A Guide to Choosing the Best Coffee Table for Your Home Interior

Christine Steuber
Jul 18, 2022
Do you need a coffee table in your home? If yes, how to choose the right one for your home decore? I have all the answers…

The world of interior design greatly revolves around tables – end tables, console tables, side tables, dinner tables, and of course – coffee tables.

So, considering such a great variety, are coffee tables really necessary? Aren’t they obsolete? Out of style? I’m here to propose a different approach to this piece of furniture and show you how it can fit in your rooms and be useful. 

Thus, if you’re renovating your home and wondering whether you should invest in this piece of furniture, you’ve come to the right place.

Ahead, I’ll share the history, answer some FAQs and take you through a thorough guide on choosing the best option for your interior. 

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

History of the Coffee Table

A coffee table has been around since the 1720s, along with tea tables. Americans utilized them for plenty of activities aside from placing their namesake beverages. 

But if you’re curious how a this table became a staple in a standard household, let me share an interesting story about its historical background. Stuart Foote catered to his wife’s need to display a centerpiece at some of her parties. He realized that such a table would perfectly satisfy her wishes, and that’s how the idea developed.

He boasted a strong position at The Imperial Furniture Company in Michigan. By trimming the legs of a dinner table, he labeled it as a coffee table. His company manufactured various tables during his lifetime. 

Now that we know how this furniture came into being, let’s answer some commonly asked questions about it.

7 Essential Coffee Table FAQs

Do you really need a coffee table? Where to put it? Is it useful? Will it just take up the space unnecessarily? With so much skepticism surrounding this piece of furniture, it’s natural for homeowners to raise loads of questions. 

I’ve done deep research on the most common questions people had regarding this piece of furniture. I’ve tried my best to answer perfectly and let you get rid of any doubts.

Q1: Why do I need a coffee table?

Coffee tables still enjoy popularity and demand due to the following reasons:

  • Fills a void. All of us feel like something’s missing when we see a living room having nothing in the heart of space.
  • Serves a purpose. Any surface-based furniture is used for placing things, especially food and beverages. No one likes to hold anything in their hands all the time, and that’s why a coffee table is convenient for this function.
  • Functions as a decoration. Magazines, flowers, candles – elevated surfaces offer great space for decor.
  • Presents itself as art. Aside from adding much-needed function, these tables can be a showstopper in the room if you pick the right one. 

So, as you can see, it’s a misconception that this piece of furniture is unnecessary. 

Q2: Are coffee tables practical?

Definitely. Coffee tables serve tons of practical purposes. From displaying showpieces and art to storage, they serve a myriad of functions.

Some designs have better practicality as they offer various storage drawers to store drinks coasters, TV remotes, and magazines. Hence, they act as a superior storage solution for any room in the house.

Q3: Which sizes and shapes do coffee tables come in?

A standard rectangular coffee table has measurements of 119×68 cm. Also, rectangular tables have the following sizes:

  • 40 to 50 cm in height
  • 60 to 76 cm in depth 
  • 121 to 137 cm in length 

The range of ovals is between 55 cm in width to 137 cm in length, whereas round tables vary from 76 cm to 122 cm.

As for the shapes, these tables come in various forms. This furniture isn’t confined to any shape, so you can opt for the one you like the most.

Q4: Which materials are used to craft coffee tables?

As there is no limit to the shape, the same applies to the material. You can find coffee tables made of acrylic, wood, concrete, metal, marble, glass, wicker, leather, and rattan. However, the traditional ones are primarily composed of wood. 

Q5: Can I put a coffee table in the bedroom?

Similar to almost all types of furniture, you can put coffee tables in a bedroom by following a proper furniture placement. Center your table between seats in your bedroom if you have a chair or armchair there.

Also, the it will look good instead of a bedside table.

Q6: Are several coffee tables in the living room too much?

Absolutely not. Depending on the dimensions of your living room, it’s possible to fit a few tables in the corners.

In fact, many homeowners position various coffee tables in their living rooms if they’re big enough. Just ensure that your tables actually complement each other and accentuate the living room.

Q7: Can I afford a coffee table?

Almost any homeowner can afford to invest in this piece of furniture. Just like any other piece of furniture, this table is available in a wide price range. Highly budget-friendly and upscale options, both are available in the market. 

However, if you’re on a budget, it can be difficult to buy this table made of premium materials. So, you’ll have to compromise on some quality. 

5 Steps to Choosing the Best Coffee Table for Your Home Interior

With all the questions answered, we’re ready to talk about how to pick a coffee table. Even if you’ve never purchased this table before, I’ll walk you through the most important buying factors so that you can make a confident and foolproof decision. 

