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It may be better to leave it tucked away on the store shelf.

Product Review: Tuc-Away Table

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.35.00 PM.pngDue to the way our living room is setup, we find ourselves lacking space for an end table next to the sofa.  It is not the sort of earthshattering problem that causes us to truly gnash our teeth, but the sort of thing that is a perennial nuisance.  The sort of thing which you would find hashtagged “firstworldproblems” on Twitter.

Small problem or not, we were recently made aware of a potential solution, the Tuc-Away Table.  The Tuc-Away Table is a folding end table.  when you don’t need it, it appears as just an extra vertical peace at the end of a sofa or chair.  It only sticks out two-and-a-quarter inches from the piece of furniture to which it is attached, thereby not taking up much room at all.  When you want it, you just open it up and, wham, you have an end table upon which to sit things.

It is genius in concept.  It is far less brilliant in execution.  Not to spoil the end of this review, but we’re still looking for a solution – the Tuc-Away Table, but done correctly.

First off, beware any product that advertises on its box that there is “no assembly required” and that “attaches and detaches in seconds” only, when you open it, to see a paper ruler come falling out of the box.  This is your first indication that things aren’t going to be so simple.  Installation all makes sense, after a fashion, it is just that nothing that comes with a makeshift ruler is a quick install.

In brief, here’s how it works – you use the ruler to figure out how much space there is between the ground and the furniture (or, if you prefer, essentially how long the legs of the furniture are).   The table itself stays attached to your furniture using a metal bar that gets wedged on the underside of the furniture and the amount of space between the ground and the underside of the furniture is relevant because it tells you how high up on the table you need to install the bar.  There are marks on the ruler to clearly show you what number hole on the table you need to use, but you won’t be able to read which hole is which on the table itself, because it’s black on black.  This part of the table goes against the furniture (so the bar won’t be visible) which means it isn’t essential to hide the hole number for aesthetic reasons.  It is, apparently, just a bonus.

Once you get a flashlight out to see the hole numbers correctly (or just count with your fingers), you shove the metal bar into the holes on the table (it really is rather awkward getting the metal bar into the holes).  Next, you angle the table so the top is towards the furniture (making the bar lower), stick the bar under the furniture, and straighten it all.  The Tuc-Away table is now in place and ready for use.

If you like angles and math or have a good sense of spatial relations, you may be aware reading that last paragraph that there is a possibility if you follow the directions, that you scratch your floor attempting to angle and then straighten the table.  It is a better choice to do this with two people and have one lift the edge of the furniture so that the table can go in straight and then have the furniture placed on top of it.  And, if you’re like us, you kind of shudder at the idea of pointing the corner of a piece of wood at your upholstered furniture with the notion that you need to push the corner up against the furniture before tilting it away.  Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.34.35 PM.png We can almost hear the tear in the fabric thinking about it.

Then, there is the caveat – the Tuc-Away Table “fits most furniture.”  If you look at all the pictures of the table installed on the box, you’ll notice the minimal nature of the armrests where the table is being installed.  That is because if you have armrests with a decent-sized scroll or an outward bend, the table won’t fit as easily (or at all).

Even in place on a piece of furniture that fits the table, we find it a great idea in theory which fails d to work brilliantly in practice.  It doesn’t look terrible, but also doesn’t really go with a lot of furniture.  It does offer the minimal space thing, but the “designer” bit leaves something to be desired.

Having children, we assume that none of our furniture is permanent, and said children are also the cause of our furniture layout which precludes a permanent end table.   Of course, having children further means that the Tuc-Away table will be opened and closed and opened and closed repeatedly.  After about a week, ours dislodged and we needed to reinstall it.  Happily, it didn’t dislodge when anything was on it, but rather upon opening (which seems like the most likely time due to the mechanics).  Even so, being held in place by a metal bar didn’t make the table seem sturdy in the first place and it actually coming out only proved that it really wasn’t.

The Tuc-Away Table is not a perfect solution for everyone, and it is not terribly inexpensive (the standard table runs $70).  Couple to this the fact that the customer service portion of the manufacturer’s website does not mention allowing returns should the table not work with your furniture, one ought to feel a pang or two of doubt prior to ordering from them (as a side note, Amazon currently sells them and has a more lenient return policy).

We are not going to end the review by stating that you shouldn’t buy the Tuc-Away table.  The idea, without a doubt, is a great one.  In our situation, putting it into practice is a failure.  It may work better with your furniture, it may prove an easier installation and fit your needs exactly.  But be sure you can return it if it doesn’t work.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.