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DIY Open Edge Side Tables

I love when things turn out perfectly? Gorgeous, glossy, perfectly styled photos to share on social media and have everyone oooooo and ahhhhh at the handiwork. It's a dopamine hit at the highest level.

And sometimes reality sinks in.

That annoying, how-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-make-this-work second guessing myself, calling a friend for help, colorful language and empty threats of me swearing off projects altogether. And then I calm down, collect myself, find a creative solution (or three) and things end up working out better than I originally expected.

That's exactly what happened with these side tables, which were originally meant to be nightstands for our guest bedroom. It was one of those situations where I sketched out my plan, measured the available space on either side of the bed and how tall the mattress was, researched the optimum surface area of a nightstand, triple checked that everything would fit correctly. On paper, every box was checked. But once I got the finished tables upstairs...they just didn't work. They were too large, dwarfing the rest of the furniture in the space and hid the upholstered headboard wall. Now what?

Well, I was planning on replacing the side tables downstairs in the living room at some point and the pecan stain on these new pieces coordinated beautifully with warm rich brown leather. Voila, I moved the old downstairs tables to the guest bedroom which worked perfectly as nightstands and the new tables found a home in the living room. Honestly, it ended up working out better than I could have ever planned - these oversized tables have plenty of room for storing larger items in addition to baskets and bins to keep smaller items organized.

The best part? They're super simple to make! In hindsight, next time I would use a hard wood, maple, cherry, walnut, something other than plywood and pine. Yes, I'll admit it, I was being cheap! But seriously, the cantilevered design would certainly work better with a hardwood species even if it would make the piece more expensive.

Here's how I did it!

Step 1. Sketch, Measure, Shop & Cut

I based my drawings off the original sketch I had done months ago for the guest bedroom and then researched heights and tabletops for nightstands. I picked up the wood from The Home Depot (I already had the stain and paint from my earlier deck furniture pieces) and cut everything to size when I got back from the store.

Step 2. Sand, Paint & Stain least favorite part of any project. I started with 80 grit, moved to 120 and finally finished with 220. Clean everything really well, the last thing you want is little pieces of sawdust in the paint or stain. I painted first - the bottom frame pieces, the small vertical supports (you'll see in the photos I added those after the fact...definitely recommend!), the edges of the pieces that would be stained and the middle shelves. I sanded and then applied the second coat of paint. For the pieces to be stained I used a pre-stain conditioner to allow for even penetration and then applied two coats of stain, sanding in between each coat.

Step 3. Pre-drill & Assemble

I used pocket holes on the bottom for the middle shelves to make them as secure as possible and the used a combination of wood glue, 1" brad nails and 1" wood screws for the main structure. Once assembled I noticed the middle and top shelves were sagging a bit (again, if I had it to do over I would use a hardwood), so I added the slim vertical supports to help distribute the weight. If you were feeling ambitious there are a number of different joinery methods to play with that would work nicely with a project like this. Since these tables wouldn't be moved much or hold a lot of weight, I was comfortable with the wood, nails and screws. I filled any visible nail holes with wood filler and then touched up the paint/stain as needed.

Step 4. Style & Enjoy!

It's that simple! Seriously! The entire project took less than one day once I had the wood in my garage. While they might not have worked out as guest bedroom nightstands they're perfect as side tables next to our sofa. As Bob Ross used to say..."It's a happy little accident."

Happy fabricating! If you make your own we'd love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @reddesignedinteriors and #reddesignedtutorials

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