How to choose a coffee table

From crisp, clean white to dark, rich wood tones, the colors, materials, and style of your coffee table can influence the look and feel of your entire living room. Make an informed choice when you’re shopping for a new coffee table and consider how you’ll use your table to best determine the right one for your needs.

Function

Before you buy a coffee table, ask yourself what you need from it. Do you need your coffee table to double as a desk or dinner table? Then a lift top coffee table might be just what you are looking for. If you need a kid-friendly coffee table, avoid sharp corners and instead look for a table with rounded edges. Storage coffee tables are a perfect option for those who are always in need of more storage. Coffee tables with shelves, drawers, and flip tops are great for storing magazines, blankets, toys, and more. The way in which you plan to use your coffee table will help steer you in the right direction when it comes to shopping for your table.

How to choose a coffee table

Material

Be sure to consider how you’ll use the table when making material choices as some materials will wear better than others.

  • Natural materials: Natural tabletop materials like wood, stone, or marble are excellent choices for modern family rooms. Keep in mind that marble and stone tops can be more difficult to maintain and are easily stained by foods or children’s art supplies. Wood surfaces instantly warm up a space but are also susceptible to scratching as well as damage from moisture and heat, so you should always use a coaster when setting down hot or cold beverages.
  • Man-made materials: Metal, glass, rattan/wicker, and acrylic represent the different types of man-made materials that can be used in coffee table tabletops. Look for specific finishes like hydrophobic coatings that help you clean the surface easily.

Shape

Often the coffee table’s location in the room determines the shape of the table you need. For a room with large, square-shaped couches a rectangular or square-shaped coffee table should nest in the middle of your existing furniture. More exotic shapes like triangles are better able to fit into small spaces or oddly shaped furniture arrangements. The classic oval and round shapes can take their place in any room, but round coffee tables fit in especially well with sectionals.

How to choose a coffee table

Style

A coffee table should complement the furniture surrounding it instead of competing with it. Try to find a coffee table in a style that’s consistent with the rest of the room but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to match the rest of the tables in the room. Here are a few of our favorite styles to help inspire you:

How to choose a coffee table

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When it comes to furnishing a room, buying a coffee table might not be first on your list. Perhaps you are more focused on finding the right couch for your space or the perfectly comfortable armchair. But according to Los Angeles-based interior designer and CEO of KMW Interiors Kita Williams, the coffee table is often the anchor in the room — especially in larger living spaces. Some of the best styles to consider include coffee tables with lift tops for extra utility, coffee tables with storage for similar function and round coffee tables to manage smaller spaces.

. a good place to start the narrative that will be your living room

Kita Williams, interior designer and CEO of KMW Interiors

“Between the coffee table and the rug, you have an excellent place to build the seating area around,” Williams told NBC News Shopping. “A hearty piece . can be a good place to start the narrative that will be your living room.” Whether you want a coffee table that is understated and function-forward or one that makes a statement, it’s worth determining first what the right coffee table is for your living space.

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What to consider when buying a coffee table

“The most important factor to consider when picking a coffee table is utility,” Williams said. “How will it be used?” Utility is the optimal starting point here.

When buying a coffee table, you’ll want to figure out what works best for your home/place. Perhaps you’re looking for one that provides extra storage space for blankets. With work from home being the new norm, you may be looking for a coffee table with a lift top to function as a desk. Or if you’re looking to upgrade your decor, you may want to try an accent piece or something simpler to display your coffee table books, hold your wine or house plants.

“I can’t say that a coffee table is ‘discrete.’ Even when you get a self-assembled IKEA coffee table, it can make a statement,” Williams said. Anyone entering your living room is going to have “some kind of view or interaction with your furniture,” she added, “no matter what [or] where it comes from.”

“What may seem discreet or nondescript in your mind will always create a conscious and subconscious impression on your guest (and even you) when you engage with it in any way,” Williams asserted. In other words, all coffee tables make a statement. The best coffee table for you is one that reflects the statement you want to make — even if it’s a non-statement.

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Best Coffee Tables of 2020

The best coffee table for you is one that meets your needs in regard to price, look and function. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some coffee tables in different styles and at different price points, based on guidance from Williams.

