Coffee Table with Inset Top Storage

coffee table with hidden storage
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This beautiful coffee table has a secret!  The top panels remove, with lots of storage inside.  We love it as a play table (legos anyone?) or a workcenter for your laptop, or just a place to store board games, extra blankets, or magazines.  

This coffee table is easy to build - you'll just need a few tools and some off the shelf lumber.  Step by step plans with diagrams by

coffee table opened up revealing hidden storage

coffee table with hidden toy storage

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Coffee Table with Inset Top Storage

dimensions for coffee table
Dimensions are shown above.


Shopping List

1/2 Sheet of 3/4″ MDF or Hardwood Plywood cut into strips 15 7/8″ wide x 48″ long

2 – 1×3

3 – 1×2

1 – 1×6 – 12 foot long

2″ screws (self tapping wood screws)

1 1/4″ screws (self tapping wood screws)

wood glue and filler and finishing supplies

Cut List

2 – 1×6 @ 48″

3 – 1×6 @ 14-3/8″

2 – 3/4″ MDF or Plywood @ 15-7/8″ x 48″

2 – 3/4″ MDF or Plywood @ 15-7/8″ x 24″ (top inserts)

4 – 1×2 @ 17-1/4″

4 – 1×3 @ 17-1/4″

2 – 1×2 @ 44-1/2″

2 – 1×2 @ 12-7/8″

2 – 1×2 @ 48″

2 – 1×3 @ 18-7/8

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set


Step 1

Build the Box for the wooden train table - Mark the sides of the box and predrill holes. Attach the ends and center to the box as shown above. Use 2″ screws and glue or 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and glue.

Step 2

Bottom of Box - Now just screw the bottom of the wooden train table compartment to the sides and dividers as shown above. 

Step 3

End Legs - Now just screw the end legs on with 1-1/4" screws. I turned the whole thing upside down to do this and screwed the legs from inside to hide.   Also, I tapered the legs with a circular saw, but that’s purely decorative.

Step 4

Front and Back Legs Now screw the front and back legs to the box and the side legs with 1 1/4″ screws and glue. I tapered these too as shown above.  You could also use nails and glue to hide any holes.  Nail holes are much easier to hide than screw holes.

Step 5

Step 6

Optional False Drawers To make the coffee table look like it has drawers, just set your circular saw blade to 1/8″ and make cuts as shown above. Hold off on the knobs until you are done with the table. Make the cuts on both sides, on opposite sides.

Step 7

Top Supports Now just screw these on flush to the top with 1 1/4″ screws and glue

Step 8

Top Sides Now simply screw the top sides to the top as shown above.

Step 9

Top Ends Now simply screw the top ends on as shown above. If you have a Kreg Jig™, you can also screw the end to the sides for added support.

Step 10

Tops Check the fit of the top inserts and sand as needed to insure that the inserts fit properly. If needed, drill a hole in the inserts to use as a handle to pull inserts up with.

Step 11

And here are those mods for the other version. Don’t taper the legs and just add a middle legs, and trim out the bottom of the box and shelves. It’s really simple.

Step 12

I won’t say much more than I’ve been at this one for three days with a hair dryer . . . but the color is dark walnut. I used Elmer’s wood filler and it took the stain quite well. Thanks for reading! I hope you take a second to let me know if you like this design, so I can continue to post more plans that are similar. Mom to mom, this is a must make.


AbbeyLeigh (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:03

This is amazing!! Today was my birthday, and this is a perfectly timed-present, as I sit here staring at the plastic lego bins on my living room floor. This will be built by the weekend!! Thank you for what you do!

Ginny (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:04

That is absolutely amazing! I LOVE how you did this!!! I don't have any small children at my house anymore, however, I do have a grandchild on the way... :D
(You are inspiring and amazing! I think that what you can do is astonishing!)

Jena (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:06

Im not a mom, but I LOVE it, this coffee table could be used for so much more! And my husband cant wait to have some boys to play with legos again, his mom wont give the old ones up, LOL :( Again absolutely love it!

Ana White (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:06

Hillary, next up is definitely a large train table that turns into a coffee table or how about an upholstered ottoman coffee table? I'm so excited about this design. Thanks for commenting! Ana

Diem (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:07

This is a fantastic design. I LOVE it. I don't even think you can buy something like this. I have been perusing your blog for a few weeks and am itching to build something (this might be too complex for a first try however). Thanks for the inspiration and how tos. You can probably market this coffee table - I bet lots of people would want to buy it.

kellyh88 (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:08

Wow, this is ingenious!!! I love it! I was just thinking my son needs a Lego table but that we don't have room! This way I get two pieces of furniture in one! It's gorgeous and very sneeky, keep the great plans coming!

Pamela O. (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:09

Yes, I absolutely LOVE it! This is the coffee table I have been searching for. Now to get my husband on the project of making it. I am going to link to this on my blog. I love all ideas that combine a sophisticated adult look with the reality of kids.

Michelle (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:10


This is BRILLIANT! I think I agree with Hilary. If it were bigger I would run to Lowes right now, in the single digit weather to buy the materials! Looking forward to seeing the variations for this on your site so I can find the one that's perfect for our space! Thanks!

Danielle Z. (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:10

I 2nd Hillary's suggestion!! I would LOVE a storage coffee table that's large and square and maybe even a bit deeper storage compartments (for blankets and such....I can't stand how they's always covered in dog hair because they sit on the floor of my living room). Our coffee table is the next thing on our list and I can't wait to build it!!

