My dorm had a little extra space in it (nobody has ever said that sentence before this moment), and I decided that the thing it was lacking was a nice central area for snacks, footresting, and doing work. Follow me on a quest to find and refurbish the perfect dorm-sized coffee table.
Step 1: The Search
I was debating between building my own coffee table, or refurbishing. After a brief exploration of craigslist for free or cheap coffee tables, I happened to notice an old coffee table buried in the corner of my sister's garage. It was the right size and shape, it just needed a LOT of TLC. I struck a deal with my sister to refurbish it if I could use it for free for the next 6 months. It's a win-win!
Step 2: Brainstorming
As with anything in a dorm, (think futons and micro-fridges) I had to ask myself "how do I get the ultimate amount of functionality for the space this is about to consume?"
Obviously I wanted to put my feet and snack foods on this bad boy while consuming large amounts of TV and movies. I would also love to draw on it, do my homework, and generally just use it as a desk. If you've ever tried to use a small table as a desk, you know that it doesn't work very well when you have to lean over it constantly. Therefore, I had to add a little something-something. That addition was a lifting mechanism.
The lifting mechanism I used to bring the top from footrest mode to desk mode can be found here.
Step 3: Deconstruction
Changing functionality needs a little bit of reconstruction. So it's time to take this thing apart. To make a lifting top, I had to detach the top from the rest of the table.
Thankfully, having it taken apart also made it much easier for the next part!
Step 4: Sanding
Next step is to take some of that old paint off, because we want to bring out the natural wood aesthetic hiding below. I used an orbital sander, but a belt sander or sanding by hand also of course works. The orbital sander is just better in general for covering a large plane like the top of a coffee table.
Go ahead and sand down all those sides, and make sure you get all the paint off!
Step 5: Staining
It's time to bring out the natural wood colors! I used standard minwax, which can be found at any local hardware store. Brush it on there, let it dry, take a break, and give it another try! I ended up doing two layers, and I think that was a good amount of coverage. You'll be able to tell when it's dry if you've used enough yet. Remember to try and keep a nice even application, and not to have too much there or it will form drips and bubbles!
Step 6: Adding the New Features
It's time to add the new functionalities to this table. In order to install the lifting mechanism, carefully align the mechanism using a level so that the arms are level with the bottom of the tabletop, and in line with each other horizontally.
Now that the top lifts on and off, I had to come up with a new way to keep the drawers from slacking (the previous guides were on the top). To do this, I added a guide board below where the drawers should sit. Again, make sure that this is level before you attach anything because you don't want one drawer to slack while the other sits nicely!
Step 7: Reassembly
It's time to bring it all together! Go ahead and screw the tabletop right onto the lifting mechanism, and slide those drawers in!
Congratulations, you have yourself a coffee table/desk transformer!
Step 8: Enjoy
Kick back and relax, realize there's a deadline tonight you forgot about, and quickly transform into get-it-done mode!