1. IKEA KRAGSTA Coffee Table in Dark Blue-Green

“In a very small living space, I prefer a round coffee table. It is easier to get around and is still functional,” Williams said. “It also cuts down on the incidents of bumping into hard or sharp edges.”

A round coffee table can really soften your space, too, and pairing that with a bold color can help make a statement — a great example of checking many boxes with an affordable and compact coffee table. It’s also available in a few neutral shades: Black, White, and Light Beige. But the dark blue-green is both trendy and elegant. If you’re looking for something to hold your beverages and add color to a room, this piece is great for you.

How to choose a coffee table

KRAGSTA Coffee table

2. IKEA KVISTBRO Storage Table in White

“I also recommend something that is possibly multi-functional that could perhaps provide much needed storage for items,” Williams said. Function, however, sometimes means a larger piece.

For a “comfortably usable” living space, Williams recommended ensuring you have 16 inches of free space around the coffee table. If that number is out of reach considering a smaller living space (as is often the case in places like New York City), IKEA’s KVISTBRO is another safe bet and even more affordable. It offers storage for blankets or other items you don’t mind displaying.

How to choose a coffee table

In This Article

Choosing a coffee table for your living room seems like an easy enough task when you first think about it. You walk into a store you like, pick your favorite piece, and go home with it (or have it delivered), but upon further reflection, there are many more decisions in picking the right coffee table than meets the eye.

First, it needs to be the right size—both heightwise and in terms of length and width. It needs to be the right scale and proportion to the space and needs to work with all your existing furniture. The material needs to fit with your lifestyle and work well in the room. It even needs to suit the needs of your family, whether this means that it has to be kid-friendly or have enough storage for TV remotes and other miscellaneous items.

Only after you’ve answered all these questions can you really begin finding the perfect coffee table for you and your space. So how do you choose a coffee table from start to finish? We outlined five rules to follow before committing to a coffee table you’ll love.

Be Mindful of the Height

How to choose a coffee table

There’s nothing more awkward than a coffee table that’s too high or too low. To ensure you feel comfortable in your living space, opt for a coffee table that’s the same height as the cushions on your sofa or one to two inches lower. Any more and you risk the space looking and feeling just a little off.

Pay Attention to the Proportions

How to choose a coffee table

Similarly to finding a coffee table that has the right height, you should look for one that has the right length in relation to the width of your sofa. Specifically, your coffee table should be approximately two-thirds the length of your sofa. So for a 96-inch sofa, for instance, you should look for a coffee table that’s 64 inches long.

Know Your Clearance Rules

How to choose a coffee table

After you’ve figured out the height and length you’re looking for, it’s time to choose the ideal shape of your coffee table. Often, choosing between a square, rectangle, round, or oval coffee table boils down to the length and clearance required around it. Traditionally, your coffee table should be 12 to 18 inches away from your sofa—any more or less than that will feel uncomfortably close or far. Between your coffee table and your TV stand or fireplace, you should calculate at least 24 inches to 30 inches to leave enough room for circulating around the space. To find your ideal coffee table width, measure the length between your sofa and TV stand and subtract 42 inches.

How to choose a coffee table

Strike the Right Balance

How to choose a coffee table

Another handy rule to follow when choosing a coffee table is its “weightiness.” In other words, it should complement the other furniture in the room to make the space feel proportional and balanced. What does this all mean? If your sofa has high skinny legs, consider a table that’s solid all the way to the ground or has shorter chunkier legs. On the other hand, if your sofa has no visible legs, choose a coffee table that has higher skinnier legs. An interior designer once told me that when a room feels too “leggy,” it doesn’t feel as grounded—and it’s something that’s never left me.

How to choose a coffee table

Consider Your Own Needs

How to choose a coffee table

Of course, when choosing the right coffee table for you or your family, you should consider your lifestyle. Do you need a piece with a lot of storage? Consider a storage piece. Are you one to play board games in the living room constantly? Make sure it’s a comfortable piece to gather around. Do you have a tendency to put your feet up on the coffee table when watching TV? Maybe an ottoman is a better option for you.

