Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best end tables

In your living room, the sofa and coffee table are probably the stars. But don’t forget the end tables! While end tables may be smaller furnishings, they’re essential if you want to create a cohesive design — or just have a spot for a table lamp.

End tables are small tables that usually stand about as tall as a couch arm. Often, they’re placed beside a larger piece of furniture such as a sofa, armchair, or bed. However, you can use them in various spots throughout your home, including an office, entryway, or hallway.

An end table can serve as a platform for displaying items, such as a framed photo or vase. It can be a holding area for drinks and food during a party. Some tables include drawers or other storage options to help declutter the room.

end table
If you have plants that need sun, place an end table in front of a window. Position the plants where they will receive plenty of natural light.

What to consider when choosing an end table

Materials

The most common end table materials are wood, metal, glass, and stone.

Wood: This is the most popular end table material. Available in a plethora of finishes and stain colors, wood looks great with just about any style. Light wood end tables tend to convey a modern look, while dark wood tables pair well with formal décor. You can also find wood tables with a weathered wood finish to create a coastal or rustic look.

Metal: Metal end tables have a sleek, modern look that pairs well with contemporary and industrial décor. Aluminum, steel, iron, and other alloys are common. While the base is made of metal, the top may be made of wood or glass.

Glass: You won’t find end tables made entirely of glass, but many styles have glass tops. Glass-top end tables exude a lovely modern look, but it’s important to choose a table with tempered glass if you have small children or rambunctious pets, as tempered glass is more durable and less likely to shatter.

Stone: As with glass, you won’t find many end tables made entirely of stone. However, you can find quite a few with stone tops. The material is usually marble or slate, both of which look great with modern and rugged décor.

Shape

The majority of end tables are square, but you’ll also find rectangular options. Square and rectangular tables work especially well if you want to place the table in a corner. You can also find round end tables, oval end tables, and even a few triangular styles.

If you’re unsure which shape would work best with your existing furniture, you can’t go wrong with square or rectangular tables. However, if you want to add more visual interest to your room, consider mixing shapes. For example, you could pair an oval coffee table with square end tables. Or, if your coffee table is rectangular, you might opt for round end tables.

Leg style

Traditional end tables have four legs, but other options exist. If you appreciate a formal or dramatic look, you might opt for a pedestal table with a single center post connected to a base. If you like the minimalist look, you might consider a tripod end table with just three legs.

End table dimensions

End tables generally stand 18 to 24 inches tall. It’s recommended that an end table measure within 2 inches of a neighboring sofa’s arm height. For example, if your sofa arm is 20 inches high, your table should be 18 to 22 inches high. That said, you might appreciate an end table shorter than your sofa because it’s easier to reach a drink or other item at that table height.

Most end tables stretch between 16 and 22 inches wide. Choose a table wide enough to hold the items you plan to place on it, such as a lamp, books, and other knick-knacks. The table’s depth isn’t as important as its height and width, but most are 22 to 24 inches deep. As a general rule, table depth shouldn’t exceed the depth of the nearby sofa or other neighboring furniture.

Some end tables have mirrored tops. This can help reflect light and brighten up a dark room.

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Interesting end table features

Style

Traditional: “Traditional” end tables have a formal look based on the lavish styles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They often have ornate details, such as turned spindles.

Modern: These tables feature clean lines and minimalist details based on the styles of the twentieth century. They often incorporate geometric shapes and may have metal or glass details.

Contemporary: Contemporary end tables are similar to modern end tables, but they feature fewer decorative details. They have a minimalistic look and are often made of light-colored wood.

Transitional: These end tables blend traditional and modern styles to create a timeless look. They’re often made of wood and feature both curved and straight lines.

Country/farmhouse: These tables have a distressed look and come in light colors with a cozy, comfortable vibe. Decorative elements like scalloped aprons and curved legs may be featured.

Storage

Built-in storage makes an end table versatile and functional. Some styles have open storage in the form of simple shelving beneath the tabletop. Other tables offer closed storage, with drawers or a cabinet below the tabletop.

Nesting

Nesting end tables come in sets of two or more. One table fits beneath the other. In a small room, nesting tables work well because you can leave the extra table(s) under the primary table, pulling it out only when you need it.

C-shape design

If you’re intrigued by the option of eating or working while sitting on your sofa, consider an end table with a C-shape design. C-shape tables have a base with the same depth and width as the tabletop and a completely open side. As a result, you can pull the table close to you as you sit because the base easily slides under the sofa.

Wheels/casters

Some tables have wheels or casters that glide easily across the floor. If you decide to move the table, little effort is required. If you rearrange your furniture often, you might appreciate this feature.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Some end tables have lift-off trays on top, allowing you to easily carry food, beverages, or other items from room to room.
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How do you accessorize an end table?

Sofa

Most end tables sit beside a sofa or couch. Sofas come in an array of styles and fabrics, so it’s fairly easy to find one that matches your living room décor.

Table lamp

End tables often house table lamps, which provide ambient lighting for the room. Some table lamps have a fairly minimalist look; others are embellished with a decorative element.

How much do end tables cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable end tables are small pressed wood or particle board models. They’re not the most durable tables, but they come in a wide range of finishes. If you want an end table with storage, you are less likely to find it here, though you may find a few options with a shelf or single drawer. Expect to pay $15 to $50 for these tables.

Mid-range

Mid-range end tables may be made of engineered wood, solid wood, or metal. You can also find some glass-top tables in this range. These tables are sturdier and more durable than cheap end tables, and they often offer storage, including multiple drawers, shelves, or a cabinet. Expect to pay $50 to $200 for these models.

Expensive

The priciest end tables are large tables made of solid wood, metal, or stone. You can also find some glass-top tables with tempered glass. These tables are highly decorative and consist of high-quality materials. Expect to see price tags between $200 and $500, though some cost upwards of $1,000.

Stone-top tables require significant maintenance to preserve the integrity of the surface. Water damage, stains, and scratches are more likely to occur on a stone-top table than other types of end tables.

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Tips

  • Put a table between two easy chairs. The most common spot for an end table is beside a sofa, but if you have chairs in the room, consider placing an end table between them. This helps balance the setup and provides a spot for guests to sit and place their drinks.
  • Use an end table as a nightstand. Most end tables have dimensions similar to that of a traditional nightstand. They may have storage, too, such as a drawer or shelves.
  • Keep it simple. End tables aren’t large tables, so they can easily become cluttered. As a general rule, place no more than three items on a decorative tabletop.
  • Use books as a display platform. For example, you could place a framed photo on a stack of books to raise it slightly. This makes the photo stand out from the lamp, plant, or other item on the table.
end table
If you place an end table beside a sofa or chair, make sure it sits within 2 inches of the neighboring furniture. This proximity makes it easier to grab items on the tabletop.

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between an end table and a side table?

A. These terms are often used interchangeably, and the two tables are similar. However, a side table usually has a larger tabletop than an end table. It’s typically placed against a side wall, in a foyer, or in an entryway. End tables often sit beside a sofa or chair.

Q. How many end tables do I need?

A. It’s a matter of personal preference, but the general “ratio” is one end table for every two couches or chairs. Of course, the size of the room matters, too. A mid-size living room of 225 square feet would do well with at least one table. A larger room could have two or more end tables.

Q. Do all my end tables have to match?

A. It’s not necessary for your end tables to match. In fact, having end tables of different styles can give your room a trendy and eclectic look. If you plan to use different tables, choose models that are similar in size, shape, finish, or design so a common thread runs between them.

 

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