The Differences Between a Console and a Sofa Table

Console and a Sofa Table

In the interior design world, there are many kinds of furniture, with each having countless different styles and options to choose from. This is particularly true for both console and sofa tables. This can seem overwhelming at first, but once you start to delve into the choices, understanding those differences becomes much easier and more natural. Both tables can easily transform your space into something out of a magazine.

Sofa tables and console tables seem similar at first, but there are subtle differences. Height and width are the main differences, with console tables being taller and narrower than sofa tables. Since the latter is meant to sit behind a sofa, its dimensions tend to mirror those of a typical couch.

By the time you finish this article, you will have a much deeper understanding of the differences between sofa tables and console tables, as well as their many unique uses and features. Keep reading to learn more about these unique furniture options.

The Differences Between a Console and a Sofa Table

Although consoles and sofa tables are similar pieces of furniture, there are some key differences between them. The most notable differences have to do with

  • Height 
  • Width
  • Positioning

As you can see, the main differences between these two types of furniture are the dimensions and positioning within a room. Keep reading to learn more about console tables and what distinguishes them from sofa tables. 

About Console Tables

About Console Table
Console Table

A console table is a shallow, decorative table meant to be placed against a wall. Since they are generally meant for decoration rather than functionality, they are usually a bit taller and can be narrower than most similar types of tables. 

Console tables are quite possibly one of the most versatile types of furniture out there and can be used for a host of different things, ranging from decorative to functional. You might have one in your living room displaying pictures of your children and another in your kitchen serving as a coffee bar. 

When console tables first started appearing in homes centuries ago, they were mainly meant for decorative purposes. Typically used by the upper class, these tables showed status and wealth since they were not strictly functional. They were also a favored way to show off prized or valuable possessions. They tended to be quite ornate and were often custom-made to fit both the space and the use.

As console tables have become more mainstream, we have discovered many more uses for them, from decoration to practical uses. After all, if they have survived through centuries, they must have something compelling to offer. 

Console Table Styles

There are many styles of console tables for every part of the table. Most of these style variances also tend to overlap with sofa tables, with the height being the only main difference. These style types mainly include:

  • The shape of the tabletop
  • The style of the legs
  • The material that the table is made out of
  • Additional features such as shelving or drawers

Since console table styles are so varied, you should already know what you intend to do with your table before you buy it. If you want to use it as an economically sized laptop desk, you should not buy one with a lower shelf. Conversely, if you want something to liven up your hallway, you might find that your space is too crowded with a wider table.

Tabletop Shapes

The shape of a console table is important because there are so many common uses for them. 

  • Rectangular console tables are one of the most popular shapes and do well in smaller spaces. They can be quite shallow, which is great for narrow hallways or small rooms.
  • Geometric shapes are all the rage right now and come in many different options, each more unusual than the last. The legs on geometric tables can be unique, too.
  • Oval tables are somewhat popular, though their placement can be tough sometimes. Since most people enjoy the aesthetic of a table sitting flush against a wall, this shape is more of a niche.
  • Half-moon tables are very common for console tables and are generally very elegant. Like rectangular tables, half moon tables can also work well in a small space. This shape is a great choice for a display purpose.
  • Drop leaf console tables are a great choice for small spaces, as they can be raised as needed without sacrificing floor space when not in use.

Using the wrong shape can easily ruin the overall aesthetic or function that you were striving for. 

Console Table Legs

In addition to the shape of the table, console tables are known for getting creative with the legs. Unlike most functional tables like coffee or dining tables, the legs are often the focal point of console tables.

Some tables have unique shapes, such as tree branches or stone blocks in lieu of traditional legs, while others may have more or fewer than four legs. Stone and wood console tables are particularly well-known for getting creative with leg styles.

Common Materials for Console Tables

The material that console tables are made out of can fit a host of different home styles. Being that there are so many, even tables made in the same style can fit an entirely different aesthetic when different materials are used.