As for coffee tables that are kid-friendly, opt for a piece that has no sharp edges and isn’t made of glass. There are enough horror stories of kids breaking glass tops to know it’s NOT a good idea.

How to choose a coffee table

Choose Your Materials Carefully

How to choose a coffee table

Lastly, before shopping for your perfect coffee table, pick a few materials that would work well with your lifestyle and your space. Don’t just default to wood—there are so many options out there. Now that glass is out of the question for families with small children, think of other options that could work well for your lifestyle. If you have a small space, a lucite coffee table could be a good option to not visually clutter the room. If you have hardwood floors in a mid-tone color, try staying away from wood—and pick something complementary like marble or travertine. Think of whether you’d rather be able to move the piece easily or if you’d rather have it anchor the space permanently. These are all questions that can help you choose the perfect coffee table.

Choosing a coffee table is one of the most important, yet often overlooked decorating decisions you’ll have to make. Coffee tables are often centrally located and they serve a very practical purpose inside of a living room. After all, without a coffee table, where would we put our favorite drinks, decor magazines, remote controls, and iPhones?

The coffee table is arguably what gives a living room the most character. It typically holds personal items and decor accents from the home owners, reflecting their personalities.

Personally, I think the coffee table is the second most fun part of designing a living room after picking out the sofa! From marble to reclaimed wood, there are so many fun coffee table designs to choose from – it’s hard to pick just one!

Here are some guidelines and ideas for picking out the best coffee table for your family room!

Choosing a Coffee Table

A coffee table should be proportionate in size to the sofa. As a good rule of thumb, the coffee table you buy should be at least one-half the length of your sofa, but not longer than the sofa itself. A nice happy medium coffee table length of three-fourths or two-thirds is perfect.

The height of your coffee table should be about even with the height of your sofa seat, give or take a few inches.

Types of Coffee Tables

So what type of coffee table is best for your sofa? Well, it depends on the kind of sofa you have! If you have a standard horizontal sofa, then we recommend going with an oval or rectangular coffee table. If you have a sectional or L-shaped sofa, then we recommend going with a round or square shaped coffee table to fit in nicely. Of course, you can definitely make it work without following these rules if you really have your heart set on a specific coffee table!

Coffee Table Shapes

Here are the main coffee table shapes to choose from:

Oval Coffee Tables

Oval coffee tables are great at balancing form and function. They promote movement and offer ample space for storing things on top. No sharp edges here, so oval tables are great for people with kids!

Rectangular Coffee Tables

Rectangular coffee tables are decidedly more modern and they offer the most amount of surface space to work with.

Round Coffee Tables

A round coffee table can be really inviting to guests and large families who may want to occasionally eat around the coffee table while watching a movie. Add some floor poufs to the other side, and it’s a party!

Square Coffee Tables

Square coffee tables provide a nice and symmetrical look to your living space. They are the most practical coffee table shape and can sometimes offer storage beneath the surface.

Coffee Table Materials

Our favorite coffee tables are often made of marble, brass, wood, or glass. Here are a few recommendations for each material.

Marble Coffee Tables

Marble coffee tables are one of the most highly sought-after coffee tables around. You can’t scroll through Pinterest or Instagram without seeing one! Marble is a heavy and expensive coffee table material. That being said, you can get a pretty great knock-off for as little as $98 (Over 900 people rated it 5 stars).

Brass Coffee Tables

Aged brass coffee tables can give a vintage appeal to your living room.

Wood Coffee Tables

Wood coffee tables are a great choice for farmhouse homes, and anyone who wants a rustic, country feel to their living room.

Glass Coffee Tables

Glass coffee tables are a minimal approach to the coffee table and allow the sofa to draw more attention.

Mirrored Coffee Tables

Mirrored coffee tables add a touch of elegance to any living room.

Alternative Coffee Table Ideas

You don’t have to stick to the traditional coffee table if you don’t want to. Many families choose to use a coffee table made from unconventional materials or objects. Think: a vintage trunk as a coffee table or a flea-market find!

