best ofInteriors

11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables

by Sabrina Smelko

Ah, the humble side table — one of the most utilitarian pieces of furniture one can own. For the most part, it serves a functional purpose — offering a spot to rest a cup, book, or your phone — but it’s generally the decorative knick-knacks, lamps and art we store atop that take the cake when it comes to adding style and beauty. However, that’s not to say that the side table can’t be beautiful in and of itself.

No matter the room or furniture piece, some easy ways to add visual interest, texture, and fun is by challenging the norm, getting creative and/or discovering a new use for an object intended for something else — be it a bar cart, DIY creation, piece of vintage luggage, or an upholstered footstool. Today I’ve rounded up 11 creative and unconventional side tables from a handful of past home tours to inspire you to rethink your surfaces! –Sabrina 

11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
Whether you lack space, you simply like the clean look, or you have other plans for the floor at your beside (a dog bed, perhaps?), floating side tables are a trend I personally love, as seen in this custom-built home using leather straps and wood.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
A super-practical tip for gaining storage and function is to swap a small decorative side table with a short cabinet or dresser. It still offers the same easy-to-access surface for a cup of tea and a book, but also provides tons of extra bonus storage below. I simply love this pale teal number from Manfung and Angel's Dutch contemporary home.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
Ah, the trusty bar cart! New or vintage, bar carts add texture and fun to any space, whether used in a living room to hold magazines, in the kitchen for small appliances, at your bedside with stacks of books -- or, just for good measure (pun intended), to simply hold your liquor as seen in the sun-soaked home of Nicole and Daniel.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
In this Portland home, Jaclyn uses a charming upholstered footstool as a bedside table, which she accents with a hanging lamp in a similar hue.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
Another brilliantly beautiful substitute for a side table is a trunk or piece of luggage as Juley used in her Parisian-style apartment in New Orleans.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
In this Spanish home, a delicate original Matthieu Mategot cart design was painted to match the walls, adding just a hint of visual interest and a splash of storage beneath a gallery wall. Sitting on castors, it's versatile and functional.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
Wherever possible, art and decor in this home was handmade, including the coffee table which was a DIY creation made from an old shipping crate.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
In Lauren and Griffin's home, the couple used old trunks from their respective childhood sleepaway camping trips to combat their disdain for nightstands.
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
Logs, timber -- whatever you want to call it -- salvaged wood cut from tree trunks or branches is a timeless side table substitution, as seen in this Portland home. (And it'll come in handy whenever you have to knock on wood.)
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
Rather than stacking your books on your side table, why not create a side table from a big stack of books like Nikole did in her home?
11 Creative and Unconventional Side Tables
The pop of yellow from this storage box found curbside brings form and function to this New Jersey Victorian. Nestled in the center of this guest room / office space, it's not only pretty, but can be used to hide away both linens for the guest bed, and/or unsightly office supplies.

Suggested For You


  • My favourite is #1, as I love all sorts of floating shelves that clear the floor. This is beautiful and I’ll be using it for my new bedroom!

  • We needed a cheap beside table so we bought a TV tray table from Wal-Mart for $10. Looks pretty great! They also have natural, unstained or dark wood options.