The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY]

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

Moving from a big rental house to a small third floor apartment has been a bit of an adjustment. In a really good way! For starters, it dawned on me that although I’ve been patting myself on the back for the last 5 years on how responsibly I’ve avoided all manner of hoarding…I am, in fact, a hoarder. With all the extra space in our house rental, I didn’t even realize how much useless STUFF I had been hauling with me. Stuff I wouldn’t even know existed until it was time to move again, and I’d think,  ‘Awww, someday I’m gonna want that!’ Girl, no. Someday you’re gonna admit that a tattered cardboard box is the only love that thing will ever see. Basically, this little apartment has helped me master the art of tossing boxes without opening them. A major space saver.

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

Another thing I’ve had to adjust to is that while not having a ton of storage space has been good for me, not having a ton of space in general makes organizing the necessities a bit of a challenge. We don’t have room for a dining room table anymore. I LOVE having people over for meals, so this conundrum has been on my mind for a few weeks. I decided that since the living room with 2 sofas and a big coffee table has the most seating right now, adding more seating and table space to that room would be my best bet. Sure, everyone won’t be able to sit together like we could at the big house, but we’d at least all be in the same room…which is more than I can say for the other ideas I’ve had (I’ll spare you the details).

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

This is where the “Cafe Corner” comes in. I’ve been drooling over cafe interiors for a long time now. Whenever I visit a new city, the good coffee houses are the first places I want to visit. I love how the styles can differ so much from place to place, yet they all share the common threads of cozy, comfortable and inspiring. With inviting nooks to set up camp and read, snooze, chat, drink, or whatever your busy self needs at the moment, it’s a breeding ground for relaxation and creativity — a vibe that can and should exist in a home. So I brought a little taste of my favorite cafe set-ups to the apartment by adding a wooden bar to one of the living room windows and brightening it up with some happy stools. Now there’s extra seating and eating space in the living room, AND I have myself a new work spot, breakfast nook, or a comfortable place to unwind while I enjoy my view of downtown Lexington with a hot cup of tea.

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

It’s hilarious how easy this was. It cost less than $200 (including the brand new stools) and took about 20 minutes to install. So if you have a little extra cash and about an hour of free time to do some shopping, here’s what you’ll need:

– One 12″ wide, 96″ long, 3/4″ thick wood panel/board. I found mine at Lowe’s and it was about $14 for the whole thing. I paid $1 for them to cut it in half for me so I had two 48″ long planks. I sandwiched them together to make a thicker table for the bar. If you want to just get a thicker piece of wood to begin with, do it! But it will probably be more expensive.

Wood Glue

– Fourteen 1″ screws. I got the 6 x 1-Inch Coarse Thread

– Eight 9 x 3 screws. I got the 9 X 3-Inch Wood Screws

– Two mounting brackets. I got the Tour Eiffel Brackets from Anthropologie. (They’re GORGEOUS.)

Pack of Sandpaper

Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax

– Clean rags or a t-shirt

– Two stools. I got the Carlisle Metal Bar Stools in Yellow from Target. (Two for $99.99, which is INSANE for this quality and style. I’ve seen these going for $125+ per stool! Also, I’m pretty sure there’s a deal going until April 12 where if you purchase two sets of 2 (4 stools total), you get 30% off the second set.)

Tools needed: a power drill or Phillips head screwdriver and a tape measure or level.

*Tip: thrift or salvage the stools and wood to bring the total cost of this project down to about $40!


1. Choose the prettiest side of your wood boards and designate that one as the top. Flip it over and apply wood glue all over the back while staying a good 2-3 inches away from the edges. If you come too close to the edges, when you sandwich the other wood board on top of it, glue will ooze from the sides and it’ll be a pain to clean up. Once the glue is applied, place the other board on top of it (ugly side down if there is one) and try to make the edges line up while the glue is still wet. Hold it there for a few minutes. If the edges aren’t perfect, it’s ok. You’ll sand it later.

