil options available on Etsy or at craft shops like Hobby Lobby. Decorate it to fit your individual style. Get crafting!