End tables get more abuse than most other pieces of furniture in your home. They are always being banged around and beaten up by everyone who walks around your home. Think about all the times that someone has turned the corner beside your sofa a little too tight and ran right into the table? Between that and plates, purses and anything else they may be setting down on the end tables and picking up again, there are likely to be a lot of dings and scratches on your end tables if you don't protect them.
To narrow your selection, start by the style, then the size. Many end tables come in different sizes. You also want to pay particularly attention to the height. There's no set standard height of an end table, but the general rule of thumb is that it should be within two inches of the furniture it is next to, so guests don't have to reach down to set a glass or dish while they visit.
Side tables are usually light and easy to move around. This is a great advantage which allows users to pull the table near them to set their coffee mug or their belongings on it. Just because a table is light and easy to maintain doesn't mean it is okay to buy five of them for each room in your home. Evaluate the space available in your home and decide which room needs it the most. Sometimes, kitchens in urban settings are very small, which makes it difficult to move around while cooking with the many equipment and ingredients stashed everywhere. A table to keep the microwave near the switch board is a good idea.
That said, your biggest decision is probably what kind of table you want in the first place. For instance, some homeowners prefer the end tables on the small side, large enough to hold a lamp and perhaps a glass or small plate, but not much more. Others want their tables to be as large as possible, so they have maximum real estate when there's a party of holiday gathering.
One of the most common damages to end tables is from someone setting a cup down on the table without a coaster. The water from their cup will seep into the table and cause those white rings. Sometimes you can get them out, other times you may have to have the tables refinished to remove the damage. It's better to prevent it in the first place.
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