HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT END TABLE
Side and end tables are an important part of a useful and beautiful living space. Here are savvy tips for choosing end tables for you home and some of the prettiest souces.
End tables are an important part of any living space! They are useful and add a great deal of beauty and interest to our rooms. Do you know the difference between end tables, side tables, and even nightstands? Here are lots of helpful information and ideas and more about fabulous end tables!
End tables are a way to enhance a living room or family room. It’s essential to keep an end table’s function in mind but it’s just as important to choose an end table for its beauty and the way it exhibits your personal style.
Today, let’s talk about using end tables next to sofas and chairs.
There are so many sizes, types, materials, and designs when it comes to end tables.
Choosing the same end table for each side of a sofa will bring order and symmetry to a room.
But, side tables need not match. As a matter of fact, adding tables that are a little different can give a room some much needed contrast and interest.
As we chat about important things to know about side tables I’ll be sharing some really beautiful side tables! I would love to have any of these in our home!
A WORD ABOUT COST
The cost of a side table can be thousands of dollars or less than one hundred dollars!
Here’s the thing…
buy what you love and what looks good in your home.
It does not have to be the best. It just has to be the best for you!
Only spend as many dollars as years you are willing to have it in your home!
If you remember one thing from this post…
SPEND ONLY AS MANY DOLLARS AS YEARS YOU ARE WILLING TO HAVE A PIECE OF FURNITURE IN YOUR HOME
Really, any table can be deemed a side table if it follows some simple rules.
The names end tables and side tables are synonymous. They are the same things. But here’s something interesting, nightstands also end tables. When you look for an end table make sure to also look at nightstands too. They work wonderfully as end tables.
Let’s talk about some general rules for choosing the perfect end table…
Yes, height does matter.
The average height of a side table is about 24 inches. However, there are many outliers!
An end table works best if it is about an inch or two or three below the arm of a sofa or chair.
Easy-peasy to get the height right. Just measure from the floor to the top of the arm of a sofa or chair and subtract one to three inches for your perfect side table height.
This rule is not a must, but it will make your space more comfortable to live in.
I break this rule more than follow it. However, do as I say and not as I do! You will be happier!
END TABLE IDEAS AND WIDTH
Consider width when thinking about an end table. When you think about the width of an end table think about the space a side table will fit in.
If space is tight, it’s very important to measure and have a little breathing room on each side of the side table. A couple inches on each side will be fine.
If space is not a problem then you have a lot more options. Remember you don’t have to fill up the entire space on the side of a sofa or chair.
Choose a side table that balances well with the rest of the room.
Also, consider what the surface of your table will house.
Will it hold a lamp? For a standard-size lamp, you will probably need a side table that is at least 22″ wide.
Having a general idea of how you will use a side table before you buy one makes the selection easier!
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Here are a few other things to consider to choose the perfect end table for your room.
- Are you planning on storing things in or on a side table? Then it might need a drawer.
- Will you use it to stack books or other things? How about choosing a side table with a shelf.
- If you will be using it to hold drinks and food, glass, marble, or other stone would be a good choice.
- Is the area for a side table small. Stacking tables are a great way to expand the usable area.
DESIGNER TIPS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR END TABLES SHINE
- Do you want to add an element of metal to your room? Side tables are perfect for bringing the beauty of metal to a space. Just remember if you need two side tables keep them the same metal. However, you can mix them with other metals in the room.
- If you have lots of squares and rectangle-shaped furnishings in the room round side tables will soften the look.
- Do mix wood and glass though. Just make sure the tables are the same height if you are using two. This will give a room a lovely warm and organic feel that is very pleasing to the eye.
- Mix shapes too. Try pairing a round table with a rectangle table made from the same material. Just make sure they are the same height.
- End tables are a way to add fun, an unexpected element to your room and originality! Show off your style with some interesting side tables!
NON TRADITIONAL END TABLES
I have a little confession…
I love non-traditional end tables. Think about using a bar cart as an end table. If you turn it with the short side showing you have a great space with a shelf!
