DIYdiy projects

diy project: britt’s anthropologie-inspired tables

by Grace Bonney

this incredible diy project makes my jaw drop every time i see it. the talented britt of cucumbersome created these seriously fantastic tables after seeing the curator table at anthropologie. inspired by angie’s diy faux-nelson jewelry chest on d*s, britt decided to create her own, more affordable (and dare i say, more beautiful?), version of the table for much, much less. using components from ikea and home depot, britt created these gorgeous tables for $96 each, a far cry from the $698 price tag on the anthropologie version. i just love britt’s initiative to create something with her own two hands that, in my opinion, came out looking just as good- if not better– than the inspiration piece.

i’ll let britt do the rest of the talking, as she so generously offered to share her full project instructions here today. i’m halfway out the door to ikea to make these this weekend, and when you see how simple, inexpensively these tables can be made, i have a feeling you will too. thank you to britt for sharing this lovely project and her diy instructions. click here to check out more on britt’s project at cucumbersome.

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions from britt after the jump!


I think there is a lot of potential here for other projects.
You could stack two or three of the chests together and add little ornate feet.
Or cut a larger base and attach four of them (2X2) together with longer legs and some sort of surface for the top. That would make a great little entryway table and place to throw keys and things.

What you’ll need:
Fira mini chest (Ikea)
4 12″ Wooden legs
4 Metal top plate to attach legs to chest
Decorative trim, assorted styles, 6-8′ long
3 Knobs
Wood glue (we used Elmers wood glue)
Paint brushes
Hardwood for base, cut to 14″X10″
Hammer and small nails
Hacksaw (we found a small one for $5)


How to:
1. Put together the fira mini chests as per Ikea’s lovely instructions.

2. Attach the legs:

You can’t just screw the legs into the chest because then, of course, the bottom drawer wouldn’t open. So get a piece of hardwood cut to the size of the fira chest, or just a smidge smaller. A friendly worker at Home Depot cut ours. Use generous amounts of wood glue to adhere the wood to the bottom of the chest, then hammer small nails along the edge. Screw the metal plates into the wood at the four corners.
Now you can screw the legs in (and off should you need to move it).


2. Glue three top drawers into one (if using a 5-drawer version)
Attach the three top drawers together with the wood glue and clamp them. I used medium sized binder clips and they worked wonderfully. Our Elmers wood glue said to clamp for 1 hour and let sit for 24 hours. I didn’t have the patience so I set them aside, clamped, for a couple of hours while I did the other things. They were really strong by the time I was ready to use them.


3. Cut Trim
Cut all the trim to 14″ long (the size of the chest, not the drawers – so that they will go right to the edge) with a hacksaw . This didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Most trim was thin enough that it just took a couple seconds to saw and then snap them apart. Don’t worry about rough edges.
I laid the pieces out on the floor in the pattern I wanted.


*Some things to keep in mind:
I didn’t want the thin edges of the chest to show much so I let just a tiny bit of trim stick down below each drawer.
Use one of the wider trims as the top layer on each drawer so the little cut out is completely covered.
You need to leave a space between the trim on each drawer to make it easier to attach the knobs later.

4. Attach trim

Now start gluing the trim to the drawers. Hold each strip down for a minute or so. You can clamp the top trim with a couple of binder clips.
You can attach the trim with little nails but I don’t recommend it – the wood splits very easily.
Attach one strip around the bottom of the chest to cover the hardwood and metal plate (shown below).


5. Let it sit for at least a couple of hours.

6. Sand all the rough edges.

7. Paint.
You can prime and then paint. Or buy a paint that is primer and paint in one and do two thin coats (this kind of paint is for bathrooms I think but a girl at Home Depot recommended it).
Do not paint the sides of the drawers or the inside of the chest because it’s already a snug fit without layers of paint.
Let it dry overnight.
8. Attach knobs.
Screw them in where you left a space between trims on each drawer. And you’re done!

The whole process took me the most part of one day. I probably should have waited longer for the glue to set but it still feels very sturdy. It could easily be done as a weekend project.

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  • Wow thanks for this insperation I have never thought about using trims like that before. This would be adorable in any room, I am thinking I will steal it for my daughter though and have different shades of pink for the trim. Great project!!!

  • Great project! I also have one of those Ikea chests just sitting around and this is a fantastic repurpose.

    Great job Britt.

  • Holy moly, this is absolutely awesome [and I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t like this look at all; I’m nonetheless stunned by this impressive DIY!].

  • I just saw the Anthro tables the other day with a friend and she remarked how incredible they were. However, I have to say that I definately love YOURS more! This is going on my DIY List right this moment!

  • This is a fantastic project. I’m seriously thinking about doing it. It can be customized with paint or different knobs. Thanks!

  • MUCH better looking than the Anthro original. Less foofy. Really great creative thinking and execution. Good instructions for the DIYers, too.

