5 Must-Haves for Your Side Table

Styling side tables

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.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Ruth Bates

    October 10, 2018

    Do you still carry the lamp in pictures 1 and 3. Thank you.

    • Reply

      Heather Daly

      October 17, 2018

      Hi Ruth!
      Unfortunatly we no longer carry this lamp. Check out another great mercury glass lamp for a similar feel!

  2. Reply

    Jeanne mcCarthy

    May 27, 2016

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

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      May 27, 2016

      Glad you liked it, Jeanne. We’ll definitely update! Thanks.

  3. Reply


    September 2, 2015

    Do you sell the gold table from #4?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      September 11, 2015

      Hi Kathi,
      Unfortunately it has been discontinued. We’re so sorry. You can browse our other side tables here though.

  4. Reply


    May 28, 2015

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

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      May 29, 2015

      Oh my gosh, Susan! You’re absolutely right! I can’t believe we did that 🙂

  5. Reply


    March 29, 2015

    Is the table in photo #6 available for purchase>

  6. Reply

    Julie Hanna

    November 20, 2014

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

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 21, 2014

      Hi Julie,
      We’re so glad that you like it! That is our Louis Metal Side Table.
      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

  7. Reply


    October 16, 2014

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

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      January 23, 2015

      Hi Sarah,
      Unfortunately we no longer sell this table, although we do have several that are similar. Our Laurel Side Table has a very similar feel to it, as does our Annette Magazine Side Table.
      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

  8. Reply


    September 23, 2014

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

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      October 9, 2014

      Hi Meagan,
      We’re happy to hear the you like our artwork! It is the Garden Medallion Artwork.
      Happy Decorating!

  9. Reply

    ericka w.

    September 12, 2014

    Love the tiered table in the first picture!!

  10. Reply


    August 11, 2014

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

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 25, 2014

      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

  11. Reply


    August 1, 2014

    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.