DIY Sofa Table Styling

I’m happy to report that this project was a complete success! It all started with Pinterest of course. I stumbled upon a pin that said, “Piece of wood from Home Depot cut to size of couch, stained, attached to wall with L-brackets… this!” Love it indeed but when I went to the site there wasn’t a tutorial (at least not one that I could find).

Even without instructions, my DIY Sofa Table was pretty easy to create. However, there were a few things that I had no clue about so just in case you’re like me (God help you) I wanted to share a few tips.

First things first. You should decide how long you want your sofa table/shelf to be. Big Daddy and I have a large wall with vaulted ceilings and I knew there was no way any itty bitty sofa table you find in stores was going to cut it. I wanted a reason for the couch to be pulled away from the wall and I wanted a place to stash my everyday lounging-on-the-couch essentials like hair ties, magazines, and Chapstick.

Our sofa is 10 feet long and so off to The Depot we went. Thankfully, a 10 ft. board is a standard size in the ol’ lumber department so there was no cutting needed.

TIP: Make sure you like the board you pick. Go through every single one! Even if your husband calmly states that they’re all pretty much the same while giving you the “I’m ready to go” look of love. You’ll need to decide if you like lots of knots and dings or whether you’d prefer the absence of said character spots. I opted for some character.

Sofa Table Stained

Once the ol’ board was home in crafty village I sanded it down using 3 levels of sand paper as recommended by Varathane.

TIP: Sand wood in the direction of the grain with 120-grit sandpaper. Repeat using 150-grit sandpaper and finish with 180 or 220-grit sandpaper. Finally, remove all sanding dust with a tack cloth.

I used a different product this time for my stain. I normally use Minwax. No real reason other than that’s what my family had always used. This time I turned my attention to Rust-Oleum’s Varathane stain in Dark Walnut.

When I opened up the can I noticed right away that this stain was different. There wasn’t “that” smell (although I like “that” smell) and as I was stirring the stain I noticed that the consistency was similar to paint. I took a look at the label just to make sure I bought what I thought I bought.

Yep, it was stain. But this was a super awesome kind that promised only one coat and speedy drying time. They weren’t kidding about only needing one coat of stain. I slathered on a thick layer because I was use to the old way of staining. After 5 minutes and a good wipe down that 10 ft. board was practically ready to rock.

Of course I waited the agonizing 1 hour to dry and then began adding the poly coat. I used Varathane Satin because that’s what I had. I was really nervous that Satin would make the wood feel dull since I had it in my mind that semi-gloss would look so much better. I’m sure semi-gloss would have been a groovy choice but in the end I’m really happy with the Satin.

I’d never used poly on anything before so I was following those directions to the letter. I ended up with 3 very thin layers and a light sanding in between using my 180-grit sandpaper.

TIP: I’d read on other blogs that they would sand in between poly coats and I would always think to myself, “self, what’s the point in that?” After using that method I’ll always recommend it. Even though it’s a thin layer of poly it still can “feel” like there’s a coating on the wood. The trick is to use it so that it looks like you used poly without feeling like it. My sofa shelf is super smooth and I love it!

Now that the sofa table was ready I called in Mr. Precision to help me hang it. You may recall from the Pinners description that I just need L brackets. Well, I assumed that meant those small L brackets but Big Daddy assured me that we need shelf brackets. After a small debate in my head about how “But Pinterest said so”, I realized I’d never hung anything like this so I’d better listen to my man.

Hanging Brackets

TIP: When you buy your brackets make sure they’re the right size. My board is 10 ft long and about 12″ deep. I found shelf brackets in a dark brown that were 10″ x 8″. When you’re picking up those brackets don’t forget to buy the shelf bracket screws (should be right next to the brackets) in the coordinating color.

I scooped up 4 brackets and two packages of shelf bracket screws. Each packet has 6 screws that are a perfect fit for two of these brackets. I used the black #7 x 1 1/4″ screws.

Big Daddy Leveling

I had to include this oh-so-cute photo of Big Daddy lettin’ ya’ll know he’s #1. I totally agree Big Daddy. 🙂

Console Table

I didn’t give Big Daddy the name Mr. Precision for nothin’! That sofa shelf wasn’t going anywhere.