2. Take 10 of your 1″ screws and screw them into the boards in 2 rows of 5. Try to space them evenly because their purpose is simply to reinforce the wood glue. Once all the screws are in, you can flip the whole thing over and set it aside.

3. Set the stools up next to the window and sit on one to figure out a comfortable table height. Then mark the wall or trim where your first bracket will go with pencil.

4. Mount one of the brackets with 4 of the long screws, making sure the bracket is as straight as possible.

5. Take your wood board and rest one end of it on your mounted bracket. Use a tape measure to figure out where the other bracket should be mounted so that the table is completely level. You can also place a level on the table to figure this out. Mark where the other bracket should go with a pencil, set the table aside and mount the second bracket with 4 more long screws.

6. Lay the table on the brackets and make sure it’s centered and pushed back towards the wall/window as far as it can go. Have someone hold it tight while you use your remaining 1″ screws to secure the table to the brackets.

7. Sand down any rough corners or overlapping edges with coarse grit sand paper and then smooth the whole thing over with a fine grit paper. Wipe it down so it’s ready for wax.

8. At this point you can stain or paint the table however you want, but I loved the grain and knots on the wood I used, so I just applied a coat of Annie Sloan Soft Wax. For this, I took a clean rag, scooped out a little wax and rubbed it over the bare wood in circular motions until the whole thing was evenly coated. Be sure to smooth out any thick spots of wax. I focused on the top and sides of the table. (Basically anywhere that might suffer from spills.) Let it harden for about half an hour, then you can smooth it with fine grit sandpaper and apply another coat for extra protection. You can also skip coat 2 and just decorate and enjoy your new Cafe Corner! I was impatient, so I only applied one coat, but two is probably best.

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

Do you think you’ll give this project a try? What are some small-space living conundrums you’re having? Let’s discuss!

The Cafe Corner [A Small Space DIY] - offbeat + inspired

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  5. Adore it!! I feel a tiny bit regretful now that I “only” have huge french windows across the width of my apartment. Also makes me want to open a coffeeshop instantly! :-) 10 points for ingenuity!!!

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  7. It looks exactly like a little coffee shop window – so relaxing. I think I’d feel like I escaped from my apartment to a little hot-beverage oasis everytime I sat here – it just begs for “fika” to be served there. :)

    • Thank youu!! That was completely my goal! :) It truly is a little escape, especially in the morning with Dan Auerbach blasting from the Jambox. You could convince me I was working from any cozy little cafe in the world! Now I’m thinking about making myself “fika” just to experience the magic that it sounds like haha! :D

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    • Thank you and OH goodness. If you’ve got too many leftover planks, I’ll be glad to take some off your hands HAHA!! (A noble effort..) :P

  9. trying to figure out how to keep space for my college-age daughter when she comes home for vacations, when I might have to give her bedroom to my 80+ yr old mother. I want my daughter to have her own space and not feel unwanted when she comes home, if this is possible.

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  15. Ahh! I’m so in love with this! My family and I are moving into our new apartment next week, and I don’t have a dining room table, so this is perfect! That way I can use the space that is supposed to be the dining area to set up highchairs and make it a feeding area that cozy and stylish too! Thanks so much for this! Pinning and doing next weekend!!

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  17. I love this idea! I am also obsessed with coffee shops and the atmosphere in them, I have been looking for similar ways to bring the coziness into my own home. This is such an awesome and easy idea…now to find a window to turn into a beautiful nook.

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  32. I just want to point out that these stools are just chinese copy of the famous french Tolix stools, these copies can be found between 40 and 140$. Original ones are more than $200 I guess in the US as they are between 200 and 300€ here in Europe. The Tolix company almost went bankrupty because of the quality of their chairs and tools as they last for life (and more …).

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  34. I LOVE this idea.I have a small 2 bdrm home and this would work perfect in my bedroom in front of the window,for plants,herbs and small work Area: .thanks for the great idea.:-)

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