Hurrah, I Have Made The Side Tables Of My Dreams

Okay, first of all, let's pause and take the obligatory moment to make fun of the fact that my dreams contain things like side tables. Yes, I aspire to owning attractive side tables, so sue me. I aspire to other, more noble things as well, obviously—like owning an attractive coffee table, for instance, OKAY I'M JUST KIDDING—but I have, for the longest time, been fairly consumed with finding the perfect side tables. Some people may say that this is what is wrong with America today. I say that what is wrong with America today is that I couldn't find those damn side tables anywhere, despite the picture of them I had in my head.

And so I decided to make them.

Yes, I decided to make my own furniture! Like a pioneer! Look at me, out here on the plain, wielding a can of spray paint and an Exacto knife! What, you thought I meant I made them from scratch? That's adorable, but I'm afraid I'm not that hardcore. I didn't make them make them. I just....decorated them a bit.

But enough about that; let's look at some before and afters. Here is the world's most basic dresser, the IKEA RAST, which is $34.99 at everyone's favorite flat-pack furniture store.

It's pretty plain, right? Can you imagine having that as your side table? You'd fall asleep every time you walked into your living ro—wait, sorry, I fell asleep already just thinking about it. But  what if I told you that you could take that RAST—I love how everything at IKEA is in all caps, it's like they're SHOUTING ABOUT FURNITURE ALL THE TIME—and transform it into.......

.........the side table of your dreams!

(This is the side table of my dreams. I apologize if this is not the side table of your dreams. We have different dreams, I guess. Hopefully, this means you don't also have the one about all your teeth falling out, because that one's a bummer.) 

How did I do it? Well, it was both really easy and a complete pain in the ass. The pain in the ass part was mostly because I kept going away for the weekend or having people come and stay, which meant the entire project dragged on and on and on, and also I severely underestimated the amount of spray primer and spray paint I would need and ran out of both, like, six separate times. Which meant six separate trips to Home Depot for more. Which meant six separate times I cursed and swore and questioned why I couldn't just buy my furniture like a normal person instead of having to make it like an idiot. Also, I changed my mind on the stencil twice, and it took me three different tries to find a gold paint that showed up properly and didn't smudge.

But despite all that, I finally finished the project and now I have a couple of side tables that I love to pieces, and which are absolutely what I envisioned in my head. I should note that I was hugely inspired by—and am hugely indebted to—this post about making a DIY Dorothy Draper chest, but there are a ton of other great RAST hacks out there too if you're looking for something a little different. (This Apartment Therapy post has a slew of them.) If you are interested in making something akin to mine, however, I am here to walk you through the (relatively few) steps. It isn't hard, you just have to stop going away for the weekend so you can actually get the damn thing done in less than two months. Also buy twelve cans of spray paint. Yeah, you heard me. 

You need these things on the right. But times twelve.

First of all, once you have your RASTS in hand (a RAST in the hand is worth two in the...yeah, that joke died before I'd even started it) you will want to put together the frames (but not the drawers just yet—it makes it easier to stencil later if they're still unassembled) and take them out back to shoot them. Wait, I mean prime them. Easy mistake. I used a spray primer, because I am lazy and like to fancy myself a teenage hoodlum, but it would probably be more cost-effective to use normal primer (there are a lot of parts). Then again, spray primer dries nice and quickly—and also you get to feel like a teenage hoodlum—so it's really whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Once the primer is dry, it's time to spray paint  everything—again, you could use normal paint, but you may be sensing a theme here—which will take approximately seven squajillion years, on account of all the parts, and also on account of the fact that you will probably want to do two coats. I used a Rustoleum spray paint in a shade called  "Colonial Red," and for weeks afterwards, I looked like I had just murdered someone in cold blood. It was kind of awesome in that people cowered in fear when they saw me walking through the grocery store, but also not so awesome in that I basically looked like I had splatters of someone else's blood on my forearms and shins for most of September. Still, a couple of people let me go in front of them in line at Costco, so I can't say that period of my life didn't have its bonuses.

Welcome to your new back yard for the next few days. Hope you like millions of pieces of red painted wood.

While we waited a day or so for everything to dry thoroughly, Sean made me a stencil, based purely on a totally made-up shape that I traced in the air with my finger. "I want it to go like this," I said, waving my hand around, "and then like this, and then like this, and then like this." And then that genius took my ridiculous air doodles, opened up Illustrator, and created this:

And then duplicated it so I could see what it would look like side by side: 

We printed two copies (just in case!) on our regular home printer, on thick card stock we had left over from something else:

 Then we took turns cutting out the black parts super carefully with an Exacto knife:

Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate!

