Side tables are among the smallest pieces of furniture, but they make a big difference in the way a room looks.
â€œTheyâ€™re like the bags and shoes of your outfit,â€ said Poonam Khanna, an architect who founded the Brooklyn-based studio Unionworks. â€œTheyâ€™re accessories that are very important.â€
Just as knockout shoes can enhance the look of simple clothing, interesting side tables can add visual appeal to an otherwise understated interior, whether you choose clean-lined ones made from beautiful materials or tables with sculptural forms or unexpected colors.
Of course, itâ€™s not only about how they look. Side tables also make a room more inviting by adding flat surfaces beside sofas and chairs to hold lamps, books and drinks. Depending on your needs, they can be a simple pedestal or include drawers or shelves for storage.
And those choices offer plenty of opportunity to personalize a room. â€œYou could take the same space and just swap out the side tables,â€ Ms. Khanna said, â€œand it would change everything.â€
How high should a side table be? The top of the table should usually be close to the seat height of adjacent furniture, Ms. Khanna said, so itâ€™s easy to reach.
Should a side table have storage? â€œIt really depends upon the location,â€ Ms. Khanna said. A drawer or cubby for books is helpful in a table that will be used beside a bed or in a family room, but might be unnecessary in a more formal room.
Do they have to be used individually? Not necessarily. Ms. Khanna sometimes places clusters of similar tables at the center of a seating group, as a flexible alternative to a one-piece coffee table. â€œTheyâ€™re smaller tables that can move around,â€ she said.
Sentrum Side Table
Powder-coated steel table with storage cubby
About $336 at Design Within Reach: 800-944-2233 or dwr.com
Insert Side Table
Sculptural ash-wood table
$899 at Ferm Living: 011-45-7022-7523 or fermliving.us
Two-Way Side Table
Colored acrylic side table that can be used horizontally or vertically
$195 at MoMA Design Store: 800-851-4509 or store.moma.org
Matter Made Orbit Stool 4
Oak table or stool with elliptical legs
$550 at Matter: 212-343-2600 or mattermatters.com