And if you have room, try adding a small table to the side of a sofa instead of a traditional end table.
Or choose a big basket as an end table to add a big dose of texture to a room.
Be creative! Follow good interior design rules but don’t be afraid to break them to add your personality and functionality to your room!
Love your tips. I can not wait to see what is coming in Feb. !!
I can’t wait to share it with you!
Awesome tips on choosing end tables. I am right in the mist of doing exactly this. Hints were helpful Thank you
So thrilled StoneGable is a help to you!
What a great wealth of information – thanks.
Love all of your information that you share to get the best look in any room and, of course, do what we love!!!!
Great posting on side-tables!
Thanks for the tips! I’ve been on the hunt to replace one of mine, but have not been sure what material type and shape to add. This helps with some inspiration!
I love the look and usefulness of baskets under a table. Your featured styles good to look out for. Does every table have to match in a room??
I recently removed the doors from my bathroom under sink cabinet! Really opens up the cabinet and makes storage more organized!
Betty, not every table has to match. Change things up a bit and follow my guidelines!
Some really nice tables! Wish I could use one….the way my LR is set up, I don’t have the room! I only can use a coffee table which works nicely.
Just in time! I am trying to decide what I am going to purchase to place beside my couches in a new room we just added to our home. Maybe you should just come visit and go with me…
I have been looking for a side table for some time. Thanks so much for the great tips.
I needed a table by my bed. I used a small tea cart. It has a shelf on the bottom and both sides pull up and lock into pace if I need it. I have it next to a wall, so i only use the sides in the “up” position for coffee if i stay a little longer in bed in the morning. It’s perfect!!!
What a creative solution!
Thanks so much for the tips. I remember reading once that when choosing a side table, test it by pretending to move a cup of coffee across from your lap to the table. If you have to raise your cup up above the sofa arm, it’s too high. A careless bump could spill. If you have to reach too far over the arm of the sofa, then down, the table is too low. It makes for an uncomfortable transfer. An even slide across the sofa arm for a gentle release is the most comfortable and safest height. Just some thoughts I still use today.
And thanks for the pics. You helped me find the nesting tables I’ve been searching for!
Thanks for all of the great info on side tables.
Don’t you just love stacked tables! I love the look and flexibility they give.
I do! I’m a huge fan!
Thanks for the general rules. Having some guidelines as a starting point really helps! I love all the table ideas you included at the end of the post, too.
Great tables and I will definitely pin this one. I am always in need of new ideas to change up my decor.
Oh my, we have a pine table very similar to the PB banks side table. It was a wedding gift in 1972. It is solid wood with a round pedestal.
Think we should retrieve it from our son’s porch and give him an outdoor side table. Your guidelines are helpful. Thank you.
I bought a beautiful square side table several years ago. I thought I would look perfect but something has always been amiss. Now i know the issues is the height. It is even with the arm of my sofa. It would have been perfect had it been just slightly lower. Thank you so much for shedding the light on this for me.
Thanks for the tip!!! I have actually been looking at side tables… trying to decide what I could use for a new sofa I’m looking at !! This is great and timely info !!!!
Thank you! Will you consider expanding this idea to include how to choose a coffee/cocktail table to go with the side tables?
Coffee table tutorial next, please!
Already done, Vi! Here’s the link: https://www.stonegableblog.com/30453-2/
One small table can make a hue change~! THX
This fall we put down new hardwood floors, purchased a new couch and chair, changed the wall color, purchased new drapes and now we are down to side tables and a coffee table. Your post on side tables gave me new food for thought. I don’t want to put anything in our newly decorated room that I don’t LOVE! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! So appreciated!
Great posting, I have been looking for the perfect side table as my husband and I share a side table, which includes both of our coffee cups, radio, and lamp,and coasters. Given me inspiration to look again!
What a great collection of side tables! I’m actually in the market for some and really appreciate your suggestions.
Love, love your style!!!
Great info on choosing the perfect side table and great side tables to choose from – perfection!
Right on time. I just reconfigured my living room and am looking for a end table. Perfect and great tips!!
