What to put on a side table

What to put on a side table

Not sure what to put on a side table? Feeling lost as to how to decorate a side table? This blog will take you through the simple steps to style a side table that is both attractive and functional.

In all of our examples we are styling our small round side table. We find that round side tables tend to work better than square or rectangle shape but these principles can be applied to any shape table.

Styling a living room side table

Let’s begin with the most important space that needs to be reserved on your living room side table - leave room for your beverage of choice. I believe this should be its own space, not a token coaster placed on top of a pile of books. Have this space closest to where you will be sitting.

Living room side table. LayerTree.

Include a plant or vase with seasonal blooms in as the tallest item on your living room side table. Having an empty vase can be the incentive you need to get out into the garden and collect some fresh foliage. You can always have some dried flowers as a backup, which would fill any seasonal gaps. Position this towards the back of the table and furthest from where you are sitting so that it doesn’t get knocked as you reach across the table.

As a permanent feature on your small side table include a small trinket or candle. Something that you can engage with is best so a few ideas are listed below:

  • candle, oil burner or incense to light 
  • a decorative box that you keep remote controls in
  • small bowl that is topped up with healthy snacks each day
  • mini calendar or daily quote
  • photo or artwork in a freestanding frame

Using books that have beautiful covers but are ready infrequently can be used really well on a small side table to add height to bowls, candles or trinkets so that the composition of your table works better.

Styling a small bed side table

If you don’t have wall mounted bedside lights like ours here then including a small lamp on your table is a must. It should be closest to your bed so that you don’t knock other items when trying to reach to turn it on in the dark. And also position it towards the back of the table so that it doesn’t block the view of smaller items. 

Small bed side table. LayerTree.


Including a plant in the bedroom is proven to help you sleep better. This should be the next priority for your small side table. Shop around your home and see what plants you already have that could be relocated to your bed side table. If you are looking for something new then I would suggest a slow growing, low maintenance plant like aloe; spider plant, peace lily or ivy. Nothing looks worse than an uncared for plant so choose something that you have the time to look after.

No doubt you have some sort of book that practically needs to go on your side table. Whether it’s your journal, the latest thriller or simply a notebook to jot down nighttime inspiration it needs its own place. Try to limit books to just 1 or 2 and lay them flat if space permits. If you have a small bed side table then try sitting the books upright. A single book can rest upright against a lamp or plant pot or you can use these objects as book ends if you really can’t part with your mini bedside library.

Tray table. LayerTree.

A tray table like the one shown here with an edge to it will prevent earrings, a watch or those elusive earplugs rolling off onto the floor never to be seen again. But even if your table has this feature a small dish can be extremely useful to group these items together. The final item for your bedside table is therefore a small dish or bowl. Again, shop around your own home for anything that might be suitable to hold small items that you need close by. If you are short of space then this dish can be placed on top of your flat laying book(s).

Take a closer look at the variety of small side tables we make here.

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