Your question does not specify whether “shorter” refers to the depth of the end tables or to the height. I will answer both.
End tables are never as deep as the couch. They are taller than the seat height, but lower than the arm height.
Below are some general guidelines regarding how occasional tables are sized:
A basic set of occasional tables typically consists of a coffee table (also known as cocktail table) and end tables.
- If the coffee table is rectangular the end tables will also be rectangular.
- If the coffee table is round or oval, the end tables will also be round or oval.
Occasional table sets may have additional pieces.
Some occasional table sets have two different end table sizes, with the larger end table referred to as a “lamp table.”)
- Lamp tables are typically wider than the matching end tables.
- They are often square in shape, rather than rectangular.
- Lamp tables are less commonly found in table sets with rounded shapes.
- Sofa tables are longer and narrower than end or lamp tables. Sofa tables are also higher. They are usually placed behind the sofas.
- End tables are typically rectangular or rounded. When they are rectangular, the width will be less than the depth.
- End table depths (or diameters) generally range from 22″ – 24,″ (although there are exceptions above and below this range.)
- End table widths are typically a few inches less than the table depth.
- Larger end tables, commonly referred to as “lamp tables,” can be found in some table sets.
- Lamp tables will have the same depth as the end tables but will be a few inches wider.
- In many cases lamp tables will be have square shapes (width and depth are the same.)
- Smaller end tables are sometimes called “chairside tables.”
- Chairside tables will also have the same depth as the other end tables in the set, but may be several inches less in width.
- Sofa tables are typically about 6″ less deep than their matching end tables. Widths can vary from 48″ – 60″ or more.
End tables depths are usually at least 12″ less than the sofa depth.
- Sofa depths generally range from 36″ – 42″. It is possible to find couches with overall depths as small as 32″.
- Coffee (or cocktail) tables are usually found in heights ranging from 16″ – 18″.
- The coffee table’s height should make them easy to reach when seated on the couch.
- End and lamp tables are usually several inches higher. The most common heights are 21″ – 24″.
- End tables are accessed by reaching over the sofa arm. The additional height is needed to make this practical for most people.
- End tables should be lower than the height of the sofa’s arms.
- Sofa tables are taller than the other tables. The top surface is usually slightly below the height of the sofa back.
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