Step #1: Consider the shape of your couch

The coffee table will be in the vicinity of your couch, so its shape will determine the size of your table.

The table should be a minimum of half the length of your couch but not exceed ⅔ of its size. Plus, it should sit at the same height as the seat, take or give 10 centimeters. 

But if you own a sectional couch with a chaise, and the table sits within its open L-shape created by the couch, the guideline of ½ to ⅔ better applies to the length of the horizontal seat instead of the couch’s full length. 

Step #2: Pay attention to the height

The height of the table depends on the size of the sofa in your living room, too. If you pick a table that is too high or too short, aesthetics and practicality won’t be there.

The table should be a maximum of 5 to 7 cm above or below the sofa’s seat height. However, the nearer it is to the couch’s height, the better it will look.

Step #3: Pick the materials carefully

Coffee tables are the workhorse of a living room, as they hold everything, from beverages to a take-out dinner. That’s why the material should be sturdy and high-quality. As I’ve mentioned, there’s no shortage of materials used to make this furniture piece.

If your home interior is sophisticated, pick a pieve made of glass paired with steel or brass. To add an industrial touch, choose metal. However, wooden tables are timeless and adept at making the room feel like home. 

You can select any wood, like walnut, oak, cherry, and maple. But remember that cherry and walnut have a formal look, whereas maple and oak appear casual.

Step #4: Be mindful of the coffee table’s function

It’s time to ask yourself, what is the point of this piece of furniture in your living room? How will you be using it on a daily basis, and what will be its primary use?

For instance, some homeowners only buy it for aesthetic purposes, while others need it as a storage solution. 

Only purchase the table knowing your lifestyle and needs. If your priority is the decor, you can concentrate on the texture, details, and lines of your preferred material. Drawers, shelves, and more options are available in this table model if you require storage. 

Step #5: Choose your type of coffee table

Based on the aforementioned steps, it’s time to choose your coffee table. There are five main types – traditional, storage, lift top, nesting, and upholstered. Ahead, I’ll be sharing some inspo for all types. 

1) Traditional 

Traditional living room tables are timeless, made of wood, come in an oval or rectangular shape, with four legs, and usually without any storage. Basically, it’s a decorative piece of furniture to showcase in front of the seating arrangement.

Traditional coffee table type example
Credit: Houzz

This graceful, traditional oval piece is composed of walnut and cherry. Charming veneer patterns lightly dance on the rounded tops, and inwardly curved saber legs elegantly splay outward. 

2) Storage 

Coffee tables serving as storage solutions have unlimited designs – baskets, drawers, cubbies, or shelves. It can be any material and shape to fulfill all preferences.

Storage coffee table type example
Credit: Wayfair

This table has a lift top, soft-close drawers, and additional drawers. It can be adjusted to an appropriate height to write, use a laptop, or dine. I recommend putting this type of table in small and loft apartments to get extra storage space.

3) Lift top 

This modern model is my favorite because it serves a multitude of uses. Not only does this design serve as a surface for holding things or drinks, the lift-top style doubles as a dining table or a work surface.

Lift top coffee table type example
Credit: Amazon

This isn’t your average coffee table! With the lift top and storage spaces, it easily moves toward you so that you can eat or work comfortably. 

4) Nesting 

The nesting style contains two or more tables featuring small and big sizes. Smaller table nests under the bigger one. It’s a really adorable and functional design at the same time. Again, all types of materials and shapes are available in nesting models.

Nesting coffee table type example
Credit: Pottery Barn

This circular table displays a simple construction, highlighting the natural beauty of the wood. The thick wood surface makes the table appear substantial without feeling heavy. In my opinion, this is also a perfect outdoor table that would perfectly fit in the backyard, garden, or terrace.

5) Upholstered 

And to add a bit of luxury to your home, consider an upholstered table model. It usually comes in a square shape, with a tufted cushioned top and a wooden frame. Alternatively, it can be composed of wood but in an ottoman design.

Upholstered coffee table type example
Credit: TTHME

An upholstered coffee table for the sofa goes hand-in-hand with the rest of the furniture and raises the interior of this living room to the next level. 

5 Inspiring Home Interiors Featuring Coffee Tables

We’ve learned almost everything regarding this piece of furniture. Now, let’s go over the most attractive home interior ideas featuring various models. 

Ahead, you’ll see how different designs can aptly fit into your living room – regardless of your home aesthetic. I’ve picked rare and unique tables so that your lounge area appears extraordinary. 

Idea #1: Mico Rattan coffee table 

There is something so rustic and boho about rattan. I love this simple material that effortlessly adds class to the room. The market is flooded with tables made of it, so let’s look at one rattan coffee table below. 

