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Do Not Make This Pinterest DIY, Please

May 17, 2016

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.

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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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lea
  • Smaug
  • LouLou
  • kumalavula
  • Annie stader
    Annie stader
Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Lea May 23, 2016
So I think these are so adorable but would NEVER consider it without the shelf being fixed to the wall, honestly the rope would be purely decorative. But NOT near beds and sleeping areas. Love The Nester's in her laundry room, but again, would secure to the wall for SURE.
Smaug May 19, 2016
So is there any way to report SPAM on this site?
LouLou May 18, 2016
Thanks for my morning chuckle!
kumalavula May 17, 2016
being a native californian, I picture these on each side of a bed and then the BIG
one (the earthquake everyone who lives anywhere near the san andreas fault knows all too well) hitting so that the occupants of said bed are whacked from both sides and don't know, literally, what hit them!
on so many levels these are not at all good ideas.
Annie S. May 17, 2016
My cats would line up to use it!
Smaug May 17, 2016
Not quite as goofy as the person who wanted to hold up a bike rack with Molly bolts (now where did I read that?), but I'd have to agree that the swinging table is an idea with, at best, limited application. I would, however, like to put in a word for repurposed pallets- the great majority of the world's hardwood harvest goes into shipping materials, not furniture- much of it with excellent reason, it's true, but you can still salvage some good wood from pallets and crates. Unfortunately, you almost have to have access to a planer to do any sort of finished work with them, but "rustic" projects of this sort can be fairly accessible- there will likely be considerable waste. Also, a lot of pallets now are held together with screw nails which, when machine driven into hardwood, can be near impossible to pull.
Kristen M. May 17, 2016
I actually felt the mic drop on that last line.
Hannah W. May 17, 2016
Laughing so hard at the thought of actually having this in my bedroom. Fail on so many levels.
Fredrik B. May 17, 2016
Rather than just hitting my shin against it every other morning, I could add an exciting element of disaster as I send it flying.
M May 17, 2016
Aside from the stupidity of lighting on a candle on a swinging platform with flammable rope, I'd be more concerned with the max weight it can take, and what might happen if someone stumbles against it.

That said, I don't think the thick swing with thick rope has as much sway fear, if it's against the wall and side of the bed. A small L bracket would secure it if it still moved around.
Lauren N. May 17, 2016
I'm envisioning my cat jumping onto this table in the middle of the night and sending it flying into my face.