The DIY Small Space Project That Just Took Reddit By Storm

The DIY Small Space Project That Just Took Reddit By Storm

Melissa Massello
Aug 11, 2017
(Image credit: Kite Rin/Shutterstock)

We sure do love a good small spaces project — and a good gif — so when we saw this delightful and artful DIY folding table featured on Reddit (and taking the social media site by storm) we just knew it was our duty to find out more.

Cleverly disguised as a large format, wood-framed piece of original wall art, the hidden folding table is designed to drop down into a pedestal-style kitchen nook for a high-traffic Philadelphia condo where space is at a premium but its owners love to have friends over for dinner. The unique bit from other similar DIY projects we've seen — likely why the project is going viral — is that the artwork is designed as a layered relief skyline, and a piece of the skyline relief comes away from the rest and drops down on a hinge to create the pedestal leg.

Digital marketer and columnist Chris Balbi and his boyfriend, designer Frankie Rowles — the Center City couple behind the playful plans — originally shared the project on Reddit as a GIF, where it currently has almost 115,000 upvotes.

After receiving more than 200 requests for an actual table, Balbi and Rowles have now started a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money so that they can take a little time off from work and create a full guide sharing project details and tips about how they designed the table and make it available to anyone who might want to make one for their own (tiny) home.

We contacted Balbi yesterday for a little Q&A by email to find out more about this viral DIY project. Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Apartment Therapy: What inspired you to make the table?

Balbi: We live in a Center City condo, and just finished a kitchen renovation. We wanted to have friends over for dinner, but looking around there wasn't much space for a "permanent" table. So the idea to build a table into the wall popped up. I also didn't want a permanent structure because we live a high traffic life, friends are always coming and going.

Was there a particular project (on Pinterest, etc.) that you based your plans upon?

We Googled "hidden fold down tables" and not much came up, but we saw this picture and the idea of "hiding the table in a painting" came to be.

Which materials did you use?

We'll go into much more detail in the DIY [forthcoming guide and video, from the GoFundMe], but the basics are: plywood, 1x3, lauan wood, 2-inch hinges and 3-inch hinges.

Who came up with the plans and executed the artwork on the front that creates the table leg/pedestal?

I created the folding and would work and Frankie (in the green shorts in the video) came up with the cityscape. I'm better with wood, he's better with paint.

Is it the Philadelphia skyline, or somewhere else sentimental?

It's a random free-handed skyline, we needed three tall towers to hide the leg support.

What is your apartment like? Can you give us an idea of where the table fits: square footage, open floor plan, living/dining etc.?

My condo originally was one large studio, [but] I built a raised platform with half-height walls to make a "bedroom". This particular table lives between my living room and kitchen [shown in the photos, above].

How is it working out in daily life?

It has been a GEM. We love having people over and can comfortably fit five, and squeeze six. We also use it as a desk to get work done in front of the TV.

Are you planning on making matching chairs, as a few Redditors have suggested?

There were plans for chairs, but between full-time jobs and the aggressive love for the table, we've put more energy into the table, we have ideas about doing a water theme table with waves as the "break apart" part of the art.

Were you surprised by the reactions to the table?

Totally surprised, the table has been done and in use for about two months now, the Reddit post was a last-minute morning decision [the other day] before Frankie and I went out for lunch.

What was your favorite part about the process or the project?

I think we've really enjoyed learning what kind of people we are when something goes wrong. I'm much more of the "calm tone, let's take a deep breath" and he's more of the "Oh sh*t, time to scrap it and start over."

Anything else you'd love for Apartment Therapy readers to know about the project?

This was just one of what seems like a billion projects Frankie and I have worked on together. If anyone wants to hire us for a DIY show, we're available! But in all seriousness, I want people to know how not-scary DIY is. The only thing you've got to lose is time and a couple bucks (or a finger if you're not careful!). I think a lot of people are too afraid to fail. Give yourself some credit (and motivation) and get to work!

Follow Chris aka "Bowtie Boy" on Reddit, on GoFundMe, and on Instagram.

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