Bookladydavina (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:11

Love it! we might just have to build one for my step daughter and grand daughter (soon as they buy a house!)
And I feel for you with the stain.. we just refinished out dining table and the stain was so annoying, so hard to get things to dry properly up here in the winter (we're in Palmer) We waited and thought it was finally dry, moved it back in and almost immediately scratched it.. *sigh* will have to redo it, but waiting until after the holidays now.

Silky (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:15

I love it! Living in an appartment, my son has a rather small room and plays most of the time in our family room. And I like it that way. This table is genius.

Rose (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:18

Ana, You rocked this one. I am not a Mom but I live in a small space, and I love this. Thank you!

Tressa Willson (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:35

I told my kids the other day that I am in love with Ana. They wondered who in the world you are and how I could be so enamored with someone I do not even know. This design is fantastic and I would be overjoyed at an ottoman plan that is sturdy enough for toys. I have one now that has flimsy sides and the kids are not allowed near.

Pam (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:44

I love it! I will built it like this, but make the storage compartment bigger as my girls use duplo (the large toddler friendly leggo blocks). And when there are plans for a square one I might make one like that, too!

Laci (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 21:26

You should win some kind of award!! You are AMAZING!! LOVE this! EXACTLY what I need with two small kiddos and hopefully more to come in the future. Your time and talent is greatly appreciated!!

Jenn (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 22:29

This is GENIUS! I love it!
I've only been following your blog for a couple of months now, and I have been a little intimidated to try to build anything, but this might just be the one to make me do it! This table is just so perfect!

Scarlet (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 22:57

ooh would be good to use those push magnetic latches so you don't have to cut a hole in the tops.

Also maybe shorten the legs to allow for a pillow on top or upholster rectangles that fit in underneath.

I'm thinking an older kid version with a chess board painted on one side and a backgammon board on the other and a couple of favourite board games in the wells.

Elvira Clay (not verified)

Tue, 12/07/2010 - 23:09

You have once again proven your brilliance!!! Your talent alone is proof that there is a God and he has blessed you with an incredible talent and the heart to share it!

Tiffany (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 00:19

Oh, I LOVE this one! You could really use it for just about anything. I'm going to have to show this one to my husband in the morning.

Vanessa (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 01:00

Wow Ana, whilst I love the table, your living room & view is just breath-taking. I thought all of the Summer images of your house were lovely, but that image is like something out of "Snow falling on Cedars".

Christine (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 01:43

Not a mom, but loving this table for our small house. So hard to find places to keep all the stuff in a small home. This would be a great place to keep magazines, coasters, whatever! Thanks so much for sharing!

Joy G (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 01:54

Wow, this is fairly similar in style to our current coffee table, but I love how practical it is with the hidden storage - fabulous design!

Cindy (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:01

I LOVE this! Thanks so much for all your hard work and inspiration. Now I have a really good reason why we NEED a pocket hole jig...we're going to build this!

Lynn (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:12

I love this and love the idea of an upolstered ottoman storage table too! You amaze me. I still want your life.

linda (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:15

that is awesome. love it. And looking at your windows love the simple looking frames. tell how that was done, our farmhouse needs finishing and the windows have been driving me crazy as I just dont know how to do the framed in look that covers the added drywall etc.

Dana (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:28

I have followed your site for over a year, checking daily for all the great things you are creating. I am a mom to a 7, 5, and 2 year old and this post just compelled me to comment. I soooo identify with what you are saying. We are currently preparing to go on a buiding frenzy for our kids new playroom over christmas break. I have been compiling a list of things to build from your site but this 'lego' table takes the cake. It is AWESOME! Thank you so much for all you do. You are an inspiration to me.

holly (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:40

I love it!!! And if you make a storage ottoman I would love to know how to size it down to the size of the teeny vanity, it would be perfect for storing dress up. Thanks so much for all you time. I love all your plans and have my husband building several for christmas.

Alyssa Jackson (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:48

Oh WOW. This is my plan for next Christmas, absolutely. Now I have to leave your site otherwise I'll end up with 5 more projects I want to do (but don't have time for!) for THIS Christmas.

Beautiful work, as always :)

Whitney_Smith (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 02:49

Yup, I'm in love :) I'll have to take a measure of my space but I also like the idea of a square. And I would love to have a drawer underneath.

My only concern with the current plan; for the bottom shelf- are two inch screws and glue enough? I have visions of boys laying down there... maybe I just need to make the top deeper so there's not room for the little people to fit... but where there's a will there's a way... Maybe I need to mod a drawer...

Thanks Ana!

flippin1999 (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 03:02

Omigosh, totally worth the wait! JUST what I was looking for. My kids came running over when they heard me exclaim, "Oh.My. GOSH!" and are just as excited as I over this design. Really, my 4 year old just said "Oh boy, Mom's getting wood for Christmas!" And he's right, lol! Thank you Ana, once again!

Darcy (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 03:05

This one instantly jumped to the top of my 'to build' list! I'm totally in love!

We're in the middle of building the Lydia bed right now and couldn't be happier -- your plans were fantastic and very easy to follow! Next up -- the lego table!

Kat (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 03:09

I love this table!!!! :) Thanks so much for sharing your plans! And your living room is just beautiful!! :)

Rachelle (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 03:24

Absolutely beautiful. This will be going in my family room--I think with the extra trim. Thank you so much!