A few side notes about end tables.

Since we recently set down a few rules of thumb for picking the perfect coffee table, a natural sequel is an entrée to end tables, a.k.a., occasional tables.

Of course, there’s certainly no end to the array of end table styles available to you, from gossamer-slender to tree-trunk solid; from rococo-ornate to Shaker-simple. You can select them as complements or counterpoints to the furniture they adjoin. They can be restrained and functional or an art form in themselves. You can purchase end tables and coffee tables as a matched set or give yourself the fun of fretting over an eclectic medley.

But amid all this subjectivity there are a few rules to keep in mind — so at least when and if you break those rules you do so intentionally.

1. Our number one advice is not to fall in love with a table until you’ve taken the full measure of its compatibility with the sofa or seat it’s meant to serve. Under most circumstances the surface of the table should be at the same height — or just below — the sofa arms. That’s about 25 inches for a standard sofa — but they vary, so be sure to measure for yourself. An end table too far below the arms makes it awkward to pick up a drink, a plate, a book. A table that rises above the arms also compromises functionality, and looks especially awkward — like your couch is in a crouch — so err on the side of shorter rather than taller.

2. If the sofa or chair is armless, it’s still best to select an end table that rises to where the arms would be. Or at least sit on the sofa and test out where your arms would like to be when you reach for that martini!

3. Another important consideration is the ratio and proportion of lamps or other tabletop paraphernalia. A tape measure and a little preplanning will help you avoid bringing home a lamp that looks top-heavy, or that overwhelms its setting, or that puts its illumination at the wrong height.

4. Finally, think about the purposes you want your end table serve. Maybe you want something round or organic to break up the right-edged severity of a room. You may appreciate a drawer for remotes or a shelf to reduce clutter. And consider the environment: maybe that lean and willow table you like is just too delicate for a house full of dogs and kids.

At The Joinery, the only thing our end tables have in common is beautiful wood and consummate craftsmanship — beyond that their inspiration spans the gamut from 19th century traditional to midcentury modern to wholly contemporary. Here’s just a sampling to get you started:

Our distinctive Fir Beam Cutout table exudes such a uniquely regional character that it’s been chosen to be featured in the next issue of Oregon Home magazine. It’s made of four solid fir beams glued together, with the hole cut before assembly. There’s a small pedestal reveal at the base, and the net effect is a one-of-a-kind profile on every side. Dimensions are 14d x 14w x 20h. Each is built to order for just $945.

You can go even more native with one of our Century End Tables: a striking conversation piece that feels not only crafted, but grown especially for you. Each is made from a solid piece of carefully selected, locally sourced solid wood — usually of quartered white oak or western walnut — then trimmed, oiled and fine-sanded to a fare-thee-well to bring out its gorgeous idiosyncrasies and grain. Each is 15d x 15w x 19h, with adjustable feet. $555.

For something more delicate, yet that still takes splendid advantage of nature’s own paintbrush, consider our Pirouette End Table. With its slender tapered legs and slight overhang, each is an exemplar of woodworking finesse. Incorporating a hint of a midcentury feel, each Pirouette brings its own personality to the surface from whichever of six woods you choose yours to be made. Standard dimensions are 23d x 23w x 20h. Price is $850-$1,079 depending on selected wood.

The credo that underlies all Shaker-made furniture is simplicity, utility and honesty. Nothing “pridefully” ornamental, but wholly functional and solidly built with no shortcuts. In that tradition, our Shaker End Table is an example of woodworking at its finest, with tapered legs, bevel on top, exposed pins — all in the classic Shaker style. Simply lovely! 23d x 23w x 20h. From $965-$1,255, depending a wood species and top edge details.

Finally, its name may be the most mundane thing about it, but our Modern End Table is the little brother of our Modern Coffee Table, both of which begin with an expressive piece of wood that seems to magically wrap around three sides. It includes mitered corners and mitered plinth base, inconspicuous slide-out drawer, and the super-smooth pet-able finish that is a virtual Joinery trademark. 24d x 20w x 20h. $1,195 - $1,554 depending on wood selection.

And that’s just the beginning of our end tables. Peruse more on our website or come in and talk to our designers and woodworkers about custom designs. Here at The Joinery, making furniture to order is not just an occasional thing!

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