Captivating Lift Top Coffee Table: 1-Day Build

Last Updated on February 28, 2024 by teamobn

“Coffee table”… that phrase has to be one of the all-time great misnomers! The one thing that I rarely see on our coffee table is coffee. But I do frequently see game controllers, tablets, laptops and of course, everything from a quick snack to a full-blown meal on it!

DIY Lift Top Coffee Table
DIY Lift-Top Coffee Table

That’s why this idea really appealed to me when I first saw it. For starters, this lift top coffee table offers an instant end to that aching back that comes from being hunched over your keyboard. And what about when the kids convince you that they should eat their dinner in front of the TV? Is it only our household where their clothes and the floor seem to eat better than they do, as they try unsuccessfully to negotiate fork to mouth while their brain is engaged in a digital world?

And as a bonus, all the remotes and game controllers can be stored on this lift top coffee table (assuming, of course, I yell often and loud enough to create the habit)!

In this example, an existing table/chest has been converted into a lift top coffee table. But it’s an easy project for anyone starting from scratch. And this lift top coffee table doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can be made for less than most store-bought, single-function, coffee tables.

Building a Lift Top Coffee Table


  • Wood for the Case
    Can be made from ply, MDF or even timber panelling
    Long sides –    2 pcs – 16×40 in
    Short sides –   2 pcs – 16×24 in
    The top –   1 pc – 28×44 in panel thickness:
    A 3/4 inch thickness is enough for a stable coffee table like this. You can get away with 5/8 if you want but the savings will probably be marginal.
  • Hardwood (for the cantilever hinge)
  • Any extra timber and ply required for shelves etc.
  • Replacement timber for any bits you damage
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Wood stain (of your choice, better if water-based)
  • Varnish (there are different finishes, think about which to buy)
  • NOTE: There are also 2-in-1 products you can buy, serving both as stain and varnish
  • Bolts
  • Nyloc nuts
  • Bullet head nails
  • Screws (1-1/2 inch and 2 inches long)
  • Drawer handles
  • Drawer slides
  • Corner straps (get nice-looking ones that would fit the design you have in mind)


  • Wood filler
  • Belt sander
  • Paint stripper
  • Pinch bar
  • Caster wheels (if you want this on wheels)


Measurements stated here are applicable only to the table shown. Adjust accordingly to your needs. Don’t forget to consider the caster wheels when computing the (open and closed) height of your table.

The first thing you need to build is, of course, the main body like the one shown in the picture. But before joining the four panels, you have to determine the measurement of your drawer opening and cut the hole first – especially if you want your drawer to slide through both sides.

This will ensure both holes are equal. You also want to make sure that it will be exactly at the centre. Leave more space at the top if you want to have a deeper tray beneath the tabletop.

If you want a cleaner look for joining the panels – meaning hiding the panel’s raw edges – you would need a mitre saw and box. For a better understanding of wood, joints click here.

Wood joints

When you have the main body of your lift top coffee table already, start working on the hinge. Use the hardwood for this. Make sure to consider the table height as it is extended. You want to be comfortable with the lift top coffee table height while seating – not too high and not too low.

For the part of the hinge which will be attached to the table’s main body, the length should be equal to the gap of the longer sides. The piece that will hold the table top itself should have only a little less than that measurement. Trust your judgement and skills to determine the right measurement for the hinge parts. Use the nyloc nuts for the mechanism. This is what it should look like:


Now the tray shelf of your lift top coffee table. You can try house joints in creating the shelf. If not, butt joints are always the easiest. Just make sure to provide wood support under the shelf, like in the first picture of this post. Attach the support and shelf to the main body with the wire nails.

tray shelf

Depending on the main body’s size, your tabletop should have an excess of at least two inches per side for you to be able to pull it up.

For the drawer, play around with the dimensions here until you are sure that they are right. Consider leaving some space for the routed edges if you are planning to add that to your design.

Create ledges for the drawer slides. Butt-join two pieces of wood which have lengths that are equal to the gap of your long sides. Fasten it to the main body. See the first picture as an example.

You might want to provide the same sizes of wood for the top edge of your drawer as a stopper, thus preventing the drawer from tipping when it is half open.

Before you assemble your lift top coffee table, stain and varnish them with the finish that you desire.

