3 Expert Tips To Choose End & Side Tables

We all need a handy place to put down a drink, book, or tablet. Side and end tables are both functional and stylish furniture items that will add a finishing touch to any living room. Whether you need one with storage for your remote controls or a classic style just big enough to hold a vase of your favorite blooms, we'll share our expert tips on how to choose end and side tables for your home.

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How to decide on the right style of end or side table?

Often overlooked in favor of larger tables and cabinets, end and side tables are amazingly versatile pieces of furniture. Here are some of the most popular end table styles.

Basic end tables

Four or three legs and a top, there may not be much to get excited about, but the devil is really in the detail.

Choosing a basic style end table leaves you with plenty of size and finish options. Go for traditional, classic round models in wood, or choose a contemporary glass-topped oval version. No matter your style; you can't go wrong with a basic frame end table.

Wax Finish Solid Wood Basic End Table
Clear Glass Metal Basic End Table
Antique Gold Glass Metal Basic End Table
Light Brown Faux Marble Wood Basic End Table
Dessert Brown Wood Basic End Table
Black Manufactured Wood Basic End Table

End tables with shelves

If you want a handy place to store your day to day essentials, magazines and general sofa clutter, then opt for a table with shelves.

This can be as simple as one lower shelf, or several different levels. This style of table tends to work best with traditional style homes that provide a comfortable and cozy setting.

However, end tables with shelves can also look good in any modern home provided they are not too cluttered. Shabby chic and eclectic styles also can benefit from a side table with shelves.

Antique Navy Wood End Table With Shelf
Pecan Wood End Table With Shelf
White Solid Wood End Table With Shelves
Gray Slate Steel End Table With Shelves
Gold Metal Glass End Table With Shelf
Silver Metal Glass End Table With Shelf

End tables with cabinet or drawer storage

Hide away clutter in a handy drawer or cabinet. These end tables are, understandably, quite a bit bulkier and tend to look better in cozy cottage or farmhouse style living rooms.

They can also work well in an industrial decor provided the styling is appropriate, think metal accents and reclaimed wooden crates.

White Gold Metal End Table With Drawer
Antique Taupe Wood End Table With Storage
Brown Wood End Table With Storage
Manufactured Wood End Table With Drawers
Walnut Solid Wood End Table With Storage
Black Manufactured Wood Metal End Table With Drawers

Nest of tables

Traditional, although somewhat bordering on kitsch in today's modern decor, nesting tables still have their uses.

Ideal for when the family comes to visit or you have friends round for a chat, simply pull out the smaller tables and everyone has a convenient resting place for their beverage or snack.

Use in a modern home for a trendy retro vibe, or in a traditional style living room.

Rustic Brown Manufactured Wood Metal Nesting Tables
Brown Solid Wood Metal Nesting Tables
Clear Plastic Modern Nesting Tables
Brown Solid Manufactured Wood Nesting Tables
Cherry Veneer Wood Nesting Tables
Off White Manufactured Wood Metal Nesting Tables

Which size & shape end or side table is best for your home?

When you're choosing the size of your end table, it's important to consider what you will be mainly using it for, as well as the size of the rest of your furniture.

If you just need a resting place for the occasional glass and you have a compact sofa, then a small model will be fine. For storing all the clutter off your family-sized sofa, obviously a small, slender model will not do.

Try to match your side table to a height that is comfortable for you to reach over to off your sofa when sitting down. Consider your available space also. If you are short on space, then a smaller model with an open frame will look better.

Here are some of the most popular shapes of side tables to choose from:

Circular

Traditional, yet elegant, circular side tables work best where you have plenty of space. They look good in virtually all styles of decor; however, if the rest of your room features predominantly boxy, angular pieces and you are not looking to make a statement piece out of your side table, then you'd be better off avoiding circular models.

For traditional, cottage or eclectic homes, you could consider a drum side table complete with a cupboard and drawer for a standout piece with extra storage.

Dark Cherry Wood Drum Circular End Table
White Solid Manufactured Wood Circular End Table
Matte Teal Metal Circular Nesting Tables
Antique Black Wood Circular End Table
Natural Solid Wood Circular End Table
Dark Gray Concrete Circular End Table

Square

The regularity of square side tables makes them suitable for almost all decors and highly practical.

However, they do require more space than rectangular models. Use chunky square end tables in both modern, farmhouse or traditional decors.

Antique White Manufactured Wood Metal Square End Table
Light Gray Concrete Square End Table
White Solid Wood Square End Table
Gray Brown Rattan Square Side Table
Brown Teak Solid Wood Square End Table
Brass Metal Square End Table

Rectangular

Rectangular side tables are the most practical.

