20 Alternative DIY Side Table Ideas

Whether it’s a side table for the corner of the living room or a nightstand, small tables can be very versatile, functional, and stylish. But today, we’re not highlighting or talking about regular’ old side tables, we’re going to show you some alternatives to the generic instead.

A Whiskey Barrel Side TableView in gallery

You can DIY these side table alternatives with a very small amount of work and VOILA! you’ve got something quirky and fashionable for your home!

The Cutest Side Tables That Aren’t Actually Side Tables

1. A Trash Can

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Flip it over. Spray paint it if you like. But it’s really that easy. Grab a small trash can with a fun design and you have an instant nightstand that’s more than just four legs and a top. Definitely a great choice for eclectic bedrooms, craft rooms, or even your office!

2. Vintage Suitcases In A Stack

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This idea is my absolute favorite by far. Take one, two, or three vintage suitcases … stack them and you’ve got an easy DIY nightstand at your fingertips. It’s textural, it’s surprising, it’s stylish and it’s definitely fun!

3. A Large Stack of Books

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Okay, maybe I lied. This may be my favorite by far! A huge stack of amazing reads is the perfect nightstand for a book lover or just something who wants something outside the realm of “regular.” You need absolutely no skills to make this DIY happen. All you need to do is be able to stack!

4. Use Floating Shelves

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These are just as good as a side table without the clutter. Attach some floating shelves next to the couch and you’ve got a place to add a coaster, decorative knick-knacks, and your remote control! All you need is a hammer and nail.

5. A Conveniently Placed Ladder

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For the coolest, most rad side table around … just use a ladder! It serves as the ultimate decor piece while still being quite functional too! Just make sure you find the right type of ladder to fit your theme and vision. Worse comes to worst, get out the paint!

6. A Large Trunk

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Just like a stack of suit cases, trunks work well too! They can hide a bundle of movies and books inside while still acting as a suitable, versatile side table.

7. A Cute Folding Chair

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This is super fun and super easy. Grab a quirky folding chair and set it up. Stash some fresh flowers and a book on top. This is perfect for a feminine and girlish space! Then again, you can also go more modern with a sleek wooden chair for a more contemporary bedroom.

8. A Snazzy Filing Cabinet

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Using a filing cabinet as a nightstand or side table around the house is just plain cool. Hide stuff in the drawers (or organize stuff in the drawers) and use it just like you would any other smaller table. It’s a great conversational piece and definitely adds personality.

9. The Trendy Bar Cart

The Trendy Bar Cart side table alternative

Bar carts are currently all the rage when it comes to interior designing, but you don’t just have to use them for their named purpose! Bar carts are a great side table alternative, as they have two shelves for storage and can be moved whenever you need to. Take a look at how House Beautiful used a bar cart in the home to place the lamp nearby the bed and organize a few other decorative knick knacks on top.

10. A Stack Of Baskets

A Stack Of Baskets side table alternativeView in gallery

Baskets are a staple item that you just have to have in your home! Not only are they versatile when it comes to storage, but now you can stack a couple and make them your side table alternative as well. You can get an idea of what this would look like by looking at this example on Tidbits and Twine. Just be sure you don’t put anything that weighs too much on the basket as they could possibly cave in!

11. Your Pet’s Crate

Your Pet’s Crate side table alternativeView in gallery

When you have a large dog or other large pet, it can be difficult to figure out where to put their crate! This is why you should move it next to the couch and use it as a two in one side table alternative. This idea works with all types of dog creates, wooden ones like in this example by Home Designing work extremely well, or if your dog has a wire crate, place a painted board on top to create a flat surface for setting your beverages, books, and TV remote!

12. An Adorable Pouf Side Table

An Adorable Pouf Side TableView in gallery

Most people purchase cute floor poufs for decoration purposes, but did you know that they make great side tables as well? Of course, the pouf will need to have a somewhat flat surface to work as a proper side table alternative, but there are many poufs that fit this requirement. In this Lazy Loft article, two round poufs with a semi flat top are used to accent a white couch while also offering a great place to set items as needed.

