5 Must-Haves for Your Side Table

Styling side tables

When it comes to living room furniture, the coffee table gets all the glory. Aside from the sofa, it’s one of the first items people look to purchase when they’re setting up house for the first time or upgrading from the hand-me-downs of college days past.  It’s easy to understand how the much smaller side table might be easily overlooked, but we’d argue that it’s just as important a player. These flexible pieces of furniture offer a place to set a drink, provide storage, and, depending on the style of the table, pinch hit as an extra seat or a mini-bar.

Even if your side table isn’t front and center, it’s still worth taking the time to style it like you would your coffee table to create a balanced space that reflects your personality. Read on to find out what our favorite must-haves are for a well-styled side table.

Styling side tables

1. Lighting

Shed some light on it. Side tables are a great place for displaying other elements in your design. Introduce much-needed accent lighting while displaying a gorgeous lamp that brings a color pop or a shapely design to your decor.

Styling side tables

2. Something to read

Take the books off the shelf and bring them into the room. Books can say a lot about your interests and add a touch of color. Add a stack of  books (three is typically the magic number) on top or on a secondary shelf.

Styling side tables

Styling side tables

3. A Favorite Treasure

Put your favorite things on display. Unique accessories, such as a beautiful bowl or dish, a found piece of coral, a special trinket or a had-to-have-it tray, are what make a space your own.

Styling side tables

4. A little ambiance

A scented candle in your signature scent adds instant ambiance, as does a pretty bowl of flowers.  And if you’re not up to the task of gathering fresh-cut flowers, faux florals or greenery work just as well for year-round color.

Styling side tables

5. A Basket or Dish

The key to maximizing style is minimizing clutter. Our go-to strategy for keeping it clean is setting out an attractive basket or dish on a side table to collect the odds and ends. Now you can keep remotes and reading glasses tucked away while you aren’t using them.

For more decorating inspiration, browse our Pinterest boards for ideas, or visit our photo gallery to see all the gorgeous rooms found in our catalog.


About the Author:

Patricia Palermo
Patricia Palermo has been writing about home décor and design since 1999, which is when she first learned the term faux bois. She's passionate about helping others find their design style, because she believes with a little know-how and inspiration, anyone can decorate with confidence. Patricia has a degree in Journalism and lives in Atlanta with her husband and four-year-old twins.


  1. Jeanne mcCarthy May 27, 2016 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Many of the items shown are not available any longer , it would be great if you could update. Love your decorating ideas

  2. Kathi September 2, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Do you sell the gold table from #4?

  3. Susan May 28, 2015 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Where is must-have #5? Did I miss something?

  4. Susan March 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Is the table in photo #6 available for purchase>

  5. Julie Hanna November 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I love the barrel side table/cupboard in picture 3, can you tell me where I can purchase.

  6. Sarah October 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Where is the side table from at the very top? With the gray ceramic lamp on top.

  7. Meagan September 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    What is the green and white artwork in the last photo? I love it!

  8. ericka w. September 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Love the tiered table in the first picture!!

  9. Gwen August 11, 2014 at 8:28 am - Reply

    What is the paint color in the first picture? I love it!

    • Caroline @ How to Decorate August 25, 2014 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Hi Gwen,

      Thanks for your comment. We love this wall color too! It’s Benjamin Moore’s Paris Rain (#1501). As always, be sure to test a swatch of the paint color in your space before making your final decision as sometimes paint colors can differ greatly from space to space!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  10. Lisa August 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I love the mercury glass lamp and the mirrored side table. I love using books in my design schemes. They are classic and can add height to a table by elevating objects, giving it more interest.

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