Console tables are often overlooked when choosing furniture for the home – dining and coffee tables take precedence because they’re deemed essential.
Yet a console can be extremely versatile and practical as well as beautiful – it can act as a focal point – or to draw attention to one – just about anywhere.
|The Claremont weathered oak console is the ultimate statement table and looks stunning styled with a mirror behind, statuesque lamp, floral arrangment and coffee table books.|
Console tables are often slim in design, making them ideal for narrower spaces like hallways and landings. They can be used as dressing tables in the bedroom, laid out with fluffy towels and luxury toiletries in a bathroom, or used for the TV in a living room – either as a stand or underneath a flat screen fixed to a wall. You can even use them to butt up against the back of a sofa, with lamps or decorative items on top.
Console tables have illustrious origins: in 17th century Italy, they were so ornately carved that they were viewed as pieces of sculpture rather than just pieces of furniture. Designed to be fixed against a wall with only two front legs, many featured intricately carved human figures, eagles, foliage and dolphins, and were often gilded.
These magnificent tables were used to decorate the hall or a formal reception room, often with grand mirrors above them. They were fashionable in Britain in the 18th century and during the late Georgian and Regency periods they became freestanding, made from solid timbers like mahogany, oak or rosewood or walnut.
Antique console tables were costly items of furniture, especially those with a pier mirror above to reflect light into the room. Mirrored glass was expensive and highly taxed to stop it being imported into Britain, so only the very wealthy could afford these pieces.
Choosing a console
Nowadays, of course, the console is available to us all – but it can still look high-end, especially when well-made and beautifully styled.
If you’re considering buying a console, decide where it will go and take measurements so that you have an idea of how much space you have to work with.
When placing a console against the back of a sofa, the console should be the same height or slightly lower than the back of the sofa.
If you want your console to blend with your existing furnishings, match it with the furniture currently in the room. If, however, you want to create a focal point that is visually interesting, you could choose a console table in a different style or material from the rest of your furniture.
Think about colour, too. Since lighter colours make a space appear larger, a console table in a lighter wood might be preferable to a darker one.
Here at La Residence Interiors, we love a console. All our console tables are handcrafted from prime weathered oak and given our distinctive wire-brushed finish to enhance the naturally beautiful grain of the wood.
The curvy Camille, with its shapely hand-turned legs, is perfect for a living or dining area with a mirror above it and a lamp and accessories on top. At 60cm deep, its half-circle shape protrudes a little more than our rectangular consoles, but its soft rounded shape is a lovely foil for square-edged tables you might have in the same space.
|The Camille console table with its stunning black legs is an eye-catching piece of furniture. This console is also available in plain weathered oak.|
The Clifton console, with its clean lines and minimalist styling, would look at home just about anywhere! It boasts two practical drawers and a lower shelf and, with a depth of just 40cm, is easy to slot into a smaller space such as a hallway or alcove.
|The Clifton console features clean lines and minimalistic styling.|
If you’re looking for a real statement console, look no further than our Claremont. This was the first console to feature in our furniture collection and we originally had it made in reclaimed pine. Then about five years ago, we decided to refine our range so that all our pieces were made from oak and given our distinctive weathered finish.
The Claremont has two impressively curvaceous solid columns and beautiful carved dentil moulding detail all around the top edge. It stands on a solid weathered oak base, which makes it look weightier and more impressive, while still being slim at 42cm deep.
|A close-up of the impressive Claremont console with its dentil moulding detail and carved pillars.|
Consoles are a dream to style. There’s more space to play with than a side table, and there aren’t the practical issues you need to consider with a dining table or coffee table.
Anchor a focal point
If you have a grand or oversized mirror or a large piece of art, hanging it centrally behind a console table helps draw the eye to it and ensure it doesn’t look lost on the wall.
One of our favourite ways to style a console is to use lamps either side and arrange decorative objects, such as pots containing faux greenery, finials or candle holders, so that they match. Aim for varying heights and textures to add interest but the left and right of the console should mirror each other.
Try an asymmetric arrangement
For a less formal look, you can design an unbalanced layout, which doesn’t mean messy but gives you more freedom to experiment. Effective asymmetric layouts are often anchored by a large object at one end, with successive pieces decreasing in height, towards the opposite end, giving them a cohesive but more laidback vibe.
To try and keep clutter to a minimum, use a woven basket to hold keys, change and wallets that you leave on a hallway table. You can also store items in an attractive basket or box underneath the console.
Your console table, wherever it sits in the home, can be styled to reflect your own personality. You might want to put some favourite photos on it, treasured trinkets from travels abroad, or ornaments of sentimental value.
No, we’re not talking Pimms or hot toddies… but revamping your console according to the season. Floral arrangements set the tone immediately and you can add decorative items that add to the theme: rustic pine cones and candles, or a Christmas wreath, in winter, a nest of eggs for Easter, coastal-style ornaments in summer, leaf-decorated candle holders in autumn, for example.
Experiment with different textures that reflect the current season. Try layering a faux fur or chunky knitted wool throw in storage baskets underneath to bring warmth. In summer, substitute for light-weight linen or cotton throws.
Change the scent of your fragrant candles and diffusers depending on the season. Opt for spicier, woodier scents during the winter and fresher floral or citrus scents in summer.
Mix it up
When you’re thinking about what to put together on your console, try to include something from the following three groups: light, living and loved.
So, to add light and lustre to an arrangement, include a tall glass vase, mirrored tray, glossy ceramics, gold, silver or jewelled items, or a photo frame or candle.
To provide the living element, you’ll need a floral arrangement, potted plant or faux or fresh greenery.
Last, but not least, include something of sentimental value that you cherish, so stacked coffee table books, a large ceramic vase or ginger jar, sculptures or architectural pieces, or a family heirloom.
Happy console styling!