DIY College Side Table for Dorm Room or Apartment

This DIY college side table for a dorm room or apartment is the perfect way to decorate your space & show your team spirit at the same time!

Recently, our youngest son left behind the college dorms and moved into his first off-campus apartment.

He ended up finding the perfect place with a shared kitchen and living room, two bathrooms, and five small bedrooms.

Now that he’s no longer sleeping on the top bunk of dorm bunk beds, he needed a bedside table for his room that wouldn’t take up a lot of extra space.

How to Make a DIY College Side Table for Dorm Room or Apartment

Thrift Store End Table

Thrift store shopping is a great way to find high-quality, real wood furniture that you can customize to your liking.

Luck was on my side the day I went shopping because I came upon this end table at the first thrift store I stepped into.

DIY College Side Table for Dorm Room or Apartment unfinished version
  • it was made of heavy-duty solid wood
  • It was the perfect height and size that won’t take up a lot of floor space
  • it had a drawer and a cabinet door for easy storage
  • it had amazing rusty metal hardware already on it

It was the ideal solution!

It would work as a lamp table or little nightstand with lots of room for college essentials.

I suggested it as the perfect place to put an alarm clock but was informed that “college students don’t use alarm clocks” anymore. Huh, who knew?

I am partnering with Dixie Belle Paint Company for this post. Paint and stain were generously provided to me by Dixie Belle, but all ideas and creations are my own.

Furniture Grade Finishes

supplies to make your own DIY College Side Table for Dorm Room or Apartment

I brought it home for a steal of a deal– only $9.99, and set to work turning this thrift store find into a “college table”.

After a good cleaning with Dixie Belle’s Pristine Clean and a light sanding it was ready for paint and stain.

No Pain Gel Stain

The piece already had a little bit of a masculine vibe with the sharp, angular corners and rusty-looking hardware.

I decided to play that up with my color choices, so I began with No Pain Gel Stain in Colonial Black for the top.

Using an applicator pad, I applied 2 light coats of stain, allowing it to dry overnight between coats. I wasn’t too worried about it looking perfect, because the piece was meant to have a rustic look.

Black & Gold Chalk Mineral Paint

Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint in Caviar was the perfect choice for the body of this bedside table.

Not only does it work well for the masculine appearance I was going for, but since this table is destined for a college campus apartment, it fits with the black & gold Hawkeye theme too!

College Stencil

Officially licensed collegiate stencils are available at a variety of places online and come in different sizes. Be sure to choose one that will be the right scale and size for your project.

Dixie Belle’s Colonel Mustard is such a bright fun color and was the perfect Hawkeye gold to use with my stencil.

Gold paint for the Hawkeye stencil


For a smooth matte finish, I sprayed a generous amount of Easy Peasy Wax over the whole base of the table and buffed it well with a lint-free cloth.

Then, I used a chip brush to blend some black Best Dang Wax into the crevices and around the hardware.

Top Coat

The most durable of Dixie Belle’s “college student resistant coatings” is definitely Gator Hide, so I applied two coats to the top using a damp blue sponge.

Protecting the top of the bedside table nightstand with resistant coating Gator Hide

Coffee Anyone?

How amazing does it look all dressed up with dorm room essentials? Books, a clock, pens… even a coffee mug… 😜

With a drawer and a good-sized cabinet, it’s a great space-saving solution for small space dwellers.

Plus, since this DIY project is completely customizable, you can paint it to represent your choice of college campuses!

Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint comes in dozens of colors, so you are bound to find the right one to represent your team.

More options to represent your team!

This project is not just for the college kids rooms!

Browse your local thrift stores (or your own home) for furniture that could be transformed into something more fun.

You can upcycle so many things with your favorite team colors, logos, and mascots:

  • what about accent tables for your living room or home office?
  • a coffee table for the family room, game room, or man cave?
  • storage ottomans can be painted and used to hold blankets for game day
  • customize some throw pillows in team colors– Dixie Belle paint works on fabric too!

I bet you know someone who’d love to receive a custom piece of furniture for their favorite team.

Time to get to work!

—->If you love a good upcycle project, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for even more clever projects!

PS. If you enjoyed this project, be sure to check out more of my Dixie Belle Paint projects HERE.

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Dixie Belle Paint Company

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5 thoughts on “DIY College Side Table for Dorm Room or Apartment

  1. What an amazing thrift store find! The makeover is absolutely beautiful. Well, whatever you call something that looks great, but is made for a guy lol! We live on the Gulf Coast & though we’re Alabama fans, your side table would be perfect for the college nearest us in the state whose mascot is the Golden Eagle. Actually, U. of South AL is closer, but USM would be the closest in our state. Before I read your post I would’ve sworn it was for the Golden Eagles. It looks so great, and I’m sure your son is going to love it! Happy hopping & have a great week & Labor Day!

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