D.I.Why? Making an Ugly Coffee Table Into A Simple Work Of Art

Beautiful Photographs by Sean Gin. Ugly Photographs by Orlando Soria.

coffeetable6Dear Old Coffee Table I Got from Emily Years Ago,

You taught me a lot of things. Firstly, you taught me that it’s important to take care of things or they’ll turn into garbage. I remember the day years ago when Emily and I looked at each other and were like “What are we going to do with this piece of garbage?” This once-beautiful royal blue lacquer coffee table got scratched after we moved it around in our storage for two years. Which reminds me, I HATE LACQUER. Yes it looks amazing for a little while. But if you just so much as set your teacup down the wrong way, it scratches immediately and you have to get it re-lacquered and it’s totally annoying and expensive and terrible. Emily was going to donate this piece to Goodwill, so I took it home KNOWING I would think of something to do with it. Fast forward two years and it’s still sitting in my parking space outside, waiting to be loved. I really couldn’t think of anything to do to it. But then one day I was daydreaming, thinking about how much I love Christo, and I remembered his early work where he used to wrap furniture in canvas and other materials. Those pieces looked like this:


I’d love to make a sofa like that someday, all wrapped and organic and crazy. But I wanted something simpler for my coffee table, so decided to try and make it look like a giant canvas, wrapped in raw fabric that’s meant to be painted on. Like this:


This is the table I started with:


I know. Gag me with a spoon. But good bones for a new, canvas-covered coffee table. Below I’ll tell you how I transformed my table.

Firstly, Here’s What You’ll need:
1. Ugly Old Coffee Table That Literally Makes You Want To Scream
2. Raw Canvas (I got mine for $6/yard at Blick)
3. Scissors
4. Staple Gun
5. Iron

Before you get started, it might be helpful to revisit my How To Strech A Canvas Tutorial, many of the same rules apply here if you cover your table in canvas.


Step 1: Cover both ends of the coffee table by stapling canvas onto the table. Don’t worry about the staples, you’ll be concealing them later. Just like you concealed your true opinion of your best friend’s new French Bulldog, which is scary and looks like a gremlin.


Make sure to pull the canvas very taught so it won’t be gross and wrinkly. Like my face is after a weekend of heavy drinking in the sun.


Step 2: Drape canvas over the top to determine width (you will be folding it under so the seam is not exposed).


Step 3: Tape your creased canvas into place. This will help keep everything in place while you staple the folded over canvas to the bottom of the table’s legs. Make sure you are pulling everything tight while you do this. Whatever you do, don’t relax. You should be as tense and wound-up as possible while you stretch this canvas over your coffee table to ensure that you pull it hard enough. Keep in mind that if you mess this up your life until now has been useless and there really is no reason to continue living.

Step 4: Using an iron on a high steam setting, iron out all wrinkles and creases in the canvas. This will also help tighten the canvas as it shrinks a bit when exposed to moisture.


Step 5: Make sure to use lots of trays and coasters. Raw canvas is highly sensitive and cannot be cleaned. I plan to eventually paint on mine so I’m not too worried about stains. If you are an out-of-control messy barbarian, you can either choose a more stain resistant fabric or choose something darker that wont show all the wine stains that result from staying home alone every weekend to watch “Maid in Manhattan” whilst wearing Garfield pajamas.


The whole project cost me about $25 (all I had to buy was the canvas) so I’m pretty pleased with my practically-free new coffee table. It’s a scientific fact that people with nice coffee tables are 90% more likely to run into handsome men on the street who are carrying big stacks of books. It’s also known that people with nice coffee tables will themselves be carrying large stacks of books and when they run into aforementioned handsome men carrying books, they will both simultaneously drop their books and then the books will get mixed up and then they will fall in love as they try to figure out which books belong to which person. Thus, it’s very important to have a coffee table that you can be proud of.




So, there you go. I transformed a coffee table from despicable to delectable within minutes, for mere pennies. Now, go forth and do it yourself! Hurry!


11 thoughts on “D.I.Why? Making an Ugly Coffee Table Into A Simple Work Of Art

  1. beautiful and arty, if impractical, love that art won

    spelling tip: taut is the word you were thinking of

  2. I just KNOW there is an encounter in your future with a handsome man and large stacks of books. Because, coffee table!

  3. hmm…this looks like canvas wrapped around a coffee table. Not. Digging. It. though I do think you are the most handsome man ever, that can (almost) do no wrong!

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