how to build a restoration hardware coffee table

Recently, I received a few questions about our coffee table. They went a lil something like this: “Please tell me about your coffee table! I love it. I want to make one and would like to know more about your process. Thanks!”



When I received this question, I realized I’d never really shared much about it. Yet another project I tackled before I really truly thought about sharing a step by step process for you guys. DUH.

When restoration hardware released this coffee table a few years ago, I knew I had to have it. It was one of those pieces that absolutely spoke to me. I go gaga for the industrial antique look. But I wanted something a little more funky. A fun piece for our gargantuan, somewhat awkward because-I’m-still-figuring-it-out living room. But I was NOT paying the hefty 1300 dollar price tag. {Can’t I get some new, not-so droopy lady parts for that price??? After a weekend in Tijuana and a couple of tetanus shots, you say? Sign me up!} So, we built our own version.

See? Living room. With potentially awkward/tricky layout.

I knew it was possible. I just knew I needed someone to help us. {I believe that anything is possible with a little resourcefulness.} So I started thinking…who do I know who works on cars??? Because in my bubble of a mommy world, mechanics totally weld things. Right?

And as it turns out, we have a brilliant mechanic friend {who just so happens to be married to one of my favorite people} and so I called them up shamelessly one night and asked if he would be willing to help a design-sick chickadee out.

He sent us in the right direction, once I sent him the photos, and we headed to a local metal yard and purchased some metal pieces, according to the dimensions I wanted for the table.

The dimensions of this table are 59″w x 43″d x 18″ tall. You can adjust them to whichever size you’d like, of course. {I realize this is a super mammoth table.} But by doing basic math, based on the sizes of metal available, we purchased 4 pieces of 1 x 1 x 8th inch wall square tubing.

We dropped the pieces off at his place. And before we knew it, after a few days time, we had this fabulous not-to-little rectangular base sitting in front of us. At first, it was a lot bigger than I initially anticipated. But once we had it in our space…Our perfectly melded metal was the baby bear bed to our goldilocks of a tired room: it felt just right. {yeah. I did just write that.}

First things first, we took some rags with degreaser, as the steel was completely black. I’ve never worked with metal before, so at the time, I didn’t realize that wasn’t the color it was supposed to be. It was, in fact, covered in a sooty greasy mess. {Jamin would like everyone to know, for the record, it was I who did not know. He’s a real novice.} So we basically went to town, wiping it down. The metal was a nice shiny metal when we were finished. {we took a while to clean it, as we didn’t want to risk ruining our floors by bringing in a dirty piece.}

From there: {from left to right} we hit the freshly cleaned metal with a nice primer. We then took a second {and our main} coat of a basic metallic finish to the entire piece. It had a bit of a sheen. Thirdly, we hit it with a thin coat of slightly textured brown, for the top coat. We kept the third coat very transparent, but this gave it a bit of an aged look, in areas.

FYI: when painting large areas with spray paint…this little guy will be your new bff.

Once the base was dry, it was time to build the top. The great thing about this design: you can switch them out easily, when you grow tired of one thing. I decided this time around, to use Painted planks {3} of MDF. So after they were cut to size, I put a coat of cream on, keeping it thick and thin in various areas. {I also painted the edges a contrasting brown, close to that of the spray paint on the base.} Once it was dry, I went back with a basic stencil {I purchased at the Benjamin Moore store} and placed it as I liked.

Once it dried, and I was happy with their placement, I went back over gently with my fingers, to give it an aged look, in the cream.

Just an example of the items you could switch out: This old barn door over our mantel would be an excellent {super fun} top. This isn’t the right size for our table, but I think i’ll be switching it out with some salvaged wood, next. And that’s the beauty of this look. A simple, sturdy versatile piece.

Our kids climb on it all the time, and maybe I’ll regret the coffee table falling karma that comes with this, but nary a hair on a head has been hurt. On our Mills hooligans, or the table. {Winning}

Just a side note: when welded, in every corner, a hole was left, {the circular one-the square is where the metal comes together} from bottom to top, where a nut and bolt were placed, from the bottom and screwed into the top, to secure the top. Via our welder man. This is how we got the top to stay in place.

the three planks were secured on the back by a set of smaller planks to stabilize them.

Here’s me using my super mad photography skillz to show it to you from underneath. You can just pretend that you don’t see toys and cereal shoved under the couch.

And there you have it. A completely unique piece for your home. At literally 145 for materials, and whatever your fabulous welds man* charges for his labor…a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction…of the price. We simply sold our old coffee table {a-la world market} on craigslist, and it payed for the materials on this one.

