Side tables are a much more complicated purchasing decision than they appear to be. When designers use them well, they look like they were always made for the pieces they are beside...however when that occurs the designer has given this selection a whole lot of thought. Here are a few things we consider when selecting a side table followed by some of our favorite finds over the years.
1. Scale. Generally, the scale of the side table should be in line with the scale of the piece it is beside. There are occasionally times when you want a scale that is unexpected...perhaps you found a vintage piece that is just too good to worry about scale interfering... But for the most part, by following these rules of thumb you'll be on your way to selecting a piece that is right. The table top should be even with the arm height or up to 3 inches below. The best width is about 1/3 of the width of the sofa (up to 32" maximum). Be thoughtful about what you want to place on an end table, even if this changes by season. Does it fit your favorite lamp base? Does it allow room for a small vase of flowers or a candle? Do you need it contain storage within?
2. Style. If the side table is beside a sofa that is skirted and has clean lines, you have a lot of options for the direction of the side table. But if the piece has legs and a certain shape to the arms this is the time to be very considerate of what lines your side table has. My best trick is just to look at photos of the pieces next to each other. It is very easy to get a sense as to whether or not the styles flow. I am not concerned with "matching" wood tones from the sofa to the table, but I am concerned that the wood tones seem to harmonize with one another. Or perhaps choose something that is a juxtaposition such as a wood sofa frame with a metal end table.
3. Cost. This will very much depend on size. But for a standard size side table for a sofa I would estimate our average cost is $1800. Anything under $1000 you are generally not getting solid wood, but instead getting a wood veneer. Prices going higher than this tend to include solid wood with other detailing like metal, glass or stone.
Here are our top five end tables from our past projects...