4 Things to Look for When Shopping for End Tables

Buy end tables to suit your room

end table next to a sofa

The Spruce / Jesi Lee

Creating a room with a cohesive, well-designed feel means having pieces that connect with one another, whether through pattern or color, or even the time period and aesthetic that defines them. But having furniture pieces that connect is not the same as buying ones that match.

There was a time when people decorated their homes with matching furniture sets. It made shopping easy but designing a bit harder. Rooms with matched sets often ended up looking predictable and uninspired. These days, people with an eye for design are going in a different direction. More people are branching out a lot further and purchasing pieces that complement each other rather than match. This is a great way to go, but it can take a bit more practice to be able to spot which pieces will combine to create just the right look for your space. Some are at a loss when it comes to knowing what works for what, especially when it comes to smaller furnishings, like end tables.

End tables can typically be found on either side of a sofa or bed, but they also get dotted in various areas all around the house. They're incredibly versatile pieces of furniture and often get moved around from place to place.

Here are a few tips for choosing end tables:


When it comes to shape you want to figure out where the table will be placed and what will work in that particular space. For instance, if it needs to go to a particular corner, you'll likely want something square. If this isn't a concern, you have more options.

Try to mix the table shapes in your room. If you have an oval coffee table, square or rectangular end tables are a nice contrast. Likewise, if you have a square coffee table, some demi-lune or round end tables can make a nice counterpoint. If you decide to use the same shape for all of the end or side tables in a room, try to create interest by getting ones made of different materials.


Once again, it's all about the mix. A brass and marble coffee table can look great in a room with wood or painted end tables. A beautiful rosewood coffee table is stunning when paired with brass end tables. As long as the styles compliment each other, the materials can be completely different.


Too often people are afraid to, but mixing styles creates visual interest in a room. A traditional Lawson or Birch-arm sofa can look great when paired with modern end tables and vice versa. Or why not try a modern or mid-century side chair with a traditional side table?

Remember also that end tables needn't match each other. As long as the sizes and styles relate to each other, it's perfectly acceptable to have different end tables on either side of a sofa or bed.


If your end tables are going on either side of a sofa, make sure that their height and depth are as close to the height and depth of the sofa's arms as possible. The same goes for side chairs. It not only looks better, but it also makes it easier to reach for items on the table when sitting on the furniture. If you can't find anything that fits exactly, it's better to go smaller than bigger.

If they're being used as bedside tables, the height should be about the same as the mattress. Again, if that's not possible, a bit lower is better than a bit higher. When it comes to depth, 24 inches is about as big as you want to go. Anything deeper can make it a bit difficult to get in and out of bed. Just as importantly, always make sure that any table you intend to use by your bedside offers ample space for the things you'll keep close when you sleep, like a book, alarm clock, or table lamp.

As you can see there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing end tables. The most important thing to do is to find tables that are the right size for your space. After that, your options open up. Just remember that the pieces in the room should connect in some way. If the materials are different, try to keep the styles similar; if the shapes are different, try to keep the materials similar. Remember that interior decorating is all about balance. The key is to be confident in your decorating choices. If you love a piece, it will work.