My wife and I had the same dinner table since we first got married: a tiny, light-weight Ikea number that included four chairs for under $150.

Just married and living in a townhouse with a dog, it was all we needed. And it was the right price: under $200 for the table and chairs.

Flash forward about 12 years and we were due for a new table – two homes and three kids later, the tiny Ikea table had outlived its usefulness for us.

After procrastinating for about a year, I finally got us an upgraded table this spring – well, I built it. For under $100.

This isn’t the first time I’ve built something for our home. My wife and I built loft beds for our two older kids in successive years. They made fun projects and meaningful Christmas gifts. They were also affordable and relatively easy to make, thanks to plans from another handy parent’s website.

So I went back to the well, using Ana White’s website again with a weekend project last month while my wife was out of town.

A trip to Home Depot and about $80 later, I had all the supplies I needed – granted, a lot of the tools I’d already grabbed for past projects. But Home Depot made all the major cuts I needed to the specs on Ana’s website.

Flash forward a few hours over two days – this can be done in a day if you don’t have three “helpers” under the age of 9, including an ornery 6-year-old obsessed with using the drill –  and we had a new farmhouse table large enough to seat eight people comfortably.

It wasn’t without some frustrations    after all, I’m no professional furniture maker, and while those Ikea chairs I assembled a dozen years ago are still standing, some of the slats of them are attached wrong.

But this is a doable project for the amateur wood worker.

If you have a weekend free    I won’t know what that’s like again until after Little League season wraps up in early June    this is a do-able project. And it’ll improve your home five-fold what you spend.

Now I just need to find time to stain it.

Once that’s done, it’ll be on to another weekend project    perhaps a bench for the table, a new bed with storage space or the outdoor seating I’ve been coveting for our deck.

For plans on this project, visit

By Sean Welsh, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)