The arms of our couch always get cluttered from us putting empty coffee cups down on them or leaving our mail there after we've read it, so I wanted a couch side table that would be in perfect reach for coffee cups and leaving our mail and magazines on the top.
I built this side table to match the height of the arms of our couch and I cut angles out of the bottom of the feet with the mitre saw because I love that look. I used a Kreg pocket hole jig to attach the sides to the legs. I'd been putting off buying one because they cost twice as much here as in the US (since the tool stores have to pay high shipping costs to get it here) but I eventually decided to bite the bullet and bought the Kreg Mini from an Auckland online tool store called Carbatech. I'm really glad I bought it because its great for building little side tables like this and creates a firm join while the glue is drying. The Kreg screws are good quality and very sharp so I'd buy those again.
I spray painted the frame in cream and once it was dry I brad nailed the top on (leaving a mm or so between each piece of timber for expansion) and then filled the brad nail holes with wood filler. The wood filler instructions said that it could be stained but after staining the wood I was disappointed to see that the filler didn't take the stain well at all and has left patches on the table top unfortunately. Next time I'll just go for the rustic look and not cover the brads with filler.
I've read about people who make homemade furniture stains so I thought I'd give the coffee stain a go. I put a couple of teaspoons of Maccona instant coffee into a cup and added some boiling water. Once it was cool I rubbed it onto the edges of the table legs that I'd sanded to give a mild distressed look.
With the coffee stain rubbed into the table legs and edges with a soft cloth:
The overall look is subtle, but just perfect for a gentle distressed look without it looking too dirty. I applied it to the table top too but the finished result just looked like someone had spilt coffee on it and rubbed it in so it was pretty unimpressive. I opted to brush on one coat of walnut stain that I had left over from building the laundry table instead, then followed this up with a coat of water-based polyurethane. I'm really pleased with the water-based poly - I had used oil-based poly on my other furniture and absolutely hated the chemical smell and cleaning up, but the water-based doesn't have any smell and is so easy to brush on and clean the brushes afterward. It gives the same luxurious shiny coating so I'll use that from now on.
Here is the finished couch side table. Sorry this photo is quite dark - the table looks better in real life. I've put a seagrass storage basket on the lower shelf and a fake orchid plant on the top to add some colour. The lighter patches where the wood filler didn't take the stain are a bit annoying but will be hidden by coasters and magazines soon anyway. :)