13. A Smooth Topped Tree Stump
A Smooth Topped Tree Stump side table alternativeView in gallery

Tree stumps can also make an excellent side table alternative, after all, they are sturdy and are a great place to put beverages and magazines! And the coolest thing is that a well-placed tree stump side table can fit into any home décor style, from rustic farmhouse to modern! Take a look at how this one was used to accent a nursery on RH Baby and Child. And for those that live in an area where acquiring a tree stump isn’t possible, don’t worry, as you can purchase one from several websites as well!

14. A Step Stool Side Table

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Maybe you saw the above ladder idea, and you really liked it but aren’t ready to commit to having a full ladder by your bed. If that is the case, then you should consider using a step stool instead. This will still give you the same feel of having multiple steps like you would have with a ladder, without all the height. And the top step will be a great place to set something large such as a lamp, plant, or alarm clock! In this example on House Beautiful, they use an IKEA step stool, but this idea will work with any brand step stool you choose!

15. A Unique Jar or Plantar

A Unique Jar or PlantarView in gallery

Do you always seem to accumulate excess gardening equipment and supplies? Well simply because you bought something with gardening in mind doesn’t mean that it can only be used outdoors! In BDG Style, a white garden stool was brought into the living room to be a side table alternative, and it looks so beautiful it’s become one of the highlights of the room! Be aware that this side table can’t hold much, but there’s still room for a plant and a book or two.

16. Salvaged Milk Can Side Table

Salvaged Milk Can Side TableView in gallery

Having a rustic farmhouse vibe in your home can be a dream come true, and make it very easy to upcycle items into your home. For example, look at this old rusted milk can which was cleaned and had some wood put on the top to create an adorable alternative to a side table on A Diamond in the Stuff! And for those that have these two things lying around, this project is basically free! But—don’t forget that you may want to load your milk can with rocks or sand to help keep it from getting top heavy and tipping over.

17. Repurposed Crates

Repurposed Crates side tableView in gallery

Coming across some wooden crates when you are decorating your home is like finding a gold mine! You can make a crate into anything, including an alternative side table! Take one and turn it upside down for an immediate side table, or stack two together to create a nightstand with storage. You can always stack more to make a taller shelf, or attach them to the wall to make a floating crate shelf. A great example of wooden crates in action can be found on Revistar Artesanto.

18. A Whiskey Barrel Side Table

A Whiskey Barrel Side TableView in gallery

Some old whiskey barrels are absolute works of art. And if you find one, you should grab it to transform it into the cutest side table you’ve ever had! This idea comes from Whiskey Gypsy, and can be used either in the bedroom or living room of your home. You may need to stain the barrel a different shade, but otherwise, this is a project that requires little to no work and you will soon have a sweet space to set all of your side table décor!

19. A Fish Tank Side Table

A Fish Tank Side TableView in gallery

If your dog’s crate can be a side table, then why couldn’t your fish aquarium be one as well? This idea from Home Designing will only work if you have a larger tank that you can place something flat over the top of, but when there’s an extra sheet of glass or nice-looking wood lying around, this could be an awesome way to upcycle! It is important, however, to be sure you don’t place anything too heavy on your fish tank or place things there in a manner that could startle or stress out the fish.

20. Your Dresser As A Side Table

Your Dresser As A Side Table

When you are on a limited budget, it can seem daunting the amount of furniture you need to purchase to furnish a room! Rather than buying a side table or nightstand, simply move your dresser to the side of the bed and use it for your phone and glass of water at night. You can see an idea of how this could be styled in House Beautiful. And even though the example is featured in a bedroom, this idea could work in the living room as well!

With all of these awesome side table alternative ideas, some of which you may have lying around your home, it seems you have your work cut out for you to decide on what will become your next side table! No matter which direction you decide to take your side table design, if you pick one from this list, you can’t go wrong. And you will absolutely love having a convenient spot to place the remote, your plant, or whatever else you use a side table for!