How to Make a Concrete Side Table With a Cool Optical Illusion

11 Materials
3 Days

Today, I’m going to show you how to make an elegant concrete side table using an old towel! My DIY concrete side table was inspired by the illusion table by John Brauer, which looks like fabric floating on its own.

This optical illusion table is actually super-simple and cheap to make, as you only need a few materials. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Old towel
  • Concrete
  • Buckets
  • Water
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Tarp
  • Cardboard
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray paint
  • Gloves
Illusion table

Here are some illusion tables I was inspired by.

Transparent illusion table

Mixing the concrete

1. Mix the concrete

Mix concrete with water until the consistency is as smooth as possible.

Making the shape of the illusion table

2. Make the shape

Stack two buckets one on top of the other, then drape the towel over them to create the shape you want. I’m using a marker for where I want the table “legs” to end.

Cutting the excess fabric

Cut away the excess fabric.

Dipping the towel in concrete

3. Dip the towel in the concrete

Now it’s time to get messy! Dip the towel in the concrete. You’ll need to twirl it around until it absorbs all of the concrete and there’s no part of the towel that is not covered.

Tip: use gloves!

Cutting out the tabletop

4. Make the tabletop

Draw and cut out a circle in the shape of your bucket top; this will be the tabletop. 

Placing the tabletop on the buckets

Place the circle on top of the buckets.

Making the concrete side table

5. Drape the towel

Drape the towel over the buckets and make sure the ends are even. Remember, all four corners of the towel need to touch the bottom for the “legs” to balance.

Then, adjust the folds to the places that you like the best.

Removing the buckets

6. Remove the buckets

Two days and many, many showers later, the concrete table is almost completely dry. This is actually the most delicate stage of the project. You want to remove the buckets without breaking or cracking the concrete.

Tip: shake it from side to side and be very careful.

Sanding the DIY concrete side table

7. Sand

Sand the concrete to make it as smooth as possible.

Tip: mixing your concrete well at the start will make this step so much easier.

Spray-painting the concrete side table white

8. Paint

Spray-paint the table with your preferred choice of color. I wanted something neutral, so I went for white.

Leave the paint to dry for 2-3 hours.

DIY illusion table

Concrete side table

Concrete side table

Here’s the finished concrete side table! What do you think of this DIY illusion table? I really like the effect, plus it was so simple to make.

Let me know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!

Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Shuganne Shuganne on Mar 06, 2023

    I'm wondering if you could find a high gloss paint, probably spray paint, to try to duplicate the shiny black table you sowed? What about building up layers of spray silicone to get an ultra-smooth finish?

    Also, with just the legs supporting not only the weight of the rest of the concrete, but also the items you place on the table, how much added weight will it safely handle?

  • Coolfurniturelady Coolfurniturelady on Mar 06, 2023

    How much concrete did you need for this table?

  • Kay-Ellen Kay-Ellen on Mar 06, 2023

    Could you use portland cement instead of concrete?

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