When decorating your home, important pieces of furniture to consider throughout your home are tables. Smaller tables offer you a surface to set drinks and eat, stack books, and place accent lighting. Larger tables are made for gathering with friends and family. You might be surprised at just how many tables you need throughout your home though. There are so many different types of tables out there!

But what are they and where should they be used in your home? Let us be your guide. We’ve put together this shopping guide on the different types of tables to help you identify what tables you may need throughout your home. (Along with plenty of bedroom and living room design ideas along the way!)

side table with vase

Accent Table (AKA Side Table)

An accent table or side table sits next to a piece of furniture a person would sit on—like a chair, sofa, or even a bed. These tables offer some practical convenience, meant to keep items like lamps, books, and beverages within easy reach while you’re seated. Accent tables come in many styles, shapes, and sizes to satisfy all design and practical needs.

Things to Consider When Buying an Accent Table

  • How much function do you need to get out of it? Buy one big enough for what you use it for. Like enough surface space for books, beverages, accent lighting, and a bit of decor? Go for a larger accent table. Just want a surface to set your drink? Stick with a side table that has a smaller footprint. And don’t forget to consider drawers and doors if you want a little extra storage space.
  • How tall is the seat it’ll be placed next to? Make sure the height is right and you’re able to reach items on the tabletop when sitting. A good rule of thumb is that the table should be level with the seat or the arm of the sofa/chair it’s next to!
  • Do you want to go bold or straightforward with the design? Accent tables are less expensive than most other furniture and can easily be moved to different rooms as your style changes—so they’re a great way to add some flair to your interior. As such, don’t be afraid to go bold or try something unexpected!

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Bar cart woven stools

Bar Cart

A bar card is—surprise!—a cart used to make and serve drinks from, as well as store bottles and glassware. Typically, bar carts have two or three shelves, with the top shelf being a mixing station when actively in use. The lower shelves house liquor or wine bottles, mixers, glasses, decanters, bar tools, and anything else you might need to mix a drink!

Often, bar carts will have wheels, which allow them to be easily moved around for entertaining purposes. However, most of the time they stay in one place. They’re most commonly housed in a living or dining room for ease of use. Bar carts can be small and round or large and rectangular; what you choose depends on how you want to use it, how much storage space you need, and what style you prefer.

Things to Consider When Buying a Bar Cart

  • Where will you keep it? Depending on if you want it to be used inside, or outside on a porch or deck, you may want to choose different materials.
  • What will you be using it for? If you’re using a bar cart as a truly functional drink-mixing station, you’ll want to make sure it has plenty of surface space and bottle storage. But if it’s more of a decorative table within your space, you can choose a more style-forward piece.
  • Do you need wheels or can it be stationary? This simply dictates what style you look for. If it can be stationary, this opens up more options to explore!

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bedroom with green walls and nightstand

Bedside Table (Or Nightstand)

Bedside tables are tables that sit beside your bed that house things you need from bed—like books, glasses, a water cup, lighting, and perhaps a few decorative items. If you live alone, you may only have one nightstand, but many people opt for one on each side of the bed. Since this is a piece of furniture that’s about function first, they typically offer some sort of storage (whether a drawer or shelf) to optimize functionality.

Need some help finding the perfect nightstand? Check out our bedside table buying guide.

Things to Consider When Buying a Bedside Table

  • How tall is your bed? This will dictate how tall of a bedside table you should choose. Typically, a nightstand should sit just a bit lower than the top of your mattress so that tabletop items and lamps are comfortable and easy to reach.
  • How much storage do you need? Are you someone who likes to have lots of items close-at-hand when you’re in bed? Or are you more of a minimalist? This will dictate how large of a bedside table you choose, if it has open or closed storage, and how large of a tabletop it has.
  • Do you want matching nightstands? While a matching set is probably the most common design choice out there, you can also opt for mismatched nightstands for a more eclectic look or to bring in some variance to your bedroom’s design.

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tulip table and wingback chair

Bistro Table

A bistro table is a small table that’s typically 30 inches tall, with a tabletop that’s 24 inches or less in diameter. These tables are used for the purpose of dining, cafe-style, with a small meal or just a beverage. Bistro tables are great for small spaces—like balconies, eat-in kitchens, as a dining table in a studio apartment, or in a large living room to create a coffee nook!

