If we truly look into the details of a home, you can always find a table in any living space.
Tables are the embodiment of people convening, for accent decors that would spruce up the room, a functional fixture which you can put important stuff from magazines, to laptops and use as a workspace, and a lot of other things.
In this post, we shall look at the types of tables for you to see that there is more to it than just what we conceive it to be. From types, to materials used to build one, and table styles, this list has it all so read on.
History of tables
As staple as they may seem, the history of tables reveals that more than its utilitarian function, it has always been an important fixture used for important social performances.
According to archives, the first register of the existence of tables is traced back to ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations to as early as 3 BCE. During that time, tables were made only of wood, stone slabs, and ceramics.
The first tables were very small like the end tables. They were used to hold food and drinks and in making crafts. By the 1-2BCE, tables were already seen in temples and in religious practices such as in sacrificial rituals, for offerings, and as part of the altar.
It was also during this time when tables held more opulence as the nobility used it for feasting and as status symbols of authority, power, and social status.
The popularity of tables lost its touch during the Medieval period but made its comeback during the Renaissance. From this period (17th century) up to the present, more ornate styles of tables, different sizes and shapes as well as materials for making tables have emerged.
Culturally, then and now, the use, look and style of tables vary because of different practices, customs, and beliefs. The cultural context to which the function of tables arise are as important as how they look. But of course, this is another discussion altogether.
Types of tables
There are more than 30 types of tables and they range from function, purpose, decorative impact and more. Notwithstanding the materials used, the shape, and the style of the table, here are the most common types of tables that you should know of.
1. Accent table
To be clear, accent table is a collective term used to refer to different living rooms or ‘occasional tables’ such as consoles, coffee, and end tables. Hence, these are small tables used for minimal items.
It is commonly placed in the gap in between the couch or anywhere in the room to make it look fuller. It can be an old tree stump, a wooden chest, an antique ottoman, or a repurposed shelf.
2. Bar and pub table
Thinking of the context of bars and pubs, you would easily get the point that bar and pub tables are for smaller spaces.
The typical form is that this table should be 3-ft high and only accommodate 2-3 people. This table is specifically designed to hold drinks while people stand around, or while sitting.
3. Bedside table
This is more popularly known as the nightstand and it flanks the bed, hence, the name.
Two bedside tables are usually placed beside the bed, conventionally, holding the lamp shade and has built-in drawers by the body. Because it is just within arms’ reach, your keys, alarm clock, watch, glasses, and night book are also placed in it.
4. Bistro table
Made for well, bistros, this type of table is meant for some extra seating in a compact room.
Taller than a side table and larger than a drink table, it can also be placed as extra side tables in dining rooms or in a small living room. If you are in for a cozy vibe in your room, this one is a fine choice.
5. Breakfast nook table
It can also be called just a breakfast table which is starkly different from the usual dining table because it is smaller in size, and has a more casual, informal vibe. It is typically the table that you would see right there in the kitchen.
6. Buffet table
This one is categorized as one of the sideboard tables. They are mainly used for large events where the silverware, dishes, linens, and cutleries are lined up for better accessibility among guests. Sometimes, a buffet table is also used as serving stations for food trays.
7. C table
This one gets its name for its C-shape appearance. It is functional especially if you want to take your work in the bedroom, by the sofa or the couch because you can swivel it around and have leg room in the space in the middle.
8. Card table
As the name implies, this table is made for playing card and dice games and is considered an indoor table.
Some come with standard features (like casino tables), while some are more portable as they can now be folded or packed up through sliding.
9. Cocktail table
This is more of a decorative table made as center pieces for living rooms or outdoor spaces.
They are compact enough to save floor space but are also functional enough to hold drinks and food while people gather around it.
10. Coffee table
The most common type of living room table would be the coffee table. It is identifiable as that table placed in the middle of a seating area, most notably in the living room.
It is where magazines, coffee table books, and small decorative trinkets are displayed and where food and drinks could be placed while watching TV.
- Coffee Table Size: How To Choose the Right Coffee Table Dimensions (Round, Square)
- 23 Best Coffee Table Alternatives For Small Living Room
11. Computer table
It can come in different lengths, sizes, and shapes but this table is made for holding computers.
This one usually has holes for the cords to be installed, running around the room. They also have drawers for the computer’s keyboard. Some also customize this by adding a printer shelf.
12. Conference table
Like a dining table, conference tables need to be grand and large because they are used for formal meetings and interviews.
The distinct characteristic of a conference table, however, is that it has built-in ports and plugs for phone and laptop charging.