To hang the brackets you’ll need more than a wing and a prayer.

Gather up these things:


Screw driver


Stud Finder

Tape Measure




We began by pulling the couch away from the wall. Big Daddy held the board against the wall and I spot checked where I wanted it hung. He then traced a line along the bottom corner of the shelf. Once the board was pulled away from the wall there was a backwards “L” drawn on the right side of the wall. (This is only at the corner so no need to go crazy drawing on the wall)

Big Daddy then estimated the length the board would run by using a tape measure and marking an “X” at the 10 ft. mark on the other end of the wall (left side). This is only done to give us an idea of how many studs we needed to find within the area between the backwards “L” and the “X”.

Using your stud finder start at the backwards “L” and run the stud finder along the wall. A light should appear when a different level of density in the wall is detected. In other words, there are 2 x 4s being used behind your drywall as support for your wall. A stud finder will find these 2 x 4s which will allow you to nail or drill into for the most stability.

Big Daddy marked on the wall using a pencil each time he found a stud. We found 8 studs between our “X” and our backwards “L”. Since we only had 4 brackets we spaced them out evenly by skipping every other stud.

TIP: Each stud should be approximately 16″ between the center of one stud to the center of the next. Even though you might have found a stud, keep in mind that the width of the stud is very important. With our brackets each one required 3 screws. It was important to remember that the width of a stud is not really 2″ even though that’s what it should be. The ol’ lumber industry rounds up…did you know that? I sure the heck didn’t! A safe bet would be to measure each stud at 1 1/2″ wide.

DIY Sofa Table4

Take a look at that solid, level, and super sexy sofa table. At this point we are high five-ing and ready to tackle the world.

DIY Sofa Table3

I added some pillows I found at Goodwill. They’re from Crate and Barrel with down-fill and hidden zippers! And only $2 each. I love a good pillow.

DIY Sofa Table2

I added a few things to the shelf that I already owned. Perhaps the whole style of it will change over time but I think it’s a pretty good start!

Styling Sofa Table

My reading lamp sits next to my House Beautiful and HGTV magazines. Big Daddy and I both have our own “His and Hers” baskets to hold the random bits and our remotes. Yeah you read that right we both sit on the couch holding our OWN remotes. 🙂

DIY Sofa Table

I added my favorite milk glass vase to hold flowers on one end and my chapstick, and lotion are in the covered dish. A cute “HI” and a random bird under a cow pretty much rounds it out!

Tell me what you think! Has anyone built something like this? What tips do you have for us?

About The Author

42 Responses

  1. CJ Poindexter

    Love this. My living room is much the same as yours. I think I’m going to give this a try!

  2. Lora @ Craftivity Designs

    It looks great! I’ve always liked that tip on Pinterest — such an inexpensive way to get a Sofa Table.

  3. Gretchen@BoxyColonial

    great idea! Right now we have a long bookshelf behind our sofa serving the same basic function, but at some point we’d like to be able to use it again for….books and stuff. I had it in my head that we’d need to replace it with an entirely new piece of furniture–a floating shelf makes a lot more sense!

    • ccleahy

      Reclaim your bookshelf Gretchen! 🙂 Glad you like my sofa shelf! I hope you’ll stop by again.

  4. Krista thehappyhousie

    Fabulous! I love the items you staged it with and the pillows on your sofa too, what a pretty room!

  5. Wanda

    Love this idea! It turned out great. I have made a small half moon shape shelf/table and used scroll brackets to support it for our TV media stuff. I love this idea because it takes up so little room and so little money.;-) Also I love that you can custom size it to exactly what you want .Found you over at Inspire Me Tues. Have a great week and enjoy your beautiful shelf. Blessings~ Wanda

    • ccleahy

      Your table sounds beautiful and you’ve just given me an idea for a very challenging area in my entry! Thanks for the inspiration Wanda!

  6. Marty Oravetz

    Perfect, I love this idea and how nice to have a space to showcase some treasures. Thanks tons for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

    • ccleahy

      Thank YOU Marty for always stopping by and commenting….makes my day!

