While no doubt you’re probably familiar with the main types of table out there and what they’re useful for, there are almost no end to the different styles, sizes and details on them - which can be overwhelming. Big or small, colourful or classic, our guide will help make a molehill out of a (table) mountain.
As we mentioned, it can be tricky working out just what type of table will make the most of your space - here’s an easy guide to what’s what:
Buying tables can be more confusing than it first seems - even coffee tables are available in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and it can be hard to visualise what they’ll look like in a room.
And even when you think you’ve chosen a style you like, it’s not like there’s a table police telling you which one to use in each room - some side tables can work as coffee tables, folding dining tables can work as consoles…
At the most basic level, you’ll want a dining table in your dining room or dining area, most living rooms require a coffee table and of course, workspaces call for a good desk.
Side tables often work best as extras once you’ve fitted everything else in in a room. These don’t have to be confined to the living room, though. They serve a purpose in almost every space, whether that’s as a nightstand in your bedroom, part of a reading nook in your hallway, and if they’re metal, they can be used as a lounger-side table or plant stand in the garden or patio.
Outdoors, things can get a little more complicated. Bistro tables (smaller, usually round waist-high tables, the type you might see outside coffee shops) are a smart choice for smaller gardens or patios, but you can create a dramatic effect with a large dining table or bench too, even if the space is a little squashed.
Something would be amiss if we didn't mention the huge amount of colours, tones and finishes that can be applied to wood, from clean, modern pine to the dark and moody walnut woods that are a hallmark of mid-century style:
Put simply, solid wood will never go out of style. It’s a natural material that will only look better over time, as it attains a subtle patina from years of use. Wood can really ‘anchor’ a room due to its heaviness, and all the grains and knots in the wood can give it a unique appearance.
Metal is a popular choice for table legs because not only is it incredibly stylish - whether left in its natural state or painted - it’s incredibly durable. However, metal table tops are fairly rare as they can be cold to the touch and show up a lot of the scuffs that inevitably arrive when being used. It’s for these reasons that metal is more often found in coffee tables and side tables.
Plastic is a popular choice for smaller tables because it can be used to create brilliant shapes and bright colours. It’s also fairly easy to clean and lightweight, suiting the fact that these are tables you might be moving around and repurposing over time.
Glass is still a popular material for tabletops - smoked glass in particular can look incredibly beautiful, and it pairs well with darker woods and metals. Most tables use tempered safety glass, which is toughened for everyday use.
MDF stands for medium density fibreboard. It’s made from wood that’s been broken down and recombined with a binder for strength; the fact that it’s made from reconstituted wood means it has a more uniform feel and texture. It can be less expensive than solid wood and lighter to carry too.
A wood veneer is a thin layer of wood that sits on top of a heavier piece of wood, MDF or board. It’s often used to give a piece the look of more expensive solid wood, but for a lower price, and as it doesn’t warp or stretch like solid wood, it can be used to create more interesting shapes. It’s worth bearing in mind that veneer pieces can also be a lot lighter to carry than solid wood ones.
One of the best ways to bring together a dining room is by matching a table to your chairs; luckily, at Cult Furniture we’ve done the hard work for you, putting together matching table and chair sets for a coordinated result.
We’ve selected plenty of options in different materials and styles, from slightly retro mid century-inspired to cleaner, modernist sets with chair pads for comfort. If you prefer a more pulled-together look, these may be ideal for you.
Even better, these sets work out as less expensive than buying the table and chairs separately, so they’re perfect for a new or first home.
On the other hand, you don’t have to match your dining table to your chairs - it takes a little more consideration, but as long as you keep the colour scheme muted and the shapes or styles aligned, mixing chairs and a table can work.
A recent trick we’ve seen on Pinterest involves using two similar, but ever-so-slightly different styles of chair around a table: for example, two of our Moda chairs with swivel legs sat between two of our DSM leg Moda chairs. If you do prefer things bolder, a white dining table is the perfect basis for coloured chairs.
Many people consider the tabletop first and foremost, but the legs can make just as much of an impact. Look out for designs that have more sculptural legs, legs with combinations of material or even DSM legs - wooden legs connected by metal rods for a strong, statement look.