A drop leaf table is a multi-purpose table that has a stable center section and hinged side panels that can be raised to enlarge the table surface, or lowered to reduce the surface (definition from about.com). A rectangular drop leaf table (as pictured) could be used as a console backed up to a sofa & then transition to a dining table when you have company. These tables are great for tight spaces or apartments & homes that don’t have a designated dining area. Because of their size flexibility, they are a great investment because they can be used in so many different areas of your home. You may use it in your current home as an entry piece or sofa table & then use it as a true dining table if you move to a larger home in the future. They come in a variety of sizes & shapes & are a perfect purchase for those who move around a lot (or for those of us who like to re-arrange our furniture a lot!)
Here the table is shown as a console between two chairs.
Here the leaves are extended to create a dining table.