DIY Kotatsu Tutorial from IKEA Coffee Table

So I actually made something in one day (?!) and it's my kotatsu! Although it was initially very daunting to complete such a project, it was made just in time for the polar vortex to hit Wisconsin. ^_^;

Maru the Cat loves his kotatsu!

What is a Kotatsu?

Cute kotatsu inspiration from Tumblr

A kotatsu (炬燵) is a coffee table with a special heater attached to the bottom of the tabletop and has a futon blanket draped over it. Originally from Japan and actually a way of saving energy in the winter! Cuddle up in one room and not spend all that money for heating bills for the huge house/apartment? And if you have cats, they love snuggling under the warm table.


Total Cost

$74 (heater w/shipping) + $30 (table) + $3 (washers and L brackets) = $107
TOTALLY cheaper than getting ripped off by jlist~


Kotatsu Instructions
  1. Assemble IKEA Lack coffee table! Cut off 15cm off the table legs before starting so it will be a comfortable height when sitting.
  2. To align your heater in the center of the table, mark out thirds and place tape or draw in pencil lines to fit the heater.
  3. Place the heater in the center on the bottom of the table.
  4. Get your drill out! Drill holes where the L bracket hits the table (can also perform with step 6).
  5. Washers and L brackets bought from Walmart.
  6. Place your L brackets in alignment with the screw holes in the heater and manually tighten the heater screws. Screw in the regular screws into the table.
  7. Turn your new kotatsu right side up on your rug, put a comforter on top, and put the shelf that came with the IKEA table as your tabletop. Plug in the electrical cord and turn it on!
Please be careful and don't leave your kotatsu on & unattended!
NOTE: Another thing to consider is getting a transformer to stay safe with voltage conversion. Japan has a different voltage than the United States so anything plugged in here from Japan gets hotter more quickly! I've been running my kotatsu on the lowest heat setting so far without a transformer, but please consider getting one! 
VCT VT-500J - Japanese Step Up/Down Voltage Transformer Converts Japan 100 Volts To 110V OR Vice Versa - 500 Watt [link]

More Tutorials

  • Build an American-Style Kotatsu [link]
  • IKEA Hack: Kotatsu [link]
  • Kotatsu: The Heated Small Space Desktop [link]
  • The Kotatsu Project [link]

I hope you are inspired to make your own kotatsu! My instructions are not too detailed so make sure to check the first tutorial link for more in-depth steps.

Originally, I didn't shorten the legs and the default height was too tall so I brought the legs to Home Depot and a very nice employee helped me saw them into the right size. The LACK table legs are hollow and the cut was slightly crooked so I just cut out cardboard squares to make the table level and prevent scratching on the floor. Later, I switched to another comforter so it's a boring blue color now. However, it's super easy to make a duvet out of cute fabric! I ended up getting chair cushions and a floor rug for my room too.

Did you end up making a kotatsu? Please share your pictures of it in the comments!


  1. Don't forget to buy a voltage converter! :)

  2. Kotatsu is a traditional Japanese table used as a heating source in the ... As you can see, it consists of a small table with a heater underneath.