13. Console table
They are also known as sofa tables and are often interchanged with end tables. These are the narrow, long, and thin tables that are placed behind a sofa or placed in the middle corner of an entryway.
This is where the keys are tossed, where decorative pieces are arranged by the entrance to give an added layer to your entryway.
14. Dining table
This one is of course larger than the living room tables we have just discussed. They accommodate four people and more, used for eating meals and grander events.
The structure of dining tables includes having extra leaves by the edge to accommodate more people.
Related: 36 Different Types of Dining Room Chairs (Materials, Designs, Styles)
15. Dressing table
It is also called the toilet table and is usually seen in powder rooms. In the olden times, especially in the 17th century, they were really mainstays in the toilet.
The dressing tables are tiny ones but they have two to three drawers.
16. Drink table
This is a very tiny table, fitting for well, you guessed it, a glass of drink. While they can be taller, its main identifier would be having a shorter side and a small, platform like top where the drink is placed.
17. Drop-leaf table
This one is a crafty way to have an additional seating panel without making the extra guest feel out of place.
As the term implies, one table panel is foldable, dropping by the side. It can be extended out anytime to make the table longer.
18. Drum table
Well, it has the shape of a drum, heavy and has a circular top. It has been used since the 1700s and comes in various styles.
It can be as small as a stool but it could also be taller (the height of the chair’s arms). The top can have a leather or metal finish. It also comes with built-in drawers and cabinets so it is very functional.
19. End table
As has been said, an end table is interchangeable with accent tables. It is defined as that small table placed beside a larger furniture like a sofa or couch. This one is typically just the height of a chair’s arm.
20. Entry table
This one is a subtype of foyer table and is also called the hallway table because it is usually located, well, in entryways.
The only difference is that entry tables are way narrower and do not come with shelving underneath.
21. Folding table
This one is remotely a part of the interior’s arrangement and it is also not a decorative table. Basically, this one is tucked away in storage and is only folded out when needed.
You can also use it as an extra picnic table, or opened to make arts and crafts or in catering.
22. Foyer tables
Foyers typically do not have a table but having one makes it convenient. Most foyer tables are medium size and wide to a point, placed butt up to the wall. Nonetheless, you can also have smaller, round tables by the foyer.
23. Gaming table
At present, there are now two descriptions over what a gaming table is. Conventionally, it was conservatively reserved for cards and dice games, or generally for gambling (so think about casino tables). But now, a gaming table could also refer to ergonomically designed tables that could support multiple screens and keyboards for computer games.
24. Industrial table
This type of table is usually made of the combination of metal and wood, resonant of conventional industrial design schemes. Because of its standout appearance, it has become popular over the years as it does not fall short in function and decorative impact.
25. Kitchen table
This one is found in the kitchen, yes, but they are used every day from meals, to food preparation, making crafts, and other everyday work that needs a table.
The typical kitchen table is only large enough for two people but it could extend to a six-seater.
26. Media console table
This one is named as such because it has the looks and design of traditional console tables. The only difference is that it has shelving for media ports and a sideboard design for the LED TV.
27. Nested tables
It is also called the bunching table or the stacking table. It is categorized as a subtype of accent/end tables. It has a unique look because it refers to two tables fit together in a stacked form.
They are used as a tiered table but can also be spread out to have two tables. It is a space-saving table perfect for compact spaces.
28. Ottoman tables
Used as an extended seat and a table, ottoman tables are indeed, a multifunctional fixture apt for a living room.
Ottoman tables are usually the larger, flat-top ones for it to hold more things. It is said that ottoman tables evolved because it was a nasty look for people to put their feet on the coffee table.
29. Patio table
This table is specifically designed to handle outdoor elements as they are placed in decks, porches, and well patios.
The materials used for patio tables include wood, rust-proof, and other weatherproof materials. It is categorized as garden furniture.
30. Picnic table
This type of table is made for the outdoors. Portable picnic tables are made of lighter materials such as high-grade plastic, acrylic, or laminate wood. You can also have more permanent picnic tables made from metal and solid wood.
31. Ping pong table
As a sport, ping pong or table tennis is made for both the outdoors and indoors. As such, ping pong tables are foldable tables, divided into two panels.
It comes with a retractable net pole that would fold neatly or can be detached before the ping pong table is folded.
32. Poker table
This one can be found in the casino. It has the proverbial lifted, wooden sides, and felt or polyester surface. It is also called the card table which we have already mentioned here.
33. Pool table
This one has side pockets and holes around the edge because it is made for playing billiards.
It must have a solid frame and the top is made of felt cloth, woolen cloth, or polyester. Depending on where it is placed, pool tables come in different sizes, and finishes.
