End tables are important accent pieces in any room. They are both functional and help add some decor to the space. You can put your drink or remote control on them, and they also serve as decoration.
However, it’s critical to make sure they are the right height or else they will look out of place. If they’re too short, they will be difficult to use and will make your couch look too big. If they’re too high, it will be more difficult to place things on them and they will make your couch look tiny.
We’ll show you how to properly size an end table with your couch. We’ll tell you what size to look for and under what conditions you should look for a table that is either higher or lower than your couch.
In This Article We'll Discuss
Should End Tables Be Higher or Lower than Couches?
When figuring out how tall an end table should be relative to a couch, it’s important to use the couch’s armrest as a guide. That is the part of the couch that will come directly between the table and someone sitting on the couch.
If your end table is much higher or lower than the armrest, it’ll be uncomfortable for someone sitting on the couch. They’ll have a difficult time putting the remote control, a drink, or even a book or electronic device on it.
A good rule of thumb is that an end table should be within two inches of the armrest’s height. It’s also better to have it shorter than the armrest rather than higher. That’s because it’s more comfortable to reach down than it is to reach up.
However, there are times when you should ignore this rule of thumb. If you want to place a tall lamp next to the couch, you’ll want a shorter end table so the pull chain or switch is within easy reach. Rarely would you want an end table that is much higher than a couch.
What Happens if End Tables Are Higher Than a Couch?
An end table that is taller than a couch isn’t the end of the world. Most end tables wind up being just a bit taller than a couch.
But, what you don’t want is an end table that is much higher than a couch. You want guests to be able to set something down on them comfortably without having to reach up.
We recommend that you imagine trying to set a drink on the table. If it feels like you could do that easily, you’ve found a good height. If you feel like there’s a considerable risk of spilling the drink, you’ll want to get a different end table.
What Happens if End Tables Are Lower Than a Couch?
Going lower is preferable to going higher when it comes to end table height. So, a side table that is a little shorter than the couch’s armrest is better than one that is higher.
The question is how much shorter should you go. The obvious answer is that it shouldn’t go lower than what would be comfortable to reach. It shouldn’t be a struggle to grab your drink, book, or electronic device.
In practical terms, this usually means a side table that is no shorter than the seat cushions of your couch. Anything lower than that will make it uncomfortable to reach.
Are There Rules for End Table Height?
Think less about rules and more about guidelines in choosing the right height for your couch’s side tables. You want end tables that provide a comfortable experience and that won’t dominate your couch, which is the focal point of the room.
In addition, getting a room’s appearance right requires some flexibility in how you think about it.
In general, you want an end table that is right around the same height as the tallest point of your couch’s armrest. That will allow for the most comfortable user experience.
Of course, it’s difficult to find two pieces of furniture that are the same height. If you can’t, or can’t find one that looks right, it’s best to go shorter than taller. Not only is it more comfortable, but it also tends to look better.
Does the Size of an End Table Change What Height It Should Be?
End tables are accent pieces. You might have one that looks great, but it should never dominate a room or overshadow your couch. You sit on your couch, it’s the focal point of the room. At best, an end table is something to rest a drink on.
You should choose end tables based on how comfortable they make the couch experience. If they aren’t the same height as your couch’s armrest, generally a little shorter is appropriate.
You might find a couch that will need a slightly taller end table. But, if you find a mismatch in height that is uncomfortable, you should find a new end table.
Can End Tables Be Higher or Lower Than a Couch for Different Home Decor Styles?
The wild card in choosing an end table height is your decor style. Your personal tastes will go a long way in determining what size guidelines you need to follow and which ones you can overlook.
In general, it’s a good idea to stick with the basics unless you have a reason not to. So, you should try to find functional end tables as well as ones that look good. They should be close to the same height as the armrest of your couch.
One reason to overlook this rule is to make room for accent pieces like lamps. While end tables provide a place to put a drink or a book, if you have a coffee table and a long lamp, it’s okay to get a shorter end table.
Similarly, if you have a multi-leveled end table that has a shelf at an appropriate level, you can get a taller table.
Getting an end table that’s the right height isn’t a science, it’s an art. The only hard-and-fast rule is that it needs to be close in size to your couch. Otherwise, it throws off the look of the couch and makes it uncomfortable to use.
Ideally, you want a side table that is as high as the highest point of your couch’s armrest, but this won’t always be possible. Depending on the decor scheme you’ve chosen, it might even look better to overlook that guideline.
We hope you feel more comfortable about choosing the right height for your couch’s side table. We’d love to hear about your own experiences in a comment down below. You can also share this article on your social media feeds.