  • oh dear, appearently I am the only one who thinks this is hideous. I think some miter cuts would have helped some, but then there are the nail/screw holes that show, the plywood edges that show, and the awkward gaps where the spaces between the drawers show. I mean, I applaud anyone who is trying to improve their woodworking skills, but this project is not ready for primetime.

  • Thank you all so much! I’m overwhelmed.
    There are definitely things you could do to make it more polished (I have literally no woodworking skills). I can’t wait to see what you all come up with. If you end up making one, please let me know. I’d love to see it!

  • i think the shoddiness (is that a word?) it gives the piece more personality. the anthropologie version is much too fancy for my decor but the homemade version would fit perfectly!

    • shoddy? eek, i think this piece is far from shoddy. i would say it’s not super perfect and polished, but shoddy, ouch.

  • Great idea- love it! I don’t mind the “shoddy” factor, although probably would have mitered the pieces on the side. Still looks great though- Britt- where did you find the legs and metals plates? I still have fira chests that I am attempting to use for the Nelson inspired jewellery cabinet from last years DIY post!

  • I love this! I like how I can make the piece my own by picking out different decorative trim or legs. This is definitely project #1 before I move into my very first apartment in the fall!

  • Love! Love! Love! I’m going to make these for my girls bedside tables and paint them bright white!

  • It seems that the rustic, slightly imperfect, improvised look is the *intent* of designer/maker.

    I love that you were inspired to make this piece rather than buy. Yours turned out lovely! And major kudos for taking on a woodworking project!

  • I would probably add a piece of wood slightly larger than the top to give the surface a lip like on the anthro one, and I agree about mitering the corners. However from my own experience I know mitering with a handsaw is tough. But I LOVE the fact you did it for that amount of money. Great job…points for the great choice of color and diy ingenuity.

  • using the various moldings to create a decorative surface is brilliant..it is not overwhelming..the white paint softens it and takes it beyond shabby chic..thank you for the great instructions!

  • Best DIY ever. Especially since everytime I walk into Anthro I consider selling an organ for a great chair or sweater…it’s delightfully unhealthy.

  • This is the lovliest diy table I have ever seen. I will ask my Dad to make it for me. Thank you Britt!

  • Great project. It’s really inspirational, using the Ikea wooden drawer boxes as a jumping off point. Thanks Britt!

  • What a great eye you have. I find the imperfections add to the charm; the piece captures the Anthropologie look without having to spend several months of the food budget. I have two pine nightstands I was just going to paint and now I’m inspired to go further. Thanks for the instructions.

  • beautiful work!
    on a side note, where is that comforter from – it is absolutely perfect, just what i’ve been looking for. thanks.

  • Maybe that person meant shabby… as in shabby chic….LOL (not shoddy….LMAO)

    Anyway – I LOVE IT! Now this is something I can do. Thank you for the inspiration & instructions… I am sure I will add my spin.. but your generosity makes it very approachable.. it take away the hesitation to do something new. I really love it!

  • Nice effort, however, the photogragh showed a glaring flaw in craftsmanship that spoiled the execution for me. The side of the piece had a not so decorative square in which the corners were crude and not mitered! Imperfections may be charming, but a little effort and attention to detail would have avoided a not so attractive distraction.

  • What a great idea! How functional is the table? Does it stay put when you try to open the drawers? That ikea unit seems a little lightweight, that’s why I’m asking.

  • I applaud this effort, but I find the proportions just a little clunky compared to the Anthropologie version. But with a little refinement, maybe using an existing thrift store find, it’s a winner!

  • This is so inspiring! I need a new sewing table. This has running for my sketchbook to incorporate some of these ideas.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • I have to agree with Elsie Collins completely. The fact that I am all about craftsmanship ruins it for me. Of course, it doesn’t help that I also know a bit about wood. Sorry. However, the good thing is that this aids in you progress. You can’t always expect to get things perfect the first time around. Good luck.

  • Amy – Sorry, I’m not sure who made the comforter. We bought it at Home Outfitters here in Canada, but that was 2 years ago. Thanks for the compliment, though!

    Melissa – The drawers are very functional and because the legs are screwed in it is very sturdy.

    Thank you all so much for the kind words and great ideas!

  • truly an inspired and far better use of time than working to pay for the anthro piece — because it is so one of a kind. i like the uneven non mitered look because it is not expected. very fabulous work!

  • This is so incredibly great, it totally blows my project out of the water! I love it, and am now seriously considering doing my entire dresser in this technique and painting it glossy black. Would it be weird if you were inspired by my project, then I was inspired by yours, to do another project of my own ;)

    RE the “shoddy” factor: The only way you improve and learn is by trying, if we were all expected to be perfect from the get go no one would try anything new. I think it looks fab.

  • Wow, how crafty. I’m definitely going to try this project out on my own for a new side table too. Thanks, Britt!

  • most amazing DIY ever!!! i am definitely doing this when i move into my new apartment..thank you britt for sharing!! you are brilliant!