34. Pub table
This is not different from the bar and pub table. As have been previously mentioned, this type of table can be slightly taller, used to hold drinks and food while people are standing or seating around it. It can accommodate 2-6 people at a given time.
35. Sewing table
Again, as the term implies, this one is used for sewing as well as crafts. Larger sewing tables can have mounted sewing equipment in them while one side could be used to stack up fabrics and linen.
If you want to repurpose a table and transform it into a sewing table, the best ones to use would be an old kitchen or dining table.
36. Side table
As the name implies, side tables are small tables placed at the end of a sofa or in between the couch.
This one provides a space where indoor plants, side lamps, books/magazines, and food and drinks are placed during chill time.
37. Vanity table
This one is designed specifically for bedrooms or rooms of the same layout. They are made for busy people, functioning as an all-in-one dresser and desk where all the glamming up essentials are strategically placed.
Related: 27+ Different Types Of Desks & Materials For Home Office (Pros and Cons)
38. Wall-mounted table
This one is typically seen in dormitories and small apartments because it is a space-saving table. Literally mounted on the wall, the logic is like floating shelves.
In terms of visual impact, it also has a lot to offer aesthetically to a boring wall.
39. Welding table
This type of table is made for welding jobs. Because of this, welding tables are made of carbon steel and wrought iron.
They are specifically designed to accommodate heavier loads. You can also customize it to incorporate a workbench on the sides.
40. Work table
As the term implies, this is the most utilitarian table of all, typified as the simple and bland looking tables.
Not making it ornate is practical because this one is used for woodwork, painting, arts, and crafts, gardening, and more.
41. Pedestal table
The use of pedestal tables has been around since the 18th century. Aside from saving space since pedestals installed in the middle of the table (instead of table legs) make them a floating effect, they are also good in protecting the knees and shins whenever you move around the table.
When it comes to table styles, we are also talking about how it complements an existing home design. So, when one gives you a “this is such an industrial looking table” comment, knowing your table style shall help you on how to smartly react.
42. Farmhouse table
Using hardwood, weathered wood, and repurposed wood, this table can really be a centerpiece for any living room or family den.
Using it as a rustic complement to antique pieces, distressed interior, wood interiors and shiplap also put your room in the farmhouse zone.
Related: 20+ Beautiful Farmhouse Coffee Table Ideas
43. Industrial Table
When it comes to industrial style, we are talking about turn of the century themes featuring the combination of steel, metal, and wood finishes, distressed wood furniture sporting natural stains, and exposed brick.
As such, industrial tables are usually made of metal and wood which can be really artsy looking in the home.
44. Mid-century modern table
The mid-century design scheme emerged in the mid-1900s. It is defined by an organic look, natural colors and clean lines.
Mid-century tables include those that are made from engineered materials and stained wood. One significant mid-century modern table would be the classic tulip table or also called the Saarinen table.
45. Minimalist table
Minimalism is often associated with modern, eclectic, Scandinavian, contemporary and industrial design schemes.
Anchored in monochromes, geometric patterns, and clean lines, minimalist tables are mostly polygonal, made from mixed materials that range but are not limited to wood, glass, steel, metal, and engineered materials.
46. Rustic table
Reminiscent of the countryside and rolling farmlands, rustic tables feature natural look, made of twigs, logs, and tree stumps, or reclaimed wood.
They are not stained, unpainted, and are built using simple nail and hammer, or wood glue only.
47. Shabby chic Table
It is not different from the farmhouse style but with lighter and airier tones like white, beige, ecru, or pastel white. Tables complementing this design are mostly made of wood, plush materials, leather, and lacquer materials.
It is fairly noticeable that table shapes define the level of functionality of tables. For instance, round tables are made for small talks, discussions and casual dining while square ones are grander and more compelling, made for formal deliberations and more.
48. Round table
Compared to square tables, round tables are made for casual talking and for holding drinks and food such as in living room tables. This is the table shape common among end tables, accent tables, and even coffee tables.
It gives a more intimate vibe because the rhetoric round table discussion means that it could only fit a small number of people.
49. Square/rectangle Table
This one is undoubtedly the most common table shape. They are easier to fit in narrow spaces and yet can cover more ground compared to round tables.
It is the perfect table shape for larger gatherings, and for everyday meals for a larger household.
50. Polygon Table
By polygonal tables we mean diamond shape, octagonal, oval, hexagonal and semi-circles. If you want a unique, customized looking, and modern, eclectic theme, this is the table shape that you should consider.
The unconventional shape of these tables adds to the visual impact of the room too.