After that, I taped the stencil onto the first drawer front....

.......and started filling it in with gold. Let me save you some time right now and tell you that I tried two different gold craft paints (Craftsmart, which was way too thin, and Liquitex, which was lovely and thick but had a nasty habit of running and smudging) before discovering that the absolute best tool for this job is the Krylon 18 Karat Gold Leafing pen. I got mine at Michaels, where they are fairly pricey at $8.99 each, but I used one of the ubiquitous 40% off coupons, which brought it down to a little over $5. Also, I did all six drawer fronts with only one pen, and it still seems to be going strong, so it's actually a lot cheaper (and easier, and less messy) than buying paint and paintbrushes.

You will pry this from my cold, dead hands! I will gold leaf everything! Everything in the world!

Once I'd gone around the entire thing with the gold leafing pen (then once again for good measure), I pulled off the stencil and used two strips of tape to get a clean line at the part that hadn't been cut out (you can't cut out the entire stencil, obviously, or the whole thing will fall apart.)

After that, it was just a case of assembling the drawers, screwing in the ringpulls I'd ordered online at Lee Valley Tools (I used the middle size in burnished bronze), and taking a few comedy pictures while Sean wrestled the drawers into the frame:

You are hereby excused from going to the gym for the rest of the week.

One quick photo of the side tables together......

.......and then they were separated and relegated to different sides of the couch for the rest of their lives.

Whew! And that is the story of how I created the side tables of my dreams for a grand total of around $185, averaging out around $92 each. True, it wasn't a huge crazy bargain like the $10 bar cart from last week, but I'm pretty sure I would have spent more buying something I only kind of liked from an actual store. Next up, I have some grand plans to make some ottomans! Am I joking? I am not. Yeah, I have no idea what is happening to me either. 

Oct 04, 2011

You are so crafty, by which I mean creative. I love these, what a brilliant shade of red. Amazing skills Holly. Are you available for hire, in the UK?

Oct 04, 2011

Simply amazing, Holly! And I DO dream of losing all my teeth! Horrible.

Amy Louise
Oct 04, 2011

I....I think I'm in love.

Oct 04, 2011

Love the tables!!

Oct 04, 2011

gorgeous! well done!

Oct 04, 2011

I love this! And I am always trying to find perfect side tables. These are fantastic. I see an IKEA trip in my future...

Oct 04, 2011

What an excellent way of making IKEA furniture something of your very own.

Oct 04, 2011

So beautiful!!! They look absolutely perfect in your living room! Question: after painting the side of the drawers, do you find that they stick? Or is the spray paint thin enough that it doesn't make a difference?

Oct 04, 2011

These look awesome! I recently painted a pair of RAST dressers to use as side tables to the bed, but I haven't figured out what to do with the drawers yet.

Oct 04, 2011


Oct 04, 2011

They are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Oct 04, 2011

Holy crap! That is absolutly amazing. I didn't know you could do such fun things with IKEA furniture, no wonder you made it to the front page of PINTEREST :)


Oct 04, 2011

It's obvious, isn't it? You're pregnant!

Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 04, 2011

No Marcheline, am definitely not pregnant.

Oct 04, 2011

Wow! Your DIY projects continue to impress the hell out of me! You need your own show or magazine or something. Great work!

Maggie Mason
Oct 04, 2011

WHOA! Holly. Those are amazing.

Oct 04, 2011

Check out you, Laura Ingalls Sidetable, those are awesome!

Oct 04, 2011

That is awesome. You win at end tables (and entertaining blog posts) :)

Oct 04, 2011

1. I don't know you but you inspire me to make something. Anything really. But maybe side tables.

2. I once had a friend who went to high school with Chloe Sevigny, which means she went to high school with your husband, which makes the world one small place, even though I live in Minneapolis, you live in San Francisco (I believe), the friend of whom I speak was my flatmate in London, she now lives in Norway, and she grew up in Connecticut. Here's the part where I say, "does your husband know so-and-so?" except that I don't remember her last name and her first name is Jennifer. And it would just be silly to ask if he knew that Jennifer from high school.

ANYWAY. Well done with the side tables. They are stunning. You are so industrious.

Oct 04, 2011

Stunning! I need your talent, and your patience!

Oct 04, 2011

ooh, I LOVE these. I have a small table I spray painted red a while back and I was so disappointed in the color that it's been stuck in the "storage" area of the basement (aka the room I'm too lazy to clean out). Now I know what spray paint I need to buy to save it! :)
and I must get one of those pens. gold leaf the world!

