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How to Choose a Coffee Table

by krismkoch
how to choose a coffee table

Although I never thought i’d be obsessing over a coffee table, I’m actually finding it to be one of the hardest items in our living room to choose. In fact, I think I’ve been debating what kind of table to get for over six months. I’ve been most focused on design and debating whether to go with a wood or brass and marble or lucite design. But once I started shopping, I also realized choosing a coffee table was about so much more than picking a style you like — you also need to take into account your space, the other furniture in the room, the floors, and the material. It’s actually pretty overwhelming.

Coffee Table Size

The general rule of thumb is that a coffee table should be about two thirds the length of your couch, so the 40×40 coffee table I was in love with, just won’t work. Our couch is a massive 96 inches long, so I need a 64 inch long coffee table, which I’m actually finding hard to find. One thing I didn’t think about but that is equally important is the height. We used to have the Restoration Hardware Cloud sofa and it was super low, so we had a lower table. Our current couch is more standard height, and needs something a bit higher. Ideally, you want to look for one that’s around the same height as your couch’s cushions.

The Space

Once you figure out the dimensions, think about the rest of the space. Our living room is open and a good size, so we can have a more substantial piece, but glass and lucite are great options for smaller spaces. You also want to consider what’s on the other side of the coffee table. We have a lot of space between the couch and the TV and fireplace, so I can go for a bulkier square shape. However, I may want to put two chairs on the other side of it, or one day have our two couches facing each other, so I’m leaning toward going with something more rectangular. We currently have an oval shaped placeholder and I don’t hate it, but it’s ultra traditional and we have a lot of dark wood in the room, so I’m looking to get away from it with the coffee table.

Your Other Furniture

Speaking of furniture, don’t forget the couch and/or chairs that will surround it. If your couch has legs, you want to go with a table without legs, and vice versa to balance it out. We have one couch without legs and one that is more a settee style that has legs, so it’s a little more tricky. However, the table will go in front of the larger couch sans legs in the space’s current configuration, so I am looking for a table with legs.

Of course you also want to coordinate with any side tables. I’m not a big fan of the matchy-matchy look, and we have two gold brass side tables, so I decided to go with a different material for our coffee table. With that said, I still want everything to feel cohesive. I’m toying with the idea of a lighter antique white or ivory table to compliment the brass and contrast the darker woods in the room. However, my husband has been complaining about the lack of color, so I’m also thinking about whether I want to try something with color like a light blue or even navy.

What the Table is Made Of

For those of us with kids or who are spillers, it’s also important to research the material. For example, I probably shouldn’t go for something that can’t take wear and tear and stains from the kids, but I am also a fool and love grasscloth. Marble can show stains easily, as anyone with marble countertops knows, but woods can easily get ring stains too.

Cost and Versatility

I am not ready to invest a fortune into a coffee table with our kids being so little right now. I am looking for one that’s nice but at a reasonable price point. I also know this is not our forever home and I have design add, so I may not want it for our living room in our next home, but I’d like it to be sturdy enough that we could repurpose for another room in the future.

After months of agonizing, I have finally narrowed my picks to several coffee tables that are all pretty affordable. They definitely are a little all over the place style wise, but as I said, I want something that will make an impact on the space, which is currently pretty traditional, and I’m just not sure which direction to go. Here are the coffee tables i’ve narrowed it down to and they’re all at pretty good price points. Now, help, which should I get?

how to choose a coffee table
how too choose a coffee table

From top left:

Serena and Lily Blue Coffee Table

Serena and Lily Oak Coffee Table

Serena and Lily Ebony Cane Coffee Table

Serena and Lily White Rectangular Coffee Table

Ballard Raffia Covered Coffee Table

White Wood Cut Corner Coffee Table

Society Social Grasscloth Coffee Table

Ballard Lucite Coffee Table

Marble and Brass Coffee Table

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1 comment

Drake Frost November 8, 2020 - 10:54 pm

It seems that choosing a coffee table is the easiest one. Many of my friends do not attach any importance to the furniture that they put in their home. In the living room, the main focus is on the sofa, and the second most important is the coffee table. Do you agree with me? Thanks for your examples. I didn’t know what makes such wonderful coffee tables now. Tell me where you can buy them? What are the current prices? Can I change the color or material of the tables? I have a non-standard living room, so I need a special table size.

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