Then install the caster wheels (if you plan to), hinge, tabletop, drawer handle and finally the corner straps.

Other notes:

  • For the fancy edging that you see here, you have to go to your local carpentry/home hardware store and get some edging. You need enough to go around the top and bottom edges (depending on the look you are going for). You will also need to mitre cut this, making sure it fits exactly to the main body.
  • Use wood glue to add to the strength of your furniture.
  • If you plan to build this lift top coffee table with wheels, make sure not to buy ones that are too big. The wheels will tend to go further at the centre of the table, thus reducing stability, as it gets bigger. Trust your judgement in determining the size which is small but enough to support the weight of the entire table.
  • To attach the caster wheels, make a triangle at the inside bottom corners of the main body by attaching a piece of wood, cut diagonally, both on the longer and shorter side. This is where you will screw the metal plate of the wheels, so the size of that wood will depend on the size of the metal plate. You will need 2-inch or longer screws to get through your 3/4-inch panels and a decent depth into your triangle.

For detailed instructions on how to build this lift top coffee table, you can check out and thank Lofgren for the original idea!

Design Variations for Lift Top Coffee Tables

Design variations for lift top coffee tables offer a world of creativity and functionality, marrying the aesthetic appeal of a traditional coffee table with the practicality of storage and adjustable height. These tables have become a staple in modern living spaces, catering to the needs of a dynamic lifestyle. 

Here, we explore several design variations that showcase the versatility and innovative features of lift top coffee tables.

Modern Minimalist

Modern minimalist lift top coffee tables are characterized by their clean lines, simple shapes, and often monochromatic color schemes. These tables usually feature a smooth, flat surface with a hidden storage compartment beneath. 

They are perfect for those who appreciate functionality without fuss. The lift top mechanism in these tables is often seamlessly integrated, maintaining the sleek and uncluttered appearance that is hallmark to minimalist design.

Rustic Farmhouse

Rustic farmhouse lift top coffee tables exude warmth and character, often featuring wood construction with a distressed finish. These tables might include additional design elements such as iron hinges and handles, adding to their rustic charm. 

The lift top functionality adds a modern twist to the traditional farmhouse style, perfectly blending old and new. These tables serve as a focal point in a room and offer practical storage and adjustable surfaces for daily use.

Industrial Chic

Industrial chic lift top coffee tables bring any space an edgy, urban vibe. They often combine metal and wood elements, featuring exposed hardware and a practical design. The industrial style emphasizes durability and functionality, making these tables a robust addition to any living area. 

The lift top mechanism is usually highlighted as a feature, contributing to the table’s industrial aesthetic while offering practical benefits like adjustable height and hidden storage.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern lift top coffee tables capture the timeless appeal of the 1950s and 60s design, known for its organic shapes, gentle curves, and a mix of materials. These tables might feature tapered legs, a mix of wood and metal, and vibrant colors typical of the era. Incorporating a lift top into a mid-century design combines vintage style with contemporary functionality, making these tables both a statement piece and a practical addition to modern homes.

Scandinavian Simplicity

Scandinavian simplicity in lift top coffee tables focuses on natural materials, light colors, and a minimalist approach. These tables are designed to be functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing, with a focus on clean lines and efficient use of space. The lift top mechanism is smoothly integrated into the design, enhancing the table’s functionality without compromising its serene and uncluttered look.

Multi-Functional Hybrid

Multi-functional hybrid lift top coffee tables are designed for the ultimate in versatility, combining several functions into one piece of furniture. These tables may include modular elements, extendable surfaces, or even convertible features that allow them to serve as a dining table, workstation, or storage unit. The lift top feature is central to their design, enabling users to easily adapt the table to various needs.

Each design variation of lift top coffee tables offers unique benefits, catering to different styles, preferences, and functional requirements. Whether you’re drawn to the simplicity of modern design, the warmth of rustic aesthetics, or the practicality of hybrid models, there’s a lift top coffee table to suit every need and enhance any living space.

Integrating Technology into Your Lift Top Coffee Table

Integrating technology into your lift top coffee table transforms a simple piece of furniture into a multifunctional hub, suitable for the modern, connected home. As our living spaces become more integrated with technology, furniture that adapts and serves multiple purposes is increasingly valuable. 

