A well-chosen coffee table can be the centerpiece of a room or can complement the seating, bringing elegance and style to your space – but an inappropriate coffee table can shrink a room or leave it feeling cluttered. Here are the top 6 questions you need to ask to make the right decision.
1. Why are you buying a coffee table?
Before you consider anything else, you need to think carefully about your requirements – and you need to be clear about why you want a coffee table in the first place.
This might almost seem too obvious – but not all coffee tables serve the same purpose, and you need to know exactly what use your coffee table is destined for.
For example, is your coffee table going to be a functional piece of furniture that will have drinks, magazines, food and even feet placed on it? Or is it supposed to be a much more decorative element, closer to an object of art than something you eat off while watching TV?
Being clear about this from the start will guide your answers to all the other questions you need to pose. For example, a coffee table destined for a room where children are constantly running around and playing is likely to be vastly different from one in a cozy and stylish room for adults.
Some coffee tables, such as those by Duffy London, are designed to enhance a room in almost the same way as a tasteful sculpture or well-placed painting.
By using such an eye-catching piece as Duffy London’s Abyss Horizon as the centerpiece of a space, you create a calmness and serenity in a room; a coffee table such as this makes a bold statement about the aesthetics you are trying to create.
On the other hand, using a coffee table like this would be wholly inappropriate if it is likely to have kids climbing all over it. The striking effect of such a piece would be completely lost if it were covered in mugs and books and surrounded by children’s toys.
In this case, something more practical would be a much better choice.
2. How big should it be?
Having decided why you want the coffee table, you can move on to more practical considerations like size. The size is one of the most important things to think about and depends on several factors.
First, think about the size of your room and the other furniture. A coffee table that takes up too much space will make the room feel much smaller. In the worst case, a big coffee table forced into a small room will actually limit your movement.
On the other hand, a coffee table that is too small for a large space or coupled with a large sofa can look out of place and will destroy the harmony of a room.
Also, consider whether you are buying a coffee table to place drinks and plates on or because you have an open space you need to fill. If it is to have a functional use, make sure it is big enough for your needs.
3. How tall should it be?
The generally accepted wisdom here is that a coffee table should be no higher than your seating – and probably lower.
However, think of how it will be used. If you want a coffee table that will be used for TV dinners, choosing one that is a little higher might be a more suitable option. Be careful, though – a large, high coffee table may end up dominating a room, making space feel much smaller.
Something else to think about is the feel you wish to create in your room; lower coffee tables have the effect of creating more of a laidback atmosphere.
4. What shape is best for your space?
As with size and height, there are several considerations that will determine the best shape for your room.
If you have a long sofa, a rectangular or oval coffee table could be a good option. However, if your other furniture is on the small side, this shape may seem mismatched and out of place.
If your room is characterized by too many sharp lines, you may choose an oval or circular table to soften the feel. A circular table would work best with smaller sofas.
One other point worth remembering is that circular and oval tables don’t have corners for young children to bang their heads on. If you have youngsters charging around in your room, this might also be a factor to take into account.
5. What material should you choose?
The material of the table is another vital point to consider, and again, it is affected by many factors, running from practicality to aesthetics.
An easily-breakable glass table is probably not the best choice for parents of young children but remember too that a glass table will easily show up any handprints and dirt. Similarly, a leather-covered table might look great – but if you have pets, you might find it doesn’t last very long.
Wood is the established classic and is both durable and easy to maintain. However, a touch of metal or acrylic can add a more modern feel to your room.
6. What color?
Finally, of course, you need to think about the color. Darker colors may bring warmth and coziness to a room while lighter colors can brighten it up.
If you choose more original colors, think carefully about how they will fit in with the rest of the room. Well-chosen colors can complement the rest of the room but if you get it wrong, strong colors will clash and destroy the harmony of your space.
Think carefully before you decide
A coffee table can have a strong effect on the perception of a room. If you choose well, it will greatly enhance your space – but if you get it wrong, the whole feel of the room will be negatively affected. Think carefully about all these questions and it will help you make the right decision.
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Daily Cupo, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.