Terrarium Side Table DIY

Terrarium side table diy 1Early 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.)

Terrarium side table diySupplies:
-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 1×2 wood pieces
-(2) 26 inch 1×2 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.

Assemble the baseStep 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. 🙂

Putting together the plexi planterStep 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.

How to make the top plexi panelStep 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….

Terrarium side table diy 2This 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

Love a good side table DIY? Check out:
How to Make Mirrored Side Tables
Midcentury Modern Side Table DIY
DIY Studded Tree Stump Side Table

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

  • Awesome!! Love the idea of a terrarium end table. What thickness plexiglass did you get?

  • what I love about this is that you can always (… can’t you?) change up the look by filling it with different things, so you can match it with all the seasons <3

  • Wow! This looks so beautiful (and simple-ish). I love how you’re integrating the gorgeous plants into the furniture.

    Inma x

  • This is so cool! I want to make one for my home! I absolutely love this! Thanks for sharing.


  • This looks so cool. An amazing advanced level DIY project. 🙂

  • I LOVE this idea! I need to move on to faux succulents, as well. What happened to the “low maintenance” part of having these plants? I just can’t seem to keep them alive lately!

  • Posts with such great DIY’s make me so excited to have my own place one day:)x

  • That table is amazing! Very clever and thanks for sharing

  • This looks amazing!
    I love the idea and how you implemented it 🙂
    so lovely

  • 1) How exactly do you fuse together the two pieces of the top, making sure you have no air bubbles trapped between them?
    2) Seems like you need to minimize the weight of anything you put on top of the finished terrarium, or the top will sag.

  • That looks so gorgeous! Its such an unexpected piece of furniture, i’ll definitely have to give it a try!

  • This idea is great! Especially with succulents being all the rage these days. This is definitely an innovative way to display them. Thanks for posting!

  • I bought mine in the floral section of one of my local craft stores. Most big crafting stores have floral sections so check there, otherwise there’s always online but I sort like being able to see them in person.


  • My parents used to have an AQUArium coffee table. Oh the good old eighties.. 😉

  • This project is amazing! It’s definitely a piece that catches your eye when you walk into a room. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in your new house, Emma. Congratulations!


  • I love your version! Thanks for sharing my book with your readers 🙂

  • This is such a neat idea! I love terrariums and really need a new side table.

  • What a beautiful project!! I can’t wait until I have more space in my home for projects like this!

  • This side table is so fun and beautiful! It’s a great and clever way to bring the outside indoors!


  • I could also imagine this brightening up an office waiting area. It would be so interesting to look at.

  • And how do you feed the plants!? Mine always die… I don’t know anymore if it’s my apartment or myself ^^

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    Bests! xx

  • Faux succulents look just as real as the live ones, so it’s a good way to go with this project. It’s wonderful!

  • This turned out so well! I like the dual function of it all. It saves spaces like that and looks really chic too.


  • This is so cool! I’ve recently seen terrariums more often and was thinking on how to incorporate it into my space. I like this idea. Thanks!


  • I do faux succulents as well, then I don’t have to worry about sunlight and watering, or the kids or dog destroying them.
    And congrats on the house.

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