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How to Make a DIY Kotatsu & What to Consider First

kotatsu diy
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Sabrap59

Expensive heating got you down? Try a DIY kotatsu — a Japanese-style heated coffee table you can cozy up to with loved ones. Keep reading to learn more.

Kotatsu is a Japanese heating table comprising a coffee table with a heavy blanket on top and a heating source built into the table frame. These heaters were often charcoal burners in the past, but today they’re primarily electric.

These ingenious heating contraptions were created to help people stay warm during the cold winters. Many Japanese houses are built with ventilation in mind to make humid summers more bearable. So, kotatsus were invented to heat people efficiently during colder seasons.

Keep reading to learn how to build a cozy DIY kotatsu and what to consider before making one.

Materials for DIY Kotatsu

These supplies may take time to accumulate, but a diy kotatsu is well worth the investment and can last many winters.
These supplies may take time to accumulate, but a diy kotatsu is well worth the investment and can last many winters. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / 1442863)

Before any DIY project, gathering everything you need and ensuring you’re not missing crucial items is essential. Here are the household items to have on hand.


  • Coffee table. Your coffee table should have a lower surface with a gap large enough to fit a heater and a top to support the blanket. Its legs should be about 14.5″ high so people can comfortably. You can use a square or round table.
  • Heater. The easiest and best option is to get an electric heater made specifically for kotatsu (like this MHU-601E(K) Kotatsu Heater from Amazon**). It’s important to use a kotatsu heater because other options, like space heaters, pose a fire risk. Kotatsu heaters can be placed upside down and are perfect for the space available.
  • Heavy blanket. You’ll want to use a very large and thick blanket. A king- or queen-sized blanket or quilt would be perfect for kotatsu.
  • A transformer with a 120V outlet. The transformer should also be rated at least 500W.
  • Pillows to comfortably sit around the kotatsu.
  • 4 angles or L brackets. Find these at any hardware store. Just make sure they’re compatible with your heater.
  • Screws or nails. You should also use screws or nails that fit your specific bracket.
  • Electric drill. You’ll use this to drill the holes to attach the heater to the table.
  • Optional: A serving tray or another flat surface. Something like this is convenient on top of the blanket to create a flat surface for drinks, plates and laptops.

Step 1: Attach the Heater

It’s is the most challenging part of the process, but after this, it’s effortless. Turn your coffee table upside down and remove the lower shelf before you attach the heater.

Depending on your table and your tools, you can decide if you want to use screws or L brackets to secure the heater. Some prefer wood, which requires more supplies and time but is a good option.

Step 2: Assemble the DIY Kotatsu

After securing the bottom piece of the coffee table back in place, flip the coffee table upright. Next, throw your blanket or comforter evenly over the coffee table.

Arrange the pillows around the table to make yourself and others comfortable when gathered. If you have a compatible tray or another flat surface, place it on the table. This way, you can steadily arrange drinks, food, and anything else.

Step 3: Connect the Heater

Plug in the transformer and start getting cozy!
Plug in the transformer and start getting cozy! (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / analogicus)

Plug the transformer into an outlet, ensuring you have the correct voltage. Plug in the heater, and you can enjoy your new DIY kotatsu.

Before building your kotatsu, keep reading to find out what you should consider first.

Kotatsu DIY Can Save Your Heating Bill

If your house has a hard time keeping warm from poor insulation or any other reasons, kotatsu can be a cost efficient way to keep warm in the winter.

The kotatsu electric heater is an efficient way to heat a small area, and the blanket helps keep the heat underneath. Additionally, anyone using the kotatsu contributes to keeping the heat as well.

Supplies Can be Pricey

While kotatsu can save energy and heating bills, it is definitely an investment. Supplies can be expensive if you don’t already have most of them at home.

It Might Be Uncomfortable

Unless you have the right pillows or other supportive cushions for your kotatsu, it may be uncomfortable to sit on the floor. This may especially be the case for anyone that has a difficult time sitting in tricky positions.

DIY Kotatsu Can Nurture Relationships

Kotatsu allows people to gather together without a TV as the main focus, so you can spend quality time together. Whether spending your time in conversation, playing games, or eating food, this Japanese table heater is a cozy way to warm up with family or roommates.

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