How to choose the perfect side table

These unsung pieces of furniture deliver both function and style.
Last Updated : 14 June 2024, 19:59 IST

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Choosing a side table for a room can be a daunting task. Not only does it have to be functional, versatile even, but also blend with the decor of the room.

Kishore K V, an interior design consultant from Mumbai, lists some questions you should ask yourself before getting one. Do you have a clear idea of why you need a side table? Are you purchasing one to hold drinks, keys or TV remote, to keep a table lamp, or for the looks? Would you like additional storage space? Experts share more pointers.

Size up

A side table should be as high as an armchair or sofa in your room. A shorter table will do but not higher.

While you don’t want to buy a huge side table, it should at least be 18 inches wide. “Anything smaller will not be functional. And if you want to place a bedside lamp on it, a 22-inch-wide side table will be ideal,” says Radhika Susheel, an interior designer from Kochi.

Function factor

“If you have a small room, get a side table with additional storage or one that can turn into a drinks-and-snack table for gatherings,” says Chennai-based design consultant Shraddha Chitran.

You can serve drinks on tables with ceramic, stone and glass tops without worrying about scratches. You won’t need coasters; just wipe them clean.

While going for a multi-purpose table, choose one with an open shelf to hold books and other night-time essentials like a sleep mask, ear plugs and night cream, suggests Kishore.

Complimentary decor      

In terms of looks, Radhika says that round and oval tables go well with most furniture. “They look great in a room that has boxy pieces like rectangular sofas, chairs and coffee tables,” she says.

If you have children or pets, she suggests going with a table with rounded edges or a circular table. “Square or rectangular side tables give a more formal look to a room,” she adds. If your room has a lot of upholstered furniture pieces, sleek and simple side tables work best. If your room is furnished with modern pieces, you can choose something ornate.

In contemporary settings, some people prefer a slightly taller side table. “This helps to highlight plants or showpieces kept on top of them,” says Kishore.

Radhika says while marble and stone tops look sophisticated, wooden tables emit a warm look and metal or glass side tables exude a contemporary style.

Go experimental

If a side table is not the centrepiece of a room, Kishore says you can experiment a lot. “Choose ones in bright yellow or pastel shades, or tables with curvy or oddly shaped legs,” he offers.

But don’t get carried away, he advises. Avoid placing a big side table near a sofa with big and bold patterns – it can make the room look stuffy and overwhelming. Don’t add too many side tables in a room. Keep one next to a sofa or a chair, or one between a pair of chairs. “If you want to limit the number of side tables in a room, go for a coffee table instead,” says Shraddha.

Mix and match  

It’s fine to have a pair of identical side tables in a room. But if you are planning on more than two side tables, then don’t try to match them all. “The tables should largely belong to the same look or theme though. For example, all the tables could be made with either teak wood or bamboo. Or they can have common accents done in either gold or copper. A common feature will give the room a cohesive look,” Shraddha adds.

Published 14 June 2024, 19:59 IST

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