this thing's incredible

The $52 ‘Aalto-esque’ Side Table an Interior Designer Uses As a Desk

The author’s table-as-desk setup. Photo: Laetitia Wajnapel

Not long ago, after completing my interior-design firm’s latest residential project in Los Angeles, I decided it was time to give my own house some love. My family moved into our current home in L.A. a couple of years ago, and I’d decorated all of it except for one room that we wanted to be multipurpose. One reason I took so long to complete that room is because my vision for it meant hunting down truly versatile furniture — pieces that would not only fit in with our home’s style but are also designed in such a way that you could use them for different things.

One such piece I wanted was a side table/nightstand/laptop table, ideally one that could double as a desk (my husband and I worked a lot from home before the rest of the country started to), whether we wanted to work from the daybed in the multipurpose room or any other chair or couch in the house. Design-wise, I knew I wanted a C-table given the user-friendly shape, but I didn’t have a specific model in mind, so I began my hunt where I usually do when sourcing furniture: with vintage sellers. When I couldn’t find anything vintage within my budget, I turned to my other usual suspects (CB2, West Elm, Anthropologie), all of which failed me too. Almost out of options, I turned to Amazon, where I vetoed table after table before what appeared to be the perfect one unexpectedly caught my eye.

[Editor’s note: This style of the table has seemingly sold out at every retailer we’ve seen it at. We’ll update this story when we see it back in stock.]

Immediately, the designer in me was drawn to its mid-century Scandinavian look, with lines that reminded me of Alvar Aalto’s stools or armchairs. The table comes in two styles: The one above, with a rectangular wood top, was a better fit for the Bauhaus-meets-boho aesthetic I was going for; but the one below, with a circular white top, seems perfect for those who prefer modern décor. No matter the top you choose, the table is super-easy to assemble: Attaching top to legs requires no more than screwing in two included screws with an (also included) Allen wrench. Its simple, Aalto-esque build and silhouette make the table look much more expensive than it is, and I say that as someone who has been looking at it a lot — as in pretty much every day since it arrived. The table, in fact, never quite made it to our multipurpose room, because on day two of sheltering in place, I rearranged our entire house, turning our dining area into a study that has become an integral part of my family’s daily life.

The table’s top is big enough to fit a laptop, glass of water, notebook, and lip balm. Photo: Laetitia Wajnapel

Set up as a makeshift desk in our new study, the table fits everything I need while working: laptop, glass of water, notebook, and lip balm. (Should I work into the evening, the water is replaced with a Bloody Mary and the notebook with a bowl of nuts.) The table also comes with a removable fabric panel (and more screws to easily install it between the legs) that has a small pouch ideal for stowing extra supplies or reading material, like a paperback book or journal. When I’m not working, I’ll use the table as a stand for my laptop while streaming Netflix (both in the study and in my bathroom while I’m in the bath). Or I’ll carry it to our backyard to do a bit of writing en plein air. When I’m not working at it, my husband usually is; when he’s not, our 12-year-old will use it as a desk for her distance-learning lessons. And when none of us humans have called dibs on it, the table, which stands just short of two feet, still serves a purpose: as our cat’s new favorite perch to look out the window from.

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The ‘Aalto-esque’ Side Table a Designer Uses As a Desk