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10 Winning Side-Table Styling Ideas

It’s your sofa’s BFF and your cocktail glass’s home base. Give your side table the makeover treatment it deserves with these styling ideas

Joanna Linberg
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All Natural

Double up on nature’s good vibes with a stump stool plus succulent arrangement. This minimal pair is like a universal donor, looking right at home next to every style of sofa, from contemporary tuxedo to traditional Chesterfield. The DIY route is open to you, though you’ll have to be patient: Stumps need to dry for at least six months before being sanded, stained, and sealed with polyurethane to prevent rotting.

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2 / 10

Get the Look: All Natural

Shortcut your way to a modern organic staple with this side table made from naturally-fallen (read: not wastefully harvested) cypress trees. Since no two are alike, a pair of them flanking a sofa will be polished, not stuffy.

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3 / 10

Happy Hour

Serial party-throwers need look no further than their bar cart for a chic sofa sidekick. Most carts have substantial surface area for mixers and a lamp, plus a bottom shelf for storage. Seed the room with slim cocktail tables rather than a coffee table—it makes for better mingling.

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4 / 10

Your Best Angle

Maybe it’s the always-fresh triangular shape, maybe it’s the seamless travertine. Whatever the X factor, this set of nesting tables has it. Scoot them together as a side table, split them up to flank a sofa, or cozy them back up for a multi-level coffee table. On top, a woven or rough-hewn wood tray would look aces.

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5 / 10

Hint of Modern

This little acrylic number is modern design for people who want to dip their toe into the style. It easily makes friends with (and energizes) traditional furnishings due to its shapely contours. But it’s transparent, so it’s never going to stand out or compete with what you already have. A coffee table book and bud vase add personality.

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6 / 10

One-Piece Wonder

Elevate—literally—a favorite accessory by placing it solo on the side table. This is especially successful when the table itself is eye-catching and worthy of conversation, like this antique carved wood piece. Choose an object that fills the tabletop and is made of a material that contrasts the table’s surface. Congratulations: You’ve just nailed scale and contrast with a single accent.

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7 / 10

Get the Look: One-Piece Wonder

The carved front of this mango wood nightstand qualifies it for heirloom status. And yes, we said “nightstand.” There’s no reason to not swap your nightstands and side tables for a fresh look in each room. Just aim to keep the tabletop within two inches of your sofa’s arm height for ease of use.

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8 / 10

Hot Right Now: Chrome

The popularity of metal finishes waxes and wanes, and right now chrome is surging. The cool tone calls to mind the space-age sleekness of mid-century accessories, an idea the architectural base of this glass-top table only underlines.

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9 / 10

Artful Trick

In a busy family room, the side table is more often the home for tech, remotes, and yesterday’s water glass. Distract from not-so-photo-ready objects with a large piece of art. It will draw the eye and take up visual real estate while still leaving room for essentials. (Bonus: You can hide cords behind the frame if necessary.)

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10 / 10

Beachy Keen

Give your living room that staycation feel with this gorgeous woven table. The material screams “beach,” but the shape is as elegant as they come. (Because of the large reeds on top, you’ll need a tray for drinks. Think contemporary chrome or something equally glossy for contrast.)

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