This post was a reader request and I can’t believe I’ve never talked about this topic on the blog before… how to pair coffee tables and side tables. I rounded up a bunch of beautiful combinations and am sharing my designer tips for pairing them. Whether you’re refreshing your living room, shopping for your home office, media room, or are just ready to swap out some tables- consider this your design guide for all things table pairing! Click through for the post and my table roundup…
Let’s start with the tips, shall we? First I’ll say this- one of my pet peeves is a matching coffee table and end table. You know… those “room in a box” collections, where every piece of furniture matches perfectly? That doesn’t feel creative, interesting, original, or very designerly to me. I’d much rather see a contrasting layered look. With that in mind, here are my biggest takeaways for pairing unique coffee tables and side tables.
- Consider scale. This is where your sofa and other furniture in the space comes into play… make sure both your coffee table AND side table are an appropriate scale (and height) for the furniture in your room (most importantly- the sofa). For example, if you have a large room with a giant coffee table, your side tables will need to be larger to feel balanced and intentional.
- Make sure they feel cohesive. I always use family resemblance examples when it comes to interior design. Your coffee table and side table don’t need to be twins- or even siblings… just relatives. Maintaining a thread of consistency can come in the form of many things- shape, scale, material, style, or color.
- Remember contrast is a good thing. While we don’t want our tables to match exactly, a design mistake I often see is tables that look like they were supposed to match, but are barely different… which ends up looking like a mistake. You want to push the contrast making sure your coffee table and side table are noticeably different, to balance each other.
- Check the visual weight. On the note of contrast being a good thing, visual weight is an easy way to provide balance. For example, if you have a drum style coffee table that is visually heavy, try a side table with delicate legs or a pedestal base to balance the room (and vice versa). Delicate and airy versus substantial and heavy make a great combination.
- Keep materials in mind. My biggest piece of advice is to push the materials far from each other (a wood coffee table with a stone side table) or make sure they match perfectly if you’re going with the same material (the exact same finish of antique brass, but different size and shape).
Do those tips help? I’ve found a helpful tool is to see the tables side-by-side with your sofa before committing. Check out my handy photoshop tutorial for seeing items in a moodboard or design plan, if you’re interested in giving it a go. Another past post that may be helpful in pairing coffee and side tables is this designer trick post on how to conceptualize a room.
Click directly on the coffee tables and side tables below to be redirected to the source- or use the numbered links below the collage to shop…
01: stone side table // 02: palmer coffee table // 03: round end table // 04: tiered coffee table // 05: bamboo accent table // 06: oval marble coffee table // 07: walnut side table // 08: ivory coffee table // 09: brass accent table // 10: modern coffee table // 11: marble side table // 12: black wood coffee table // 13: mirrored side table // 14: cement coffee table // 15: marble martini side table // 16: square coffee table // 17: fluted side table // 18: reclaimed wood coffee table // 19: wood pedestal table // 20: rectangular coffee table
I just used a basic sofa for the collage, so the pairings can really blend with any aesthetic, plus you get a better visual. There are so many awesome pairings packed into this one, I couldn’t commit to choosing my favorites. Haha! I’m actually in the market for both a coffee table and side table for our new office space, and since I’ve already been on the hunt- this roundup was pretty easy to compile.
I’d definitely encourage you to choose tables with differing base shapes… that’s another big contrasting element that helps pairings look more balanced.
My friend Chloe shared this helpful post on how to get coffee table dimensions right, if you’re curious about scale and the mathematical formula.
Let me know if you have any table questions in the comment section below or would like me to elaborate on any of the design talking points! As always, I love when readers submit post ideas (like this one), so feel free to send over any topics you’d like to read about in the future. Happy Tuesday! Have an awesome day.
PeggiAugust 11, 2020 at 7:04 am
Furniture sets. Ugh. Why do they still make them? Especially when SO MANY amazing pieces exist! I’m completely in love with number 6, 10 and 20! I feel like fluting is having a moment, and I am here for it! (#11 swoon) I have a problem, though, because I am drawn to all the blocky options! Your tip about scale is important, but I think it can be tricky. Are there more specific rules? Like, the coffee table should be about two-thirds the length of the sofa and equal in height to the cushions? I like the idea of keeping a similarity and a difference in mind; that seems easy to remember! 🤣 Also, what about lamps on side tables? Is that not a thing anymore? I’m thinking you either have floor lamps or sconces. Ha. Apparently, I am full of questions on this Tuesday morning! Thanks for such a jam-packed round up of awesome!💜
SarahAugust 11, 2020 at 9:05 am
Right?! I love those same options… and fluting & ribbed furniture and decor is DEFINITELY having a moment. I’m into it! Yes- there are more specific coffee table “rules”… the coffee table should ideally be 2/3 the length of the sofa, and no more than 2 inches lower than the sofa seat. I think lamps on side tables are still a thing in larger spaces, but in our house (for example), our rooms aren’t big enough for larger scale furniture that could accommodate a decent sized accent table lamp… which is why I often rely on sconces, floor lamps, and we have a small table lamp on the console table. Loved all of your questions this morning :) Have an awesome Tuesday Peggi! xo
LeahAugust 11, 2020 at 4:19 pm
Great topic! I’d love to see ideas for pairing arm chairs, lamps, and side tables— we are working on a reading nook in our house. I’m sure similar advice applies but it’s tricky when it comes to mixing three leg styles! Appreciate the useful posts as always!
LaurenAugust 11, 2020 at 5:30 pm
These are the sort of tips I find immensely helpful! I personally hate sets. Jeff however, thrives on them. Ugh. At least now I have a designer’s rules for mix-matching! I love every single one of your recommendations…and thanks to Peggi and her fine questions I have even more guidance in making selections. Happy Tuesday everyone!
TraceyAugust 11, 2020 at 11:31 pm
Thanks so much for doing this post, Sarah. I just had a custom coffee table made which is almost identical to the Serena & Lily one you used so this was really helpful.
KingaAugust 13, 2020 at 5:29 pm
Yes, I was waiting for that. I need side table ASAP:
1. We don’t have coffee table (not enough room)
2. We have dining table in the same room (60’s style with angled legs – wooden table top, dark legs), I still love it
3. I want round side table, as I think we have too many hard edges in the room
4. I need to put table lamp on it, so it can’t small, but our sofa is a bit bulky, so I want to balance it
5. We live in Parisian white appartement with moulding and tall French windows
Any suggestions? I want to go to the flee markets to find “the one” 😉