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Real Solutions: The Unlikely Coffee Table

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Every home is filled with unique design puzzles, from figuring out how to make do with a tiny room (or fill a giant one) to finding that rug, wall-hanging, or piece of furniture to bring it all together. Here's where we share real solutions, through design success stories in the homes of Food52 team members.

Today: A design solution from a stranger.


I can take zero credit for this good idea.

Living in a furnished Airbnb apartment means you come into close contact with objects you wouldn’t otherwise–specifically, strangers’ stuff. The Brooklyn apartment I’m staying in for my first few months in New York has a strange decorative contraption on the wall that is either a gardening tool or a torture device, there were at least five pairs of sneakers hanging on the brick wall as “art” that I promptly removed after moving in, and there’s a window in the shower that I was told is a mirror on the exterior.


But there are also features that are worth replicating in other apartments, one of which is this map/blueprint/drafting cabinet fashioned as a coffee table. I don’t even really know what it’s called. And you might not have known either—or have one hanging around—unless you’re an artist or thought you were going to be one in college. I think you can pick up metal ones at art supply stores or vintage wood ones at thrift stores or garage sales—or from your friend who finally came to terms with the fact that he is not the next Dorothea Lange.

However procured, this low cabinet is a smart coffee table because all the thin drawers that conventionally hold thin sheets of paper conveniently hold all the oddities you need in your living room: votives, lighters, magazines, pens, notepads, coasters, bottle openers. Mine came with copies of Life from the 1970s and nice pens, both of which I probably shouldn't steal—so I'm stealing this table idea instead.

What odd, inspiring things have you found in rental homes?

Tags: home, coffee table, design, home solutions