  • Wood tables are probably the most common and the most versatile. They can come in many colors and shapes. These are probably the most fun to upcycle, as you can use a stain or paint that you know will match the rest of your room.
  • Metal or wrought-iron tables do very well in modern and industrial-designed rooms. Metal tables are typically made out of aluminum or wrought iron, though others are sometimes used. Metal tables often have a tabletop made of a different material such as glass, stone, or wood.
  • Glass tables are fantastic for minimalist or modern decor, though they may not be advisable if you have small children or rambunctious animals. If you choose a glass table, it is a good idea to make sure that it is shatter-proof.
  • Stone tables can get expensive but they can be very classy. These look great in rooms that are more rustic or upper class, though there are certainly plenty of styles that work well with other themes. 

Many tables mix materials, particularly with the tabletop. A wood or metal table might have a glass pane as a tabletop. Conversely, glass tables generally have either metal or wood hardware and features to hold them together. 

How Is a Console Table Used?

Console tables are a very versatile type of furniture with multiple uses. While they are primarily decorative, there are also many functional ways to use them that can help create a better overall aesthetic in your room.

  • You can use a console table in the dining room as a buffet table or a place for extra dining needs that will not fit on your dining table. This could include seasonings, extra dinnerware, condiments, a serving station, et cetera.
  • Put a console table next to your front door along with key racks/dishes or a mask basket. Some come with hooks on the side that can be useful for purses or umbrellas.
  • A half moon console table against a wall in your living room with some pretty display items on it would make a fantastic focal point from a decorative perspective. Try hanging a larger piece of artwork or photo right above the table to give it something extra.
  • Use a console table in your bedroom or living room as a photo display area or a designated space for your jewelry. This works particularly well if you want to display your favorite jewelry rather than keep it in a jewelry box. Consider placing a bedroom TV on one of them, as well.
  • Gone are the days of bulky entertainment centers. Use a console table under your wall-mounted TV as a chic place for your game system, Roku, speakers, or cable box. Options with a lower shelf would be very functional here. A table with thicker legs or backing will make it easier to hide cords.
  • A console table can be a great way to decorate a hallway, as many styles are very slim. Photos, knick-knacks, or plants would be beautiful options for this placement.
  • In an office, a console table can be a pretty place for a printer or other office needs. It is a great way to open up your desk if you have too much on it. It would also create a nice backdrop if you regularly use a webcam for work.
  • If you only have a laptop or do not have enough space for a full-sized desk, certain styles of console tables can make nice alternatives. This works particularly well in apartments or small rooms. If you intend to use a console table as a desk, make sure it does not have a second shelf underneath.

Beyond these obvious uses, console tables are used in many other ways. They can be incorporated into almost any room and for many unique uses. Get creative with yours and see what you can come up with!

Console Tables and Electronics

As more and more electronics come out for various uses around the home, many people are left with devices scattered everywhere. Console tables are particularly useful in tactfully placing electronic necessities around the home so they have a place in which they belong. There are even tables out there that have built-in outlets to make placing or charging electronics more convenient and organized.

A console table is a great place for something like smart home technology components, a printer, or even a household charging station. You might even see one underneath a TV serving as an entertainment hub. Another fairly new idea is to have a console table dedicated to charging and storing virtual reality headsets and accessories. If you still have them, these tables can also nicely store DVDs.

Unique Console Tables

There are many options out there for fun and unique console tables. These are a few different available options that fit a wide variety of spaces and uses.

NameDescriptionConsole Table Size
Majaci Console TableMade of metal and colored gold, this table is classy and chic. The circular designs set it apart from the rest.36″W x 16″D x 30″H
Ava Mirrored Console TableWith chrome and mirrors, this console table would go perfectly in a modern home.42.25″W x 16.5″D x 29″H
Havalance Farmhouse Console TableAs its name states, this painted wood table would complement a farmhouse style. 46″W x 27″D x 28″H
eHemco Storage Console TableWith a look reminiscent of a library card catalog, any bibliophile will appreciate this beauty!36″W x 14″D x 32″H
Kings Console TableThis beautiful wooden table with a modern or transitional design.38″W x 13.5″D x 30″H
Powell Masterpiece Console TableWith metal horses’ heads and hooves, this would look incredible in any ranch-style home.43″W x 15.5″D x 31″H
Uptown Club Console TableWith a unique design and a chrome finish, this is a must-see!34.3″W x 15″D x 30.7″H
Industrial Console TableThis table is a cost-effective option for a smaller desk.39.4″W x 14.9″D x 31.5″H
Deco 79 Bicycle Console TableWhile it is on the pricier side, this bicycle table is unique and whimsical.58″W x 14.5″D x 33.5″H
Giantex Console TableSometimes, simplicity says it best. This table comes in a classy gray color and would look perfect with minimalist decor.39″W x 12″D x 31″H