Mico Rattan Coffee Table from Castlery
Credit: Castlery

This table exudes beachy vibes that warm up your room. It also has a removable table top for extra functionality. The finish with honey lacquer and the tabletop made of solid teak wood make it look elegant. 

Idea #2: Modern rotating coffee table 

Speaking about the market, there’s an influx of rotating styles in coffee tables, too. The Haring Square rotating style offers a real 1960’s vibe. Let’s see how you can make a statement with this unique piece:

Modern Rotating Coffee Table from Amazon
Credit: Amazon

With a rotating top, this table looks rare but multifunctional. The classic black shade and wooden frame are major highlights and make this table look artistic. 

Idea #3: Scando family coffee table 

If you’re on the hunt for a striking piece, you’ll love the unique symmetries, proportions, and lines of this model:

Scando family coffee table from Kardiel
Credit: Kardiel

Thanks to its wooden surface and unusual design, this top-tier table fits in every space and fulfills the needs of all family members. Its subtle, low, and inviting form looks divine. 

Idea #4: 5-Piece gas lift table 

The furniture industry is thriving with contemporary pieces. Designers always invent new ways to incorporate storage and even fit the chairs under the table. This example shows what I mean:

5-Piece gas lift table from Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Have you ever thought this piece of furniture could serve as a mini dining table with four storage ottomans? This round table displays a gas-lift hydraulic metal base with an adjustable height. The dark cherry finish makes it look sophisticated, and the ottomans are wrapped in dark brown faux leather.

Idea #5: Decorpro level compact coffee table 

While we mostly lean towards lightweight and portable furniture, it’s fine to choose a heavy yet appealing piece once in a while. In the coffee table realm, heavy pieces can only be employed indoors, similar to the one below:

Decorpro level compact coffee table from Amazon
Credit: Amazon

This 100-pound beast with live, breathing fire is truly impressive. Its frame is made of engineered wood and glass in a charming espresso color. This is multifunctional furniture in essence – it can serve as a candle holder, fireplace, or aquarium.

Coffee Table Alternatives to Spice Up Your Space

That sofa+chair+coffee table dynamic has been the default interior formula in living rooms for so long. But what if your room doesn’t have the required configuration to accommodate it, or you simply don’t wish to follow the age-old formula?

Don’t worry, there you can always opt for some alternatives. Here are three most creative and outstanding alternatives to spice up your space.

Are you excited? Let’s get started.

If you want some super-natural vibe in your home, consider fixing bare tree stumps. The DIY tree stump above serves as a clean wood coffee table. 

Whether you’re in a simple country or a buzzing city, tree stump tables will always be a good idea. I have heart-shaped logs in my home, and it’s the best decision I’ve made. And the best part? The arrangement and shape are totally up to you.

And now tell me, are you tight on the budget? Don’t worry, you can still have a mega-cool coffee table that will steal attention. Just stack some good ol’ hardback books. This is a cheap but chic alternative. You can buy hardback books from a thrift store or even online – no need to own a home library.

And as the last example on our list, I’ve chosen the geometric shapes that are a great option for anyone who doesn’t want standard tables.

Geometric shapes coffee table alternative
Credit: Simon Upton

No matter how neutral your space is, these can add an aesthetic intrigue to every room. Since they are usually very small, you can put two just like in the example above to further increase the practicality.

How to Take Care of a Coffee Table?

Okay, now we know how to purchase and fit any coffee table in every space. But after the purchase comes maintenance, which is equally important. If you take proper care of your furniture, it will remain functional and serve you for a long time. 

So, to keep your furniture’s original shape, color and beauty, follow these steps:

  • Dust your wooden table daily. Use nut oil to darken the wood. 
  • Don’t pile heavy things on the glass tables. Use coasters to prevent heat rings and window cleaner to clean it. Keep it away from high-traffic areas in your room.
  • Don’t apply harsh detergents or products containing ethyl alcohol on a plastic table. Remove dust with a microfiber cloth.
  • Finally, clean a metal table with a wet microfiber cloth, warm water, and some dish soap. Dip a brush in soapy water to clean crevices.

These tips will keep your coffee table looking new even after years. 

Over to You

Are you now convinced that all households need a coffee table? I’m sure you are! They are an indispensable furniture piece that achieves harmony with the accessories in the room and the rest of the furniture. 

Let’s sum up the list of tips we discussed in the guide:

  • Take into account the couch shape, height, and material of the required table. Determine what you’ll be needing a this table for.
  • The five main types of coffee tables are – traditional, storage, upholstered, nesting, and lift top.
  • For alternatives, a stack of hardback books, DIY tree stumps, and geometric stools are great options.
  • Clean and maintain your table based on the material.

Feel free to read my other articles on home improvement. I am sure they’ll help you as well!

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