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We’re always in favor of furniture pieces that give you lots of bang for your buck, and a table that touts dual function can be an especially enticing pick. One lesser-known favorite? The drop leaf table. An undercover workhorse, the drop leaf table features two hinged leaves at either end. Pop the leaves up and it functions as a perfect dining table, or let them hang free and turn it into a console or bedside table, neatly tucked against the wall. Intrigued? Get to know more about the history of this chic, chameleon-like piece and learn about all the ways you can put a drop leaf table to work in your home.

Minimalist Living Room With White Wooden Drop Leaf Table and Vintage Artwork
Fritz von der Schulenburg/The Interior Archive

The History of Drop Leaf Tables

The drop leaf dates back to the 16th Century when the gateleg table was first introduced. The gateleg table has one fixed section and typically one or two hinged surfaces. When lifted, these hinged sections are supported by their own swing-out legs. The gateleg table inspired two English versions, the Pembroke table and the sofa table. The Pembroke table features drawers and flaps on both sides, while the sofa table was designed to be long enough to span the entire back of a sofa. From these historical designs, the modern day drop leaf table ultimately evolved.

Rustic Traditional Bedroom with Wooden Headboard and Wooden Drop Leaf Side Table.
Simon Upton/The Interior Archive

4 Reasons You Need A Drop Leaf Table

1. They Are Big Space Savers

If you’re living in cramped quarters, then you know floor space is a precious commodity. Using a drop leaf table as your kitchen or breakfast table gives you maximum flexibility. Keep your table’s leaves dropped to save space, and fold them out only when needed. You can also fold out just one leaf while keeping the other leaf dropped flush against a wall. This arrangement can create a little extra kitchen workspace–a luxury that many space-crunched apartments go without.

2. They Expand Easily

Because the leaves are permanently attached, a drop leaf dining table can be extended in five seconds flat, making them ideal for avid entertainers. Not having to lug the extra table leaves out of the closet means you have more time for cooking, cocktail shaking, and getting yourself party-ready. Equally as enticing is that when your crew departs, you need only devote another five seconds to folding down your leaves.

3. They Come In Tons of Styles & Sizes

Despite their traditional air, drop leaf table styles actually run the gamut. From traditional Pembroke tables, to the charm of circular gatelegs, to sleek Danish Modern iterations, there’s a drop leaf table to suit virtually any taste and space. Besides dining tables, drop leafs also come in smaller sizes, perfect for end tables on either side of the sofa. These cuties can become game tables or a bar setup in a flash.

4. They Work Almost Anywhere

With so much built-in functionality, you’re sure to always find a spot for your drop leaf table, making it an investment you won’t regret. What was once your breakfast table can be reimagined as your bedside table when you upgrade to bigger digs.You’ll find that some drop leaf tables have their leaves attached to the long end, which can used as a console, behind a sofa, or as a buffet in a dining room.

Rustic Kitchen With Wooden Drop Leaf Table and Blue Velvet chairs and Large Hanging Lamps.
Jeltje Janmaat/House of Pictures/The Interior Archive

Measuring for a Drop Leaf Table

When you’re picking out a drop leaf table, make sure to consider BOTH the dimensions of the table in its compact and full versions. Think about purpose, space, and practicality. Start by measuring your full space to figure out the max size it can accommodate. From there, decide what your ideal table size will be when the leaves are down, and when they’re up. This will ensure your table suits your day-to-day needs (and doesn’t look too small for the space), while providing you with the versatility to be extended whenever the mood strikes.

August 8, 2018

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