The shape and size of any piece of furniture can do a lot to ruin a room or make it the most inviting and well designed space. The dimensions have the power to make or break the flow of the space, so it’s important to choose wisely. In a living room, particularly, it’s ideal for all of the furniture and finishings to be proportional to one another. So, if there’s something a little off about the living room, the proportions of the furniture might be the problem. Here’s how to ensure that the proportion of things, including those hard to peg side tables, are always just as they should be for optimal effect.


Getting the height of side tables right isn’t all that difficult when you understand that shorter is almost always going to be better. Since side tables (end tables, night stands and accent tables too) belong right next to a sofa, armchair or bed, the table will best serve its purpose no higher than 2 inches from the top of the arm. Night stands can be up to 5 inches from the top of a mattress, however. Observing these height recommendations will make your side table more functional and pleasing to the room’s design. And if your table is a little too short for functionality, don’t worry. Adding a table lamp or plant can give it the illusion of more height to save the design.


It’s a good idea for a table not to be any deeper than its accompanying piece. When a table extends further than the seating, not only does it look off, it also creates a bit of an obstacle in the room. Avoid unnecessary bulkiness in a design and balancing the depth of furnishings to create texture not stumbling blocks.


It’s also a good idea to consider where and how you place a side table. Keeping these delightful end caps about three inches away from whatever they’re flanking is a good rule of thumb. This distance allows those who are seated to easily reach the table in comfort whether there’s a table lamp to turn on or a wine glass of book to set down.


When choosing a style of side table, there are all sorts of looks to choose from. The best advice is to consider the style of the room and the other pieces in the decor. Choosing something that sticks out like a sore thumb isn’t going to serve the room well, so be mindful. Look at the legs of the furniture and choose a table with that same leg style. Or pair the leg color or wood finish with other pieces in the decor. And for those times when no retailer has just what you’re looking for, consider a custom piece. There’s nothing better than a one of a kind or a bespoke piece to really liven things up.

Height and scale will do a lot to change how a room is experienced and perceived. All of the elements come together to create a wonderful song when done correctly. And now that you know the key things to look for when choosing side tables, you’re all set to hit your favorite retailer and leave with something amazing.