Maybe your house is similar to ours, a big rectangle of a room that leads right into the kitchen. With the TV mounted on an end wall, seating arrangements pretty much forced us to place a couch/sectional in the middle of the room, thereby dividing the space. This works great to section the space into functional areas, however, the exposed back of the couch was always an eyesore. For years we have been wanting a desk or something to place behind the couch for aesthetics but not something too wide that would take up walking space and look bulky. We unsuccessfully found our ideal table, or if we found something close, it was such cheap craftmanship that we didn’t trust it would last.

Finally, I decided to try building one myself using ideas we found from various other tables. I hadn’t built anything like this before but I knew the basics, so I decided to give it a try. Using our sectional as a guide, I decided on height/width measurements that would fit well behind the couch. Using these measurements, I sketched out a rough idea of what I wanted to build. I thought I had taken a picture of the table plans to include here, but unfortunately I cant find it.

Happily, after purchasing the necessary supplies from my local Lowes store, the overall cost was less than the average cost of the not-quite-right tables we found at local furniture stores. One issue I ran into was that I could not find the ideal size wood to use for the table legs. I wanted around 2.5-3″ legs but could only find 4×4 or 2×2 lumber. So, I bought the 4×4 and ran it through my table saw to trim it down to 2.5″ width.

Next, I began assembly of the basic frame. It’s very important to ensure everything is square and level at this point as everything else is built off the basic frame. I didn’t trust the garage floor, so I assembled the table on my workbench utilizing my Kreg Jig for a clean and secure finish. I double and triple checked by measurements and alignment before assembling the frame and had it sitting on the table top to check symmetry.

Knowing we wanted a drawer in the table, I opted to build the frame and install the tabletop to ensure everything remained square, and then I cut out for the drawer. Obviously, this would weaken the table, so I had to add additional bracing underneath and to also provide mounting for the drawer slides. I was unsure if it would work, but it turned out fantastic. In addition, we decided to add some diagonal bracing to the table ends more for aesthetic but to also strengthen it.

After a trial fit inside the house, I began the long process of filling and sanding everything down. I went through several levels of sanding grit, all the way to 1000 grit for a very smooth finish all over. THEN, it was time to decide on a color for the table. This process turned out to be very frustrating! We bought countless samples of stains, including some custom mixes and also polystain. I tried all of it on scrap wood from the project and nothing looked like we imagined. It was either too dark, too muted, or showed too much wood grain. We wanted a slight grain finish with more of an opaque coverage. Nothing seemed to give us what we wanted, including various types of pre-stain. The project went on hold for several weeks because of this. Finally, I decided to try a white wash stain followed by the grey-brown stain in the hopes it would lighten the color, and it did! It looked just like we were hoping. So I finally started work on the table itself.

To get the finish we were looking for, I gave a thin coat of the grey stain initially and then came back over it with a dry-brush type application to give a weathered rustic look. It was very tricky to get everything even, especially around the cross bracing. But the final product was fantastic! After the stain fully dried, I applied several coats of poly and then installed USB outlets into each end of the table with a long cord off the back corner to plug into the wall. Now we have a great little desk we can sit at and also charge our phones off of. The bar stools we had bought from Wayfair a few years earlier to use at our kitchen island but ended up stacked in a corner. They happen to be very similar in color so everything worked out better than we originally planned. We are so happy to have built out own table rather than settle for something that wasn’t exactly what we were looking for.

By Nathan Filion

A full-time, married firefighter in Southern California. I'm an avid DIY'er and prefer to tackle home improvement projects myself in addition to other crafts and art projects.

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