We spent over 25 hours researching and testing 20 different styles of end tables and found that design, cost, and functionality were the most important factors consumers looked at when shopping for their end tables. The Furinno Simplistic End Table scored the highest marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. These Furinno end tables are super simple to assemble and provide a very minimalistic design that is perfect for modern homes. No screws are needed to assemble these tables so putting them together can be a project you do with the kids. These tables are the most popular RTA end tables available.
End Table Buying Guide
Before you purchase a new end table or two there are some things you will want to do that will help ensure you choose the end table or tables that will please you in the long run and take care of your needs. We’ve listed these things below.
- Measure the space on either side of your sofa so you will have an idea of how much space you have to work with. Pay attention to doorways, windows, and other pieces of furniture that you may need to account for as well.
- You want your end tables to match the scale of the rest of the furniture. Don’t choose huge end tables for a smaller style sofa or small end tables when you have a large sofa. Balance is the goal so make sure to match the scale of the existing furniture as closely as possible.
- If you sofa has arms, a good rule of thumb is to match the height of the end tables to the height of the arms of your sofa. Don’t allow the top of the end table to be any lower than 4 to 6 inches from the sofa. This will prevent awkwardness when trying to reach things on that may be on the end table such as the remote or your drink.
- If you have young children, consider looking at models that have rounded edges. Children inevitably seem to walk into the corners of end tables and coffee tables so rounding the edges can help prevent a serious injury. Glass is not always a good idea for homes with pets and children.
- When decorating your living room and choosing end tables to match, remember that using lighter colors will make the room appear larger. This is very helpful in studio apartments or apartments that have limited space.
- If you want to create an open space that looks bigger choose end tables that have open shelving, lattice work or grill designs and you will create the illusion of having more space since the end tables will let the light through them.
- Make a budget for your end tables before you start shopping. It is easy to get carried away when it comes to furniture so having budget in place prevents you from impulsively spending more than you intended.
End Table Styles
It can be intimidating to try and choose a particular style for your end tables especially since there are so many styles to choose from. Many people worry about choosing the wrong style but this should not be something to concern yourself with.
Style is just a reflection of personal taste so there really is no right or wrong. We have listed many of the common decorating styles below so you have a better understanding of what they are. This will help you stick to a particular style if that is what you choose to do.
Traditional – Traditional style is usually based on 18th and 19th century designs and is a lot more ornate and luxurious in appearance. Most traditional styles have a formal or stately appearance, using darker woods and finishes. Traditional end tables will typically have moldings, cabriole legs, and turned spindles.
Transitional – This style is not as decorative as traditional but is more decorative than contemporary. The lines are still sophisticated but are simpler than traditional. Transitional style end tables are usually made of wood with medium to dark finishes. Even though the ornate aspects of traditional styles are not present in transitional end tables you will still see things like moldings, pilasters, and broken pediments. You will see a good mix of curved and straight lines in transitional styles that are both comfortable and functional to use.
Contemporary – Contemporary styles focus more on form and function than decorative aspects. They are not usually ornate at all and often have geometric designs and clean lines that will sometimes be softened with rounded edges. Contemporary end tables will usually be made of lighter woods and have light to medium finishes.
Modern – Modern and contemporary styles are easily interchangeable but they are still two different types of stylings. They both will emphasize a more geometric shape and have minimal detail but where they part ways is in the fact that modern designs will usually express a particular architectural movement or specific time period while contemporary is more current, reflecting ongoing trends. Many people feel that modern designs are very stark and almost cold. There is little to no decorative detail added but may have decorative aspects that are part of the design itself and not added.
Country – An end table that has a country style will usually be made of wood and have either a distressed finish, stenciled touches, or have scalloped aprons. There is a very distinctive look when it comes to country style end tables. It is a popular style that is still going strong.
Common End Table Materials
What your end table is made of will have an effect on how it looks, its functionality, and its durability as well. There are several materials that are commonly used to make end tables. Let’s take a look at the different materials and how they are commonly used when it comes to decorating styles.
Wood – End tables made of real wood can come from a variety of wood grades. They can be made from hardwoods or softwoods. The most popular hardwoods used for furniture include maple, oak, and walnut while the popular softwoods are cedar and spruce. Hardwood end tables can be more expensive than softwood end tables but they are more durable and last a lot longer.
Metal – Most metal end tables are made using steel, aluminum, or iron. They will often have glass tops or tops with a combination of glass and wood. Glass and metal end tables are popular choices for those who love modern designs because they are very clean and simple and easy to keep clean as well.
Glass – Glass is often used as a top for end tables and can be incorporated into metal and wood. If you like the glass top end tables make sure the glass is tempered which will make the glass much stronger than regular glass and much safer as well. Tempered glass has been treated with chemicals and/or heat to make it stronger and more resistant to cracks and breaks. Should tempered glass break, it is designed to break into small fragments instead of huge shards.
Marble or Stone – Sometimes end tables will have marble or stone tops, especially if the bases are made of iron. A true iron end table with a marble slab top can be beautiful but it will be super heavy as well.
Common End Table Types
Another name for an end table is a side table. They got this name from the fact that they are usually placed alongside a sofa or chair. Before you make a final decision on your end table, think about the kind of table that will meet your needs the best.
If you have guests over a lot or entertain often, an end table with a tray design on top would work well for coasters and drinks. If you have children and find yourself constantly walking over toys, end tables with baskets underneath could help keep clutter to a minimum. Below are some of the more common types of end tables.
Storage – Storage end tables have baskets, drawers, and shelves incorporated into the design. They are great for homes with children or pets where you want to keep toys from being scattered all over. They can also be great for holding newspapers, magazines, books, and other things you want to keep organized.
Nesting – Nesting end tables come in pairs or more and are designed to fit underneath each other. They can be used as a single end table or separated when company is over or you are entertaining. Nesting end tables can make great stands for appetizers during a get together or can even be used as TV trays.
Chairside – This type of end table is used to make a seating area relaxing and inviting. The chairside end table might have drawers, a magazine rack, or even open shelves to hold things like your remote control, cell phone or snacks. Some chairside end tables have slide-out shelves for maximum convenience.
Choosing end tables for your living room should be a fun, exciting activity. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you see how many different types and styles there are but that is where this guide and the reviews of the three top rated end tables can be a big help to you.
All three of the end tables we have featured above are excellent quality end tables, each with its own style and design. If none of those are what you are looking for, there are dozens more; including the 7 additional ones we listed above.
Choosing the right end table for your needs starts with knowing what you want, what you like, and what look and functionality you are after. Use the information in this guide to help you narrow down the choices and find the end table that you will love.