Thank you for the great tips. I will pin for future reference!
Thank you for the tips and the pictures.
Thanks for the tips in choosing side tables. Ii like the way you compare them to side dishes.
Thank you so much for this great information!! Love your tips!!!
Loved the Get the Look ideas which gave pause for thought about the many choices available.I actually used a small side table next to a chair and added a small loew bamboo stool for books in front of it which works well.
Wow, thanks for the good suggestions. I really appreciate the links also to go along with the end table pictures that you provided.
Something I still need.
Thanks for all the inspirational information you have here for all of your followers. The tips on the side tables are excellent and puts me to think, Do I have the perfect side tables for my decor? Are they functioning the way I want them to function? Are they to small or to big? Wow! I have to analize my space right now and figure this out. I think I’m a bit out of order here. Thanks
I don’t know how you come up with all these ideas. They are each unique.
Another informative and helpful post!
Love the black end table with the covered books! I will have to try the burlap. I make fabric covers for mine!
I look forward to seeing your posts each morning in my email. I have pinned numerous ideas. I love what you do and love the clean, fresh, crisp look of your home. I love end tables and have several in my shed to paint/refurbish when I need a change. Thank you for sharing.
I love reading and seeing your amazing posts. Thanks again!
Matchy matchy is out, interesting is in. That is why I never match my side tables and why they are all kinds.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Thanks for all the useful information! My personal favorite of late is using a
squatty stool with a wide top as a side table. Love the look!
I love all of your tips! Your style is so classy and clean and thanks for entertaining me!!!
Great information! As always the case with your posts. I love all of the photos. Thank you.
Reading all the comments brings loads of ideas, also. Thanks Yvonne for all the good info you give us. I must be not up to par as I never heard of them called side tables, they were always end tables to me. I like the idea, and from now on I will call them side tables. I really need some new ones!
Thank you so much for all of the great information! I have been looking at side tables and your tips are really helpful!
I did not think to use the empty space under an end table especially when the legs provide support and some protection for items.
The article on end tables gave me ideas for extra storage! That being said, I purchased a small one that has a smaller table connected and pulls out and nests underneath it and will fit beneath the vanity opening in my bathroom.
Love your blogs. You give so many great ideas.
Praying that you will have a speedy recovery.
I’m redoing our living room, and I’m in definite need of end tables. Thanks for the info and pics. I saw one in particular that would be perfect for me.
I always look forward to any of your ideas – from kitchen to storage, to tables – you help so many with ideas – many thanks, Michelle
Thanks for the tips, Yvonne. Good to see the tables don’t have to be the same height/width/depth as the sofa! Several months ago, I picked up a white garden bench at the Goodwill for $12.00. It’s in line for coat or two of paint, and maybe some accents to give it some ‘life’, but for now it is doing a great job as my ‘thrift-find’ side table. The top opens for lots of storage (always looking for that for my Wee Abode), a perfect place for all my candles and melts. It will be even better when I get it painted! 😉
What a coincidence! I have been looking for new end tables. This post fits the bill! Love the tips and end tables. Thanks so much for the sources!
Always love your posts! Have pinned a lot for ideas. 🙂 I have a newly married grandson and I sent his wife your website. She LOVES it and it is helping them w/their new home. 🙂 Thank you Stone Gable. Thank you also for all your encouragement to others.
Thanks for the side table tips. I have used antique straight chairs as side tables too and it really great beside beds.
I love small tables with shelvesto hold baskets to uncluttered the top.
I love these posts on how to choose the perfect coffee table and end tables! I hope to be replacing some furniture this year & your tips are very helpful. Keep them coming!
Love all of the side tables you show. I could buy a new one every week and be happy! I go into Home Goods and find one I like everytime! So many tables, so little space!
My favorite side table is from my mother in law. The top is an antique cutting board and she painted a delicate fruit border on the edges. She used it as a coffee table but I kept it when she passed and I think of her every morning as I drink my coffee! It’s lovely!
Love the black table at the top!
