Elsie Larson

Terrarium Side Table DIY

Early last month I saw a project for a plexiglass terrarium side table in Natural Accents
by Stacy Risenmay. Whoa. I immediately thought it was one of the coolest projects I've seen in a while, so I couldn't wait to try and create my own. I had never worked with plexiglass before and Trey can tell you that I am now super obsessed. (I've already created another project using plexiglass since then, see here.)


-4 sheets of plexiglass that are 24 x 18 inches
-2 sheets of plexiglass that are 24.5 x 24.5 inches or larger
-weld-on #4 and applicator bottle with needle
-1 sheet 24.5 x 24.5 inches OSB or plywood
-(2) 24.5 inch 1x2 wood pieces
-(2) 26 inch 1x2 wood pieces
-one 1 inch dowel for legs
-4 screws
-plexiglass knife (if needed)
-saw (if needed)
-paint (I used pink spray paint.)
-terrarium insides (gravel or river rock, moss, manufactured mulch, faux succulents)

As you can see there are quite a few supplies for this project as we're really creating a side table or piece of display furniture. And I would put this DIY on the more advanced level, so I wouldn't attempt this unless you've tackled a few projects this size before and feel excited by a challenge. The total cost for my supplies (not including tools) as well as the items needed for inside my terrarium came to $225.

Step One: Assemble the base of your terrarium. You can see from the photo above how I (very simply) put mine together. Basically you're going to make a short table with a lip that is sized to fit your plexi box inside. Sounds easy enough, right? It is, just be sure to plan and double check your measurements before you start sawing or screwing things together. :)

Step Two: Assemble your terrarium box. You'll be using electrical tape and the weld-on #4 to fuse the corners together. I bought my side plexi sheets in the size I needed and planned my terrarium around that. You can also cut the plexi sheets yourself or have them cut at the hardware store if you can't find the size you need. As you can see, I left the protective plastic sheet that comes on the plexiglass on during this process. It's good to keep that on until you are completely done and ready to display your finished terrarium because it will protect your plexi from scuffs.

Step Three: Create the top piece by fusing two plexi sheets (one smaller than the other) together. This way if the top slides once you put it on, the bottom piece will catch and it won't slide completely off, but you can still open it to water your plants (if you use real plants, I used faux).

Step Four: Fill any edges of your base with wood filler and then paint the base (I went with pink!). I did this last because I wanted to make sure my plexi box would fit in the base, just in case I needed to adjust it or start over. It was snug, but once I knew it fit, then I went ahead and painted my base.

Step Five: The fun part! You're ready to put together and fill your terrarium. Like I said, I used faux succulents in mine so the rocks, moss and mulch layers are really for aesthetics than any plan to keep real plants alive. I know succulents are supposed to be the easiest thing to keep alive, but I still have killed enough that I find a better investment for me, right now, is faux. That way they don't die and I don't have a graveyard terrarium on my hands.

Although that would be kind of cool for Halloween.... hmmm....

This original project and images, along with a more detailed tutorial can be found in Natural Accents
. Check out that book if you love plants because it's got a lot of really cool projects (like this one) in it!

Thanks for letting me share my version. I love how it looks in our living room but I'm also anticipating how it will look in our new house...that we just closed on last week. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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