DIY Copper Coffee Table

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It all started with getting a real sofa. And then I made a coffee table that wasn’t great, but we didn’t hang out on the sofa often so we didn’t really notice that much. But then we got a TV and suddenly a good coffee table was much more important. Something to prop your feet on, something to hold all the damn remotes a TV requires, something to put your glass of wine on while you plow through seven episodes of Scandal in a row. So we built another not great coffee table, constructed of things we already had, and it turned out to be awful and wobbly. Will is a carpenter but building things when he gets home after hours of hard labor does not sound appealing, and I get that.

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So I started plotting something on my own, something to do on the side as I’ve been in need of a non-work related project. After I built a copper pipe jewelry stand for the book fair, I decided I really wanted to use copper pipe. Pros: so pretty! You can cut it yourself fairly easily! They sell everything you need at Home Depot! Cons: so expensive, they don’t really make flanges for it so you have to get creative with how it attaches to things and connects. I sketched out a million ideas and almost gave up until an idea sprang into my head so suddenly I immediately jumped from my desk and ran to Home Depot.

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Ok, so if you’ve ever spontaneously built something before you know it’s not always the best idea to spring from your desk and run to the hardware store. So it’s no wonder I returned to the hardware store three times in less than 8 hours and went over budget accidentally cutting copper incorrect lengths. But I finally did it, and did it all on my own. Carpenter husband gave it his seal of approval. I will admit it’s not perfect and because cutting copper isn’t super precise the legs aren’t 100% even so I need some rubber on the bottom to even it out, but it’s nothing crazy.

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Here’s what you need for this project (I’m linking to Home Depot as that’s where I bought everything, I’m not sure what other hardware stores will have):

  • 1/2″ Type M Copper Pipe. Type M is the softest and cheapest and all you need for this since we’re not building a house. The longer the piece of copper you buy, the more you will save, but you have to have the means to transport it. I could only fit 5′ pipes in my car, but they also sell 10′ if you have a larger vehicle, and that is the more economical route.
    My table’s wood top is 4ft long by 17″ wide and 1″ thick. It stands about 16.5″ tall and I wish it was only 16″ as my sofa is so low, but it’s not obnoxious to use, it just looks a tad too high. Here’s a break down of the pipe sizes you’ll need to cut for this particular size:
    6 at 14″ – these are you legs
    3 (edited from six, which was incorrect earlier, sorry!) at 13 1/4″ – these connect the legs on the floor
    4 at 22.5″ (this caused my pipe to be flush with the edge of my wood, which is dangerous as it could look dumb if it wasn’t exact and stuck out, I might recommend doing 22 or 22.25″ to be safe) – these connect all the pieces together and get drilled against the wood.
  • 10 1/2″ CxC 90 Degree Angle Elbows. MAKE SURE you are buying CxC and that your copper pipe fits into both ends. The first trip I bought one that fit into one end but not the other. d’oh.
  • 2 1/2″ Tees. Make sure all three ends are 1/2″.
  • 6 1/2″ Tube Straps. Because they come in packs of 5, you could go crazy and screw down the pipe in more spots if you’re paranoid.
  • Wood board. I used a 4ft long by 17″ wide and 1″ thick piece of laminated pine. It’s actually the exact same piece I made my old desk with ages ago and I highly suggest a piece this thick as it has less of a chance of bowing and holds everything nicely.
  • Wood stain. I used a stain + poly to protect spills and cup rings but applied it quite light as I hate the look of thick poly. (optional, I think a raw piece of wood would also look awesome, though I might recommend sealing it if you have an ounce of slob in you like myself) You’ll obviously also need all the stuff to stain it. Gloves, sandpaper to prep the wood and sand in between coats, your brush of choice (I like foam). TIP: stain both sides! The wood will bow if you do not.
  • 12 3/4″ wood screws. When you drill one side down you can pull the other a bit to line it up evenly, don’t be discouraged if you lay it on top of the wood and it looks warped.
  • Gorilla glue. Copper connections meant to be soldered together for a tight fit and this does the job instead and makes the whole thing tight and not so wobbly. I only glued the leg pieces, so I assembled everything, drilled it all down, and then removed all the leg pieces and glued them, then flipped the table right side up to let it dry with weight on it. A rubber mallet is helpful for making sure everything is snug.
  • Pipe cutter. Make sure it cuts copper. Pro tip: Don’t buy the cheap junior one! I bought the cheap one and it cut in a spiral and gave me blisters. I went back and bought the more expensive one and it not only cut straighter, but was less insane on my poor hands. But it still may cut in a spiral sometimes. If so, rotate at 180 degrees back and forth instead of around and around.

In the end I spent about $160, though I wasted some copper cutting a whole pipe the wrong length, so it could be a touch lower for you, and you may have things around like screws, stain, glue, etc. Even though it was a lot of work, it looks so much better than something I could have purchased for twice that! Also, something to note is the copper will oxidize over time and get darker, especially if you touch it often. You could coat it with a protective finish, which I’m contemplating. I’ll update you on that if I decide to, though I think spray polycrylic would be best?

Because I know someone may ask, my living room details: sofa – vintage, pillows: Barrington Blue and Cotton & Flax, rug: Overstock.com (though I’m so tired of it and want a new one! Who wants to buy me this one or this one?), curtains: Target (they’re ombre though it’s hard to tell), lamp: CB2, everything else is vintage.

Ombré!

