Feather your small nest with nesting tables
- The San Francisco Chronicle, 08/16/2009

In a small home, flexible furniture is key: chairs that fold up, beds that fold out and shelves as much for storage as display.

Nesting tables are another accent to consider. Typically sold in sets of two or three, their staggered sizes allow them to be stacked when every inch of space matters.

Alternatively, they can be scattered - one table by the couch, another by the door - to make a room look more decorated. Or used as impromptu footstools and tray tables.

But nesting tables can also be arranged sculpturally. Fan them out and you'll create an uneven, cityscape-like surface. On top, place a vase, picture frames, a pretty bowl and presto: You've created an art installation with intriguing variations.

The Reclamations Nesting Side Tables from Broyhill, an American furniture manufacturer, are topped with slabs of reclaimed pine. A lush, nutmeg-colored finish leaves the wood's time-weathered surface beautifully in view. Slender and sharply angled metal legs give the tables an appealingly unadorned look. The set of two - one 24 inches high and the other 21 3/4 inches - is sold for $429 and can be found both in stores and online (broyhillfurniture.com).

For a little less money, you'll actually get more from the Sundance Catalog Company, founded in 1969 by actor and director Robert Redford. Its Driscoll Nesting Tables come as a set of three for $295, with the largest 26 1/2 inches high and the smallest 18 1/2 inches. To make the table tops, Sundance uses wooden railway ties - or, as you may better know them, the slats that connect metal train tracks. While the surface is a smooth expanse of chocolate-colored wood, the edges are left raw, lending a rustic quality to the design (sundancecatalog.com).

So tuck them in or spread them out - nesting tables leave it up to you.

$429
Broyhill Reclamations Nesting Side Tables

$295
Driscoll Nesting Tables