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The Power And Practicality Of Sofa Tables (Em’s New Favorite Hardworking Piece)

I feel like the coffee and occasional tables get all the attention, and for good reason. But for both our living and family rooms I needed a table behind the sofa to solve multiple problems – the sofa table. My problems were as follows: A. The coffee tables in both rooms are just a bit too far away to easily set down a drink, B. We needed a lamp but had no room for a side table (family room) and C. I don’t love the when the back of a sofa is super prominent (although these don’t bother me at all) but a pretty table is always pretty.

If you could also use a sofa table here are some rules/guidelines to help you find the right one!


  • Ideally, at least 2/3rds the length of the sofa.
  • Don’t go too deep! Keep in-between 12″-20″.
  • Should be around the same height or no more than 6″ lower than the back of your sofa (helps with visual impact). If you have a higher backed sofa go for higher, lower go for lower.
  • Best if it looks visually light so go for open shelves! Sofas are chunky, so something that looks visually lighter is best (Could be a bookshelf, glass front cabinet, or more of an open table like mine).

I really liked the table I found (made by Purl) so he cut it down to the right height. Once against the sofa it felt empty underneath so I we were going to add either two mushroom stools, two ottomans, or some baskets. But then I had all these books that I love with no bookshelf so I stacked them there and I love how they look.

design by emily henderson and priscilla frost | photos by sara ligorria-tramp | from: my best friends 1970s basement gets a comfortable, cozy makeover – wood paneling and wall-to-wall carpet included

For the family room (not shown above:)), I wanted something chunkier to work with the chunkiness of the sofa. Originally, I wanted black but I couldn’t find anything that worked. Then I realized that wood would be even better and tie in with the wood coffee table and all the wood/gold frames on the wall (sorry, I know I haven’t revealed this yet). I found this one at Pottery Barn and ended up getting two because together they fit PERFECTLY, looking almost built-in or custom.

photo by bethany nauert | from: lisa’s house: living room

So since I am now a sofa table/console advocate, here are 10 of our favorites online currently. Of course please check the measurements to make sure they work with your sofa!

Cayman Console Bookcase

This one is so versatile but very modern Scandi, has a ton of styling potential and is great if you have a sofa with a back that’s 28″ or a little higher. If your sofa is nice and long, you can easily get two of these so they look almost like one long unit.

Level 70″ Media Console

This one is already a great length and would be perfect in a more modern-leaning or industrial styled home. The different cubby sizes also give it a good amount of visual interest while still being a sleek, simple piece.

Seymour Faux Wood Modern Media Stand

So while this is a media cabinet, it would work great as a sofa table/cabinet. It actually looks very similar to the ones I got for the family room but at a more affordable price point!

Open Plan Long and Low Bookcase

Oh, this one is very pretty with those clean lines and mix of open and closed sections. I really love this walnut wood tone but it also comes in a white and black oak too! Plus, I know Blu Dot’s quality is really good so it’s definitely worth the price if it’s within your budget.

Cecile Low Natural Wood and Rattan Cane Bookshelf

Why not add some texture while getting a sofa table?! Plus the overall pill shape is so cute and a little unexpected which I love. It’s also 60″ so it’s not a bad length either!

Always, take note of length. Since you want your table to be at least 2/3rds the length of your sofa, you might need to get two that can easily look like a single unit like I did in my family room. A piece like this one is a stand alone since the ends are rounded. Hope that makes sense.

Wood and Metal Console Table

At $55 how can you beat it? Sure you’d likely need to purchase two but at that price it’s much more doable. Plus, the design is simple and easy to mix into a ton of styles!

Arlene Console Table

Well, this one has farmhouse written all over it. And look at the sweet joinery! I definitely love so much about this one but if you want some storage (like a second shelf) you might want to consider that before purchasing. Otherwise, it’s so good!


Talk about a super cool option! It’s a piece of art in and of itself. It’s also 72″ long which is incredible. If you like the style but wish it was in a lighter wood, don’t worry. It also comes in oak:)

Ventura White Oak Console Table

I know we just featured this guy in our fall collections post yesterday but it’s too good not to talk about again. And actually, the one we featured was in the darker color so it’s a little different. It was also designed by Lawson-Fenning which is why it’s so good. I love the single drawer detail and how easy it is to change up the shelf heights.