Things to Consider When Buying a Bistro Table

  • Do you want a full set? Many bistro tables come with matching chairs (or have matching chairs available to purchase separately). But you can also mix and match table and chair styles as you please to create a look that’s all your own!
  • Where will it be used? Where you place it will impact the style of bistro table you choose. They can go in any of the spaces we mentioned above—and bistro tables are also a great design hack to fill out a bay window or awkward, unused corner!

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c-table over velvet sofa

C Side Table

This side table is named for its shape: inspired by the letter C! C tables have a base that can slide under a sofa or chair, while the top acts like a tray. This is a great table style for small spaces, since you can tuck it snugly into your seat—meaning it essentially takes up no floor space. But C tables are also great if you’re just looking for some versatility! They’re like grown-up snack tables or a mini desk which can move around your living room as needed. We love that they don’t take up a lot of space but provide surface space for eating, drinking, and working from a seat.

Things to Consider When Buying a C Table

  • What are the seat heights of your sofa and chairs? Find a C side table where the tabletop height is comfortable for use when you are sitting. This is especially important when using it for working, since you’ll want to tuck your legs underneath when using it as a computer table!
  • Do you want it to serve as a stationary table? Though one of the benefits of a C table is how easily it can move around your room, these side tables can also be used as stationary tables. However, they tend to have less surface space than your average side table—so they’re typically a bit too small for holding lamps. If you’re looking to put heavy objects on a C table, just make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold them.

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living room with mustard velvet chairs and white sofa

Coffee Table

A coffee table is a low table that is designed to sit in the center of a seating area in a living room. Specifically, coffee tables tend to be centered on your sofa—placed with enough room for walking between the two pieces of furniture, but close enough that you can easily reach anything on the table. One of the top essentials on our living room checklist, coffee tables offer the convenience of a place to add decor and books, set your drinks, and even gather around to play games.

Coffee tables come in many shapes, sizes, styles, and materials. You can explore our guide to coffee table shapes and the many different coffee table materials. Plus, check out our dos and don’ts when picking a coffee table.

Things to Consider When Buying a Coffee Table

  • How large are the other pieces of furniture in your seating area? When choosing a coffee table, you want to make sure it’s in proportion to the sofa and chairs it will be surrounded by. You also want to make sure it’s sized in a way where there’s room to walk around it without bumping into other furniture and that it’s the right height in comparison with your sofa. (The top of the coffee table should be level with cushions or slightly lower.)
  • What functions do you need from your coffee table? Consider what you need from your coffee table: Storage? Style? Kid-friendly? Extra seating? Coffee tables are hero pieces of the living room that see a lot of action—so consider all the variables before committing to your table. (If you’re looking for extra functionality, consider some coffee table alternatives as well.)
  • What’s your budget? Coffee tables can be expensive! But they also tend to be pretty durable. So, think of this as an investment piece that will set the tone for your living room. Bonus: they do tend to retain their value, so you have the flexibility to sell it second-hand in the future.

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Console table with bowls and circular mirror

Console Table

Console tables are both decorative and functional. Since they’re narrow and unobstructive, they work perfectly along the wall in entryways and hallways—offering a surface for trays, lamps, and decor without becoming a tripping hazard by impeding the walkway. They’re also a great piece to use behind a floating sofa and can be used in place of a larger credenza or media cabinet in small spaces.

Many console tables have drawers and a lower shelf, for a bit of extra storage space and surface area—but some only offer the tabletop.

Things to Consider When Buying a Console Table

  • What are your needs for the space? If all you need is a surface space for lighting, you can be pretty flexible in your choice. But if you need drawers for storage or need one that’s narrow enough if it’s for a small hallway, you’ll want to consider those limitations and needs when shopping for a console table.

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tall kitchen table with stools

Counter-Height Table

A counter-height table is a mix between a traditional dining table and a bar table. The surface is as high as a kitchen counter (about 36 inches) and they’re paired with counter stools for seating. This is a great dining table option in a small apartment. The height keeps a small space feeling open—and the tabletop can double as extra prep space since it’s counter-height!

Things to Consider When Buying a Counter-Height Table

  • How many people need to sit around it? Counter-height tables tend to have smaller surface areas—seating anywhere from two to six people max, depending on the size and shape. (Though you can find some that are larger.) You’ll also need to get counter-height stools to go with (regular dining chairs will be too short), so need to factor that in as well.
  • Do you like formal dining? Counter-height tables have a more casual vibe, so consider if that’s right for you! Because of their casual nature, these pieces actually work best as kitchen tables or in open living/dining rooms.

