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living room sofa and side table

Sofa side tables are prime home decor real estate for original experiments. Here are a few ideas.

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Here’s the typical layout of a living room: sofas in a rectangular pattern at right angles, with side tables on each side of at least the bigger sofa and a matching coffee table in the middle.

At least that’s what MY living room looks like. It’s traditional. Typical. And maybe a little bit boring.

In my case, it also lends me space to indulge in my favourite vice: clutter. Yup. I’ve got about 50 library books, plus a bunch of paper and other random stuff, piled on that side table. Maybe I need a sofa intervention, a side table revolution.

Let’s have a look at other things you can do with that side table space that’s a bit out of the ordinary.

An actual bookcase

Well, here’s the solution to my problem: a small, low-profile bookcase for putting all the books I borrow from the library. I have one in my office already, but I don’t tend to read in my office; I prefer the couch.

If you tend to accumulate books on your side table, whether for fun (like me) or for work (like me in the past, i.e. graduate school), maybe you should consider getting an actual bookcase. That way, you won’t build piles upon piles of books that threaten to fall and crush you with the smallest nudge.

Here’s an idea that just popped in my head: extend one of the shelves at the right height for a practical teacup holder–without needing an extra table. DIYers, here’s your challenge!

Traditional Family Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Tres McKinney Design

Something in a bold, contrasting color

We tend to choose side tables for how they blend in with the couch and/or coffee table. But what if you went the opposite way? What if you made that side table a bright, visible feature of your room instead of a purely functional piece for your tea and knickknacks?

This project is especially fun for DIYers. Scour garage sales for an unwanted side table and paint it a color you love. Voilà! An original piece for your living room, without losing the function of a side table.

However, you might want to watch out for too much clutter–if your awesome side table is covered in newspapers and books, it might get lost in the mess. Keep it relatively clean and free of any overwhelming clutter.

Nothing at all

Let your sofa go naked. Yes, I’ve said it!

Sometimes the best choice is to do nothing at all. Leaving your sofa side tables naked has several advantages: it opens up the room and forces you to control living room clutter a little bit better.

You can also use the free space to feature art on the walls or on the floor. Add a sculptural lamp or hang a beautiful scroll–the view won’t be blocked by an unsightly side table.

A hidden pet box

Whether it’s your dog’s crate or your cat’s litter box, you can make your sofa side table space do double duty for you and your furry family member. This is especially helpful if you have a small space and can’t really fit the item anywhere else without causing undue trouble.

There are plenty of pretty and original pet furniture you can use here. Pet features definitely don’t have to be ugly!

A minimal side table

If an open, airy space is what you’re after, and yet you absolutely need a side table, think about getting something minimal for your sofa side.

Modern, sculptural pieces with wiry legs and low-profile tops are great if you want to keep your living room as open as possible. The closer the table’s color to that of your couch, the better: it’ll easily blend in.

Modern Living Room by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Jodie Rosen Design

A matching coffee table will also help open up the living room, as long as you don’t cover it with clutter!

What’s on your side table?

For now, I have to live with my traditional and boring side tables. But if/when I have my way, I’ll do something a bit more original, I think.

How about you? Have you ever tried something different from the usual side table/coffee table matching duo? Let us know in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.