Shopping for Cafe Tables – The New York Times

For eat-in kitchens or apartments without enough space for a full-size dining table, a small cafe table can offer a surprisingly appealing place for meals.

“It’s more intimate,” said Sarah Carpenter, who runs the Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm Carpenter & Mason with her husband, Chris Horger. Together, they have installed dozens of cafe tables in New York restaurants, including Tender Greens, Bondi, Seamore’s, Rezdôra and Van Leeuwen ice cream.

At home, the pint-size tables “support two to four people, maximum,” Ms. Carpenter said. “It’s more of a casual setup for eating with family or roommates.”

But cafe tables — also known as bistro tables — are useful for more than just meals.

“They happen to be the same height as desktops,” Ms. Carpenter said, and are usually light enough to move around, which makes them a convenient work surface, whether you’re using a laptop or a sewing machine.

“They can even serve as a tray table for people who like to watch TV as they eat,” she said. “Which is what we usually end up doing.”

  • How large should the top be? “Usually the smallest is 24 inches, and that’s good for two people,” Ms. Carpenter said. “Larger tops may be up to 36 inches, which is good for up to four people.”

  • Should the top be round or square? Round tops are attractive and easily fit in tight spaces, but tables with square tops have at least one advantage: If you have several, you can push them together to create a larger dining surface.

  • What kind of base is the most stable? Cafe tables with plate bases or four legs may rock on uneven floors, Ms. Carpenter said, but “a tripod base can go on any floor surface without wobble.”


Powder-coated steel indoor-outdoor table

$399 at Blu Dot: 844-425-8368 or


Table with spun-metal base and marble top

$898 at Anthropologie: 800-309-2500 or


Powder-coated steel indoor-outdoor table

$440 at Bend Goods: 310-265-3939 or


Oak table with tripod base by Space Copenhagen

$945 at Horne: 877-404-6763 or


Adjustable-height table with iron base and black-oak top

From $1,450 at Tom Dixon: 212-228-7337 or

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