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white desk in gray office

Desk

Desks are pieces of furniture used in home offices as a workspace. And they come in many shapes, sizes, and styles! From crafting, writing, or working on computers, there are desks for all working needs. Some writing desks are minimal in design and are simply a tabletop on legs with no storage. Other desk styles have tons of built-in storage for office supplies, paperwork, and files.

Need some help finding a desk for your home office? Here are six tips for choosing your perfect desk.

Things to Consider When Buying a Desk

  • How will you use the desk? Do you need storage space? How much surface area do you need? Thinking through what you need out of a desk will help you narrow down your options!

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natural wood dining table with woven leather dining chairs

Dining Table

No surprise here: a dining table is used for dining. But there is quite a bit of variety when it comes to dining tables. Dining tables can be round or square, oval or rectangular. They can  be small and seat only 2-4, or they can be extra long and seat up to 20! Most are somewhere in between, and some dining tables even come with leaves to extend the size and seat more people when entertaining. And, of course, you can find dining tables in just about any design style, made from a variety of materials.

Dining tables are a big investment, and a major piece of furniture in your home. If you need a little extra help thinking through your options, check out our guide to dining table shapes, sizes, and materials. And, to make sure your table’s style coordinates with the rest of your home, read our post on dining table styles. And, since you need dining chairs to go with your dining table, feel free to check out our guide to different types of dining chairs.

Things to Consider When Buying a Dining Table

  • How many people need to sit around it? It’s great to be able to comfortably seat your family, along with a few extra guests. So, think through your typical dining group size, and choose a table size based on those numbers.
  • Do you entertain often? Look for tables with extra leaves so you can size your table to your group size every time.
  • How durable does it need to be? If you have kids, you’ll want to go for a more sturdy and durable material—and one that’s easy to clean!

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home office with antique style drafting desk and black wall sconce

Drafting Table

A drafting table is a type of desk that’s similar to a work table (more on that later in the post)—but rather than a stationary top, drafting tables have tops that can be adjusted to different angles. Also known as drawing boards, drafting tables are traditionally used by architects and engineers. But they’re also perfect for a home office or workroom for someone who simply enjoys sketching, painting, crafting, or wants an adjustable surface!

Things to Consider When Buying a Drafting Table

  • How much space do you have? Drafting tables can take up quite a bit of space. Not only do they tend to have large table tops—but they need a bit of extra space to allow for adjusting the angle of the desktop.

side table next to chaise

Drink Table (AKA Martini Table)

A drink table—or martini table—is a small, round accent table that is placed next to seating, like a sofa or chair. As the name suggests, its primary purpose is to hold drinks. Quite a bit smaller than your average pedestal table, drink tables can typically hold just one or two drinks. These tables are great for small spaces where you don’t have room for a full-sized accent table, or next to a chair in any room where you want a surface to set a drink!

Things to Consider When Buying a Drink Table

  • Will it offer enough surface space? Drink tables are quite stylish and functional—but they’re not meant for more than one person. So, when choosing one, make sure it will have enough surface space for your needs. (These tables definitely don’t have enough room for a table lamp—so keep that in mind!)
  • Do you have kids? Though drink tables are typically weighted at the bottom so they don’t topple over, they’re not a good option for homes with small kids, since they do topple more easily than the average accent table.
  • What’s your budget? Because they are smaller in size, drink tables are often less expensive than full-sized accent tables. Just be sure to consider the trade-off in surface space when buying one of these. We’d hate for you to expect a full-size table and wind up with something that can only hold your martini!

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rustic side table with glass lamp

End Table

An end table is a small table used in a living room that visually serves as an “end cap” to a larger piece of furniture in this space. Most often, end tables come in pairs and are meant to be used on either side of the sofa.

The main thing that differentiates end tables from accent tables is that end tables typically have a distinct front and back (whereas accent tables can be used from any side). They’re also usually placed against a wall rather than paired with a floating sofa.

Things to Consider When Buying an End Table

  • How tall is your sofa? End tables should be the same height as the arm of your sofa—so make sure the height is right for the sofa it is next to.
  • How much surface space do you need? If you want to max out on surface space, end tables are a good option, since they’re often larger than accent tables. They offer plenty of surface space for lighting, drinks, books, and more!
  • Do you need storage? Many end tables have drawers, which are great for stashing remotes, extra coasters, and candles. However, not all end tables have drawers, so consider your living room storage needs before shopping!