Before you start your table shopping, you must first narrow down the materials that are appropriate to your home interior and also your location since dampness, moisture and humidity could affect the longevity of your table.
51. Acrylic table
At first glance, acrylic tables look like glass tables because both have a transparent finish. When it comes to strength, you can depend on acrylic to be as strong as glass but is very workable because it is lightweight.
Acrylic is also a good material for other outdoor furniture.
52. Laminate table
Laminate as a material is a durable plastic that was printed on to look like stained wood. It is a more cost-efficient choice and recent innovation to laminates have made laminate tables comparable to mid-tier and high-end tables.
The main enemy of laminate tables’ longevity would be standing water.
53. Glass table
Glass tables are easy to maintain, although they are also vulnerable to smears, dirt, and dust, as well as scratches, denting, and breaking.
When thinking of glass tables, make sure that there are no pets and active children on the way. Nonetheless, it is a good way to have a low-key centerpiece in any room.
54. Marble table
This material offers a polished and high-end look to tables, adding drama and a lot of visual impact to a room. However, it is delicate to an end. It is prone to scratches, dents, and is overall high-maintenance.
You need coasters whenever you put drinks, extra layer of protection when you are putting in food and more. It must also be sealed regularly and could only be cleaned using prescribed cleaners for marble.
55. Metal table
Having a metal table fares well for both industrial designs and outdoor settings. It adds a lot of minimalist lines and depth to a room.
One of the upsides of metal tables is their being impervious to elements, rusting, and common sources of furniture damage. However, it is very heavy so they are better as end tables or accent tables in a room.
56. Solid wood table
If you want a table that would really last a lifetime. Although heavy, it is aesthetically versatile because it can be sanded, stained, repainted, and can even be incorporated in metal and glass materials, among others.
The softness, graining, and color of solid wood tables vary depending on the type of tree the wood is taken from.
57. Wood veneer table
This one is still one of the most popular table material choices today. Made of thin wood panels glued to core panels such as particle boards, it resembles wood tables effortlessly.
Wood veneer is always associated with laminate but know that they are different because wood veneer tables can be re-stained or sanded. It is also way lighter compared to other wood tables.
Table assembly options
Now that you know the types of tables in terms of styles, materials, and build, it is also important to know what table assembly options that you have. Here are some of the most common table assembly options that you can choose from:
- Antique: expensive but one of a kind table assembly; needs expert assessment
- Custom: fits the home style perfectly; expensive
- Big box self-assembled: you can find these from IKEA, Walmart, Target, Overstock, Wayfair; more cost-effective but generic looks
- Furniture store/thrift shop: they can be customized or prefabricated; more diverse price points
- DIY/refurbished/restored: you can always find ideas and step-by-step guides in online sites; it could be expensive depending on the materials used
Factors to consider when buying a table
Like all else that can be bought, there are also factors to consider before shopping for a table for whatever room in the house.
Knowing what to put into mind when it comes to tables saves you time, money, and effort especially that there is a multitude of options to choose from.
Before buying one, ask yourself the fundamental question of how the table will be used. Is it for holding small, light things? Is it for convening people?
Is it for load bearing function? Or is it for purely decorative purposes? Will it be placed indoors or outdoors? Once you have settled this out, move to the second factor at hand.
Choosing the design of the table is easy but fitting them in the space where the table will be placed is more important. Measure the space where the table is projected to be placed.
Ask the salesman of the available tables on that range of measurement. Always put into mind too that there should be a 4-ft legroom around the table.
Well, this factor can mean a lot of stuff. For one, the table should complement the materials for the seating, as well as the fabric and other decorative pieces around the room.
This could also be based on the theme of the room. If it is industrial, use metal and wood tables. If it is minimalist, check for tables made from engineered materials.
Note that you can DIY tables if you have a know-how in woodwork and construction. Different materials, styles, and dimensions, can have a more diverse price point.
Estimating how many of these tables you need and how you project them to serve their function are also important price determinants.
You also have to know that at some point, storage is essential for tables, folded or not. But of course, the issue of storage is most felt among portable tables (i.e. picnic tables, foldable tables, etc.).
Related: 26+ Different Types Of Dressers: Materials & Styles (Buying Guide)
Tables might be default pieces in a room but the things we have covered here prove otherwise. From types, to functions, styles and materials used to build one, the facets of a table have gone on and on.
It is essential for us to know the various categories in which tables are put in for us to have a better idea of what would work best in our homes given the diversity of interior aesthetics and outdoor conditions too.
At the end of the day, the main reason why we buy tables would be based on two things: the function they serve and the visual impact that they offer. If you are already settled with the answers to these two things, you can never go wrong in choosing the best table for your needs.