History of the Sofa Table
- In the latter part of the 17th century, fine homes in Europe and in the American colonies began to employ a narrow table somewhere behind or near the sofa or settee that was long enough to accommodate two people. Such a table in the parlor or sitting room might serve any number of functions and be repositioned whenever necessary. In some homes it provided additional dining space. In others it served as a writing desk or a table for tea service.
Traditional Construction and Design
- Like most traditional furniture of the 17th and 18th centuries, cherry and mahogany were often used to construct the tables that became sofa tables. Sometimes more precious woods were used for decorative inlays. One of the earliest designs seen in sofa tables is the Pembroke, a table with drop-leaf sides. Other designs found in Chippendale, Queen Anne and Sheraton styles exhibit a continuous flat top with four legs or a trestle support. Small drawers with brass pulls were also a favorite feature because of storage possibilities, especially when the table functioned as a desk or additional dining piece.
- Today's sofa tables are designed at a variety of heights to reach the tops of the backs of the many styles of sofas now available. A true sofa table is finished on all four sides so that it can be viewed from any angle; this feature distinguishes it from some consoles. Modern sofa tables are constructed from traditional solid woods as well as wood composites, bamboo, rattan, iron, plastic and other materials. Tops are sometimes glass, stone or ceramic tile. The depth of a sofa table remains narrow: generally between 12 and 24 inches.
Design and Function of the Modern Sofa Table
- Modern sofa tables most often function to provide a surface for lamps and decorative items, although some styles are designed with bookshelves, storage drawers or cabinets. In a large living room or family room, a sofa table can indicate a break within the space, marking a separation between seating or activity areas. A sofa table used as dry bar can help designate an adults-only area. One that is equipped with books or magazines and flanked with comfortable chairs can create a cozy reading area behind the sofa.