Finding a coffee table can be a pain. Usually they're an afterthought. You've managed to fit the couch and a couple of chairs into your space and then you remember, oh, that's right, I need a coffee table — to set down drinks, your iPad, a book, the remotes, maybe even to sub as your dining room table, with everyone sitting on the floor around it. And so the search begins. Too big, too small, too low, too high, too ugly, too blah. Why not skip the search and create something that's not only perfect for your space but also uniquely yours? Consider the coffee table: at its most basic it's a flat top, whether of glass or wood, supported by a base.
Once you realize that, your mind opens to the possibilities. Challenge your imagination to discover simple bases in objects you might otherwise overlook — two raffia ottomans from Ikea stacked one on top of the other; a chair frame missing its back and seat; a large, ornately painted and overturned flowerpot; the bottom of an old Herman Miller table; an old wooden stool with its legs cut down; your precious issues of Domino sitting shoulder to shoulder with that stack of the OMNI magazines you found at a garage sale; your child's discarded blocks or Legos built into sturdy squares or rectangles; an old garden statue, reclining on its side; a cluster of cylindrical glass vases filled with your collections of marbles or rocks or toy cars.
Top your base with a piece of glass or wood cut round, square, oval, even triangular, if that's what your space needs. If you opt for glass, a local glass cutter should be able to do this for you for under $50 (depending on whether your base demands a beveled edge or not; an ornate or antiqute base often needs a beveled edge to balance it). A lumberyard can cut your choice of wood (which you can then stain, paint, varnish, or decoupage) for a lot less. Try a mirrored top if you're looking for something particularly glamorous. A 1/4 inch thickness is large enough to be sturdy, yet thin enough to be elegant.
And you're done. Sit back, relax, put your feet up.
(Image: Rima Campbell/Ann's East Village Aerie)