20 Surprising Coffee Table Ideas That Aren't Tables at All

Non-traditional yet unique.

Updated 09/23/19
Product Disclosure
Bauer Media/Trunk Archive

One could argue that the coffee table is the most important piece of furniture in your home: You can eat dinner on it, paint your nails on it, store your latest reads on it, dress it up by season, the list goes on and on. But it's not always the most show stopping piece of décor. So why not show some creativity with this furniture staple?

If you don't want a traditional coffee table, try thinking out of the box. While the following ideas below do take a bit of elbow grease to create (think sanding and repainting), if you're the DIY-type, these unique coffee table ideas may be exactly what you're looking for. Like truffle mac and cheese instead of plain noodles, these options, which we've curated from around the web (including from some very crafty home décor bloggers) are so much more interesting.

Here are some of our 20 favorite coffee table ideas that actually aren't traditional tables at all.

01 of 20

Architectural Feature

Unique architectural feature as coffee table in living room
Bauer Media/Trunk Archive

Have you come across an amazing vintage architectural detail in an antique store that you just don't know what to do with? Get crafty and place a simple glass or marble tabletop atop the piece, et voilà, your coffee table is set. Better yet, no one will have the same coffee table as you.

02 of 20

Vintage Drum

Vintage drum as coffee table alternative in living room
Robert Caruso

A large marching band drum and a round coffee table may have similar dimensions, but one is far more interesting than the other. And since a large vintage drum isn't necessarily something you can swing over to your nearest Target and pick up, keep your eye out at garage sales and thrift stores, or online vintage retailers like Chairish, One Kings Lane, or maybe get lucky at Overstock.com or Wayfair.

Use a simple piece of round glass to make a drum just as functional as a standard table.

03 of 20

Moroccan Tray

Moroccan tray coffee table on a patio
Justin Coit for MyDomaine

Besides being eclectically glamorous, a Moroccan tray table is multifunctional. Take the top tray to the kitchen to fill up with teatime essentials and then carry it right back to its stand. You’ll never wish for a stationary coffee table again.

04 of 20

Large Ottoman

Large blue ottoman in living room
Bauer Media/Trunk Archive

If you’re prone to kicking your feet up on the coffee table, why not make the ritual more comfortable by replacing your coffee table with an ottoman? A tray on the cushy ottoman will keep your essentials corralled and your drinks (like our top sparkling wine picks or the perfect flat white) steady.

05 of 20

Multiple Poufs

Leather pouf as coffee table in living room
Bauer Media/Trunk Archive

If spontaneous dance parties are the norm, or you have kids who constantly need more play area, poufs may be your solution. They're easy to move and are undeniably chic, and not to mention, poufs give coffee tables a run for their money. Add a serving tray for a sturdier surface.

06 of 20

Set of Side Tables

Small set of three side tables as coffee tables in neutral toned living room
Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson

When the look of a behemoth coffee table is too heavy, consider grouping side tables together instead. The collection will make for a lighter coffee table solution. Smaller, versatile tables make it practical in smaller spaces, too.

07 of 20

Upside-Down Basket

Upside-down wire basket with tray as coffee table in living room
Courtesy of Max Humphrey

We typically reserve baskets in all shapes and sizes for storage, but a vintage wire basket can also serve as the perfect coffee table. Just the right size to hold a book and a cup of coffee, a wire basket may be all the coffee table you need. Or if you need more surface area, group a few together.

08 of 20

Vintage Trunk

Vintage trunk as coffee table in living room
Bethany Nauert; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

Not only does a trunk add structure and style to your living room, it will also increase your storage options. If just one trunk isn’t enough to store all of your blankets and children’s toys, try placing two next to one another. Pay a visit to your nearest consignment shop, thrift store, or antique store to discover a vintage trunk, or shop contemporary brick and mortar and online retailers like World Market, Joss & Main, and 1stdibs for ideas.

09 of 20

Tree Stumps

Three tree stumps as coffee table in farmhouse-chic living room

Twelve On Main

Blogger Twelve On Main converts several tree stumps into an intriguing living room centerpiece. "If you live in an area where you cannot readily get access to tree stumps or firewood, try some lumber yards, possibly furniture manufacturers, upcycle and salvage yards," she recommends.

10 of 20

Salvaged Door

Vintage blue painted door repurposed as coffee table

CharismaGift / Etsy

A vintage door gets a new lease on life as a rustic coffee table. In the coffee table created by Etsy maker CharismaGift, we love that the original knobs and lock were kept in place, and that the table's legs were fashioned out of vintage staircase balusters. What's old is new again with a little paint scraping and carpentry skills.

11 of 20

Chicken Coop

Chicken coop repurposed as coffee table in living room

Debbie Westbrooks

 

A chicken coop goes chic with this DIY-coffee table project by blogger Debbie Westbrooks of Refresh Restyle. Westbrooks fashioned the chicken coop (a thrift shop find, by the way) so that the top slides open for easy access to stored items like books and magazines. And as Westbrooks explains in her blog post, "It’s amazing what you can transform and add your unique personality to while staying within your budget."

12 of 20

Repurposed Window

DIY window coffee table topped with holiday décor

 Marty's Musings

Blogger Marty's Musings reglazed and cleaned the glass of a window to reimagine it into a charming coffee table. The top also opens via an old cabinet handle she had on hand, allowing for storage space, and yet another clever coffee table idea.

13 of 20

2X4 Coffee Table

2X4 DIY coffee table in living room
A Beautiful Mess

Juxtaposed 2X4 planks are refashioned with hairpin legs in this sturdy and polished coffee table by A Beautiful Mess.

14 of 20

Crazy for Copper

Coffee table with DIY copper pipe legs

 For Me, For You

Blogger For Me, For You constructs a coffee table using pretty copper pipes from Home Depot. We like the unexpected look of the copper legs and luxe, metallic shine.

15 of 20

Mobile and Rustic

Rustic chic coffee table with wheels

 Medido Design

With rustic details like this coffee table, the rest of your living room décor can remain pretty minimal to really show it off.

16 of 20

Dressed Up Wooden Pallet

DIY wooden pallet coffee table

As Seen on The Design Chaser

Here's another rustic coffee table option; the addition of a glass overlay elevates the look, while added wheels make it versatile.

17 of 20

Reclaimed Wire Spool

Reclaimed wire spool coffee table

Back Burner Designs for Etsy

Upcycled electrical wire spools offer ample surface area as a coffee table. Just add a dark walnut stain to polish.

18 of 20

Polished Concrete

Polished concrete coffee table with fern imprints

Family Handyman 

A concrete slab can absolutely be a chic coffee table. Up the design factor by stamping it with organic shapes (like ferns, pictured) and a slick coat of polish.

19 of 20

Wine Barrel

Wine barrel coffee table

Wine Enthusiast Catalog

Utilizing a wine barrel as a base for a coffee table adds a sense of place, and is sure to be a conversation-starter.

20 of 20

Industrial Metal

Industrial metal midcentury modern coffee table

Model Line Design for Etsy 

Raw steel can be midcentury modern and cool, too, like this coffee table from Model Line Design on Etsy.

When you've got your unique coffee table set up at home, it's time to show it off! For example:

  • Host a cocktail hour where attendees swap DIY-tips
  • Or forgo DIY-project talk and opt for other conversation starters (that aren't about the weather), such as chatting about destinations at the top of your travel bucket list, anecdotes of the best surprise you ever received, or which wellness trends you've recently tried (Smudging? CBD? Forest bathing, perhaps?)
  • Use the opportunity to experiment with new tablescapes as an excuse to host a dinner party using found objects, or seasonal accouterments, for example

Related Stories