Have you given much thought to the table you’re using? Sure, four legs and a flat surface might be the sum of its parts, but the shape and purpose of this piece can make a difference in your rooms.
When selecting tables, be sure they serve a true purpose, rather than just sitting there collecting dust.
“I believe in really using furniture, rather than just staging it and then ensuring nothing ever moves again,” says Michael Diaz-Griffith, an art consultant and founder of Material Cult.
Be creative with the tables you choose, and know that you can break the rules if you happen upon a look you love.
“An old desk with open legs could make a great dining room table, and some tables can even be used in place of kitchen islands, which is exactly the look you’ve seen in Europe for centuries,” he adds.
To help you shop the best looks for your rooms, here are nine of the more common table types for dining and display around the home.
1. Drop-leaf table
If you have a tiny house or just a tight space in need of a table, the drop-leaf is your go-to.
“This pick can save space when used as intended,” says Diaz-Griffith.
Push it against the wall with two chairs at either end, and it’ll stand in for a console when it’s closed. Open the leaves, and add more chairs for dining or game night.
The small profile of this easy-to-assemble, attractive drop-leaf table ($199.99, Target) makes it ideal in a small apartment—and the gentle price doesn’t hurt either.
2. Pedestal table
When it comes to tables for dining or as a display top in a center hall, choose a timeless pedestal.
“A columnar base on a round top provides both simplicity and visual impact,” notes Anna Brockway, co-founder of the furniture design site Chairish.
If you’re in the market for a true classic with these same lines, you can’t go wrong with a tulip table from Eero Saarinen. But for those with shallower pockets, this wood-and-metal pedestal ($284.99, Wayfair) mimics the same shape for a fraction of the cost. It also sports a look that’s modern and streamlined, and it can be put together quickly.
3. Trestle table
The trestle table is an ancient breed that was once prized for its ease of transport and assembly—largely because it was simply made with a couple of supports and a top that was quick to remove.
Today’s trestles fit into most home styles, though this one is usually pegged to rooms with traditional decor designs. This particular pick ($310.40, Lowe’s) expands from a small console to a six-seat dining table, making it extra useful.
Both pedestals and trestle tables can be found with marble tops, which are popular right now.
“Marble has a fabulous, Instagram-worthy surface for photographing everything from cookies to diplomas, and the patina that develops over time is the exact cafe-in-Paris feeling you’re going for,” says Diaz-Griffith.
4. Console table
Sometimes called a sofa table because it’s often found pressed up against this piece of furniture, a console table is a workhorse. You’ll usually find it in skinny entryways topped with a small lamp, a vase, and a dish to catch car keys and loose change.
This pick ($69.99, Wayfair), crafted from wood and steel, is well-priced and lightweight enough to move around as needed.
5. Farmhouse table
Traditionally made from local wood found on the (you guessed it!) farm, this table has always been a utility player in the home.
Look for solid construction and sturdy legs, though modern versions are also available (think zinc tops and metal accents). This farmhouse selection ($799 and up, Pottery Barn) expands to seat between six and eight people.
6. Nesting tables
No home is complete without a set of nesting or bunching tables. Keep them together, and use the top one as an end table—and then slide them apart for more drink space during a party.
This blond wood and faux marble design ($74.99, Wayfair) could work in homes with both contemporary or hygge vibes.
7. Drum table
True to its name, a round drum table is a fun option to place next to a couch or between club chairs, though it could also stand in as a bedside table. This funky drum ($131.62, Amazon) offers texture in an unexpected turquoise shade and is handcarved from sustainable mango wood.
Another pick with an eponymous name is the C-table, known for its boxy lines in the shape of the letter. Try this C-table ($60.77, Lowe’s) in a reading nook to hold your glasses and cup of tea, and then swivel it around, desk-style, to support an iPad.
9. Coffee table
Just about anything can work as a coffee table (ottoman, steamer trunk, a pouf), but the classic rectangle shape is the most common.
Pick one with a lower shelf for storing magazines and books, or consider this option with lift-up top that reveals handy storage ($206.24, Target).