If none of these fit you or your budget, spend some time online looking at all the different options out there! A great place to find unique or antique tables are estate sales. No matter your personal preferences, you will certainly find something that suits your style. If you are still struggling, then upcycling a table may be just what you need.

About Sofa Tables

Sofa Table Behind Sofa
Sofa Table

A sofa table is, simply put, an accent table that is meant to sit behind a couch. Sofa tables differ from console tables in that their use is more restricted. While their functionality can differ based on what you place on it, it is only meant to sit behind your sofa. As you now know, a console table is different in that it can be used almost anywhere and for many purposes.

Sofa tables are often confused with coffee tables, as they are both placed near a couch. When doing an internet search or perusing tables in an online store, they are often mingled. You should take care to double-check measurements when choosing a table online for this reason. While sofa tables are meant to stand behind a couch for decorative purposes, a coffee table will go in front of the couch for practical purposes. 

Since sofa tables and coffee tables have such drastically different heights, it is not advisable to switch these tables around. 

Sofa Table Placement

When a room is organized well, furniture is not simply slapped against walls with a large open space in the middle. For a room to feel both well designed and functional, some of that furniture can be placed in the middle of a room away from walls.

In contrast, it is easy for a couch placed in the middle of the room to appear out of place. It almost seems like a catch-22 if you are trying to avoid all of your furniture being against a wall. Sofa tables help with this problem by completing the look, as well as adding functionality. Making a room look complete is in the details and sofa tables help with that.

If you have a small space, you could get a narrow, rectangular sofa table to go right between a wall and your couch. That would pull your couch out about a foot from the wall to give you some dimension, yet take up far less room than having your couch in the middle of your room.

Sofa Table Styles

Sofa tables come in many styles, shapes, and sizes. They are often similar to console tables, though they tend to be shorter. Different tables can cater to different spaces and uses, with a near endless list of options.

There is no uniform size for a sofa table. While they all tend to be the same general height, the length and depth can vary greatly. One with a shorter length may be used behind a loveseat, while a longer couch could look better with a similarly longer sofa table behind it. Different depths can be found to fit the size of your space and/or walkway, as well.

Sofa table shapes are comparable to console tables, though you do not generally see them in an oval shape. The materials that they are made of also mimic sofa tables, particularly when styling your room around a particular theme.

If you are also choosing your couch at the same time as your sofa table, you should always choose your couch first. You want to make sure that you know the height and length of your couch, as well as how it will fit in your space. That way, you can pick a sofa table that complements it and looks like it belongs there.

What Can Be Placed on a Sofa Table?

How functional or decorative a sofa table is depends entirely on what you put on it and how you use it. Since they are meant for only a single place, this is where creativity comes in.

  • If your front door is in your living room near your couch, your sofa table might have items such as key dishes or a basket for reusable masks. A pretty change jar would also be a nice choice.
  • These tables can be a beautiful place to put a flower bouquet or pretty decor pieces. A tabletop sculpture or small water fountain can bring focus to the area. There are many options for display setups.
  • Since it is right behind the couch, a lamp or two would light up your sitting area nicely. Lamps can often be overlooked when decorating a space, but they have so much potential to improve ambiance. 
  • Scent products go well here since a sofa table is typically near the middle of a room. Oil warmers, candles, or incense all work well.

No matter what you choose to display, you should make sure that it fits the general aesthetic of the room as a whole. It can be infuriatingly easy for sofa tables to stick out like a sore thumb.

