Not Just a Sidekick: Antique Side Tables, Center Stage

While stylistic preferences vary widely from person to person, something is certain: you’ll always find use for a beloved antique side table. Known by a myriad of names and having witnessed many uses in its rich history, the side table is an undeniable classic.

In today’s blog, we will delve into the origins of the side table, explore its many functionalities, and marvel at terrific exemplars from the Styylish collection. As always, you’ll get to imagine antiques and modern pieces, side-by-side: to glorious effect.

Origins of the Table

The table may be the most varied furniture category of them all. Across cultures and time periods, tables have been functionally necessary in our dwellings. Various kinds of tables were produced in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China, mainly for eating meals. Some were beautifully carved slabs of granite or marble; others were low set bales of straw.

The earliest medieval tables were not much more than flat boards laid atop trestles like we’d see for workbenches today.

It was not until the 16th century, that artisans began to develop single and double-pedestal tables, as opposed to the previously typical four-legged or slab tables. At the same time, designers began innovating with table shapes. Surfaces began appearing in narrow hallways, corners, and spare rooms.

That’s where the story of the side table begins: the console table, pier tabls, and hall table are all early examples of antique pieces we’d consider side tables today.

Tables Made for More Than Dinner

Furniture makers began to expand table uses further, far beyond just dining. Antique tables can be found in so many delightful categorizations, the possibilities are endless. Name nearly any activity and you can find an antique table named for doing just that. An artist’s space to work? A drafting table. A place to play games? A card table. A spot to enjoy your morning coffee? A coffee table. You can find more on the intriguing history of coffee tables in our blog post from last year. 

An unbelievable amount of creativity went into antique side table designs. You can find more or less legs, extra folding or drop leaves for expanding and reducing size, endless material options, tables with drawers or shelves, and bold color combinations.

Today, you could consider any of these options as unique candidates for a side table in your home. Your perfect solution for right next to your bed (or one of many fun accent tables for your living room!) might go by an unexpected name, so keep your eyes peeled.

Antique Side Tables for Everyday Use

Side tables don’t have to be bedside tables. An antique or vintage side table can add style features to any room. Add a pair of antique end tables with fluted legs to accent your cutting-edge modern couch. You never know what unexpected match might come from antique wood.

19th Century Ash Wood Game Table- Styylish
19th century Ashh Wood Game table- Now available on Styylish

Bring the whole family together with new traditions, all sparked by an antique side table with history. Gathering around this Ash Wood Game Table would introduce history from the Biedermeier period of the 1850s into your home. With a fold out top, this could not only host a card game, but might easily transform into a setting for hors d’oeuvres, or perhaps fold up  simply for your keys when you first walk in the door.

Art Nouveau Oakwood Sewing Table- Styylish
Art Nouveau Oakwood Sewing Table- Styylish

Maybe the new hobbies don’t stop at card games! Become inspired to pick up your sewing skills again by bringing an Art Nouveau Sewing Table into your space. With simple storage and beautiful oakwood, you don’t have to be a crafter to appreciate the functional potential for a piece like this.

Antique Side Tables to Define Your Space

After you’ve painted the walls, chosen your couches, and picked out accent pillows, don’t get caught selecting side tables as an afterthought. There is unestimated power in something as simple as a well-crafted antique side table.

Biedermeier Working table, South German 1815-20
A Biedermeier Working Table – available now on Styylish

Take this gorgeous Biedermeier Working Table for example. From early 1800’s south Germany, this table has a unique exterior with a beautiful walnut veneer. Two drawers and ebonized column table legs only continue to add charm to this piece. This is an excellent example of the Biedermier period’s claim to fame as unpretentious and functional.

You could develop a complete design concept for a room based on the beauty of a single side table. Building visions of your seating, rugs and lighting might even become easier when you are able to focus on a table that’s simple, yet distinctive.

Demilune Side Tables

A potentially perfect option for your antique side table choice could be a demilune table. “Demilune” means half-moon in French, which accurately describes the shape of the tops of these tables.

Biedermeier Demilune table- walnut-Styylish
An extendable Biedermeier table – available now on Styylish

This Biedermeier Demilune Table was likely designed for a home with a long, narrow hallway that needed functional table space. A demilune table is an incredibly adaptable choice for a side table in any space. They always allow the center of a room to shine.

Neoclassical Demilune Credenza- Styylish
Neoclassical Demilune Credenza- Now available on Styylish

The demilune antique side tables provide flexibility for a space. Would you consider this Neoclassical Demilune Credenzato be a side table? There is a clear advantage to placing this in a hallway, thanks to its small footprint and additional storage.

17th-Century Inspiration in Circular Art Deco Antiques

In the middle of 17th century France, the gueridon emerged. The Gueridon is a side table with legs that bow out and meet both at a circular base on the floor. The support columns for early guéridons were often inspired by human forms or sculptural mythical creatures.

Three-Legged Art Deco Guéridon- styylish
Art Deco Guéridon- Now available on Styylish

This three-legged Art Deco Guéridon is a wonderful example of an adaptation of this style, crafted in the early 20th century. This antique side table pays homage to a historical design tradition while remaining incredibly restrained and sleek.

Art Deco Side table- Styylish
Art Deco Side Table- Now available on Styylish

This Art Deco Side Table with a Makassar ebony veneer is uniquely stunning. Imagine this as a great fit for an entryway, or perhaps as a table showcasing a lamp beside a living room lounge chair. For now, these styles are about as modern as you can get within the “antique” category, approaching almost 100 years old!

The Choice is Yours: Antique Side Tables 

As you read through this, I hope you are able to take away some creative sparks on what antique side tables might offer to your space. There is no singular answer, or one-size-fits-all rule. What do you expect or need out of a small, secondary table in your home? What activity or items do you feel needs a designated space? Don’t let the titles of tables limit you. Styylish wants to match you with the perfect side table, whether you need a nightstand or accent table or guéridon or demilune!

You May Also Like