It only took me, oh I don’t know, 100 months or something dumb to finally write this post, but after a lull in pestering from you guys, a reader’s email wanting to know how I ombréd my own hair prompted me to realize I needed to finally get this thing out there before ombré hair is totally over. It actually might be totally over but sometimes being a freelancer in LA means I don’t get out much and spot fashion trends nearly as much as I did in NYC riding the subway every single day, so WHO KNOWS. All I know is that I ombréd my own hair and I effing love it.

Before we begin I would like to note that I’m not a complete amateur at this kind of thing: my mom was a hairstylist when I was a kid and permed my hair at age four and dyed my hair for the first time at age 12 and taught me a lot (tortured me a lot? We are both unclear). I have had every haircut that exists (Winona pixie included – not a good look for me) and dyed my hair every color of the rainbow over the years. So, what I’m saying is that this is not for everyone. If you have never dyed your own hair before I don’t know if I would recommend this even though it was not super hard, it was tricky for sure.

There are approximately 1 million tutorials on how to ombré your hair, which is why I think a lot of you have asked me how I did it because it’s REALLY overwhelming. I researched for weeks before making the plunge. I know how my hair reacts to bleach and dye, and everyone’s hair is different!

There are two popular methods. On both your hair should be dry and at least 24 hours after a shampoo, and you should have no product in your hair if you can help it:

1. Apply bleach on the ends of your hair* below your chin line where you want the ombré to start. Wait 20 minutes or so (everyone is different!) Wash bleach out. Dry hair. Re-apply bleach a bit lower. Repeat steps until desired effect is achieved.

or

2. Apply bleach* at the very tips of your hair where it will be the lightest, wait 10 minutes, apply more bleach (not washing it out!) starting a little higher this time. Repeat steps until you reach the point you want it to start.

*Applying bleach with a big paint brush, a brush meant for applying highlights, or a soft bristle brush (what I used as I had it) makes it look more natural. Don’t try to do a perfectly straight line, it will look so fake and weird. I even grabbed a few random strands a bit higher and applied bleach to those.

I decided to go with option #1, and the problem with this is that washing the bleach out and then drying your hair in between each step is a nightmare and destroys your hair. I don’t understand how some people did it this way. So I was left with a very, very faint ombré because it just wouldn’t get any lighter and it felt SO brittle. I used Clairol Born Blonde and the bleach barely took to my hair, but I’d used boxed bleach before that had a tint and it was way stronger. So I did a deep conditioning hot oil treatment a few days later (I used this, it smells weird but works well and is at most drug stores. My mom likes the VO5 kind) and waited 1 week til I thought my ends could handle another round and bought a different box of bleach and re-did it using method #2. Bingo! So much better. I’m sure doing it the first time helped, but it may take two rounds. It’s still pretty subtle, but I like it like that.

Some things to consider:

– Bleach is toxic stuff and may burn your eyes. Please open a window/door/do it outside (ha) and don’t attempt this if you are sensitive to such things. I’m sure we could get into how terrible this is for you, but let’s just skip that argument as I almost never bleach my hair anymore and once a year isn’t any worse than my burrito/ice cream/coffee/laziness/not flossing/margarita loving indulging. :) :) :) (Three smiley faces to ward off arguments, natch.)

– This dries the holy heck out of your hair. Fortunately I have incredibly oily hair so this actually had an awesome result on my hair because styling it is much easier now. It holds a curl better and isn’t as limp. If you have dry hair, please be careful or go see a professional. You could literally break your hair off. A friend of mine had to cut her hair into a bob because it went sour. Pay very close attention to the condition of your hair while applying the bleach. Again, hot oil treatment is your friend for your bleached ends every few weeks. I also use strong, thick conditioner on my ends every time I shower. I was using the stuff that comes with the hair dye but just ran out and started using this, but I can’t report its effectiveness quite yet! I really like the Organix brand.

– The timing is different for everyone, and I did so many steps and back and forth that I can’t even remember my exact times, but I believe I waited 20 minutes between each application. This is kind of a dangerous time as it says to not leave it in your hair for more than a total of 40 minutes and I most certainly did, but it worked for me. I was just super careful and know my hair well.

– To add complexity to this story, my hair was bleached a year ago and dyed back to brunette, but I have to re-dye brown on top every once in a while as it fades in this bright California sun. So a month ago I had to re-dye my roots and avoid my ombré. Somehow I did it, basically just reverse ombréing my hair, but it was TRICKY! But it is possible. This makes me think that maybe it’s possible to reverse ombré your hair if you’re blonde. But the grow out might look ridiculous, just a warning. This tutorial is a similar method.

Phew! Did you just read all that? Anyone have any tips they want to add? Any photos to share? I think if you were a cooler person than I am ombré + a fun color like blue or pink would look rad. It definitely takes a certain person to pull it off without looking like a teenager, however.

details: my shirt is by the lovely Ilana Kohn, I use Organix Coconut Mousse on damp hair, dry it a bit with a towel – or better yet – a t-shirt, let it air dry (I know, forever) and then curl it a bit with a curling iron. My glasses are discontinued. You can read about other beauty products I use here and here.

Recent DIYs

I’ve been getting crafty on a budget lately with some DIYs.


Vintage spoons + paint + leather ties = simple, easy art above my sink.


An old shirt from H&M made new again with fabric dye. The mottled look comes from the fabric not being 100% cotton and the dye not taking to it completely, no fancy moves made to achieve it.


Flea market side dressers (there’s another one on the other side of the bed) sanded, stained and handles replaced (they’re a nice brass but the light was so awful they’re looking silver here). Because y’all are predictable with your questions, the lamp is from West Elm and the bedding is DwellStudio.