5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Console

This post was published in December 2013 and updated June 2020.

Console in dining room with acrylic chandelier, wall mirror and candle sconcesYou may not know it, but one of the most functional and versatile pieces in your home is the console table. It has just the right proportions, storage and display to work in virtually any room. The trick in adapting a console table to any setting is starting with a great design and neutral finish. All that’s left is styling it to fit the needs of the space — and suddenly you’ve brought new life to a piece that perhaps you’ve long overlooked.

 

1. Entry Table

Perhaps the most obvious purpose of a console, the entry table provides a place to drop your keys and phone while setting the tone of a welcoming entry. Prop or hang a mirror above to open up the space—and give you one last chance to check your appearance before heading out. Use the hidden shelves to hold chargers, leashes, memo pads and other odds and ends.

Small console table used as buffet in dining room2. Dining Room Buffet

The perfect choice for smaller spaces, it’s big enough to hold table linens, such as placemats, tablecloths and runners, while showcasing your most treasured decorative objects. Creatively stack your china or fill a vase with flowers for a pop of color. Need mood lighting? Flank two sconces on either side like we did above.

Cabinet as cocktail cabinet in dining room

3. Cocktail Table

Yes, we know the bar cart is all the rage these days, but nothing says you can’t re-purpose a piece of furniture you already own to the same effect. Put trays up top to display your finest bottles of spirits and mixers, and stash cocktail napkins, stirrers and bar tools in the drawers below. Use the shelf for storing glassware, pitchers and ice buckets. The only question is: when’s the party?

 4. Bedside Table

We love using a console table in place of a traditional nightstand for its scale and extra storage and display. It can easily hold its own beside today’s substantial beds and headboards. Create Zen-like balance by pairing two on either side with matching lamps.

Bookcase used as storage console by the back door5. Storage Shelf

Why limit a bookshelf to only books? You can never have too much storage in a home so utilize those shelves in the same place as a console. We love the idea of using our Morgan Long Bookcase at the backdoor to catch shoes and other items your family uses at they come and go. Keep it organized and pretty with baskets for each family member. 

Shop all console tables and find more inspiration for styling your console in these posts below:

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.

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    Susan Krieger

    October 19, 2016

    My demilune table has probably been in every room of my house over the years. I’ve had it in the bedroom, dining room, living room, entry way, stair landing. I’ve used it as you’ve suggested. I’ve also used it as a vanity table. Currently it’s on my art wall in the bedroom. I love the piece and have often been tempted to purchase a second. As console tables go, the demilune is the most versatile.

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    Andrea

    July 20, 2016

    Are there any rules or guidelines for the size of artwork to put above a console/sideboard style table in a dining room? We have 2 lamps on top of a sideboard (at each end). I am not sure if the prints (looking at Garden Whimsy from Ballard) should fit between the lamps or if it is ok to extend behind them…

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      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 25, 2016

      Andrea,
      The general rule of thumb is for your art to be sized at about 2/3 the size of the piece of furniture it’s hanging over. In the case of art prints between lamps, we definitely think it’s ok for them to extend behind the lamps. When in doubt, we usually air on the side of larger.
      Happy Decorating!

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    Lea

    July 1, 2014

    Any ideas as to how to corral all the electric cords from the desk lamp, computer, printer?

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      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 28, 2014

      Hi Lea,
      Thanks for your comment, and we agree, this is such a tricky design dilemma. Have you ever considered using cable ties to group them together? That would make it easy to run cords behind piece of furniture and down the wall. Plus it’ll keep them from getting tangled!

      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

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