Vern Yip's Tips for Choosing Side Tables

HGTV Design Star judge Vern Yip shares his top tips in HGTV Magazine for choosing the right side table for any room.

Photo By: Photo: Todd Plitt/HGTV

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine

Vern Knows Best

Just about any table that sits to the side of a piece of furniture can be considered a side table. You'll most often find one in a living room, by a sofa or chair. But depending on its height, you can also use one as a nightstand or as a coffee table in a small room. Side tables are a great place to add color or texture. Here are some pointers for finding one (or two or three) for your space.

One Height Doesn't Fit All

If you're using it with a chair or sofa, a side table works best when it's no lower than an inch or two below the arm of the seat it's next to. A standard sofa arm is around 24 inches tall, so aim for a table about that height. If you're pairing a table with a chair that has a shorter arm, or if you want to use the table as a stool, pick one that's more like 16 to 20 inches. If it's going to serve as an entryway piece, choose one that's 27 to 30 inches tall. Journey Trading Co. Houston 18"-H x 16"-diameter table, $480, allmodern.com

Pay Attention to Width

Side table widths and diameters vary a lot too, from 10 inches (or sometimes even less) and up, but I like a surface width that's at least 18 inches across. Anything smaller isn't quite as functional. If you're putting a standard-sized lamp on the table, you'll need one that's at least 22 inches in diameter. Arland 26"W x 26"D x 24"H table, $299, broyhillfurniture.com for stores

Go for Simple

For a living room with a lot of upholstered pieces, I like side tables that are sleek and simple. The table's clean lines balance out the other furniture's softness. Some smart choices: glass, acrylic, metal and wood without much carving. If your furniture is modern, you can go with something more ornate. Adams 23"-H x 18"-diameter table, $349, roomandboard.com

Think About the Surface

Ceramic, stone and glass tops are good for holding drinks since you don't need coasters. Wood- or fabric-top tables are fine for displaying knickknacks or resting books and remotes on. Smart 17 3/4"W x 17 3/4"D x 19"H table, $149, cb2.com

Choose a Can't-Go-Wrong Shape

Round and oval tables are pretty much no-fail. They add another shape to a room that typically has a lot of rectangular pieces, like a sofa, coffee table and chairs. Elisha 24"-H x 15 1/2"-diameter table, $229, ethanallen.com

Control Clutter

If you need extra storage space, choose one with an open shelf on the bottom to hold books or games, or one with a combination of shelves and doors to hide your DVDs or electronics. Renard 27 1/2"-H x 19 1/2"-diameter table, $179, ballarddesigns.com

Placement Is Key

The number of side tables you need in a room depends on the amount of seating you have and the room's size. Any sofa or chair can have its own side table, or two seats can share one. Let's say you have a sofa with two chairs facing it, plus a coffee table. I would put one side table between the two chairs and two other side tables on either end of the sofa, if the room is big enough. Martini 25"-H x 20"-diameter spool table, $439, hgtvhomefurniture.com for stores

Be Bold

Since side tables aren't the center of attention, you can be more daring with them than with big furniture. I love tables in bright colors, or ones with curvy legs. One thing I'd avoid is an elaborate side table next to a sofa with a bold pattern. Tini II 8"W x 18"D x 20"H table in fireworks and zigzag, $485, oomphonline.com

You Can Mix and Match

One pair of identical side tables in a room is fine, but if you have more than two tables, don't match the rest. Do stick with a similar look, though: Maybe all the tables are made of warm wood, like oak and walnut, or they could all have brushed nickel or bronze accents. Having one trait in common will keep the look cohesive. Martini 16 1/2"-H x 15"-diameter table, $149, westelm.com