Like Russian Dolls and birds, things that nest are simultaneously cute and always optimizing (shh to my inner Jia Tolentino who argues this is toxic). Tables are no different. In 1803, an English cabinetmaker by the name of Thomas Sheraton is credited with publishing the first drawings of Nesting Tables in his book “The Cabinet Dictionary,” (though curators and historians think the design had actually emerged some years earlier, making Sheraton merely the cataloguer). Indubitably, however, the functional and space-saving invention has endured throughout the centuries.
If you’re like me, your living room is zero square feet and can fit — an approximate estimate here — about three pieces of furniture maximum. If I took the plunge and bought nesting tables, that three-piece capacity would instantly double. As Julie Lasky wrote in a 2017 Times piece praising the utility of the design:
“Nesting tables are like candidates that keep their promises. They swear faithfully to be compact, unobtrusive and versatile, and — mirabile dictu — they are. They shoulder hors d’oeuvres trays, take part in covert TV-watching-at-mealtime operations and offer discreet slots in their towers for tucking away loose magazines.”
I love the idea of a “candidate that keeps their promise.” In a reality where we’re constantly bombarded with things to buy on so many different devices at all times, it’s challenging to hone in on which consumer items are actually of value. A nesting table set serves value on the two most important fronts when purchasing furniture: function and style.
Pull up a chair and take notes on this list to wow the small space dweller on your list, no matter their taste.
These elegant and precarious cuties come via Reuse America, a 6,000 sq. ft vintage showroom in Bushwick that sells incredible mid-century modern and other vintage pieces mainly through their Instagram. The round brass edges paired with the crystalline glass would be perfect for balancing a martini or gazing at a cute kitten through.
Home Union holds a top spot in my Instagram algorithm because of the consistent high quality of their home goods (not to mention the beautiful photographs they take of their items). Though this set of 3 “waterfall” nesting tables is out of stock, a girl can dream. The red lacquer is bold and the way the tables fit into each other makes them look like some sort of fantastical beetle.
California-based design and studio manufacturer West Knoll Collection recently posted these nesting coffee tables fit for a queen on their Instagram. They look a bit more like stools, but I am obsessed with the fact that each table-top is a distinct shape (circle, oval, rectangle).
Mamma mia! This set of 3 from Pepe’s Thrift Shop in Los Angeles looks like it came straight from the set of The Talented Mr. Ripley with their gold-leaf snowflake decals.
Mediterranean Ceramics based in Malta make tables and counters out of lava and volcanic stone. These customizable tables are dreamy and bespoke and would make excellent end tables or nightstands.
These mid-century classic tables exude a palpable Danish warmth like a good pair of worn-in clogs or a cozy scarf. Canadian store Nacher Vintage boasts a lot of fine wood and rattan items that I would almost consider traveling to Ontario to pick up. Almost.
I would be remiss not to close this article out with the Bauhaus Guru Josef Albers’ nesting tables. According to the MoMa, Albers concocted these tables for one of his closest friends’ apartments in Berlin. The German Albers, born in 1888, played a role in bringing Bauhaus design principles to the U.S. and led the furniture workshop at the Bauhaus from 1926-1927. Julie Lasky, the Times writer referenced above also owns these and of course, appreciates the brilliance of the design describing the color of the tops as, “pale minty green, goldenrod yellow, semi-burnt orange and celestial blue.”