Making Accommodations for Household Pets

Given how close they are to sofas and the ease of access, special consideration should be given to what pets you have in your home and how likely they are to jump from your couch to the table. If you do have pets with a mischievous streak, take care not to place breakable or potentially messy items on your sofa table.

Placing a sofa table between a window and couch could be beneficial to your pets, particularly cats or birds. If you choose the right table and tabletop accessories, it can give them a safe place to perch as they watch out the window.

Unique Sofa Tables

These sofa tables are a small selection of various different styles available. After perusing this, you should have a good idea of the different options out there.

NameDescriptionSofa Table Size
TribeSigns Sofa TableThis metal sofa table is longer than average, which makes it perfect for filling up a space that feels too empty. 70.9”W x 12”D x 37.6”H
Bowery Hill Sofa TableThis table looks grand enough for a mansion and will surely add character to your living room.54″W x 20″D x 30″H
Merax Sofa TableThis teal table is a great choice for someone who needs extra storage space.46“W x 15”D x 34″H
SogesFurniture Sofa TableThis narrow metal table is great for small spaces.47.2”W x 9.1”D * 29.5″H
Rustic Sofa TableThis sofa table is L-shaped for some extra dimension.70.9”W x 11.8”W, Short Table: 35.4”W x 31.5”H
Retro Style Sofa TableThis one is shaped like a “U” and made of metal. Its unique design adds something extra.47.2″W x 15″D x 33.7″H
VivoHome Sofa TableThis sofa table has a pull-out section to use as a desk while sitting on your couch.31.5”W x 11.8”D x 27.2”H
Picket House Sofa Table SetThis table comes complete with an electrical outlet and bar stools to maximize space.60”W x 20”D x 36”H
Ivinta Glass Sofa TableMade almost entirely of glass, this table makes a big statement.39.4”W x 13.8”D x 31.5”H
HomeCho  Sofa TableThis wood table has large drawers to store things that you want kept out of sight.39.4”W x 13.8”D x 29.7.5”H

eBay or Etsy can also be a fun place to find unique sofa tables, as there are many upcycled options on those platforms. As with console tables, antique pieces can also be found at estate sales or flea markets. 

Can I Switch Sofa Tables and Console Tables?

With the height differences, these tables may look slightly awkward if they are swapped out. A typical console table is taller than a couch, which could look strange when placed behind the couch. You also run the risk of knocking objects off your sofa table if it is too high. 

A sofa table placed against a wall may not look as awkward as the former, though. In these instances, it would likely not even be noticed by most people, though it would still be shorter than normal. Depending on its use, this could even be an advantage.

While the general recommendation is to use these different types of tables as intended, creativity knows no limits. People have been upcycling for a long time and using items for things other than their intended purpose with some fun and unique results.

Can Both Tables Be in a Single Room?

The answer is most definitely yes! Since both tables have different primary functions, having both is not considered an interior design faux pas, particularly if your space is large enough. 

Problems arise with adding too many tables only when the space they are in simply is not large enough to fit them. In those cases, less is more. In some instances, functionality can be combined to use fewer tables if you are adding tables for storage or organizational purposes.

While tables are great for decorating, they should not be seen as the only option. Before adding extra tables, consider other furniture that could work well in your space such as accent chairs, a reading nook, or shelving units.

Can a Console Table Be Higher Than a Sofa?

It is not recommended for a console table sitting behind a sofa to be taller than the sofa itself. It should be either the same height or no more than a few inches shorter.

If the console table is too high, there is a constant danger of someone on the couch leaning back and knocking the console table over. Since console tables often house breakable items, knocking over a console table could spell disaster.

It is also possible to hurt yourself with a sofa table that is too high. Sofas are meant for lounging and if you lean your head back, you could hit it on a table that sits too high.

Keeping your console table at the correct height allows it to function as it should without getting in the way. 

Final Thoughts

While console tables and sofa tables often look similar, they are generally intended for separate uses. Whichever you choose to get, either one of them will go a long way towards making your space look more complete.

Once you know what you want to do with your console or sofa table, it is time to get out there and find one that you like. Take your time, consider its use, and do not settle for one that does not fit your space. Happy hunting!



Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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