Occasional Tables

By Karen Parr-Moody

Occasional tables are a vital part of any sitting room, even if they are more petite than their big sister, the coffee table. They are nimble and handy, can fill any void, and more than pull their own weight. GasLamp has so many choices that there is no need to go all traditional and bland when it comes to this "anywhere" table. There is plenty of flair to go around, providing surfaces for displaying treasured objects, a gorgeous reading lamp, or just a cup of coffee. 

Occasional tables are designed to increase the room's functionality. While they are often seen in the living room or family room, where one relaxes and entertains, there are other nooks for them, as well. In the photo at right, the occasional table becomes a unifier for the two chairs at the foot of the bed. While they could look out of place if alone, a small accent table pulls the chairs together into a charming vignette. 


This mirror-encrusted console table at left, done in the Hollywood Regency style, is quite the looker ($175; Booth B-125). Such a table is often placed so that it rests against the back of a sofa, hence its other common moniker of "sofa table." Such a table is an ideal way to showcase those decorative touches that add character to your home -- the wonderful tchotchkes or collectibles that give a room its individual sparkle. Popular shapes for a console table include the rectangle and half-moon. Another use for a console, though, is to add sophistication to a hallway, particularly when set beneath a handsome mirror. The late Dorothy Draper, the doyenne of Hollywood Regency decorating, felt that providing such a vignette for guests to check themselves was de rigueur for any hostess; she mentioned such in her irreverent 1941 tome, "Entertaining is Fun!" In her pre-party checklist was the question: "Have you provided a place in the hall where the guests can have a last-minute prink before a mirror before coming into the living room?"







The practice of tole painting began as a one-stroke style of art popular in 18th-century New England; a more recent example is seen on the table at right ($225; Booth B-105). "Tole" is French for "sheet iron," and the idea originally referred to metal ware items produced and decorated in French during the same time period. Tole painting was popular among the Pennsylvania Dutch and among Scandinavian immigrants. The beauty of tole painting is that it can increase the looks of any wooden piece of furniture that needs some enhancing. This occasional table, beautifully painted, has another asset: It has a tilt top, which is a bonus for any space saving design scheme. 





While one of the "jobs" of the occasional table is to make an attractive place to display favorite finds, to hold lamps, or to present a bowl of flowers, the chinoiserie-style table in the photo at left is best all alone ($95; Booth B-172). Otherwise, how could one see the quaint Asian scene painted on top? This little table falls into the "quick fix" category. When a large room is daunting to a designer due to awkward corners or empty spaces, a truly unique table fits the bill. It can easily perk up any nook that needs some personality. 




The blue pedestal table in the photo, right, has a beautiful silver treatment at its base that gives it some glamour, while not rendering it overpowering ($89; Booth B-306). This table is a great solution for a small space, such as a guest room. In such a room, there's not often a lot of room for big bedside tables. But with just enough space for a lamp and a book, a table such as this gets the job done with style. It is definitely a go-to piece for tight quarters, and the color adds a welcoming ambiance. 


Narrow and graceful, occasional tables may seem primarily decorative, but they offer many space solutions. A console can be a space-saving alternative to a sideboard in the dining room. Slender occasional tables at either end of a sofa will cut down on clutter that a larger surface area might permit. And pushing two tiny tables together creates a versatile coffee table that can be easily rearranged for a cocktail party. At GasLamp, there are many of these interesting tables to divide and conquer for decorating success. 

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