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Divvy Up Your Great Room: Using A Sofa Table To Redefine Your Space

The great enemy of barrier-free living spaces is something most people don’t think about until it’s too late: the back end of your sofa. Most sofas and sectionals are designed to be pushed up against the wall, which means they aren’t anything special to look at from behind – a big problem when that’s what’s facing the rest of your great room. It’s a problem that isn’t hard to solve – the sofa table was invented for this exact purpose. But a little thought and care can turn this simple coverup into a creative design choice.

Use Your Sofa Table For Simple Decoration

A console table, a potted plant, and a small stack of coffee table books are all you really need to disguise the boring back side of your sofa (by Alex Findlater Ltd)
A console table, a potted plant, and a small stack of coffee table books are all you really need to disguise the boring back side of your sofa (by Alex Findlater Ltd)

The most basic solution to an ugly sofa back is the one you’ll see most often: just stick a sofa table behind your sofa, and put a few decorative items on top of it. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. Placing just about any console table behind your sofa will do the trick (though dedicated sofa tables tend to be a bit wider). Either way having a table in this space will give you a nice display space for whatever you want to put on it, and an easy-to-reach shelf for your remote. It’s also a pretty budget-friendly option, since other than the table you won’t need to do more than relocate some knick-knacks. But a very little bit more work will help you get a lot more mileage out of this awkward space.

Add A Little Lighting To Your Sofa Table

Putting functioning lamps smack dab in the middle of your great room can be a little complicated, but is a great way to add ambient lighting to your space (by Deborah Leamann)
Putting functioning lamps smack dab in the middle of your great room can be a little complicated, but is a great way to add ambient lighting to your space (by Deborah Leamann)

Adding lighting to a table behind your sofa is a great way to spruce up your great room. Lamps will help add height to the “barrier,” giving you a little more definition between the different zones of your space without truly blocking it off. It’ll also add some nice mood lighting (read: reading light!) to your sofa area to help wind down light levels in the evening. The problem? By definition these lamps are adrift in the middle of a large room, away from walls and outlets. That means traditional table lamps will need to be part of the initial great room planning stage, so you can have an outlet placed near where the lamps will be. Too late for that? Don’t worry. Cordless, battery-powered lamps DO exist, and while they tend to be a little more expensive, they can allow you to have a functional lamp on your sofa table without cords snaking all over the floor of your great room.

Sofa Table As An Entry Table?

It might seem silly, but adding an entry table can help make it feel like you have a more defined entry area (by Nicola's Home)
It might seem silly, but adding an entry table can help make it feel like you have a more defined entry area (by Nicola’s Home)

Sneaking a console table behind your sofa (regardless of what you place on it) is also a good way to help streamline the layout of your great room if the space also happens to include your front entryway. Foyers are generally designed to direct you inside, but when they open on a large, barrier-free room, it can leave guests feeling a little bit adrift. Adding an entry table might not seem like a big change, but it can help guide and define the space more than you might think. Not only will it give you the visual cue of where to go (and that the space is meant to be distinct), but also the simple functionality of a table to drop your keys and set down your mail – all while hiding the back of your sofa.

Skip The Specialized Table In Favor Of A Desk

If you're struggling to find a spot for your home office, the space behind your sofa is surprisingly usable and out of the way - assuming you aren't easily distracted (by Micamy Design Studio)
If you’re struggling to find a spot for your home office, the space behind your sofa is surprisingly usable and out of the way – assuming you aren’t easily distracted (by Micamy Design Studio)

All that said, sofa tables don’t have to be just for show, and aren’t the only thing you can put behind your sofa. Just about any piece of furniture can disguise the back of your sofa, and with a little effort you can make that space do so much more. For example: you can turn it into a home office. Yes, you read that right. Instead of a sofa table, set up a good sized desk and chair. As with lamps, this works better or worse depending on your power needs, but if you need to do a few hours work at home on a laptop, this is the perfect way to do it. You won’t be sacrificing much floor space, your desk surface is out of line of sight for most of the gathering spaces in your great room, and if you’re working alone, you can switch on the TV for a little background noise. A nice accent chair won’t look out of place, and if you’re worried about blocking your walkways, it’s not hard to find a desk with a chair that will fit entirely underneath it when it isn’t in use.

…Or Even A Bar Table

Whether it's for everyday eating or reserved for watching the big game, putting a slim bar table behind your sofa is an incredibly space-efficient way to add TV-facing seating to your greatroom (by BANDD DESIGN)
Whether it’s for everyday eating or reserved for watching the big game, putting a slim bar table behind your sofa is an incredibly space-efficient way to add TV-facing seating to your greatroom (by BANDD DESIGN)

Love to entertain? Put this space to work for a crowd by setting up a bar-height table and stools. This is maybe my favorite twist on kitchen island bar seating, and a fantastic way to cover up the back of your sofa without using the space purely for decoration. A high-top table will let you stack your guests two-deep without blocking anyone’s view of your television. Better still, if you don’t want people eating on your sofa (but your family likes to watch TV while they eat), bar seating at the back of the sofa lets you have the best of both worlds without craning your neck from the kitchen, and while keeping the sanctity of your actual dining and sitting areas intact. And as long as the table and chairs are nice-looking, this will feel like an intentional design choice rather than just a haphazard way to squeeze in a little extra seating.

Find Sofa Tables That Can Do More Than One Thing

A multi-purpose console table with hideaway seats is more than just a decorative addition to your great room - it's a perfect way to add functionality to the void space behind your sofa (by Erin Paige Pitts Interiors)
A multi-purpose console table with hideaway seats is more than just a decorative addition to your great room – it’s a perfect way to add functionality to the void space behind your sofa (by Erin Paige Pitts Interiors)

Keep in mind, too, that these options aren’t mutually exclusive. While getting a multi function bar-entry table-desk-display table isn’t exactly the easiest ask, it isn’t impossible. A nice sofa table with hideaway chairs and a little simple ornamentation can feasibly provide all this functionality in a single, compact package. Of course, to be a really great desk or a really comfortable bar table, you’ll probably want to shop for something a little more specialized. But if you want to transform the unsightly back of your sofa into a multi-purpose hub for your great room, a simple, adaptable setup is a great way to make the most of your space.

Bonus:

An entry bench has a similar look and effect, but gives guests a space to sit right when they come in the front door (by Allen Construction)
An entry bench has a similar look and effect, but gives guests a space to sit right when they come in the front door (by Allen Construction)

Not in love with the idea of a sofa table? Here’s a bonus: instead of a console, set up a simple bench. Instead of having two rows of seating, this’ll provide you double the seating pointed in opposite directions – and a nice spot for guests to stop and take off their shoes!

The boring back of your sofa might be the bane of your great room, but if you play your cards right, the furniture you use to hide it might end up becoming the heart of the space.