Coffee tables are a necessity of modern life. Whether you use it to add some decor to a room, as a place to put up your feet, or as a replacement for your kitchen table during a Netflix binge session, every sofa needs a coffee table. However, before you grab just any old coffee table, there are a few things you should consider.
The most important aspect of a coffee table is its function. The function will help determine the style, material, shape, and more. If you want somewhere to kick your feet up, you likely don’t want a glass coffee table. If you’re going to use it as a display, you don’t want something like an ottoman. What about storage? Or using it as a dining table? Whatever you’re going to use your table for will affect the type of table you should have.
Coffee tables come in a seemingly endless array of styles. From modern to contemporary to eclectic, the style of table you’ll want depends on the function and your personal preference. As stated above, if you’re looking for a place to store blankets or books, you likely won’t want a minimalist, Scandinavian style table. Beyond the function though, you should consider how it will blend with the style in the room. Do you want something that matches your sofa exactly? Do you want something that contrasts? The coffee table often acts as the anchor to a space, so keep in mind how you want your space to feel.
Coffee tables can be made of any material, but the most common are wood, metal, glass, stone, and upholstered. Which material you prefer will depend on both the function and style. If you want something low maintenance and functional, wood and metal are your materials. Wood is the most common material to make a coffee table out of, it goes with almost any style and is easy to clean. Metal is durable and easy to clean and goes well when combined with other materials.
If you want a modern look, then maybe a glass-top table is right for you. Dirt and spills are very noticeable on glass, however, requiring more cleaning than other materials. A coffee table with a stone top adds a stately, traditional look to your space, but may be more upkeep than other materials.
Finally, if you just want something comfortable to put your feet on or a place to store extra blankets, an upholstered ottoman is the perfect coffee table for you. And if you want the comfort but need a place to set down drinks or food, you can always get some serving trays to set on the upholstered coffee table when eating or drinking.
Shape and Size
The most common shape of coffee tables is a simple rectangle atop four legs. It’s functional, it’s sturdy, and it fits with almost any style. Just because it works though, doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Coffee tables come in all kinds of shapes: round, oval, square, octagonal, eclectic. Sometimes the shape is determined by the material, think a reclaimed driftwood piece. Whatever shape you choose should depend on how you want it to fit in your home. It goes back to function again, but also style and even other factors. Do you have children or pets who are going to be running around? In that case something with sharp corners probably won’t be great.
You should also consider the size of a coffee table and how it will fit your space. If you live in a small apartment with a two-seat sofa, you probably don’t want a monstrous coffee table. But if you have a large entertainment room with a big, plush L-shaped sofa, you might want something that won’t get lost in the space. Also, if you’re going to use your coffee table as a place to set drinks or food, you’ll want it to be roughly the same height as the seats of your sofa. If it’s just used for display, something lower to the ground might work.
Coffee Table Substitutes
Although every living room needs a coffee table, that doesn’t mean that a coffee table is the only option. Several other items can serve the same function as a coffee table and might work better with your space and needs. The most common table replacements are upholstered ottomans, often with serving trays placed on top to give them the same functionality of tables while maintaining the comfort they provide. Often people will set two smaller tables together in place of a coffee table. Two side tables or a set of nesting tables can serve the same function without taking up as much space.
Other less common substitutes for coffee tables include garden stools, small benches, or even old trunks. Each of these adds their own unique flair to a space and offers a different form of function. Garden stools give the space a light, open look and can be easily moved if you need the space for something else. A small bench can act as extra seating when necessary, and like a pair of stools, is easily moved if you need more space. One of the popular coffee table substitutes of the last few years is a vintage style trunk. A trunk offers much of the same function as a traditional table, plus it provides some extra storage and brings a unique character to the room that a traditional coffee table just doesn’t have.
There’s no right or wrong choice for a coffee table, but you should consider how you’ll use it and what it will add to the room. If you need extra storage and a comfy place to put your feet, go for an ottoman. If you want a unique look that stands out, use a vintage trunk. If you just need someplace to anchor the room and set your book or drink, a classic rectangular, wooden coffee table might be the best choice.