While major pieces of furniture (such as sofas) do the bulk of the work in a living room, tables are the soul of interior design; they carry the lamps and ornamentation which give a room its atmosphere and unique personality. Choosing a table is an important process, you’re not just choosing furniture, you’re creating a home and gaining a friend.
Choosing a table isn’t easy, partly because tables have so many names, yet the name rarely matters, what’s important is the way the table is used. End tables are often found in pairs, one at either end of a sofa, but exactly the same table, on its own, at the side of a chair, would most likely be called a side table, you might even find it in the bedroom, as a nightstand. Whatever you call the table, it has a purpose, usually to act as a stage or platform for something else, a lamp, a cup, a book or all three. And let me suggest one other important element of your decor; a plant or vase of flowers.
The height of a table is very important. End tables should usually be the height of the sofa’s arm and will act as a frame for the larger piece. If your sofa is a modern design, you may find the arm isn’t much higher than a coffee table. Add a lamp and if possible have them wired so you can switch them on and off from a wall switch. If rewiring isn’t possible, add a simple remote control. Over head lighting destroys the atmosphere in a room.
Your choice of end of table will depend partly on the style of your room, but mostly on the style of your sofa. A modern sofa with straight lines, demands an angular end table, square or rectangular. Check the size carefully, sofa’s can be more than 40 inches deep. A 15 by 18 end table could look far too small, whereas a pair of 36 by 36 end tables will take up 18 square feet, and that’s not including the sofa between them! If you have room for a sofa table behind your couch, you may not need room on the end table for lamps or flowers, but if not, remember it’s these decorative elements that give your home color and personality.
If your room is small, look for a rectangular table the same depth as your sofa, but relatively narrow (14-18 inches). If your sofa has a rounded back or arms, consider a pair of elegantly rounded or oval tables. If you need to save space, use a set of nesting tables on either side of your sofa, and for maximum utility, choose tables with built-in storage; everyone needs space to store remote controls and DVD’s. Even the smallest of tables can hold a single flower in a vase. For special occasions, have a suitable vase ready to hold fresh flowers, but for every day, buy a stem of a realistic (often described as ‘real touch’) but artificial bloom. Just one or two in a small vase will make a huge difference. A flower and a set of candles may be all your need to add a striking accent color to your room; keep the major furnishing neutral and it’s an easy, inexpensive process when you want to change your color scheme.
Modern furniture puts an emphasis on glass, however real wood is generally far easier to care for. If you’re looking for something with personality, a painted finish will give your living or family room an additional ‘wow’ factor and if you have modern decor it will help you avoid the ‘metal and glass’ look. A light colored, painted finish will give your room a fresh feel; there’s no need to go for dark colors if you’re looking for a traditional style; be fashionably ‘shabby chic’ by choosing pastel tables with a distressed finish. A light, chintzy or feminine sofa, potted plants and vases stuffed with cottage garden flowers will complete the look, but if you’d prefer something more exotic, try something with a patterned mosaic surface and the warmth of brass, or use a carved ornate trunk to add an air of mystery.
Don’t spend time trying to ‘match’ finishes. Just like a great outfit, a great room isn’t made from furniture that matches, but from furniture that blends and contrasts. A single item, in a style different from the rest, can make an excellent focal point to a room, especially when the item is beautifully made.
Interiors are not all about looks, they’re about people. Designers use furniture and accessories to give people what they need, functionally, artistically and emotionally. Choosing the right table, and accenting with the right plants and flowers, are important parts of that process.
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