Here are a few alternative coffee table ideas:

Ottomans

Some people choose to forego a coffee table altogether. Others opt for a slightly modified fabric version of the coffee table: the ottoman! Ottomans are great for doubling as a coffee table ADD a footrest. You can easily add a small tray to create a flat surface for when you need it. Many conveniently feature storage underneath, too!

Nesting Coffee Tables

A new interior design trend that I see more and more is the nesting coffee table. Nesting coffee tables are 2-3 separate tables of varying heights and sizes that neatly come together to form a coffee table cluster. A nesting coffee table is great for adding extra dimensions to your living room.

Freeform Coffee Tables

Freeform coffee tables are uniquely shaped tables that don’t really fit into one shape. They may be loosely square or loosely rectangular, to give you an idea of where they can fit. Freeform coffee tables are often made of live edge teak, but you can also find some mid-century modern freeform glass coffee tables like this one!

Group of Side Tables

Similar to the nesting coffee table, I’ve seen beautiful living rooms that incorporate 2-3 side tables placed next to each other (often of varying heights) to form a casual coffee table.

I hope this post inspired you and made your coffee table decision a bit easier!

Let us know what you chose in the comments, or tag us on Instagram!

From crisp, clean white to dark, rich wood tones, the colors, materials, and style of your coffee table can influence the look and feel of your entire living room. Make an informed choice when you’re shopping for a new coffee table and consider how you’ll use your table to best determine the right one for your needs.

Function

Before you buy a coffee table, ask yourself what you need from it. Do you need your coffee table to double as a desk or dinner table? Then a lift top coffee table might be just what you are looking for. If you need a kid-friendly coffee table, avoid sharp corners and instead look for a table with rounded edges. Storage coffee tables are a perfect option for those who are always in need of more storage. Coffee tables with shelves, drawers, and flip tops are great for storing magazines, blankets, toys, and more. The way in which you plan to use your coffee table will help steer you in the right direction when it comes to shopping for your table.

How to choose a coffee table

Material

Be sure to consider how you’ll use the table when making material choices as some materials will wear better than others.

  • Natural materials: Natural tabletop materials like wood, stone, or marble are excellent choices for modern family rooms. Keep in mind that marble and stone tops can be more difficult to maintain and are easily stained by foods or children’s art supplies. Wood surfaces instantly warm up a space but are also susceptible to scratching as well as damage from moisture and heat, so you should always use a coaster when setting down hot or cold beverages.
  • Man-made materials: Metal, glass, rattan/wicker, and acrylic represent the different types of man-made materials that can be used in coffee table tabletops. Look for specific finishes like hydrophobic coatings that help you clean the surface easily.

Shape

Often the coffee table’s location in the room determines the shape of the table you need. For a room with large, square-shaped couches a rectangular or square-shaped coffee table should nest in the middle of your existing furniture. More exotic shapes like triangles are better able to fit into small spaces or oddly shaped furniture arrangements. The classic oval and round shapes can take their place in any room, but round coffee tables fit in especially well with sectionals.

How to choose a coffee table

Style

A coffee table should complement the furniture surrounding it instead of competing with it. Try to find a coffee table in a style that’s consistent with the rest of the room but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to match the rest of the tables in the room. Here are a few of our favorite styles to help inspire you:

In the beginning, buying a coffee table for your living room may seem like an easy task. It seems relatively simple to enter a store, pick your favorite piece, and have it delivered (or brought home), but upon closer examination, there are quite a few things that you might want to take into account before making this decision.

To begin with, it should be the appropriate size. Ideally, it should be the correct size and proportion for space and should complement your existing furniture. A good coffee table needs to be convenient for your family, whether this means accommodating small children or offering enough storage to hold TV remotes and other items.

It’s only after answering all these questions that you can start to look for the perfect coffee table for you. The following five rules can help you find a coffee table you love.

Be aware of the height

A coffee table that’s too high or low is simply unattractive. For an enjoyable living space, select a coffee table that is one to two inches lower than the cushions on your sofa. Anything more can make the space look unbalanced.

Proportions are Important

Just like finding the right height for a coffee table, you should ensure it has the right length when measured against your couch’s width. You should have a coffee table that is about two-thirds the length of your sofa.

