Coffee tables are like a ‘command center’. They do a whole lot of work. We use them to showcase artwork, hold our drinks, keep our books handy, store our remotes and sometimes eat meals. Such a multifunctional piece of furniture deserves some serious thought and consideration before purchasing. Besides, they usually sit right smack dab in the center of the living room so you want to get it right.
Let’s look at some of the basics that will inform your choice:
Circular, square, round, rectangular…..there are many shapes to choose from. You may decide on a piece that contrasts sharply with your existing furniture, for effect, or you may want something that blends in. Take some photos of your current furniture arrangement with you when you go shopping. It’ll help you visualize adding particular coffee tables. If you have a large seating arrangement in your living room you may want to consider a pair of matching coffee tables. This keeps the focus off one large piece of furniture and allows the eye to roam the room more freely. You don’t want to add a piece of furniture that swallows up a room.
Coffee tables generally run from ½ to ⅔ the length of a sofa. The height should run about the same as the sofa, give or take a few inches. Be aware of traffic flow. Figure on allowing about three feet between the coffee table and other furniture. You want to avoid constantly banging into furniture.
The way you use your coffee table will help you make your selection. If it’s a multi-use platform, forget about unsealed wood because you’ll have food crumbs and drink spills that will not clean up easily. Glass tops, heavy veneers and laminates might be ideal. A tabletop holding heavy art objects needs to be solidly constructed. If you’ve got kids under six ditto the solid construction. If it’s extra storage you’re after look for models with built-in shelves or tops that open. A lip around the perimeter of the table is great for preventing spilled drinks.
Coffee table materials come in a wide variety. Oak, maple, cherry, walnut and pine all have their own look and feel. Oak, maple and pine are more casual while walnut and cherry are associated with more formal looks. Depends on what you’re going for. Glass tops are popular, especially combined combined with other metals. Some glass top tables actually look like they’re suspended in air, creating the illusion of more space. Laminates and veneers can take heavy use.