Sometimes, the smallest pieces can have the biggest impact, and that’s certainly true for the side table. Its importance in any room can’t be underestimated, but because of its size, it’s usually a decorating afterthought, squeezed in next to a sofa, armchair or bed. But a small side table is also an incredibly versatile piece of furniture.
Originally, side tables were used to serve tea, as seen in Manners and Rules of Good Society (1913): “Tea and coffee should be served from a side table by the servants in attendance.” This got us thinking – what else could a side table be used for? From bars to bookshelves, here are 9 of our favourite creative ways to use a side table.
What’s better than sinking into bed and reading a good book? If you’re anything like us, you like to have a bit of choice in the evening. Treat your side table as a miniature bookshelf and you’ll have all the books you want, right by your side. Not only is this great for some nighttime reading, it can also look fabulous, especially if you choose books in colours that complement your bedroom scheme (and literally judge a book by its cover).
The most popular way of using small side tables is to place matching ones on either side of a sofa or bed. It’s an excellent method if you wish to balance a room, as it provides symmetry and makes the room look complete. And if you’re very particular, you could go one step further and ensure the objects on top of the side table are identical and placed symmetrically too (though it might be tricky to keep tidy).
Side tables work perfectly as under desk storage, especially if you choose one with shelves or drawers. If you don’t want your home office to look chaotic, placing a narrow side table under your desk can clear away a lot of the clutter. Just make sure you double check your measurements so you can still fit your legs under the desk comfortably. Ensure your side table also complements your desk, so pair wooden side tables with wooden desks, glass side tables with glass desks, etc.
Everyone knows that adding mirrors to a room is a way of making a room look brighter and often bigger. Mirrored furniture can have the same effect, so consider adding a mirrored side table - not only does it have all the practicalities of a table but it will also reflect light, so place a lamp on top and bask in the extra glow.
Before the modern day flushing loo, the main function of a bedside table was to contain a chamber pot. It usually featured a cupboard to hide the unsightly pot and was sometimes fitted with a drawer. We don’t need a chamber pot holder nowadays, but it doesn’t make a side table’s purpose in the bathroom redundant. Instead, you can use it to store your toiletries, rest your tablet (so you can watch films in the bath), or as a place to keep flannels and guest towels.
Whether you want to display a vase of flowers or a mini tree, placing them on a side table can be a good way to show off your green fingered abilities, as it will give them that extra height.
The right-sized side table can be an excellent place to keep a smaller TV, perhaps in a snug or playroom. Choose a side table with a shelf or cupboard, so that you can store your DVD player, digital box and remote controls neatly underneath.
A side table can work perfectly as a permanent or temporary bar, so place it in your sitting or dining room and start shaking those cocktails! Choose one with shelves to store all your spirits, mixers, glasses and other bar accessories. If you want your bar to be a bit bigger, consider placing multiple identical side tables next to each other (make sure the tops sit flush together though to avoid spilling any drinks) or use a longer console table. A mirrored or glass side table is a great option, as it’s a material that can easily be wiped clean.
If you want to make a colour in your room’s scheme a little more prominent, then introduce a side table in that particular colour. Just one little table will deliver the boost of colour needed to complete your room. For example, in the neutral and gold room below, the side tables bring out the gold in the art on the wall.
With a little imagination, side tables can become pretty much anything, used in an assortment of ways, for lots of different purposes. Do you have any other unusual suggestions on how to make the most of this essential piece of furniture? Perhaps you like some of our ideas but the side tables you currently have in your home aren’t quite right? If so, take a peek at our full range of side tables or read our guide to side tables for every space.