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If it hasn't been said yet: Pinterest fails are not on you. Plucking a craft or a recipe from the wiles of a lawless internet corkboard is the equivalent of trusting a stranger to give you sound directions—tempting, even assuring, but hardly guaranteed to get you where you want to go. And in the case of Pinterest, there's time and money on the line. Not to mention pride, frustration.
In pursuit of helping to wade through this perilous sea of bad ideas (and the occasionally well-hidden good ones), I'm presenting a popular Pinterest idea that seems appealing but is actually a very very very bad idea indeed: the hanging side table.
Search for the "hanging side table" on Pinterest and you will find many tutorials (and even companies selling them). Cute, rustic, and seemingly simple to construct, the pictures of hanging side tables invoke a treehouse vibe and notions of a minimal, organized life—all of which belie the reality that it is a bad idea to make a hanging side table. Here is why:
The entire purpose of a side table is to be stable.
A side table is neither a chair (designed to hold a reclining body), nor a clothing rack (designed to hold shirts on hangers), nor a planter (designed to hold plants), nor a lamp (designed to hold bulbs)—all of which are free to sway from the ceiling since you're not going to be fumbling around at them in the dark, or setting your beverages on them.
Side tables are for perching a glass of water, for acting as pedestals for lamps you need to be able to switch on in the dark, for holding the tiny dish where you stash your favorite earrings before hitting the pillow.
The one below is for holding candles, which are, as you know, open flames.
Picture yourself with a hanging side table—picture yourself reaching for anything on your hanging side table at 3 A.M. Picture any of the aforementioned clanging to the ground, or your table swinging back to bonk you in the face. (You didn't need those contacts, did you? That Gatorade?)
A steamy feeling will well up inside of you, a mix of regret and frustration and distrust, and it will definitely outweight the upswing—if you will—that you might have felt posting a picture of your hanging side table on social media alongside the hashtag #pinterestwin.
And yet, there are so many iterations of this Pin:
See above for exhibits A, B, C, and D. Below is exhibit E, a hanging side table made out of baskets (or cages??), which could just as easily be set on the ground. Not sure who would be capable of reaching that tall one from bed.
Below, a pallet repurposed into a hanging side table. If you actually read this DIY, you'll see that you have to cut up the pallet and reconstruct it into a small, manageable surface—talk about an easy tease!—before hanging it. What about the rest of the pallet?
A side table that looks like a swing will swing like a swing:
A sloping side table has to be the antithesis of a good side table:
Don't even think about opening those windows lest you let in a breeze:
Okay, I'm almost done.
You might go on to make a hanging side table after reading this—I can't stop you. In fact, we've written on this very website about how testing an idea that seems like a bad idea, and tweaking it to become a good idea, can result in wonderful magical things like sheet pan eggs. Maybe you can do this for the side table.
But in the meantime, what I see the hanging side table as good for is as a reminder that sound design, which honors functionality as at least as important a measure of worth as cuteness, is worth it. Worth the time it takes to make it yourself, or the money it costs to support a great designer, or the space it takes up on the internet.
Worth giving legs.