Oct 04, 2011

Those are absolutely GORGEOUS! Amazing job.

Oct 04, 2011

Those are lovely. I can understand dreaming about them. I also have the dream where all of my teeth fall out. It is, in fact, a huge bummer. Perhaps gold leaf makes it better?

Oct 04, 2011

Awesome! Where did you get your splendid ikat couch pillows?

Oct 04, 2011

Shut up woman! Well you can expect to find yourself on Pinterest a lot more now that you've posted this. And while I will not copy cat you exactly, I know what I'm buying next time I go to the Dallas IKEA.

Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 04, 2011

Stacey -- the yellow ones are from The Modern Pillow (I got them from her ebay store, but she also has an Etsy store) and the charcoal ones are from Overstock.

Oct 04, 2011

WOW. Those are awesome! I wish I could be that crafty... and have a backyard... and that my husband was more into DIY/beautifying the house projects.

Oct 04, 2011

Those are truly amazing! You can come do some for me and I will pay $95 each :)

Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 04, 2011

Ha, Janssen! You're not factoring in labor! The risk of injuries to one's spray-painting finger alone commands an extremely high premium!


That is amazing!! I need to get crafty, it looks so fun to do and like it saves so much money!

Oct 04, 2011

I wish I could live inside your brain for just 5 minutes to soak up that creativity!!!

Oct 04, 2011

I love the RASTS from Ikea. We rented a house in AZ that had them and I am still in mourning that I never got to buy them before we moved away. Luckily, there is now an Ikea in Denver and those are at the top of my list! Then I just have to decide how to paint them.

Oct 04, 2011

They look superb...and definitely look more than $185! I love your creativity :)

Oct 04, 2011

Awesome! Now can we get full room pics????

Oct 04, 2011

You're just delightful!
And you have the cutest husband EVER!
The tables are terrific, too.

Oct 04, 2011

Hello Holly!

I think this is the first time I've commented here. I just had to tell you that your tables look fantastic! So fantastic that I'm actually considering trying a DIY project of my own. I have been wanting new couch cushions and it suddenly struck me, like a bolt of lightening, that I could make my own!

Except... I haven't sewn anything since I was 9, so maybe the lightening bolt caused brain damage. But really, between me, my mom's sewing machine, and the internet, how hard could it be? (If you know the answer and it's "very hard" please don't tell me.) So thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on your gorgeous tables!

(I promise I wont blame you if my pillows turn out looking shameful and deformed.)

Those are AMAZING!

Oct 04, 2011

Gorgeous tables! Can I ask where you found the living room rug? All the pieces look great together.

Oct 04, 2011

Spray vs brush paint question:

So, Holly -- inspired by one of your previous posts, I recently decided to un-frame 30 years-worth of family photos displayed in our hall, and re-paint all the frames (some metal, some wood) white. Initially I started using spray paint, but the local infestation of flies, hot weather and dusty wind soon drove me indoors to a pot of paint and a paintbrush. It seemed like the job actually went a bit faster (to my astonishment) and for sure it used a heck of a lot less paint. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would value your comments about when and why to choose one over the other. (And you just thought this wasn't turning into a DIY home improvement household crafts blog. Hah!)

My frame project turned out *great*! Really classy looking, much more au-courant than the previous mish-mash, and I thank you for the inspiration. If only I had had a handy Sean on hand to help with the re-hanging!

Operation Pink Herring
Oct 04, 2011

Wow. You've done some crafty things before but I think this is your best project yet.

Oct 04, 2011

Good Lord, you are hard up for those side tables. That looks like WAY more work than I'd be willing to go through. But they do look fantastic!

Oct 04, 2011

Kudos, you RASTafarian, you! I gasped when I saw them. So cool.

Oct 04, 2011

great job! I am now very jealous of your rad DIY skills.
Also, are you going to show us, by any chance, your backyard at some point? (Or the whole living room?)

Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 04, 2011

Ha! Trust me, no-one wants to see the back yard right now -- it's a horrible mess. But the living room, yes, of course -- if you want to see it! I'll tidy up a bit and then take some pictures.

Oct 05, 2011

these literally took my breath away. totally support your DIY ventures- makes a home more homey in my opinion :)


Beautiful! I'm always seeing such jaw-dropping makeovers on this little guy. I'm filing this away for later inspiration for sure!

Oct 05, 2011

Hi Holly!