Thank you. The tips are great and I love the selection of side tables.
Hooray for your tribute to side tables! They don’t get the credit they deserve
how can any room live without them????
Love your tips! I love furniture in general so always enjoy a post about it. I’d like to add for those that have an armchair angled in the corner by the fireplace, a triangle shaped table fits perfectly, has room at the front and farther back for the lamp and some “pretties”, and leaves the hearth open and not crowded. Works perfectly.
This post is so helpful! I love all the info and details you give along with all the options for end tables!
Love it all!
Thanks Yvonne. I am thinking of redoing the arrangement in my living room – tables, chairs, etc. So that it works better. Your advice is very helpful!
You provide us consistently with beautiful decorating ideas. I especially like that you share with us places to find some of the materials and objects you feature. Thanks so much.
I love the experience behind every creative idea you offer, yet all the while embracing individuality! Thanks, Yvonne!
Love today’s post…great information. Loved all the great sources too.
Hope your recovery is continuing to progress. I’m having tear duct surgery on Friday…recovery will be a challenge I think for a few weeks until the swelling settles. Like you I’m a goer and a doer…tough to keep us planted in a chair:)
As always I am grateful for your tips! I purchased a few at a local antique/thrift store and your post confirms what I suspected: they’re too small and too short. Now I get to sell them and shop for new!
Adding mind reader to your long list of attributes … I need side tables and have been looking. Only problem is me … We have oak pieces and walnut pieces in the room and what I lean toward is wood. I will now look around for maybe metal. May be adding chaos in there, but I want to love it. Judy C
Loved your suggestions for side tables. In my living room I had the perfect table, but since I read a lot, it did not work. So I found a lovely table that was a little taller for my lamp. It is really difficult to find taller reading lamps. Thanks for your help.
Such a worthwhile read! Thank you for the info and the links to great looking tables!
Thank you for brightening each day!
Love symmetry so the idea of two different tables but same heights book ending a sofa is appealing. Diney on Camano
Boy, did your comments hit home with me today! Very early on in my marriage I decided only VERY expensive furniture was the way to go. 30 some years later I finally felt like I could get rid of those expensive side tables. They no longer suited my decorating tastes .They were HUGE and so outdated by the time I GAVE them away. I have not regretted that decision one bit. I do regret spending so much money on them in the first place. Live and learn as they say. Now I have 2 small tea tables from a resale shop that I love. They are large enough for a small lamps and a drink and small enough so they don’t take up too much floor space. And no guilt if my tastes change and want to get rid of them. I am also using two of those big ceramic garden stools as side tables where space is tight on either side of the fireplace. I love being able to repurpose things around the house.
Great advice, especially for someone like me who tends to overthink on things that are so simple. My husband asked me if I had trouble making decisions and my reply was “well yes and no”
What are your feelings about a floor lamp and a side table at the same end of a sofa?
Thanks for all the tips on side tables.
I love the bee and dragonfly pillows! where I can I find those?
Thanks for all the helpful info!!
Forgot to ask in my previous post, do you have a favorite chair pad that you like? Ifind mine work their way off too fast.
Maybe one of your readers has a suggestion?
Absolutely love your site! The end table information is perfect timing. Just bought a new chair and am currently looking for a new side table. You took all the work out of it for me! Many thanks!!!
Love mixing the old with the new.The scale of your tables
and furniture always fit the rooms and look lovely.
Love all the great tips Yvonne. You are the best! I’m painting a little side table for granddaughter’s room with a whimsical theme.I can not wait to get it finished. Thanks for all the inspiration.
I love all your posts! You have wonderful decorating style. I am replacing everything in my family room. Where did you find your black side tables?
Thanks for the helpful hints, Yvonne. You’re the best!
My ’80’s tables are out of style now after seeing your post! I love the black one with open shelves!!
love all your advice!
I don’t like matching tables. Tables can really make a room interesting. I mix different woods and use metal. I enjoy your ideas and look forward to see what you come up with next
Thank you, this was very helpful.
