I’ve always been somewhat confused by occasional tables. For starters, their name is so sad! Wouldn’t you hate to be labeled as only needed “on occasion”? Secondly, they don’t have enough space to hold a great deal of items.
As I began to research occasional tables and their origin, I learned a lot! Occasional tables can also serve as end tables and began as a precursor to the modern day coffee table. These occasional tables were tall because the sofas of the day were usually high-backed settees. They had a small surface area because they were used solely for placing cups of coffee or tea.
As sofas began to widen and have lower backs, the coffee table eventually became rectangular and was designed to be placed in front of the sofa where cups and saucers could be set when not in use.
I often find loads of occasional tables at thrift stores and garage sales. They usually need a good sanding and a fresh coat of paint, but they’re so cheap and easy to re-do! I think they’re best painted in a bright shade and used as end tables or as a side table by a club chair. I’m hoping to find some in my next journey to the thrift store; I’ll make sure I include a DIY tutorial on how to paint a side table soon.