I am so excited to see that you tried my Dorthy Draper IKEA rast hack, and I adore the colors you chose!! Very pretty and unique. Thanks for the link love too :) Hugs,


Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 05, 2011

Lizzy -- the rug is from Overstock!

Carroll -- great question on the spray paint vs. real paint thing. I tend to use spray paint when a) I'm doing something small-ish and/or kind of intricate that would be hard to do with a brush (like the frame for the whiteboard I posted a few weeks back), b) I have a particular color in mind and I know the spray paint color is the exact one I want., c) it's a solid enough piece that the spray from the paint isn't going to go everywhere (ie: I'm painting the entirety of something, not just several parts), d) I'm feeling lazy because spray painting is way easier, or e) I want to paint RIGHT NOW and I already have the spray paint in the garage.

On the other hand, I'll use real paint a) if it's rainy or cold and I can't go outside (you need to spray paint in a well-ventilated area), b) I'm doing something so big that it would be financially ridiculous to use spray paint (I'm thinking of a huge dresser we painted for our bedroom), c) I have a very particular color in mind and it doesn't come in spray paint form and/or I want to match what I'm painting to something else (I'm thinking of my desk, which I wanted to the stand alone drawer cabinets I bought for it), or d) I want to paint RIGHT NOW and I already have regular paint in the garage.

So yeah, both have their pluses and minuses, but those are my general rules of thumb. Hope that helps!

Oct 05, 2011

this is so amazing.

Oct 05, 2011

this turned out gorgeous. and i love that you used a dresser for your sidetables. the pulls are awesome.

Oct 05, 2011

this is incredible and they look lovely. you have more creativity in your pinky, no - in half of your pinky - that i have in my entire being. you have more skill, precision, follow-through, and expertise, too, but doesn't the uneven bottom stencil on the end table on the left drive you loco? or is it just an optical illusion?

in any event, you're tres talented and the colors are BEAUTIFUL!

Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 05, 2011

Uneven? I think it must be an optical illusion, because I was pretty much militant about getting everything straight, knowing that it would drive me nuts for the rest of my life if it wasn't. So whew!

Oct 05, 2011

Okay, so maybe you're not pregnant NOW. But after side tables like these? Watch out.

Oct 06, 2011

Thanks, Holly! In light of the wind, flies and general outdoor unpleasantness going on the day of my project, I clearly made the right decision. Best part of your answer, though? The element of "RIGHT NOW" availability of relevant materials. Craft on, Good Woman. Your minions eagerly await word of your nest project.

(Oh, HAHAHAAAA -- that was supposed to be "next", of course, but I think I'll leave it the way it is. When you really do start nesting, that will be your best DIY project ever! :-)


So pretty! Well worth the effort. :)

side tables london
Oct 07, 2011

Excellent way of presentation and very nice work. Well done!!!

Oct 07, 2011

"I love how everything at IKEA is in all caps, it's like they're SHOUTING ABOUT FURNITURE ALL THE TIME"

Oh my goodness. YES.

er, JA!!!

Camels & Chocolate
Oct 08, 2011

You are a wonder. How do I have friends who are so damn talented? Can I hire you to come out to Nashville and decorate my fictitious home?

Oct 18, 2011

Gorgeous side-table project. I might try this in grey with silver trim. I just had to write a comment because I TOTALLY have the teeth-falling-out dream, along with 2 other members of my immediate family. All. The. Time.!

Sensibly Sassy
Oct 26, 2011

I am thoroughly impressed, per usual

Oct 29, 2011

Stellar DIY job!

Nov 19, 2011

It looks great, awesome job. Cheers from Portugal!

Feb 14, 2012

So I'm a little late to the party, but I am DYING to make these. Do you happen to know the dimensions of the stencil?


Thanks! Rachel

Feb 26, 2012

OMG, I love you! I just found your blog and I'm so excited. This is EXACTLY what I wanted to store some DVD's in my den.....I'm with Rachel, can you link a pdf of the stencil so we too can print it and be as fabulous as you?

May 25, 2012

Gorge!! LOVE LOVE LOVE. u are very talented & very funny

Jun 15, 2012

I am in the middle of my own RAST hack. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Sep 09, 2012

I have been so inspired and motivated by your blog! I love everything the built in book shelf (I have looked and am absolutely obsessed with having one in my house! The end tables...OMG Thank you... That was exactly what I was looking for and at such a great price!! I am loving it! Which might be driving my husband insane...the Broncos are playing and a I keep on bugging him with the "babe you have to see this!!" as I scroll down very slowly while talking!! Poor guy! lol I love your ideas and style thank you so much for sharing!!

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