  • amazing britt! i have been wanting that table for 2 years now. however the hefty price tag steered me away to only adore from afar. until now..

  • Britt, this is absolutely devine. I love it and want to make one for myself too. Great tutorial. If I might add just one little suggestion. Get yourself a miter box and saw. It’s super easy to use and will add just the right finishing touch to your work in the future.

  • I love love love this dresser, it works perfect for a small space and is affordable .. totally shabby chic

  • This is great!! I need interesting tables in my new home and have been searching and searching (but I hate all the standard store bought end tables). I’m going to do this and I have a few great ideas to make them even better!!

  • so excited about this. I just saw this table at anthro yesterday and immediately began pining for it (while cursing the predictably jacked up price). Even had a flash of “could I do this at home?…naw….” Turns out, yes! Thanks!

  • You could fill in any gaps between moldings with sandable caulk. Just caulk, sand and paint. You have to leave a bit of space for the drawers to open properly, but you could visually minimize the gap by choosing your moldings carefully.

    As for the frame on the side, if you’re not into mitering, Use a couple of cheap thrift shop picture frames. You could get a much better molding look that way.

    For the legs, you could use some off of an old chair or stool. Pick a chair and nightstand off the curb that’s been thrown out. Cut off the top of the nightstand and attach to the chair legs. Shorten legs if necessary. Put 2 knobs on the drawer front to make it look like there’s two slimmer drawers if desired. Get the knobs off of a piece of furniture on the curb, like a dresser with broken drawers.

    Cut down the top from a bigger table to fit yours if you want to add a top. You could do a half round or oval top with a round or oval picture frame on each side.

    You can get the price down a lot lower than $96 if you try.

  • Two comments:
    1-So very clever of you. To have seen this accent table and thought of using the Ikea drawers as the foundation, I applaud you. The moulding, and legs…great choice.
    2-Take it to the next level…it seems unfinished! Add a top to this accent piece! When looking at the two side by side it’s obvios that the reproduction is unfinished. The top needs to extend beyond its’ base. Also, add some furniture wax for dimension. Not only will it high-light the detail in the mouldings, but it will add that “oh so perfect patina” that noone will even know thay are actual mouldings!

    Try it…and let me know how excited you are!!!

  • This is so cute! I definitely want to make one! I think I may actually try to use longer legs and make it into a jewelry chest…. Not sure if it would be too heavy for that, but I may give it a try!

    Thanks for the ideas!

  • Can anyone recommend a different mini chest to use?? Ikea has discontinued their “Fira Mini Chest” and I would love to find a similar, cheap chest to work with!

  • I too would love to find a similar mini chest to use. Anytime I google “mini chest drawers” the only results I get are all the cool things people have made using Fira, haha, makes me sad I didn’t get any before they were discontinued

    • hi guys

      i would try ebay and craigslist for fira originals, and consider checking the container store for something in the same vein…


  • What a great idea!

    Another way to add legs is to get the kind with hanger bolts on the end, then drill a hole in the bottom of your chest and put in a T-nut. The hanger bolt screws into this and you have a very neat joint without the unattractive metal plate.

    You can also put hanger bolts into any used furniture legs cut from other pieces, or into any hunks of wood you might want to use. Hanger bolts and T-nuts are available at any hardware store and are inexpensive.

  • Oh my good glory, this is gorgeous. I was already a fan of repurposing/snazzying up old furniture, but I’ve always thought that some stuff is just too blah to do much with. But this totally changes that! AMAZING!!

  • Wow, this is great. I already have a 3 drawer little side table that was cheaply made and has no pizazz so I finally put it in the basement! I love this idea to ‘tique it out bring it back upstairs!

  • AMAZING. I am a huge Anthro fan and am so impressed that you figured out how to make this beautiful table. Thank you for sharing your how to. Yours is lovely and I think you did a great job!

  • This is absolutely beautiful and I was so excited to start this project, when I realized the chest is no longer at IKEA. So disappointed, but I am now on the hunt for a replacement. If anyone has found a comparable product, please let me know!

  • What a creative idea! One of the things I absolutely love about Design Sponge is the DIY section. The different projects NEVER fail to inspire me. I often use that idea to go off on my own so that mine does not look like the original. But isn’t that the real purpose of projects—to inspire? Suggestions for improvements are great, but I do not understand why some people find it necessary to criticize. Do your own project and make it the way YOU like.

  • thank you for your blog! I have been working on an awesome side table and it appears I used the same piece of wood from Lowe’s that you might have used for the bottom of my table. However, did you have any trouble with that wood on the bottom? When I drill the nails in it starts to smoke and is close to making a flame. Argh. I had them cut the piece to fit the bottom, worked diligently to glue, then nail around the edges..but when I went to screw the nails in, the wood started to split and raise so i used a c-clamp to hold it down while I screwed in the nails. Did you have any issue with that wood? crossing fingers!