Linda Merrill: Tiny Tables, Big Style

October 30, 2012

I love a tiny table in a room. They are just so flexible and charming—the perfect marriage of form and function. Also known as martini tables and tea tables, these tiny charmers can pack a really big punch. Nearly a decade ago, I tore out of a magazine this image of a gorgeous day bed and the tiny table that was front and center. In the days before Pinterest and blogging, magazine tear sheets were the only way to keep track of design inspirations and I wasn’t very good at keeping track of source information. (Several years later, I ran across the image again, online this time, and saw that it was the work of Vicente Wolf and had been shot for Elle Decor.) As I have developed my concepts of what I like in a room, what always works and how to make the best use of available space, I’ve repeatedly come back to the use of a small table to fill a need, whether it’s for surface space or merely to fill in a hole.

Design by Vicente Wolf; photo by Peter Estersohn

In a project that I did in the South End, we used Maitland-Smith nesting side tables that flanked the sofa.

Photo courtesy of Maitland Smith

The room was fairly small and I loved the flexibility of being able to pull out the smaller table and use it around the room, as shown in the image below where it was placed next to the arm chair.

Design by Linda Merrill; photo by Michael J. Lee

I think I was subconsciously channeling Mr. Wolf when I created this vignette for the Spring 2012 cover of my digital magazine ::Surroundings::. We shot the image in the Trianon Antiques showroom at the Boston Design Center and created a comfy “tea time” space using this gorgeous French marble top table.

Cover design by Linda Merrill; photo by Michael J. Lee

In a recently completed project, my clients had a wonderful collection of antique furnishings and we were able to make use of a tiny rustic table that could be used between the two arm chairs, as shown, or could also be used by someone sitting on the sectional sofa who didn’t want to reach for the coffee table.

Design by Linda Merrill; photo by Michael J. Lee

I believe that this is the big advantage of these little tables: they offer great flexibility without taking up too much space. They can be showy scene-stealers, or they can be subtle accents that are always ready to hand. —Linda Merrill Linda Merrill is an expert in the fields of interior design, media communications & marketing. A lifelong passion for creating beautiful—and livable—spaces, combined with a savvy business mind, has brought her design work and writing to an international audience. Linda offers her interior design services in person in Massachusetts and “virtually” worldwide. Her blog, ::Surroundings::, offers her unique views on wide-ranging aspects of the built environment, from architecture to photographic tours, product reviews, design inspirations, special events and even movie-set decor. Visit our guest blogger archives for more inspiration from top designers and architects.