Padilla Console Table

I really appreciate some extra storage and this one is great! Not only is it real pretty and has those three drawers, but you can also easily throw some storage baskets or bins underneath it.

Extra Long Narrow Couch Console Table

A 70″ piece that’s under $200 is a great deal. Also it’s definitely for a more rustic, industrial style.

Gemini Light Ash Wood Bookcase

I can almost bet you are going to need two of these (unless you have a small sofa) but it’s so cute that why wouldn’t you want to? The light wood is so pretty and I love the shape of the legs in this wood too.

Those are all of our currently favorites but you can also always check on Craigslist or thrift stores too. Remember that you can “customize” most anything a little like I did with the one in my living room. Hope you will soon enjoy all the pleasures of a sofa table:) xx

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: The HIGHLY Anticipated…Farmhouse Living Room Reveal – Let’s Get Into It:) + LOOK! MOM! I’M ON YOUTUBE!

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10 months ago

I don’t understand why the two sofas can’t be pushed closer to the coffee table.

10 months ago
Reply to  jones

I imagine that coffee table height is also = to big (adorable) dog butt height. Excited doggie tail will knock your coffee cup right to the floor, every time.

10 months ago

I love a console table to soften the view from behind a sofa. I’ve also dressed up a rarely-used fireplace with an antique Chinese altar table in place of a mantel. I really like both your console placements but I am scratching my head as to why you can’t simply move your sofa/coffee tables closer to each other so the coffee tables can also be used for drinks, etc.?

10 months ago

I am a bit of a weirdo on this, but tall stacks of books on the floor under a table, particularly one that may not have a lot on the top, always makes me wonder why someone didn’t buy a table with a lower shelf.

10 months ago
Reply to  JeffreyC

Same! Also, I have had book on the floor as a necessity rather than a style choice and they did not stay there long due to the dog hair and dust that got caught on the books. 😂

10 months ago

Sofa tables are great but why didn’t you buy one with the shelving? It’s going to be super annoying to vacuum under and between those piles of books, plus it just adds to the visual clutter. I would also recommend moving the sofas closer to the coffee table, as no one will easily be able to put a drink behind them.

10 months ago

Would this work for a giant sectional? We have one that’s 9′ long, and the back faces the door when you walk in. I’d love to walk in and see something visually more interesting than the back of the couch!

10 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

We have the exact same setup and the sofa table was a game-changer!

10 months ago

Would this work for a sectional? Ours is 9′ wide and it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door. I’d love to walk in and see something more interesting than the back of the couch!

10 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

Yes! We just did that for our clients: 10’w sectional with a sofa table behind. It’s great because now you see the console table from the kitchen sink instead of the back of a sectional. 🙂

Monique Wright Interior Design
10 months ago


Have you thought about bringing 2 coffee tables in back-to-to back? That way the scale is still great, but people can have a table in front of them for drinks, snacks, etc. I know how much you LOVE your new custom coffee table, so maybe it can go in your Family/T.V. Room? Just a thought to solve the problem! Also helps when people want to put their feet up. Love the green sofas so much. Are they super comfortable? The color is just dreamy!

Monique Wright Interior Design
10 months ago

I might have gotten a wee bit carried away trying to come up with an example of what I was talking about. 😂 Here is a reference with two burled wood coffee tables.

10 months ago

I love a sofa table! We recently “built” one using a long Lack shelf + custom height metal legs. Turned out just right for our space!
Given infinite money, I would have gone with the Slim Console from Room & Board, in a fun color like Tangerine!

Susan Wuest
10 months ago

Happy for this topic. I have this exact set-up too – 2 sofas facing in the center of the room, each with a table behind. Love it. BUT I’m struggling with lamp placement! There’s a lamp in the photo but where is it plugged in??? At long last I’ve found battery lightbulbs so electricity isn’t necessary, but their light is pretty weak and they run through their charge so quickly it’s not an ideal solution. What do other people do???

10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Wuest

Outlet in the floor under the table or sofa. If you have a basement below, it should be easy to install, otherwise, not so easy…

10 months ago

Emily mentioned the below. Wondering if there’s a picture of the two Pottery Barn ones together? Would love to see how that looks for reference.
For the family room (not shown above:)), I wanted something chunkier to work with the chunkiness of the sofa. Originally, I wanted black but I couldn’t find anything that worked. I found this one at Pottery Barn and ended up getting two because together they fit PERFECTLY, looking almost built-in or custom.