Guide | End & Side Tables

How to Choose an End And Side Table

End and side tables can bring incredible functionality to your home; being able to sit on a couch and comfortably put your book and your drink within arm's reach is nothing short of luxurious.

With a little bit of know-how, you can easily choose end and side tables that are as functional as they are beautiful! Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you do:

How do I know if I need an end table?

End and side tables traditionally go at the sides of couches or next to recliners or chairs in which people will be sitting, snacking, and spending lots of time. Take a look at your room: do you have space at the sides of your sofa or next to your chairs? Do you spend a lot of time relaxing and find that you have remotes, snacks, or other accoutrements that need a home?

If the answer is 'yes', then a side table might be just what you need. Read on for a guide as to the size, style, and price of a good end or side table.

What size of end or side tables should I get, and how do I measure for that?

To find the best size of side tables for your sofa or chair, you should start by considering the sofa or chair itself! Measure the height of the arm and the depth of the sofa, chair, or couch (the distance from the very back of the couch to the front).

Ideally, your side table will be about the same depth and height as your couch. Generally speaking, it should be within two inches of your sofa's arm height. If the sofa's arm is 22 inches tall, the end table's height can be anywhere between 20 and 24 inches.

Consider also what you'll be doing with the table. If you plan on snacking on the couch with the table at hand, you'll want a side table that is just an inch higher than the arm rest for optimal ergonomics.

Pro tip: If you're planning to put a lamp on your end table, the bottom of a lampshade should never be higher than your eye level when you're seated.

For the average couch, a side table with dimensions of 25x25 inches tends to work well. If you'd rather a rectangular table, a popular size is 26x21 inches. Avoid round side tables with diameters above 24 inches, as they will likely overpower the couch itself.

What style of end table should I get?

End tables come in many different styles, so you're sure to find something that fits your unique aesthetic. Here are a few of the popular styles you'll likely find:


If you like geometric shapes and neutral color palettes, this is a good place to start. These pieces may also be called 'contemporary' or 'minimal' - you'll find lots of hard lines, natural materials like twine and wood, and streamlined silhouettes.

Black Modern Manufactured Wood End Table
Black Modern Solid Wood Square End Table
Black Stylish Manufactured Wood End Table
Black Modern Manufactured Wood End Table
Transparent Modern Glass End Table
Silver Stylish Glass End Table


Practical pieces with distressing to make them feel lived-in: the farmhouse aesthetic is often characterized by subdued paint colors, shiplapping, X-shaped detailing, and a warm sense of comfort.

Gray Traditional Metal End Table
Brown Classic Solid Wood Cross End Table
Black Traditional Manufactured Wood End Table
Blue Classic Manufactured Wood End Table
Dark Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood End Table
Gray Classic Manufactured Wood Square End Table

Mid-Century Modern

The reigning aesthetic of the '50s and '60s is back! If you're a fan of distinct wood grain, tapering legs, gentle curves and clean lines, check out mid-century modern pieces. Luckily, this practical and affordable design is everywhere right now, so you'll likely find many options.

Light Brown Stylish Solid Wood End Table
White Modern Manufactured Wood Side Table
Brown Elegant Solid Wood End Table
Brown White Simple Solid Wood Side Table
Brown Modern Solid Wood End Table
White Stylish Manufactured Wood Side Table

Classic, Baroque, or Vintage

If you're leaning more towards lots of detailed scrollwork on table legs, tiny drawers with gilded handles, or other fancy finishes on your furniture, then a baroque side table may be best for you! For optimum effect, pair with a simpler style couch to really show off the detailing of this piece.

Brown Classic Metal End Table
Blue Vintage Metal Side Table
Brown Vintage Solid Wood End Table
Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood Side Table
Dark Brown Classic Solid Wood End Tables
White Simple Manufactured Wood Side Table

How much should I spend on a good end table?

Good furniture generally comes with a high price tag. You'll want to be prepared to invest in a good side table - especially if you find a piece with the exact measurements, style, and other specifications you're looking for. That said, often you can find a good side table for as little as $30; the price range, however, can go up exponentially from there!

Quick tips

  • Remember to measure your couch, chair, and space in the room you want the side table to go before you start shopping.

  • Flip through magazines to get an idea for the type of style you may be interested in!

  • Save up to invest in a side table that will last you for years to come.

  • Think carefully about your intended use for your side table - that will help inform you as to the features you want to look for!

Foter Magazine is a premier architecture, decoration, interiors and design website. We inspire and guide you to make your home a more attractive place.


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