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End Tables vs. Side Tables: What’s the Difference?

October 31, 2023

End Tables vs Side Tables

Est. Reading Time: 8 Mins

When you think of a table to add to your living room, you wouldn’t normally think of a living room end table or a side table. Usually, the first thing  is a coffee table to rest your drinks on.

But, according to Mary Lee Smyth, the interior designer at La-Z-Boy Kingston, there are many different accent tables people can choose to add to their homes.

“There’s cocktail tables that are similar to coffee tables but appear lower to the ground, and then there’s martini tables that are super thin pieces that only hold beverages,” she says, as she lists other notable table types.

Even though there might be many variations, there are two main accent tables that people get when they’re pulling their rooms together. These can be either an end table or a side table

These tables may look similar to each other, but they have some big differences that may not be as apparent to someone shopping for one or the other.

So, what are these differences, and what type of accent table is right for you when furnishing your living room?

In This Article…

  1. What is the Difference Between an End Table and a Side Table?
  2. How to Properly Use an End Table vs. a Side Table?
  3. Which Table is Right For You?
  4. End Tables and Side Tables at La-Z-Boy Ottawa & Kingston

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What is the Difference Between an End Table and a Side Table?

So, what is the difference between an end table and a side table?

Well, starting with living room end tables, these furniture pieces are smaller tables normally placed at the ends of a furniture piece. This is, coincidentally, where they get their name.

End tables normally come as a set of pieces with two of them complimenting each other on each side of either a sofa, a loveseat or a sectional. “Think of them as bookends but for your furniture,” Mary Lee says. Bookends help compliment your shelving area with small accents, helping tie that space together, just like end tables do!

Wood End Tables

Their sizing is also telling of what kind of table type they are, with end tables traditionally being bigger than side tables. 

Round Wood End TableSpeaking of side tables, these furniture pieces do not come as a set but stand on their own, next to a furniture piece. While they may not have a twin that helps with their appearance, it still compliments the larger coffee table and furniture pieces you have in your living room.

Side tables are normally paired with a solitary chair, like a recliner or a stationary piece.



How to Properly Use an End Table vs a Side Table?

Now that we’re familiar with each furniture piece, how does one properly use these accent tables in a living space? Here are some things to consider when trying to choose one over the other.

The Placement of Your Accent Table

One of the bigger questions you might be wondering is how these furniture pieces should be placed in a room.

When it comes to any accent table, it depends on their size more than anything else. For living room end tables, though, their main objective is staying in between a furniture piece or next to one. Most of the time, they are placed in corners of the room to avoid being in the way of other furniture pieces.

This may also follow with side tables in your living room. These pieces of furniture, though smaller than end tables, can be placed next to a sit-down area if there’s a lot of empty space. These types of tables are also great for putting next to two chairs, to help create a small conversation area. 

For those seeking extra storage in their seating area, side tables with drawers offer an ideal solution. They provide a convenient hideaway for items like coasters, remotes, or any other clutter that needs tidying up.

Mary Lee says that you can even mix and match end tables and side tables together in a space. “If you only have room for one end table and you want to add another furniture piece, you can add a side table to compliment it,” she says. Some furniture stores in Ottawa and Kingston carry living room end tables and side tables that have the same style, which helps keep a room staying on theme.

Adding Lighting

Accent lighting in a room can be important if you have less natural light coming in. And what better place to add your accent lighting than your accent tables? 

End tables are great at keeping your living room lamps cozy with a place to sit comfortably in your living space. However, if you decide to add a table lamp on your side table, it might look awkward in the middle of a space like that.

“Lamps are meant to be in the corner of a room so the light can easily bounce off the walls,” Mary Lee says. If you are looking for a lamp that goes with your side table, there are side tables with built-in floor lamps for this exact purpose. This creates a versatile piece that helps with lighting, storage and adding a statement to a room.

The Size of Your Accent Table Compared to Your Other Furniture

When you’re looking for a living room end table or a side table to go with your furniture, you need to be sure the proportions of each furniture piece are not awkwardly placed. What this means is keeping an eye out for larger accent tables that may take over the spotlight from your main furniture pieces.

“These tables are only meant to be sidekicks and not the main star,” Mary Lee says. If you find that you love a certain side table and you want to match it with your recliner, it might be best to know the measurements of each piece before making a concrete decision. 

