Vintage Side Tables and How to Style Them


Jane Starr Drinkard

Side tables are often marketed as “accent” pieces but I’m here to tell you that they can be centerpieces too. While they shine accompanying a larger piece of furniture such as a sofa or a bed, there are other creative uses for these fun, smaller pieces such as TV trays, pedestals for cherished art pieces, or even coffee tables that happen to be on the smaller side. Some vintage side tables can exist in your space as simply a piece of art or artifact to add texture and dynamism to your space. Keep reading to unlock a few of our nifty tips and tricks for styling your side tables:

Place a side table in a foyer or another unaccounted for nook or cranny

This Midcentury Octagonal Side Table via Cherin Studio is placed beside a staircase and holds a bouquet of flowers. The side table can serve as a welcoming piece of art on its own accord. These beveled-edged ‘Jupiter’ Bambi tables would stand on their own as an anchoring piece as well. Their steel wiggle legs and tempered glass top would work well in a home’s entrance or below a Golshaah mirror (also from Toronto-based seller: Alvar Home).

Midcentury Octagonal Travertine and Wood Side Table
available via Cherin Studio

Keep side tables mobile (see: nesting tables)

A few months back, I went long on nesting tables and their incredible versatility. Nesting tables are side tables that always have more to give. They needn’t be sedentary, bolted to one spot, but can move from room to room to support an evening hosting guests or to set up a Sunday reading corner for yourself. The Josef Albers colorful Bauhaus tables have my heart for their playfulness and pop.

Recognize: Nightstands are side tables (duh)

This one’s pretty obvious though its origins might surprise and delight: Before flush toilets became ubiquitous, nightstands were used to hold chamber pots. Modern nightstands hold lamps, melatonin, books, glasses. I prefer a nightstand with a drawer or two as well to minimize clutter. This 1930s grey and cream wooden table is an antique that would add a rustic charm to any bedroom.

Use a side table as a coffee table

Sign a side table up for coffee table duty. Despite being on the smaller side, this (pricey) but gorgeous Italian 1980s travertine Stone and Brass side table could easily anchor a living room all by its lonesome. 

1980s Artedi Italian Travertine Stone and Brass Side Table with Glass Top available via Miscellanea Studio

Arrange a Flower Stand, Art Display, or Book Shelf

A side table can function as a pedestal for pleasurable items that you’d like to show off. Some examples: A book nook like this one from jeweler-photographer Alexander Roth’s home, featured recently on @noinvitenoentry. A plant stand to round out a dining space such as this mini stool/table in Jenny Brucherseifer's kitchen. Or holding a piece of art such as a sculpture like this long-legged guy from Studio Shamshiri.

Jane is an independent contributor at Dendwell.
Lead photo by Stephanie of Modern Haul


Dendwell was a rigorously curated marketplace and magazine for vintage decor. From 2020 - 2022, we dug into the trends, tastemakers, and how-to's of vintage object collection. This is our archive site, and is no longer being updated.