How to choose a coffee table

Become familiar with your clearance rules

Having decided on height and length, it’s time to pick the shape of your coffee table. If you’re choosing between a square, rectangle, round, or oval coffee table, then the length and space around it play a significant role.

Coffee tables should be positioned about 12 to 18 inches from your sofa. Anything more or less will feel uncomfortable. It’s advisable to leave at least 24 inches to 30 inches between your coffee table and your TV stand or fireplace to move around the area comfortably.

Subtract 42 inches from the length between your sofa and TV stand to find the ideal width of your coffee table.

Getting the balance right

Another useful rule to follow when purchasing a coffee table is seeing how heavy it is. It should look proportionate and balanced with the other furniture in the room. Think about getting a table that has chunkier, shorter legs or that has solid legs that go all the way to the ground if your sofa has tall, skinny legs, advice from Castlery. If your sofa does not have any visible legs, you can choose a coffee table with higher legs that are skinnier.

Think about your own needs

If you are looking for the perfect coffee table for you or your family, take your lifestyle into account. Are you one of those people who spend most of their free time in the living room playing board games? Get yourself a piece that is comfortable to sit around. Are you prone to putting your feet up on the coffee table when watching TV? You might prefer an ottoman if that is the case.

When decorating a room in your home, you strive to make every part of it equally fantastic. Even the smallest details are very important because all the elements together form a whole. If your thoughts go in this direction and you really want to make your living room special, then you need to single out each piece of furniture as unique. You will do this by making an effort when choosing, and one very important part of the living room is the coffee table. Since it is mostly located in the central part of the room, it can leave a first impression.

It is a piece of furniture that rounds out space, accentuates it, provides a certain dose of charm, and can even represent a room if it is more attractive. However, the most important thing is to find the ideal balance between good design and functionality. To achieve this, it is necessary to ask yourself a few questions and take into account the proportions of the time of day. Keep reading and find in the text something more about how to find your ideal coffee table.

What do I really need?

The coffee table in the living room is chosen in relation to your needs and the number of people living in the house. If it is a family with children, we are sure that you are striving for something more functional, that is, a table that is not sensitive. Then you need a firmer table, and that already makes a big difference. For example, we have a glass table that is by no means suitable for a family with children. They break easily, get dirty and do not have as many storage options, etc. They also have very sharp corners, which makes them dangerous for children. In that case, you can say goodbye to this idea, but even though you don’t have children, you need to ask yourself some more questions before choosing a coffee table.

How do I plan to use the coffee table?

Now we come to its use. Of course, most people choose this piece of furniture to complete their space, and without an important purpose. However, when you buy it, it still becomes a place where some books can be stored, flowers, decorations, or something else can be placed. This means that it gets its function very quickly. So think in advance about what you will do with it and where you plan to place it in the living room. It is usually placed in the middle of the room. And then, you would have to consider a few items such as style, size, material, color, and other attributes that should highlight it.

Material

You are aware that you have a huge selection of materials in front of you. Many immediately limit themselves to wood, because it is the most common. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to, because this material is a no better choice than the others. This is an individual matter and we can’t decide for you, because we don’t know what the rest of your furniture is like and what style would describe your living room. So, look around a bit and think about all the elements of the room. Tell us what you see, what material would look best among other furniture and what look you would like to achieve. For example, acrylic and glass can perfectly open a small room. You can achieve the same with a metal table.

If your living room looks more traditional, then marble, wood, leather, or artificial leather would come in handy. These materials can fit perfectly with this style, and are very appreciative of maintenance. Do not forget about the durability and safety of the material, it is very important if you have small children.

Shape

The shape of the table would have to follow the overall look of the room. However, if you have not yet determined which style you want to strive for, it is best to opt for minimalism. So you can choose a simple shape. You can also look at your sofa when choosing, because if it is huge, you may need a rectangular table. In this way, any person sitting on the sofa could use the surface of the chair. If your sofa is really big, a good choice can be a round table or a larger square one. And don’t buy larger tables if the living room is small.
On the other hand, oval, round and rectangular tables are ideal for smaller rooms. Also, round and oval shapes are a good environment for children because they do not have sharp edges. If you do not have a large room, but you simply need a larger table, you can always use additional shelves, partitions that come with a table. Contemporary coffee tables are also very popular and people buy them, as we were informed from the NFOutlet, because people do not want to limit themselves to basic shapes. Especially if the whole home is decorated in a modern style.