They pair well along the side of most sofas and can be placed up along walls. If you are looking for a side table for your minimalist home, consider purchasing a rectangular one with a glass top.

Rectangular models can also complement traditional decors, as well as contemporary and shabby chic.

True White Manufactured Wood Glass Rectangular End Table
Plated Gold Metal Glass Rectangular End Table
White Fir Solid Wood Rectangular End Table
Cream Solid Wood Rectangular End Table
Mustard Manufactured Wood Rectangular End Table
Farmhouse White Wood Rectangular End Table

Oval

Oval-shaped end tables are less common, but they provide an elegant modern look, provided you have the space to accommodate one in your living room. They can also look good in minimalist homes.

Due to their elongated shape, you will often find oval-shaped side tables feature three leg frames and very basic features so that all the focus is on their shape and finish.

Walnut Manufactured Wood Oval Nesting Tables
Warm Brown Wood Oval End Table
Beige Manufactured Wood Stone Veneer Oval End Table
Dark Grey Concrete Oval End Table
Sage Green Manufactured Wood Metal Oval End Table
Cherry Solid Manufactured Wood Oval End Table

C shape

If you enjoy surfing the web on your sofa or having brunch with some morning TV, then a C shape side table could be just what you need.

Formed like a C, this modern, minimalist style side table is easily accessible from your sofa.

Thanks to its cut-out style shape, you can position it over your sofa and use it for eating, drinking hobbies or even working from home without a desk!

This style of end table looks best in modern, contemporary or minimalist homes.

Clear Glass Plastic C Shape End Table
Manufactured Wood C Shape End Table With Casters
Walnut Manufactured Wood C Shape End Table
Gold Yellow Metal C Shape End Table
Metal Manufactured Wood C Shape End Table
Black Plastic C Shape End Table

Which material is best for your end or side table?

It's important to choose the right material for a side table that blends into your decor. Here are some of the main materials you should consider and the decor styles they look best in.

Wood

Highly polished, painted or rustic, wood is a very popular choice with a huge variety of finishes.

From minimalist raw beauty to polished traditional nesting tables, wood makes a good choice for almost any home. Choose reclaimed wood for an industrial look, painted, distressed wood for a shabby chic theme, or painted white for a coastal one.

Wood is easy to care for and a good durable, natural choice. If solid wood is out of your budget, you can still get that wooden look with MDF or wood veneer.

Green Wood End Table With Storage
Bali Blue Wood Rustic End Table
Oak Solid Wood End Table
Black Solid Wood Drum End Table
Live Edge Solid Wood Pedestal End Table
White Mango Solid Wood End Table

Glass

For modern and minimalist homes, glass side tables are a popular choice.

Their transparent tops are not great for homes with kids and sticky fingerprints, however, if you have time for regular polishing, they do look smart. They also work well in small rooms, where dark, solid side tables would add to a cluttered and cramped feeling.

White Blown Glass End Table
Clear Glass Metal End Table
Clear Glass Metal Abstract End Table
Tempered Glass Metal Plastic End Table
White Marble Glass End Table
Clear Glass Metal Contemporary End Table

Metal

For modern or industrial homes, a metal side table adds an unusual touch that can really work well as a statement piece.

Alternatively, choose pieces with metal accents to add a touch of individuality and an industrial feel to your cottage or farmhouse living room.

Charcoal Gray Metal Aluminium End Table
Black Metal Iron Wire End Table
Gray Metal Iron Industrial End Table
Gold Metal End Table With Casters
Antique Copper Metal Block End Table
Pink Metal Locker Style End Table

Mirror

Shabby chic, traditional or modern themes can all benefit from a mirrored side table.

Choose one with ornate detailing for a romantic look, or a regular shape and minimal details for a more modern look.

Mirror side tables help to make your living room lighter and brighter, just be careful if you have children or pets who could easily knock it over.

Mirrored Black Metal End Table
Silver Mirrored Glass End Table
Solid Wood Gold Mirrored End Table
Silver Mirror Manufactured Wood Block End Table
Crystal Mirrored Glass End Table
Antique Gold Solid Wood Mirrored End Table

Plastic

Plastic side tables in bright accent colors look fantastic in modern or eclectic style homes.

Fun and easily affordable, they are a good choice if you're looking to experiment with color in an otherwise harmonious living room. Plastic is also fairly inexpensive, durable and lightweight, as well as being easy to clean.

With a plastic side table, you won't have to worry about younger family members or pets knocking it over. 

Clear Plastic End Table With Casters
Black Plastic Triangular End Table
Plastic Ray Resin Contemporary Drum End Table
Green Plastic Hourglass End Table
Clear Plastic Acrylic Pedestal End Table
Gray Plastic End Table With Storage

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.