  7. Kammy Wielenga

    DUDE! Major score on the pillows! And that sofa table is a SUPERB idea!!!!!!!! Awesome, awesome. 🙂 Thanks for sharing on Kammy’s Korner!! p.s. I love that you “traded in your semi-automatic for a pink polka dot glue gun”! You rock

    • ccleahy

      DUDE! LOL I would say something like that… 🙂 You’re too cute! Did you know I’m an expert shooter with my M16 but will burn the heck out of my fingers using that pink polka dot glue gun?!

      I hope you’ll stop by again!

  8. Susan Fidler

    This is so cute! You definitely have the eye for decor I found this on Trendy Treehouse thanks for sharing!

    • ccleahy

      OOOH! This is such a great compliment, thanks Susan. I don’t know anything about staging, design, or decor but it’s nice to know that all that blog reading I’ve been doing is sinking into my brain!

  9. Bobi

    The original pin was from my blog and I have a mini tutorial, but I’m glad your project turned out so well:)

    • ccleahy

      Bobi! Thanks so much for the inspiration!!! Would you mind sending the link and I can update my post with your source info!

  10. Deborah Smith

    I’ll bet that’s the longest sofa table ever! It turned out great! Thank you for sharing it at to What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a great week!



  11. Danielle

    Hey Christine!

    This is great – I want one in my house now!! We’ll be featuring it at the Pinterest Power Party tomorrow night… Hope you’ll come back and link up again!

    You can grab a new “featured” button when the party goes live tomorrow!

    Happy Tuesday!

  12. Kim~madeinaday

    I featured you today on Made in a Day! Thanks for linking up!

  13. christa reinhart

    Looks great. Love how you custom fit it to the length of your sofa.

  14. Camila

    Thank you so much for stopping by and linking this up at Bewitch Me & Titi! You are being featured tomorrow yayyy! Hope to have you there tomorrow with a new awesome creation and grabbing your featured button!

    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend so far

    Cami @ TitiCrafty by Camila

  15. Mackenzie {C&L}

    This is such a great idea! I am always in need of a place to put my cup that my ‘little wild guys’ won’t knock over! Love this! We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to this week on Saturday Show & Tell! Have a great weekend!
    Mackenzie 🙂

  16. Crystelle Boutique

    Wow! It’s even level! I’m so impressed! I love your pillows with the behind the sofa display! So festive!!!

  17. Anonymous

    I know this is an old post, but I just found your blog by searching for a project like this, and I’m hoping you still monitor the comments. I am planning on following your directions for this project. Thank you for going into more detail than the similar tutorials I found online! Can you give some more detail into how long you waited between coats of varnish, both before sanding and then if you waited after sanding to apply another coat. How long did you wait for the whole thing to cure before putting stuff on it? Has the varnish held up? There are directions on the varnish I purchased, but they give a wide range of times, and I am curious to know if I can wait the minimum amount of drying time or if I should wait longer for better results. Thanks again!!!

    • Christine Leahy

      Hey! Thanks for your comment and questions! I can’t remember exactly how long I waited but I know me and I don’t like to wait for anything!!! BUT, I did wait the minimum time before doing the second coat of poly. I did a quick sanding where I felt the board was rough from drips or whatever from the poly. I quickly wiped the dust off and then put on a light coat. Again, I can’t remember the time in between poly coats but it was whatever was on the can since this was my first attempt with poly.

      I allowed it time to cure for a few days before we installed it onto the wall. I was super worried about putting stuff on it right away so I waited a few more days. I think total it was close to a week. That’s probably not necessary but I did anyways!

      As far as holding up…it’s doing great!!! I was looking at it the other day and it still looks the same. I’m very happy with our little installation!


  18. Nancy

    This is great and just the sort of shelf I have been wanting. I am so glad I found your tutorial. Thank you!

  19. Melissa

    H! Love this sofa table!!! Do you think something like this would work behind the longest side of a sectional? I would go around but the shorter side is backed up by Windows that have a window sill. I really need something to put a table lamp on amd some decor. With 3 kids 5 and under we have opted out out on coffee and end tables for safety reasons and to maximize space in our smaller living room. Thank you in advance 🙂


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