So there you have it. I hope this helped explain the process a bit more. It’s a little time consuming {like a day out of a weekend} but completely worth it, in our book. It’s definitely the piece everyone asks about whenever they’re hangin in the bungalow. {yeah. I just wrote that, too.}

*If anyone lives locally, and would like the name of our welder, feel free to drop us a line. We’ll put you in touch with him. His fees are totally reasonable, especially considering the fabulous knock off, handmade design you score, as a result.

We’re totally going for a console table, next.

And that, ladies and gents, is how we made our coffee table-let us know, as always, if you decide to take it on! We would LOVE to see!

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Responses to how to build a restoration hardware coffee table

  1. Alissa says:

    Really creative. I so thought it was some kind of expensive hand painted tile top.

  2. I love the coffee table! I may have to gently suggest this project and then bat my eyes several times…I only have about 50 projects on my list of to do’s but he can weld, so I have to do this one! Cha Ching! If we build it, I’ll send you the pics! Thanks for the great post!

  3. Lynn says:

    Wow, very nice post about building a coffee table…the table came out very nice!~

  4. betty wilson says:

    I love this, I have a small living room, so that big is out, but I have a Cheap metal and glass coffee tble from walmart that I don’t like but it’s functional, why couldn’t I take out the glass and us the metal frame for my small version of this tble? I’m so excited what does any body think of this idea?

  5. Lisa says:

    You should sell these!

  6. Irene says:

    Love your explanation of building the coffee table. I have been eyeing this style as well for my livling room. I was thinking of topping it with a leftover piece of granite. The local yards always have leftover pieces at great prices. Do you think I would have to change the size of the metal in order to hold the weight of the granite?

    • Hey Irene! That’s a tough call to make from here. 😉 I think it depends on what the span of it is going to be. I think you’d need some crossbars at least. I’d ask the person, too, at the steel yard where you purchase your supplies.

  7. kim says:

    Love this…question: how do you bolt it in from the bottom.without exposing the bolt on the other side (top of.table)? I apologize if this is in the how to & I missed it. Thanks for your help

    • jamin says:

      Just us a screw shorter than the width of your board. The only way it will be exposed on the other side is if you use one longer than the width of the board.

  8. Bethany says:

    I just pinned this because I am in love with this!!! :) I’m becoming a follower before I leave….

  9. Cindy Sue says:

    This is wonderful! Found you from Knock off Decor just a bit ago, glad to have found you. Love the idea you have of being able to change out the top. You did good.

  10. Debra says:

    You did good!!! And look at all the money you saved!!

  11. Rebecca says:

    This is FABULOUS!!!! I completely absolutely LOVE this table! My husband and I have been on the hunt for coffee/end tables for our living room and sun room only to be so disappointed that they are all so incredibly expensive! I’m all for frugal and DIY so I will definitely be taking on this project..and the idea for the reclaimed wood is such a great idea as well. When completed, I’m quite certain this table will look amazing in my sun room! Thanks for the post it completely rocked my world! :)

  12. MELIS BROWN says:

    i have been thinking the same thing all the coffee tables i have seen are junk or made in china and expensive. i have even been thinking of making them as a business because of the crappy quality that is out there! i have a design idea much like this one! i love it!

  13. Megan says:

    I love this idea so much that I plan to complete it this weekend.

    However I do not a great friend such as yours to build the frame, Are there any suggestions to finding someone to build the frame? What type of mechanic is/was he? Is it something I can do myself?

  14. Rebecca says:

    LOVE your table! Been drooling over your re-created rooms all morning. Wow. I have a question about your table. On the MDF panels… did you glue them first? And then secure them on the bottom? Just wondering what made the table so sturdy. And what did you do to the frames on the wall? How did you embellish? They are adorable. But my favorite is your Instagram collage. PLEASE post the directions on that. We recently adopted 3 children from Guyana. All I can see is our adoption journey in your giant collage of love. Thanks for all the inspiration. I love how you write, too. The Goldilocks reference is my favorite.

  15. Diane says:

    Whoo hoo!!!! I’ve been searching for instructions on how to do something like this. Back in the days of The Brady Bunch there was a style referred to as “Bahama beds” — twin beds in a corner, with one bed pushed under a table and the other bed abutting the side of the table. A great space saver but impossible to find now. Nothing I’ve seen comes close to being wide enough for a bed to slip under. Wow — problem solved. Thank you.