By Ande Waggener
What are the best end table styles for your space? The short answer to this question: “It depends.”
Not all end table styles are created equal. Although some end tables can fit into any décor, most will be as out of place as a fish in a birdcage if they aren’t placed with other furniture and accessories with a similar design. Even if you choose the best end table size and the right end table height, if you get the style wrong, your end tables can ruin the look of your whole room.
The perfect living room layout is a merging of elements that work together. So the best end table styles are the ones that get along with nearby furniture.
Here are the seven most common end table styles and what types of décor will work well with them.
Traditional end tables are the most formal of the end table styles. Generally built with wood, these end tables have strong design features like curved legs, carved detailing, inlaid tops, and fancy hardware. Vintage styles like the Colonial style, the Victorian style, and even the simpler Craftsman style have a traditional feel. Antique end tables, of course, fall in this category. If your grandparents had the end table in their home, it’s likely traditional.
Because of the copious styling on these tables, traditional end tables tend to bring an upscale feel to a room. They are going to look more at home in formal living rooms than casual great rooms or family rooms. If you’re going for a relaxed or breezily current look, traditional end tables aren’t the best style choice. If you’re designing an elegant room, however, traditional end tables will blend gracefully into your space.
In strong contrast with traditional end tables, contemporary end tables are up-to-date and ready for all of today’s trends. Sleek in either curved or angular edges, contemporary end tables can be made from any type of material. Glass top end tables, metal end tables, Lucite end tables, and natural wood tables free of any detailing can all be contemporary. The key to choosing the right contemporary end table is matching the shape and material with the other elements in your room. Metal and Lucite, for example, will work well in a room full of bold colors and patterns. Glass and wood pair better with a space filled with neutral colors and simple lines.
Transitional end tables are as their name suggests … they fall somewhere between traditional and contemporary tables. Usually constructed of wood, these tables have simple styling that can lean toward either traditional or more current design schemes. Often functional, transitional end tables include storage end tables that have drawers or shelves. Transitional end tables also often come in matching sets.
End tables in the cottage style (also called the country style), have a softer, more feminine look that creates a cozy, and sometimes even romantic, vibe in a room. These end tables are commonly made of wood, but instead of natural wood, the wood is painted or distressed. These tables can fit in either traditional or contemporary spaces, but they’ll work best in rooms with a casual feel. Simple round end tables fit this style, as do nesting tables, which are suggestive of snuggly togetherness.
Rustic end tables are end tables that often are or at least look as if they are handcrafted. Made from natural, weathered, or distressed wood, these tables, like cottage style end tables, have a casual feel. Sometimes accented with metal legs or exposed nail heads, rustic end tables are right at home in a log cabin or southwestern design styles. They can, however, blend into other design styles as well. If your room has a relaxed ambiance, you can use a rustic end table to provide contrast to more modern elements in the space.
The modern end table style, sometimes called mid-century modern as well, is an edgy style highlighted by geometric forms. Like contemporary end tables, modern end tables have simple designs. Most commonly made of plastic, glass, and/or metal, modern end table styles can be painted in bright, bold colors as well. This type of end table, because it’s so distinct, works best if combined with other modern elements.
Novelty end tables break all the rules. The biggest rule they break is the rule that an end table is a table. In essence, a novelty end table is something that isn’t an end table but has been placed to function as an end table. Creativity is the foundation of novelty end tables: you get to decide what will be an end table.
To create an effective novelty end table, be sure you know the answer to this one question: How tall is an end table? The answer is that end tables range in height generally between 20 and 24 inches. The best end table height matches up with the height of the sofa or chair arm next to it. The match doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get it within a couple inches — close enough. And if the table is lower, not higher, you can even fudge that height a few more inches.
So if you can build or find a relatively flat-topped object of the right height, you can create a novelty end table. The beauty of novelty end tables is that they can go with any design style. As long as you match your “end table” with its surroundings, you’re good to go. A stack of suitcases, for example, can make an end table. An upturned crate can make an end table. Even an eye-catching metal sheep can stand in for an end table.
Now that you have an understanding of the basic end table styles, you can be confident that you’ll always pick the right style for your décor.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com