Keep in mind that dimensions are very important. So before you choose a table, measure your space in which you plan to bring it. The height of the coffee table mainly depends on the height of the sofa. Our advice is to find a balance when it comes to height, but it is better to be very low than taller than the sofa. Also, think about the rest of the room, because you don’t want to occupy the entire surface with a coffee table. It is very important that there is enough free space between the sofa and the footstool as well as on the other side.

Conclusion:

When decorating your living room, choosing a coffee table may be your last priority, but know that it is a very important addition. This is an opportunity to improve the overall look of the room if you did something wrong, improve the aesthetics of the room, but also contribute to greater functionality. So, when you think about it a little better, you can achieve a lot with this piece of furniture. So make a decision carefully. We hope you find our tips helpful.

The Coffee Table is situated in the heart of your living room with all the other furniture surrounding it. Thus, it deserves its righteous place as one of the most important pieces of furniture in the living room.

How to choose a coffee table

Many of you show more interest in seating furniture, with the sofas and the armchairs gaining attention in the room as their size, fabrics and their ergonomics are decisive for your comfort and your daily activities.

However, the coffee table is the one piece of furniture that ultimately poses the “greatest” questions: Big or Small? Round, square or rectangular? Tall or short? The answers to these questions are equally difficult because, in all probability, you have already purchased the rest of the items, and consequently the coffee table comes to “fit in” within all the other objects in the room around it.

How to choose a coffee table

One does not need specialized knowledge in interior design to realize that the choice of the coffee table depends on the configuration of the other furniture. That is, in a round layout you will not incorporate a square or oblong table because, in this way, you will lose valuable space. Practicality is always the objective, so the right choice is a round coffee table in order for everyone who sits around it to have access to it etc.

Size… matters – even for the most impressive pieces of design. Thus, a small table in the middle in combination with big sofas will not play its role well because it will not be reachable to those people sitting at the ends. Nor you will be ultimately happy with this choice, while in the meantime you will have devalued a furniture piece that would have been valuable in another room. On the other hand, a big table has its… issues as well. One of its drawbacks is that it makes moving around difficult. Oh, also forget stretched legs with a big coffee table in front of you.

How to choose a coffee table

Here is what is needed, step by step, for a good choice of a coffee table.

Measure the right length and height of the sofa and the area where you are going to place the table. The table’s surface should be smaller in length from the sofa and should be at around the same height as the top of the seating. Once you decide on its size, put some boxes in that place and leave them for at least a day to envision how its volume looks and how it functions in the room.

How to choose a coffee table

Think about its functionality. Do you like eating in front of the television, so you will leave dishes, glasses etc.? Do you prefer its character to be decorative, so you will have albums, candles and small ornaments? In this case a good solution would be for it to have drawers so you can quickly remove the remote control and the coasters so they don’t ruin the aesthetics of the design you have created.

How to choose a coffee table

Choose the one that reflects your style. Choose a living room coffee table that reflects the style of the room. Thus, a walnut or oak table is suitable for a traditional lounge, while metal legs and glass match well in a modern space. Finally, geometric patterns or bright colors give off a more artistic style to the surface.

How to choose a coffee table

Think of combinations to show off your other items. Glass doors on window fronts or room dividers create the relevant repetitions and help you in your effort to create relations among the items: for instance, glass window fronts combined with the glass surface of the coffee table or a black lacquer console communicates well with a lacquer coffee table.

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About Glenn

I’m Glenn Prescot, an Interior Designer living in Kansas. I am a fan of DIY, home design, gardening and anything related to home interiors and exteriors. I’m also interested in crafts and Home Improvement projects.

I have been in the home design industry for more than 17 years. I love decorating and transforming spaces so that people living in them are happy and pleased with their space.

Have a look around and I hope you’ll like the content and ideas in this website!!

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