Lift top coffee tables, known for their versatility and convenience, provide the perfect platform for this fusion of function and innovation. Below, we explore ways to incorporate technology into your lift top coffee table, enhancing its utility and making it a centerpiece of digital convenience in your living space.

Built-In Charging Stations

One of the most practical ways to integrate technology into your lift top coffee table is by including built-in charging stations. These can be as simple as USB ports or as advanced as wireless charging pads embedded into the tabletop. This feature turns your lift top coffee table into a convenient charging dock for smartphones, tablets, and other devices, keeping them within reach and fully charged without cluttering your space with cables.

Bluetooth Speakers

Integrating Bluetooth speakers into the base or underside of your lift top coffee table adds a seamless audio experience to your living area. This setup is perfect for playing background music during gatherings or amplifying your TV or computer sound. With the lift top mechanism, speakers can be cleverly hidden when not in use, preserving the aesthetic appeal of your coffee table while providing easy access to high-quality sound when needed.

Smart Home Control Panels

For the tech-savvy homeowner, incorporating a smart home control panel into your lift top coffee table offers unmatched convenience. This could be a built-in touchscreen interface that controls smart lighting, thermostats, security systems, and more, all from the comfort of your couch. The lift top feature ensures the control panel is discreetly tucked away when not in use, maintaining the table’s sleek design.

Hidden Compartments for Tech Storage

In addition to integrating technology, lift top coffee tables can also feature hidden compartments designed specifically for storing tech devices and accessories. These compartments can be lined with soft materials to protect delicate screens and surfaces, and equipped with cable management systems to keep cords organized and out of sight. This helps declutter your living space and keeps your technology safe and accessible.

Adjustable Workstations

With remote work becoming more common, your lift top coffee table can double as an adjustable workstation. You can securely hold a tablet or lightweight laptop at a comfortable viewing angle by incorporating adjustable mounts or stands under the lift top. This feature allows you to easily switch between relaxing and working modes, making your lift top coffee table a versatile piece of furniture that meets various needs.

Interactive Touchscreen Surface

Transforming the surface of your lift top coffee table into an interactive touchscreen opens up endless possibilities. This could be a large tablet for browsing the internet, controlling media playback, or even playing digital board games with family and friends. The lift top mechanism ensures that this technology can be protected when not in use, maintaining the traditional function and aesthetic of the coffee table.

Virtual Assistant Integration

Incorporating a virtual assistant into your lift top coffee table can make it the command center of your home. By integrating devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home within the table’s structure, you can interact with your virtual assistant for news updates, weather forecasts, or even to control other smart devices in your home, all without sacrificing space on your tabletop.

Environmental Sensors

Embedding environmental sensors into your lift top coffee table could provide real-time data on indoor air quality, temperature, humidity, or even noise levels. This technology can help create a healthier and more comfortable living environment, with the lift top feature concealing these sensors within the table when they’re not in active use.

Projection System

A mini projector integrated into the frame of your lift top coffee table could turn your living room ceiling or a blank wall into a movie theater. The lift top mechanism can cleverly conceal the projector when it’s not in use, ensuring that the coffee table retains its traditional role while offering an extraordinary entertainment feature at a moment’s notice.

Fitness Tracking Hub

For those who like to keep fit, integrating a fitness tracking hub into your lift top coffee table can be a central point to sync and monitor your health data. This could include compartments for storing fitness wearables, with built-in charging stations and displays to track your progress. The lift top coffee table can easily keep these gadgets hidden away but accessible for daily use.

Digital Photo Frame

By incorporating a digital photo frame into the side or under the lift top of your coffee table, you can enjoy a rotating gallery of your favorite photos and memories without needing a separate device. This integration allows for a personal touch in your living space, showcasing digital art or family photos that can be updated or changed as desired.


Building a lift top coffee table introduces an unparalleled blend of style, functionality, and technological integration into any living space. It elevates the concept of furniture beyond mere aesthetics, offering a versatile solution that caters to entertainment, storage, and work needs. Tackling this innovative piece enhances the convenience and efficiency of daily activities and redefines the modern home environment.

For more ways on improving your living room, check out our minimalist modern living room ideas!



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