I have been praying for you,hope the pinkness hanging from your arm is gone soon. I was on crutches all during the entire holiday season, from Halloween to after New Years, now doing physical therapy, had just finished physical therapy on my shoulder (fell roller skating with Grandblessings,) leg injury was done helping my cousin after surgery lifting her from wheel chair and I triped and down I went, heard and felt the snap. My hubby says our goal is no injury for 6 months, I said what if that is not what the Lord wants, I do minister to all those I meet in physical therapy that are going thru some wicked times, maybe he is tripping me (haha). Loved your table post, I love the one with a tray on top, I have a 1908 dining room round table cut down to a great room table, two tables my Daddy-O built in wood-shop 70 years ago (he is 86). stacking tables that were my grandparents, sewing machine that also belong to Grandma Opal Dunn Hull, a old chamber pot table that belonged to my Great Grandma Hull,her drop leaf green kitchen table and chairs, that I use to serve guest, I could go on and on with the heirlooms I treasure, (also have my Great Grandma’s pantry that is 150 something years old complete with drawers a large open bottom (about 1/3) I ave painted it but other then that same wood my great grandpa used, we have 9 Grandblessings , four children and their loves, I have 8 Irish brothers and their loves, and their blessings that all come to our humble home for all the family gatherings, so tables that shift, double duty , kids proof, rowdy brother proof , over 50 is the average, the beds the little ones take naps on are old fashion up off the floor beds that belonged to my Great Grandparents and a set that was my grandparents, so you see we are linked in the Lord, love of family and friends, cooking, baking, decorating, sewing (all around Domestic Queens, the love to teach others (i am retired from school district) my Mother was a home economics teacher (unusual in the day for a working Mom in my neighbor hood) I learned from infancy the tools of the home, learned to sew by 3, (just aprons) and how to budget for what you wanted in your home to better your family life. Now I am bird walking, happens have three days with my grandblessing that is autistic, obsessive compulsive, left brain impaired, but a sweet boy that loves his Grammy. But then again you can not do any (much of ) your blog, cooking, gardening, sewing,with your friend in pink hanging around. So it is 830 here in So. Cal, so it is at least 1030 or 1130 where you are, so I am sure you might be praying and getting ready for bed if not already done, so again I thank you for your post, they are always engaging,
Thanks for such a detailed article. Side tables can add such personality as well as function to a room.
Great side table picks.I recently bought one that is a small, round table to move be around for setting down a drink.
I love using different tables. I don’t do matchy matchy.
Great advice and good examples. Thanx.
I have been contemplating new side tables for the bedside and this post gave me much to think about. Thank you for the ideas.
Didn’t get to read this yesterday but I COULD NOT go two days without reading your blog!!! As always, great ideas and sage advice. Looking forward to the February surprise, yet enjoying every day of your wealth of wisdom. 🙂
I keep buying end tables and then finding others I like more!!!! Lol! I love all your decorating tips!!! Keep ’em coming!!!
I would love to change everything that I have and start all over again. I love the table with the baskets.
Thanks for another helpful post, Yvonne! I look forward to each of your blogs. Thanks for all the sourcing you do in the “get the look” section too… its great to know where we can go to find these beautiful pieces.
Praying for you as you visit the doctor tomorrow!
I tend to like different kind of looks for my end tables and also bedside tables. Also much cheaper if you are a thrifter or garage sale shopper…..
This post couldn’t have come at a better time. We recently got a new sofa and a couple of side chairs so I will be on the hunt for end tables shortly; thank you! I definitely don’t want matchy matchy so these tips will help.
The blog on choosing a side table was very helpful (and freeing) since I am currently looking for another side one in my great room. Thank you!
Love the way you have styled your end tables with fabric covered books. All I need now is to find the right fabric since your books on the end tables look great! Thanks again for the inspiration.
Those were good guidelines to follow. I have an antique table taller near the sofa and pulled away a bit. Still looks great. Thank you.
Did you get a degree in home design?
