Ever since we moved in I’ve been dying to create a little reading nook using my black & white plaid wingback chair from CB2. Our common space is a little too long to be one big TV room, so we placed the couch in the middle to create a cozier TV/sitting area, and finally settled on moving the chair into a corner to the right of the TV.

There are three things we need to make the reading corner just right: an ottoman, a side table and a light.

We took care of the second item recently by DIY’ing our own side table. I wanted something to evoke our coffee table, which has a round marble top and black metal legs. I also wanted a side table that wouldn’t cost much more than $50.

I knew real marble was a no-go. Marble side tables are expensive. The next best option: Contact paper! I had this revelation while visiting one of my best friends in Knoxville, and seeing that she had covered all her kitchen cupboards in contact paper.

My vision came together pretty quickly from there. Procure a round piece of wood, cover it in contact paper, then add legs!


I found a wood top on Home Depot and the marble contact paper on Amazon, which were both delivered fairly quickly.

For the legs, I had been wanting to use hairpin legs for something, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. To keep with the color pattern, though, I wanted them to be black, and I likely needed just three for such a small table. First I searched Amazon, figuring they would be cheaper there, but there weren’t many options and I couldn’t find the color and height I needed in a style that I liked.

I decided to compare against Etsy. I haven’t been looking at Etsy much lately, partly because sellers there tend to charge significantly more and there’s almost too much to look at. However, I stumbled upon a shop aptly named hairpinlegs! The shop was exactly what I was looking for – an expert in hairpin legs selling all sizes and colors.

The only downside here was that I could only purchase in a set of two or four. But the price was inexpensive enough that I decided to buy the four, thinking I could always come back and get more to pair with the  leftover on another project (anyone want me to make them a marble top hairpin leg side table?)

Hairpin legs from Etsy $46 + shipping

Under the SET OF 4 category I found 20″ tall legs, and once there found a number of finishes to choose from. I went with the raw iron with a clear coat of finish, so it would look black but not too finished.

It was a couple of weeks before I received the legs, mostly because they are handmade and had to travel across the country from California, but I also think the shop owner keeps pretty busy. Mid-century is in, if you haven’t been on Pinterest lately.

The wait was so worth it, though. The legs are beautiful, sturdy and perfectly even, which is pretty clutch for a table.

All my materials ready to go!

Building Steps

Once I had all my materials, it really did take less than an hour to put everything together. The trickiest part was getting the contact paper flat over the rounded edges, but thanks to numerous videos on YouTube I found a trick for that.

Step 1: Prepare the Wood Top

Make sure to sand and wipe down the wood top with a damp rag to get any dust and wood shavings off. I did this on the morning of the day I built the table and let it sit in the sun to dry.

Wood top drying in the sun

Step 2: Cut and Apply Contact Paper

When I sat down to put the table together that night, I gave the wood top one more wipe down with a dust rag, then I unrolled a section of the contact paper and placed the wood top on the back of it and cut a circle around the wood top. Make sure to leave enough paper around it to wrap around the sides (about 1.5 inches if you have the same size top).

Then peel off the back of the contact paper and lay it carefully on top of the wood. I used a credit card to make sure there were no air bubbles. It’s just like putting a protective cover on your phone screen but much easier, actually.


Here’s where you need a hair dryer. As you’ll notice, if you just wrap the contact paper around the sides you’ll have a bunch of crinkled paper. But, if you use the hair dryer to melt the paper slightly you can stretch it enough to pull it around the sides without wrinkling it. Neat, right!?

This is the video I watched to get a visual on how this works in practice – you can scrub to about 45 seconds in to see the relevant part:

It’s takes a few seconds to get the contact paper melted enough, so don’t be afraid to apply a little heat or to pull it taut. It might take a few go-arounds to get it all smoothed out. If you have a lot of paper bunched up underneath when you’re finished, you can simply use scissors to cut off the extra.

Finished underside of the top, with marks where the legs need to go

Step 3: Secure Legs With Drill + Screws

Now that your table top is ready all that’s left is securing the legs. First I blocked out where I wanted them screwed in. With three legs you don’t have to worry as much about symmetry, but I measured how far each leg was from the edge – about an inch for my table – and from each other to make sure they were spaced evenly. Then I used a pencil to mark where the holes were going to be drilled.

Joe preparing to attached the legs.

Then just use your drill to screw in each leg. My legs had three spots for screws, but we just used two on each since we won’t be putting much weight on it.

Voila! The whole process took us less than an hour and now we have a classy and functional side table for our reading nook.

Finished table next to our reading chair!

We still need a few finishing touches before the corner is complete, but now that we have a table we find ourselves sitting here a lot. I especially like having my coffee there in the mornings but it’s also a great place to relax with a glass of wine after work.

Morning routine: Coffee and a book.
View from the reading nook on a cloudy morning

Plus, the view is fantastic. You get a great view of the New York skyline, and you also get a view of the apartment at an angle that you don’t see from anywhere else.

View from the reading nook

One thought on “How to Build a Hairpin Leg, “Marble” Side Table in Under an Hour

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