Occasional tables buying guide

They may be referred to as occasional but these smaller decorative tables are often surprisingly functional and just perfect for everyday use. Here’s a selection of our favourite versatile and charming occasional table styles.

Coffee tables & Side tables

A functional focal point

Different sizes for different rooms

Make a statement with the details

Mix and match styles

Although these days, many people use coffee tables almost interchangeably, coffee tables are generally larger and can act as the focal point of the room, the place where you put magazines, books and even decorative objects. The size, shape and design you choose is all dependent on the size of your room and how you use the table. As the function is fairly straightforward, designers have had fun creating statement coffee tables in wood and glass.

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Lamp tables

Multipurpose pieces

Wide variety of styles and designs

With and without drawers

Work well as a bedside table

Lamp tables are smaller, multi-purpose tables, a convenient option next to sofas, beds and armchairs. Because their function is so simple, these are a great place to have fun with the design. Youʼll find everything from antique-style lamp tables with drawers to modern glass-topped designs and mid-century styles with tripod legs.

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Nest of tables

Perfect for smaller rooms

Stack neatly

With drawers and cabinets

Integral lighting enhances display

Nesting tables are generally smaller tables designed to stack or ‘nestʼ under each other. Theyʼre ideal for small living rooms and bedrooms as you can create extra surface space when needed, for example when you are entertaining guests.You can also use nest tables in place of lamp tables, side tables or bedside tables.

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Console tables

Ideal for behind sofas and in hallways

Tall and narrow

For display or storage

Functional and attractive

These are slim, tall (approximately waist-height) tables that are often used to enhance your décor. The main characteristic is how narrow they are and these can be half-moon shaped, rectangular or rounded. Console tables make a functional extra addition to a hallway, living room, annexe or kitchen, for example, with flowers, vases and mirrors on top. Many have drawers, ideal for keys, pens and pencils and other bits and pieces.

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Choosing the right occasional furniture

The important thing is to get your key furniture pieces - the sofas, beds, dining tables and storage - in place first in order to determine what space you have available. A common mistake many people make is to fall in love with a piece before the essentials are in place - and then have to struggle to work out how it's going to fit.

Be smart about your occasional furniture. Work room by room and create a list of needs the room doesn't fulfil, compared to the way you use it. Do you need an extra seat in your living room? You might need an occasional armchair or two. Do you find piles of magazines and cups appearing next to your sofa?

Occasional furniture isn't just a part of the living room. It's useful in bedrooms, where side tables or nesting tables can work as bedside tables and occasional chairs can add real character.

Measuring up

It's important to measure up your room or rooms before you buy your occasional furniture.
Measure the other key items in a room too, whether it's a sofa or bed, to make sure the occasional furniture you're buying is the right scale and shape to fit in with what you've already got.


Metal and glass

These materials, used in coffee tables, side tables, shelving and storage units, are associated with more of a contemporary look. Glass is often used with metal for sturdiness, though modern glass furniture is mostly reinforced to make sure it's shatterproof and safe to use. All of our glass furniture is made to strict British safety standards. Glass and metal are great for smaller sapces as they reflect the light and create an illusion of extra space.


Wood is perhaps the most commonly-used material for occasional furniture, and solid wood in particular looks beautiful as it ages and is hardwearing, durable and timeliness. Every piece of wooden furniture is unique, with different characteristics in colour, grain and durability.

Our furniture experts will be happy to tell you all about the benefits of different woods and finishes, how each piece is made, and the pros and cons of solid wood and veneer.

Invest wisely and you'll own a piece of solid wood occasional furniture that will last you for years.

Wood with wood veneers

Veneers can look just as good as the real thing and can be easier to clean. Veneers area a thin layer of wood applied to another material to give it the appearance of wood. Cut to enhance the richness of the natural grain, veneers are a thin layer of wood. Versatile and easier to shape, wood with wood veneers lends itself beautifully to exciting contemporary design.