This post was such a eye opener for me! The black side table was almost
similar to a ugly brown table I had in
storage….for some reason I just
couldn’t get rid of it. After seeing
your black table….out came my
black paint! Ugly brown table looks
amazing now! I placed the table in
front of a big window living rm kind of offset by the sofa….so happy with how
it looks! I get so many amazing ideas
from you…Thanks so much.
I love a side table with shelves and a drawer or two and definitely on casters. Thank you for the great suggestions.
A wealth of information with great examples. Size is so important specifically with sofas (learned the hard way) especially when using different end tables (which) really adds that “wow”element of surprise. Elegant taste, yet comfy and so inviting. Blessings!
I would like to use two different end tables made of the same kind of wood. But one is an inch taller than the other. Will that look ok, or should I find two tables the exact same height? Thank you!!
For me, I’d find two tables the same size.
In the market for a coffee table. Great article to read before I go shopping. As always great read! Well thought out
In the market for a coffee table. Great article to read before I go shopping. As always great read! Well thought out!
I completely agree with the dinner analogy when it comes to room decor. End tables or side tables, however you like to call them, are a great addition to round off a room and adds practical use too. It is important to know what size the space is that you wish to use so you can purchase the right shape and size piece the first time. There are so many sizes, shapes, colors and materials to choose from these days, you are sure to find the right end table for your space and style. Happy hunting!
This was a wonderful article. You gave me several concrete guidelines to use as I embark on finding tables. Thank you!
I have the perfect end table! It was actually part of a set from my parents first living room set when they moved into their house in 1951. I remember dusting this table many times as a little girl.
There might be nicer looking tables out there, but this one has too much sentimental value to get rid of. I love it!
I have a curved tufted leather sofa and I’ve never been able to find end tables that look right. Anything I try feels like it sits too far back and out of reach to be practical. Any suggestions?
I am still trying to get rid of the matchy matchy coffee table and end tables set that we bought in 1992! They were expensive cherry wood, but we got a good deal because the original pieces I ordered never were delivered and they allowed us to replace them with anything in the store (we went with the most ornate matching set we could find)! The end tables were broken up and one resides in a bedroom, the other in the living room and the coffee table in the garage! I might consider painting at least one of them in the near future, although I’m holding out for a new couch and chairs. I once found an end table at Costco (inlaid wood…so beautiful) and didn’t buy it. I seriously regret that now because it is nowhere to be found (a Costco lessons learned)!
Thank you very much Yvonne. Such great info and always love your suggested pieces. Appreciate you!
I have enjoyed reading your blog for years. When reading the comments I saw that someone asked your thoughts on the small table and the floor lamp at the end of your sofa in the sunroom. I would have used a small table and a table lamp by the chair so that it wouldn’t look like furniture was pushed against the wall all around the room.
I did not have enough room to add a lamp to that table.
Yvonne, I love your decorating style. We are in the process of selling our home and building a new home in Louisiana. Do you do any long distance design help? Your home is just so inviting and I love the neutrals. I want to sell a lot of what I have or recover it and start over with some great new pieces.
Yes, I do virtual decorating consultations. Email me for more info Renee at email@example.com
Thank you for these ideas. I have a question that I have wanted to ask for awhile and now it’s highlighted. You are using a lovely round table at the end of your sofa but breaking all your rules…height of table is well above sofa arm. Lamp is huge compared to the table, lamp height is taller than your guidelines and the shade base ratio does not follow your guidelines. I guess I follow your rules ?. Anyway, just curious since this table is seen n many of your photos. I appreciate all your lessons – I take then to heart.
Thank you so much for the information. I will definitely use it in the future.
thanks for your ideas in selecting non-traditional end tables…. i have a question though, but not about a table! in your first photo, you have two ferns with “ball roots”…. i have one but really want more and i can’t find them anywhere!! do you remember where you purchased your ferns??? thanks so much…. LOVE your blog…. your photos are wonderful!!! lynne
Hi Lynne, I’m thrilled you are enjoying StoneGable. That is my goal! Yay! I found the fern locally. Sorry, I have not been able to source them.