metal side table

How to design a custom piece of furniture. (Part 2 of 2)

Your furniture should reflect your personality. Are you one-of-a-kind or mass-produced?

As a quick refresher from Part 1of the article, we’re talking about how a person with no design experience designs a custom steel entryway table for a small space, with a medium-sized top and a junk drawer. Let’s keep going…it’s just getting good.

What is a good height for an entryway table?

Well, this isn’t just an entryway table, this is your entryway table. So a good height is the height that feels perfect for you and your family. The typical hallway table height is 36”, but there isn’t a law that says it has to be that. If you’re tall you may want to bump that up a few inches or you may want to make it a bit shorter, if you’re a bit shorter. See? This is what customized furniture should be!

Let’s just assume you want the standard height of 36”.


Now, what do you want these 36” long legs to look like? Do you want them big and chunky or long and thin? Since this table is going in a rather small space you probably want the long, thin legs to keep it visually “light” so it doesn’t feel like it’s crowding the entryway. Think Supermodel over Sumo Wrestler.

What are my table top options?

All table tops are not created equal, especially in the world of custom furniture. But before we get into that, let’s take a step back and look at the drawer we discussed in Part 1. You wanted a medium-sized junk drawer. Believe it or not, this has a huge impact on the size and shape of the top. To hold a single drawer of that size in a table that’s going in a narrow hallway, the top will most likely be rectangular or oval in shape. A round or square top would take up too much floor space.

You choose a rectangular top that will hug the wall nicely. Excellent choice! And that little nugget leads us to select square tube legs instead of round to create a consistent, angular look. (Classic Cool)

I want a unique table that stands out and stands up to heavy traffic.

Your table doesn’t have to have one, but a lower shelf does perform two main jobs: it supports the legs, keeping them from wobbling and it adds a visual anchor to the piece so it doesn’t look top-heavy. Not to mention it gives you an excellent place to display your favorite knick-knack. So we’ll include a shelf on this design.

Now, getting back to the task of making sure this piece looks “visually light”, you may want to use steel flat bar for the top and shelf instead of a solid piece of steel plate. The seams or gaps between the flat bars give a little breathing room for your eyes. It breaks up the weight of a solid piece of steel without sacrificing any strength. On the lower shelf we can even put wider gaps between them so you can literally see through it. This does wonders in making a piece “feel” lightweight.

That’s it. You just designed your very own piece of custom steel furniture. And you didn’t just help make a table – you created an heirloom that will be passed down your family for generations.

You just have to know what you want, not how to build it.

It may sound daunting and a bit overwhelming, but it can be a very fun process especially if you’re working with someone who knows what to ask and what to anticipate. But if you really want to make it yourself, you’ll need to know what types of equipment, tools, steel and work space you’ll need to buy. I think I just figured out the topic for my next article.

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