How To Choose A Coffee Table

It’s often overlooked when it comes to choosing furniture, but a coffee table is an item that gets almost constant use and can be the finishing touch when it comes to your living room decor.


So how do you know which one you should choose?


Here is everything you should consider when looking for a new coffee table.




Whether your coffee table is wood, metal, marble or glass will depend not only on your interior tastes but also on what best suits your needs.


Wood, for instance, is a durable option that also fits into a wide range of styles, making it the most popular choice. One thing to bear in mind here is that it is susceptible to water rings, so be sure to use coasters when you use your coffee table for drinks.


A glass coffee table will create an illusion of space as it won’t visually block off any part of the room. The downside, of course, is that glass can be a nuisance to clean, and will show any fingerprint or scratch that marks its surface.


If you have small children in your household, it’s probably best to steer clear to avoid any unfortunate accidents.


Marble is a good compromise between the two, exuding a chic elegance while also being fairly naturally hard-wearing. It requires a little bit of upkeep, but nothing that will take up too much of your time.


Lastly, metal is a very popular choice for contemporary or minimal homes, providing a good balance between durability and style. To inject a bit of warmth into modern interiors, you could always opt for a wooden topped coffee table with a metal base.




To determine the size of the coffee table you choose, you should refer not to the room it will go in, but the sofa that you’ll pair it with.


A good rule of thumb for choosing your coffee table is to pick one no bigger than two thirds of the size of your sofa.


This helps to avoid it overwhelming your space.


When it comes to height, the tabletop should be roughly level with your sofa cushions, give or take an inch or two.


This ensures that you will be able to easily grab anything on top of it, whether it’s your morning paper or your evening glass of wine.


When thinking about size, you should also consider how much space will be left around the coffee table.


It’s good to leave a clearance of between 12 to 18 inches between the edge of the sofa and the table, with around 30 inches between the table and the TV.


This helps to keep things balanced while leaving plenty of room for walking around the space.


If you don’t have that much room to spare, just ensure that there will be enough leg room for people sitting in any space on the sofa.




There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to shape, though there are a few things you might like to consider. Rectangular tables are good all-rounders, but pair particularly well with long sofas and provide a good contrast to sofas with round edges.


Round coffee tables tend to work better with shorter sofas, as too much space around them can make them look lost.


In practical terms, they are also a good option for households with small children and pets as there are no sharp edges to bump into. If you like the softer look but have a long sofa, an oval table might be a good shape for you.


Similarly, square tables are better suited to short sofas and square seating arrangements, so you are not left with too much space either side.


It’s also possible to find a wide range of abstract, free-form coffee tables that can serve as a feature piece. These styles can work really well in contemporary homes and add a point of interest to the living room.


Storage & Function


A coffee table can be an easy way to add extra storage to your living room, so it’s worth considering if that’s something you need. They can be a great place to store clutter that accumulates around communal areas, like toys, books and blankets (and are perfect for a quick tidy when an unexpected guest calls round).


If you would like some extra storage, there are a few coffee table styles that can accommodate this. Many coffee tables come with a couple of drawers where you can easily tidy away magazines and paperwork.


Trunk coffee tables, on the other hand, are essentially storage in themselves, opening with a lidded top to reveal ample space inside.


Will you need to move your coffee table around?


If you think you will find yourself frequently clearing space for the kids to play or for you to exercise, you’ll be much better off choosing a lightweight coffee table. Dragging a heavy solid wood table across the room will get old pretty quickly.



As well as practical considerations, you should think about how your new coffee table will look in the room. A good rule of thumb to stop your table looking out of place is to find at least one element of it that ties in with your decor. For example, if you have a coastal, boho interior with a lot of raw materials, then a raw wood coffee table could be a perfect fit. If you have black and white cushions on your sofa, then a black or white coffee table would be a good link between the two.

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