How to Style a Side Table

When it comes to picking outdoor furniture, coffee tables get a lot of attention. But let’s not forget about the unsung heroes of outdoor living: side tables. We’ve come up with side table decorating and styling ideas that will instantly upgrade your porch or patio.

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Styling a Side Table

Styling a Side Table with Other Furniture

Styling Side Tables in Different Rooms

Styling a Standalone Side Table

Less is More

The “rule of three” is a smart guideline to follow when figuring out how to style a round side table. As the name suggests, this decorating rule means that objects look better in groups of three. For example, your side table could hold a book, a small lantern, and a tall potted plant. These different elements will look great together no matter how you style them. Adding anything else will clutter your table.

Simple Styling for circular side table

Brighten Your Table with Lights

Side tables are perfect spots to add accent lighting to your patio or deck. Try using table lamps and flameless candles to add practicality and visual appeal to your outdoor space. If you choose to go with a stylish lamp, ensure it’s rated for outdoor use (otherwise, you could be in for a shocking experience).

Add Height and Texture

Use the up-and-down rule to bring depth to your side table. Start with a tall lamp, then choose a smaller item like a book. Finish the look with a medium-height potted plant, and that’s it. You just added style to your space in three simple moves.

Decorating Side Table with decor lanterns plants

Personal Touches are Key

While adding fashionable décor to your side table is a stylish idea, personalizing your outdoor spaces with objects that carry sentimental value will make your space more warm and inviting. This could be a framed family photo, a souvenir you picked up on a trip, or something your kids have made like a piece of art. Plus, the next time you host an outdoor get-together, you’ll have a great conversation starter.

Bring Out Your Books

A stack of books is a creative way to display your interests and bring texture to your outdoor area. Place a few of your favorite novels or art and design books on your side table. If your table has a secondary shelf, use that space for more books or other accessories.

Books for outdoor decor on side table

Use Baskets

Baskets bring functionality to your side table by minimizing clutter. Use a stylish wicker basket to keep small items like coasters, remote controls, and playing cards organized and out of the way when you’re not using them. You could also try using a multi-tier wire basket — it adds height and extra storage space.

How to Style Side Tables with Other Furniture

Now that you know how to decorate a side table, here are some ideas for styling a side table with other outdoor furniture elements.

Styling symmetry with multiple furniture pieces

Take Advantage of Symmetry

Many interior designers will tell you that the eye is naturally drawn to symmetry, so you can’t go wrong using it in decorating. Here are a few style tips for employing symmetry:

  • Furnish your outdoor area with a pair of matching side tables.
  • Use the same number of accent tables on either side of your space.
  • Choose the same plant or lighting accent for each table.

Pick the Right Height

A side table should be no taller than the chair it’s sitting next to. Ideally, it should be a little shorter than the chair’s arm — about two to three inches. Grab your tape measurer, get the length from the floor to the top of your chair’s arm, and keep that measurement in mind when searching for a side table.

Picking the correct height side table for your furniture

Choose the Proper Distance

Your side table should be close enough that you can easily reach it from the chair it’s next to. The distance will vary from person to person, so pick what fits your comfort level.

How to Style Side Tables in Different Rooms

You’ve got your side table decorated and playing well with the other furniture. Now take a look at these interesting ways you can use your side tables in different areas of your home.

Bring Ambiance to Outdoor Dining Rooms

Use a few side tables in your outdoor dining room as spots for accent lighting or outdoor speakers. Style your side tables around the outskirts of the area and top them with table lamps that cast a soft glow, or a couple of wireless speakers to play your favorite chillout music. 

Outdoor dining ambiance with side tables

Add Life to Outdoor Living Rooms

Style end tables to display potted plants. Adding flowers and plants to your side table is a great way to bring color and calm vibes to your outdoor living room or family room. A large pot of zinnias and trailing petunias will look pretty sitting on your side table (and it will attract hummingbirds). But if you don’t want to deal with the ongoing maintenance of natural plants, faux flowers are always a good idea. 

2 thoughts on “How to Style a Side Table

  1. Can you use the 26″ height South Beach side table as a stool to sit on if you need extra outside seating?

    1. Hello Maxine,
      We do not recommend sitting on the side tables, as they have only been tested to hold 50 pounds.

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