The Design Train blogs are a series of articles researched and written by Andrew Knapp for submission to various publications and sites. The articles cover a wide range of topics and can be adapted and edited for use in various styles of media application.

  • The Design Train

Nesting Instincts – The space-saving idea that endured the centuries

Updated: Jul 24

July 2021


When famed English cabinetmaker Thomas Sheraton made his first nesting table in the late 18th century I doubt if he realised that his new innovation would still be as popular today as it was in the grand homes of the era.


A pair of Nightingale Side Table Nests cleverly used as alternative to a traditional coffee table


The first record of the nesting table appeared in Sheraton’s book ‘The Cabinet Dictionary’ in 1803 and showed a group of four spindle-legged tables named the Quartello. However, experts at the Smithsonian museum suggest that the design had been around for some years before.


It was common practice for householders of the 1700’s to keep tables against the walls and arrange them for specific activities such as taking tea, embroidery, reading or games. After use they would be placed back against the wall. To leave them standing in the middle of a room was considered messy and inappropriately informal.


Although the first tables were made from satinwood or mahogany, materials such as papier-mâché started to be used as the new style increased in popularity. When etiquette dictates changed regarding furniture placement, the nesting table became even more welcome as they were so easy to move and could be distributed wherever needed. Nesting tables have retained their popularity over the centuries, particularly now in the urban home where clever space utilization is often crucial in creating a comfortable interior.

Image: The Athol Coffee Table Nest – Bold Chic


Leonardo – Tables by Design has embraced Thomas Sheratons original vision during their 30 years of fine furniture manufacturing and offer a wide range of table nests as both coffee table and side table configurations. In this month’s blog we would like to introduce you to some of our favourites.


Interior designers are savvy to the benefits of using nesting tables in applications like hotel suites where the option of having extra surface area when needed without using additional floor space is particularly advantageous. We have also seen the table nest used effectively in the corporate reception areas where they can quickly be arranged to serve a changing number flow of visitors or impromptu meetings.




Image: A simply styled and finished triple nest –

perfect in the hospitality and corporate setting


Nesting tables are still fulfilling the same function as they did to families over 200 years ago. Extra tables for guests, loaded with snacks and dips at gatherings, the perfect table for the quick backgammon challenge, and the ideal surface for little ones to practice their colouring in skills or be fed away from the grown-ups.


There are some new uses that we have found however. TV dinners and take-aways probably top the list, but think digitally and they are perfect for you tablet and laptop or even a printer table when needed.


Julie Laskey put it perfectly in her blog-piece for the New York Times; 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."


Image: A Clever take on the traditional nest in a fun design from our creative team



Whereas a lot of space-saving furniture compromises comfort for practicality, the nesting table holds true to its function. A convertible sofa bed is seldom as comfortable as either bed or couch, and even folding chairs need to be stored somewhere until needed. The table-nest can be considered one of the best examples of form and function that there is in the furniture world.







Image: Our Moon Nest set –

A simple statement.




Round coffee table nests are particularly popular and are well represented in the Leonardo collection:


Seen below is The Ridge Nest (Top) that creates interest by placing the larger table at the bottom of the set. The hand-worked ripple edging gives it additional visual appeal.


Images - Above Left: The Robin Coffee Table Nest

finished in pale gold with elegant marble tops

Bottom Right: The Swift Nest,

the warmth of wood in a versatile favourite.



A particularly good example of clever use of space is shown in our Beta table which we customised to house two handy side tables (left). This is a clever option is perfect for the minimal or space-saving home.


Table nests are not restricted to reception rooms and can be used effectively in numerous settings such as nightstands or bedside tables, kid-sized tables in playrooms, a display-cum-toiletries surface in the luxury bathroom, in the conservatory for plant displays, and (depending on materials used) perching stools.


All of these uses call for the correct choice of material. Metal tables are ideal for high traffic areas and kid’s playrooms. Spills are simply wiped up with a damp cloth and (style dependent) can withstand occasionally being squatted on. We offer a wide range of table-top options and will happily advise you on the correct finish for your needs.


Image: Our elegant selection offers a table nest for any décor setting.


When you are looking for a unique table nest for your home or design project consider our customisation and bespoke service. We will work with you to create your vision in the material of your choice. We bring three decades of experience to your table.



Wishing you a stylish month - Frank



The monthly Leonardo Design blog posts are compiled and written by Andrew Knapp of The Design Train. All images are the property of Leonardo Design.

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