Though small and seemingly trivial, an end table is an important piece of living room furniture. So, knowing how to decorate it the right way is essential if you want to bring your living space to the next level — especially if you’re a passionate interior design enthusiast.
To make sure your accent table is always looking its best, check out our end table decor ideas, get inspired, and get down to accessorizing!
Must-Have Items for a Stylish End Table
You can use a variety of decorative items to style accent tables and get fantastic results — from regular household items to store-bought pieces of decor. The most important thing is that they’re made into a cohesive composition.
So, let’s take a look at some tried and tested items you certainly can’t go wrong with.
Coffee table books with lavishly illustrated covers can serve as excellent living room end table decor. If you choose wisely, they’ll elevate your end table’s aesthetic, add a pop of color, and give your living room the appearance of a lived-in place.
Opt for one book as a statement piece and have it allure your guests with its sophisticated design, or stack a couple and use them as a sort of pedestal for other decorative objects (e.g., a dainty figurine, minimalistic vase, skillfully shaped bonsai tree, etc.).
Besides serving a decorative function, books can help you subtly tell your story without using words, convey a certain message to your guests, or inspire conversation. So, you definitely can’t go wrong with this incredibly versatile piece of decor.
Plants are considered universal house decor. They look great wherever you place them, so you definitely can’t go wrong by introducing some greenery into your living room, especially if you’re looking for inexpensive modern side table decor.
Any house plant can work — from prickly cacti to lush tropical plants. If your end table is small, go for a subtle succulent, potted African violets, or a similar pocket-sized plant.
However, if you’re feeling bold and want something that certainly won’t go unnoticed, you can opt for a larger plant in a decorative planter. Match the planter with your furniture and the overall style of your living room, and you’ll be good to go.
Using ornamental lamps on your accent table is one of the most practical ideas for end table decor. So don’t hesitate to use them even if you already have excellent ceiling lighting or a perfect floor lamp in the opposite corner.
Not only will additional table lamps create an attractive display on your end table, but they’ll also serve as an additional light source perfect for reading or setting a more cozy, even romantic mood if need be.
Besides the lamp’s design and color, you should pay attention to its size. The combined height of the lamp and your end table shouldn’t exceed 58–64 inches if you don’t want to end up with an overcrowded table surface and living room looking slightly out of balance.
If you want to make your end table look homier and less like a perfectly polished furniture store display, this is one of the best end table decorating ideas for you.
Don’t be afraid to give your living room a personal touch. Store-bought knick-knacks aren’t the only things that can breathe life into your simple end table. Use framed photos of your favorite moments, places, or loved ones.
You can also display some artwork you’ve created or hold dear (even your child’s first drawing or handprint can be a good idea if it matches the color scheme). This way, you’ll always have a nice but unique decoration.
A simple but thoughtfully introduced decorative object like a decorative vase can go a long way. You can use it as a standalone piece of decor or combine it with other bits and bobs (e.g., a hand-crafted glazed terracotta plate, coffee table books, etc.) to create an eye-pleasing display.
And if the vase’s design is more rustic, you can fill it with dried plants (e.g., pampas grass, bunny tail grass, dried flower bouquets, etc.) and create a perfect farmhouse end table decor completely effortlessly.
Flowers are a staple in home decor and, for a reason! They’re easy to find, they bring a pop of color to the room, and they effortlessly blend into any design.
So, get your favorite vase and get creative. You can fill it with a fresh (or dry) bouquet, a single flower (an allium is a good option), or even flowering branches (e.g., almond, pussy willow, lilac, forsythia, etc.).
Scented or not, candles are excellent decor for end tables. They come in a variety of colors, styles, and shapes (tea lights, tapers, pillars, those in attractive containers, etc.), so you’re certain to find the right match for your accent table.
You can opt for one larger candle if you lack space or create a beautiful candle display using multiple candles and other decorative items.
Tip — To truly turn your living room into a relaxation oasis, opt for scented candles and calming scents like lavender, jasmine, or cotton.
Top Tips on Styling an End Table
Now that you know what you can use to decorate your end table, it’s time to find out the dos and don’ts of styling to always be able to make an awe-inspiring display (especially if you have a small end table).
- Don’t go overboard with decoration. If you have a really small table, you might only need one piece of decor. Even if your table is larger, there’s no reason to cover it with knick-knacks completely. To always keep your end table surface tidy, limit the number of decorations to five (most designers recommend up to three items).
- Pay attention to the composition. Decorating doesn’t mean randomly placing pretty things on your end table. Your display has to be cohesive. While there are many ways you can achieve this, a foolproof way to do so is to choose one larger item as a focal point, place it in the back, and surround it with several smaller ones.
- Make your side table decor cohesive by using a tray. This is an excellent thing to do when you don’t know how to make different pieces work together. A tray will instantly group all the items and make them look like a set.
- Choose details that’ll add some depth and height to your display. You can do this by stacking and layering decorative items (e.g., books).
- Create symmetry. If you have two end tables by the sides of your sofa, there should be some symmetry in decorating the two. So, either use the same items or go for the same number of items on both tables.
- Use storage containers for miscellaneous items. Don’t forget to make room for the necessary items such as the remote or your glasses. You can do this without overcrowding the end table by using a decorative basket or a bowl.
As you can see, getting a nicely styled end table is by no means impossible. Just follow our tips, and you’ll be unable to make a mistake. Get creative, try out some of the ideas, and get impressed by the results!
How to decorate a small end table?
You can use a variety of items to decorate a small end table. Some of the best options include:
- Books with vibrant covers
- A minimalistic vase
- A framed photo
- A petite candle display
- A potted plant, etc.
Just make sure not to go overboard with the number of decorations on the end table, and make sure there’s always some clean space on there.
How many pieces of decor should I put on my side table?
Many designers recommend keeping the number of items under three. But if you’ve got space and are able to combine decorations into a cohesive unit, you could get away with up to five.
How do you arrange items on a side table?
For the most effective side table arrangement, choose one large piece of decor and two smaller ones. Put the largest item in the center and push it a bit to the back while keeping the two smaller ones in front and on the sides.
And if you opt for books for your end table, you should stack them up to get a bit more height and depth.
For a more graphic illustration, take a look at our end table decor ideas above.