End tables and side tables should normally be taller than a coffee table, but lower than the arms of a furniture piece. This creates an ideal sweet spot from where your accent table should sit. 

Narrow End TableIf you’re looking for proper sizing, Mary Lee says that end tables and side tables are usually 24” tall, or somewhere around that measurement. 

However, it is important to note that a side table will always be smaller than an end table, no matter the circumstance. “If you have a table smaller than your side table, you enter more niche accent table territory, like martini and wine tables, which don’t hold all too much,” she says.

The size of a coffee table also matters in a space, too! To learn more about Coffee Table Shapes & Sizes, take a look at this article.

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Do Your Smaller Accent Tables Match Your Coffee Table?

The last thing you may need to consider is whether your accent tables match your coffee table. This is important if you’re trying to stick to a certain theme in your living room.

Sometimes, there are sets of wood end tables that match the design of a coffee table to a tee. This is because some furniture stores know that this is what people want out of their accent tables. Side tables, on the other hand, don’t have table sets like this, which can make it more difficult to match your coffee table.

If you’re trying to find an accent table of any type to match your coffee table, take note of the materials used to make your furniture pieces. Mary Lee says that if the materials match the furniture in your room, there is still a chance to make a living room that looks put together!

You can also match your accent tables with an ottoman if you do not have a coffee table. Adding different textures to a room is the joy of adding an ottoman to a space. To learn more about our Best Selling Ottomans at La-Z-Boy with this article.

Wood End Table


End Tables vs. Side Tables: Which One is Right For You?

With all of these factors to consider, you might have an idea of what to go within your living room. However, there might still be some things you’re a little bit foggy about. To help you decide which accent table is best for you, let’s take a look at budget, functionality and style.

To begin, the cost of a wood end table versus a side table depends on the quality and size of the furniture piece. 

It also depends on how many accent pieces you’re getting; as we’ve discussed earlier, normally end tables are paired in twos instead of just one. If that’s the case, you’d be spending double the cost on two bigger pieces to put in your furniture.

If you are trying to save money, it might be better to choose a side table instead, or one narrow end table for your living room, depending on the seating arrangement in your living area.

This leads to the functionality of each piece, which can be versatile depending on which piece you’re looking at. Both end tables and side tables can have different sizing, materials, and storage capabilities and can even charge your electronic devices in some instances.

But, it is important to consider your furniture placement, or else your accent tables will look awkward no matter how you place them. 

If you have a loveseat and a sofa combination, for example, you might want to place narrow end tables on each corner to maximize your living space. If you have two chairs, however, it might be best to use a side table for a small conversation area.

Lastly, the style of your furniture should match no matter what. Yes, having end tables with larger furniture pieces is ideal, but it’s also good to keep things simple if your furniture requires it. 

For example, dainty sofas that look elegant in style, may not need large round end tables that take away from the piece. “It’s like if you added worker boots to a silk dress when you’re going out to a fancy restaurant–it’ll just look silly!” Mary Lee says.

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End Tables and Sides Tables at La-Z-Boy Ottawa & Kingston

After all of these factors are considered, you might be wondering, what kind of accent tables does La-Z-Boy have? After all, you’ve read this far… and you’re on our website. You must be even a little curious about what we have to offer!

At la-Z-Boy, we offer a wide selection of living room end tables with storage and side tables, thanks to our subsidiaries at Hammary, American Drew and Kincaid

As mentioned briefly above by Mary Lee, there are many styles to choose from, with some accent tables having abstract designs that’ll make guests appreciate your living room even more.

There are also many thematic pieces, each of them complimenting industrial, woodland, glass, and others from any colour palette. You also have the option to custom order certain pieces as well, for an extra charge, however.

To learn more about Custom Furniture at La-Z-Boy, take a look at this article.

Wood End Tables

What's Next?

With your newfound knowledge of end tables and side tables, you can confidently choose the perfect accent piece for your space.

If you’re interested in seeing our accent table selections at La-Z-Boy, make sure to come in-store today!

You can start shopping by visiting any of our showrooms located in Ottawa or Kingston, or you can schedule a visit online before coming in.

Our design consultants are always eager to lend a helping hand. Take advantage of our interior design services to see how our furniture can fit in your home. 

To see a glimpse of what we have to offer, take a look at some of our best-selling furniture items:

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