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small kitchen-table

Folding Table

Many types of tables can be folding tables, but the most common is a folding dining table like the one pictured here. (We’re not talking about folding card tables, like the ones your grandma always kept in the basement—though those are technically folding tables as well!) What we’re talking about here is a dining table (often round in shape) that has sides that fold down. (Sometimes these are called drop-leaf tables.) Folding down one or both sides of the table saves space, allowing it to be pushed against a wall or even stashed in a large closet when not in use. Folding tables are great for dining in small spaces, for use as a kitchen table, or for occasional entertaining needs.

Things to Consider When Buying a Folding Table

  • How often will you need to fold and unfold it? If you’ll rarely fold down the leaves, it might be worth getting a fixed table instead. However, if you live alone or with one other person, you can save space day-to-day by having the sides folded down, while having the option of expanding it to its full size when having guests over.
  • How heavy is it? This is something to consider if you’ll be moving it from room-to-room for entertaining purposes!

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Office with drafting desk

Game Table (or Card Table)

As the name implies, game tables are meant as a surface for playing games. Some game tables have built-in elements for specific card or board games. (The one pictured above has chip slots for poker, plus cup holders!) Others have a plain vinyl gaming surface, gaming table covers, or reversible tops where one side is for gaming and the other is a solid surface to be used as a dining table. (This third option makes for the most versatile table!)

Game tables will typically need to be large enough where you can fit all the players of your preferred games comfortable around the table. We also recommend pairing game tables with comfortable upholstered chairs that are on casters!

Things to Consider When Buying a Game Table

  • What games will you play? If you enjoy a wide variety of games, go for something a bit more versatile, without specific game built-ins. But if you have one specific game you play with friends, look for a table that’s made more specifically for that game.
  • What’s your budget? Game tables can be quite expensive—so this is probably a piece of furniture that you won’t casually incorporate into your home. It’s an investment piece and worth finding one that will suit your needs for years to come.

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club chairs by fireplace with side table

Tray Table

A tray table is a small, collapsible or foldable table. Typically used for serving and eating food in a living room (think: 1950s TV dinner trays!), tray tables are easy to use for different functions. But we especially love them as a snack table for movie nights or between two accent chairs for a cozy coffee nook!

Tray tables come in a variety of styles—ranging from super simple, like a typical TV tray, to more elaborate and decorative, like the one pictured above.

Things to Consider When Buying a Tray Table

  • How will you mainly use it? If you’ll be using the tray top to carry food and drinks between the kitchen and living room, you’ll want to look for one with a fully removable top that’s easy to reattach vs a folding tray table where the top is attached to the base.
  • Will it be an occasional or permanent fixture in your space? If you only plan on pulling out your tray table for a movie night, you can go more simple and functional in design. But if you plan on leaving it out, go for a more stylish design that complements the style of your room.

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desk used as vainty

Vanity

A vanity is a dressing table that’s used as a place to do hair and makeup and put on jewelry. These tables often look like small desks and typically have small drawers for storing dressing items. Vanities are accompanied by a mirror and a stool that slides underneath, so you can sit down in front of the mirror while getting ready. Some come with a mirror attached, and some even come with a stool—but others have each piece sold separately.

Vanity tables are usually placed in a bedroom—though if you have a separate dressing room, a large walk-in closet, or even a large bathroom a vanity could also go in any of these areas.

Things to Consider When Buying a Vanity Table

  • How much storage do you need? If you want to keep makeup and hair tools nearby, opt for a style with drawers so you can tuck things away once you’re ready for the day.
  • Do you want one with an attached mirror? Many vanities have built-in triptych mirrors to make it super easy to get ready. But some require you to purchase a mirror separately. This, however, gives you the flexibility to choose whatever style of mirror you prefer!
  • Does it need to serve a secondary function? Not everyone has the luxury of having enough space for a dedicated vanity. If you need this piece to serve double-duty, you can combine this piece with a desk if you also need a home office space but don’t have room for both.

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home office with dark grey wall and natural wood working desk

Work Table

A work table is used for working on large-scale projects or for spreading out to collaborate. Offering a larger surface area than a typical desk, these tables are great for when you’re working from home with multiple monitors or if you have a child who loves to “work” alongside you.

Things to Consider When Buying a Work Table

  • Will you be using it just for work or will it need to dual function? Since these tables offer so much surface area, sometimes you can sneak in a secondary function with a large work table. They work great as dining tables and would also make a great table for working on a puzzle!

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