Coffee tables for the college student

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Whether you’re moving out of the dorms and into your own place, or your rowdy friends were wrestling one night and drop-kicked the coffee table to pieces, here are some easy and inventive ways to jazz up your living room. Skip the trip to Salvation Army and create your own table. These tips and ideas will help get you started:

1. Go Green. Instead of lugging that over-flowing bin of beer cans out to the curb on recycling day, use those bottles to your decorating advantage.

You will need: crazy glue, empty beer bottles (washed out with water) and a piece of plywood.

You can use two or four stacks of bottles for the legs, but upon making the two-legged table, I suggest making four legs for more stability. Also, make the legs individually, then place them on the ground where you’d like them to be in your house. Let the bottles dry before gluing the plywood to the top.

You can get even more creative by selecting different types of beer for a variety of bottle colors. Beware of using beer cans, though, because once empty they collapse easily. This coffee table option is cheap, easy to make, and it helps the environment, too. Total price: $4.99, for crazy glue that I used on all four tables.

2. Totally tubular. Lucky for UNF students, the beach is close by, lending our town its well-known surf culture. For those who live by the beach, or just love to surf, take decorating to a whole new level by going beyond the surf posters and making a coffee table out of an old, damaged or even handcrafted surfboard.

For this table, I used an old surfboard from my garage and ironing board legs that were broken off. If you don’t want to use a surfboard — as they are expensive — you can buy a piece of plywood and shape it into a surfboard. I decided to carve a shark bite into the side and again used hot glue to secure the board’s place on the legs.  The legs I found had rubber soles on the bottom, which allowed the table to stick in one spot. This table took no more than 20 minutes to make, and it cost $0.

 

3. Spare me. If there are items around your house that don’t serve a purpose but you just can’t throw them away, use them as legs for your coffee table. An old office party left me with several painted bowling pins at my disposal.

Another way to find creative leg options is to scour garage sales, which are sure to have some eclectic pieces you can use.

For this table, I used these pre-colored pins by spreading them evenly around underneath the table. It stems beyond the average two or four-legged design. I cut a piece of plywood into an oval and spray painted it black with three white holes to look like a bowling ball. Granted, bowling balls are round, not oval, but if your guests don’t quite understand, it’s a great conversation starter. This table took about 30 minutes to make and cost $9.

4. Using items from around your house is the best way to make a cheap coffee table, and it can also express who you are. I like to paint, so for this last coffee table, I stacked empty paint cans on top of each other, securing them with crazy glue and added old paintbrushes to the front of the cans for design.

For the top of the table, I decided to use a painting I had in my room, which is made of canvas board. If you like the idea of using a painting, make sure to get it laminated or put a protective sealant on top, so your painting doesn’t get ruined.  If you don’t want to use a pre-existing painting, or you don’t have one, buy a piece of plywood and paint it any way you’d like. Or, lay the wood on top of the table and let your friends add their own designs when they come over. Who says art has to be hung on the wall?