Whether it’s a casual family room or formal living area, creating a complete and functional space in the home requires a few essential furniture items. Of course, chairs and sofas are a must, but incorporating smaller, complementary furnishings can add notes of interest and pull everything together. This is where end tables and accent tables come in. Although many people give little thought to these types of pieces, learning how to use them in a stylish and thoughtful manner can take some practice. Here’s an informative guide to introduce you to the many table choices available:
Getting to Know Your Options
Before discussing style and design, it’s a good idea to take a broad look at what generally defines an end table and an accent table. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between the two types of pieces. Of course, all tables have a flat surface and vertical legs and are constructed of similar materials. The main differences between end tables and accent tables, however, relate to location and function.
As the name suggests, an end table is typically placed on the end of a sofa or another piece of furniture to provide a surface for drinks, books, remote controls, and the like. An accent table, on the other hand, is used more freely in the home. They can be positioned next to or between other furniture pieces, but because they are more decorative in nature, they are often found against walls, under windows, and lining hallways.
As you’ll quickly see when visiting a furniture store or browsing online, there’s definitely not a lack of options when it comes to end table and accent table designs. You can find classic-looking pieces featuring ornate details alongside rustic tables with weathered materials and interesting accents. Some of the specific styles available include cylindrical drum tables and trunk tables.
As far as end tables go, you’ll also encounter several options designed with function in mind. Some of the most popular of these styles include nesting tables, which quickly unstack to provide extra tabletop space. This is a great choice for those with a cramped living area. The C-table style is another utilitarian design option. These tables fit conveniently over the arm of a sofa or chair to provide the perfect surface for eating and drinking.
Size and Shape
End tables and accent tables are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. While the heights can vary, most of these types of tables are somewhere between 20 and 30 inches tall. The depth of end tables and accent tables is typically dictated by style and shape, which could be anything ranging from square or round to rectangular, triangular, half-circle, or free-form.
When it comes to choosing a table size, the main thing to focus on is ensuring that it will work for its intended use. For example, if you want an end table to go on either side of a sofa, you should look for one with a height that is within one or two inches of the sofa arm. This means that if your sofa’s arm is 23 inches off the ground, your table should be between 21 and 25 inches tall. Ideally, you’ll also want to find an end table with a depth that closely matches the piece of furniture it’s placed next to.
Like kitchen tables, end tables and accent tables can feature various materials, but the most common are wood, glass, and metal. As a versatile material that can stand up to heavy use over time, wood is probably the most popular choice. Wood can also be painted, which makes it a good option even for those who don’t like its traditional look.
For accent tables that won’t receive as much use, materials that are more decorative than durable are also an option. Mosaic stone tiles and glass tabletops are popular. In addition to function, the main thing to consider when choosing a table material is the overall style. It’s also important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with mixing materials, as long as they complement one another and look pleasing to your eye.
Unless it has a pedestal base, your end table or accent table will most likely come with at least one shelf below the top table surface. Drawers and covered storage compartments are also common. These provide a great solution for keeping clutter at bay in busy households. Other end tables and accent tables also feature a lipped tray top, which can keep cups, books, and decorative items safely corralled.
Some of the less common features to look for include leaves and wheels for those who want a table that is expandable or easy to move throughout the home. Many manufacturers also offer end tables that come with built-in lamps. This two-in-one option provides a functional and space-saving solution for a living room, office, or bedroom.