Coffee and End Tables Redefined

Re-purposing items which seem to have no value can become interesting and functional furniture.

Gone are the days when nearly everyone had some form of those awful oak veneer living room tables topped with smoked glass inserts. If your coffee and end tables need an update and you’re disenchanted with the typical bland fare available in discount furniture stores, look around your house and at local secondhand stores for items that can be upcycled. Nearly anything can be made into a stylish, interesting conversation piece that also serves as a surface for beverages, books, and feet.


Reclaimed Wood

This is one of the most prolific sources of materials for an eclectic and charming recycled coffee table. Pallets are ideal for this purpose, and can be painted or varnished, stacked, attached together, and even topped with a custom cut of acrylic or glass for durability. Bonus – the lower levels can be used as shelves.


Dismantled pallet


Doors can be had for a song from architectural salvage yards or local flea markets. Cut it down so that you have the center panels for the top, and the top and bottom for the sides. Attach to a slab of wood on the bottom and paint or leave in its rustic, distressed state for a shabby chic look.


Vintage recycled furniture made of reclaimed wood


Shutters also make fantastic reclaimed material for a living room table project. They’re paintable, and offer a cozy appeal perfect for a cottage or cabin theme. Put them together vertically for a taller accent table in a hallway, topped with a vase of fresh flowers, or lay one on top of four legs for a coffee or sofa table.




Tree stumps or logs are easy to obtain and finish, and go great in a man cave or a living room decorated in dark woods and deep reds. Or, put four wine crates together on their sides for a creative accent table with a ton of storage.


Table made of logs


Unusual Resources

A used tire wrapped in rope transforms something that would have gone to the dump into a hip, fun side table. Stack two or three together and you can use them as extra stools or seating when the need arises.


Mirrors may seem useless once they’re broken, but if you’ve got the equipment in your workshop to cut glass you can use those discarded gems to create a bold, retro showpiece by mounting squares of it on plywood. The reflective effect brings a sparkly element into any living room.




The local hardware store can be a great boon to the DIY’er when it comes to creating a minimalist, functional piece. Sometimes simple is best, and with some plain lengths of pipe and a couple squares of wood or even faux stone, you can craft the perfect table to fit into an industrial or steam punk décor scheme.


What could be more fitting as a surface for reading material than, well, reading material? Old books (the larger and heavier, the better) can be stacked and transformed into an eclectic table that is sure to catch the attention of everyone who walks through your door. All you need is some books that you’re done with, Mod Podge, heavy-duty glue, a small paint brush, and a slab of plywood.


Old book on a shelf


Make your tables do double duty by using small padded stools with a fun vintage tray on top. Small crates can be slid underneath to hold books and magazines, and when company comes by you’ll have extra seating or beverage surfaces, whichever is more pressing.


Living room


It seems silly to throw away hundreds of dollars on fancy living room tables when you can take something old and give it a new lease on life. With a little time and a few inexpensive supplies, you can custom create exactly the look you want.

DISCLAIMER: Readers should keep in mind that any accounts of renovation presented in this article are written accounts of events taking place at individual homes, and are not necessarily endorsements of do-it-yourself home improvement. You proceed at your own risk if you attempt to replicate any activities described here. 

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