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Your Guide for How To Choose a Coffee Table

How to choose a coffee table

As much fun as shopping for a new coffee table can be, it can become tough once you include all the factors like size, style, materials, etc. Everybody has different wants and needs, so there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all coffee table that just works with every living room. That being said, there are several general guidelines that you can keep in mind when choosing a coffee table, regardless of your specific needs or style! So to help you find a piece you love, here’s your guide for how to choose a coffee table.

How Do I Choose a Coffee Table Size?

When trying to find a new coffee table, you’ll have to consider not only the size of the table itself, but also the furniture surrounding it, namely your couch’s. Otherwise, your coffee table’s proportions could look off in the context of your room.

For many interior designers, a general rule of thumb is that your coffee table should be around the same height as your couch cushions, and about two-thirds the length of your sofa (although some also suggest half the length).

For instance, if your sofa is 85 inches long, you should try to find a coffee table that's about 56 inches long. If you have a sofa with a chaise, the table should be proportional to the horizontal seats, rather than the full length.

As for the height, if your sofa cushions are 18 inches high, you would ideally want your coffee table to be around the same height, if not slightly shorter (1-to-2 inches shorter, to be exact). Again, these are general guidelines; everyone’s circumstances are different, so find a coffee table that you feel fits your living space.

Also, keep in mind that your couch and coffee table need enough space between them for people (and pets) to move around comfortably. Again generally speaking, 12-18 inches is the usual amount of space you should try to keep between your coffee table and couch. If this doesn’t feel possible, you may have to consider a smaller table or perhaps rearranging the room.

when choosing a a coffee table, consider functionality

Consider Function and Utility

Finding a coffee table based on only size seems easy enough, but also consider your specific lifestyle needs as well. Do you need extra storage for items? Is your coffee table also going to be your work-from-home office? What about a kid-friendly design? The latter matters quite a bit, as coffee tables with sharp edges and/or are made of glass aren’t the most kid-friendly choice.

Nowadays, some people pass on tables entirely, and instead opt for a large ottoman to serve as both a table and a footrest. The rounder shapes and soft materials make this a great kid-friendly option. Another bonus to this approach is that it’s quite common for these ottomans to have storage space inside of them, giving them even more storage utility, if that’s something your living room needs.

Nesting coffee tables are also a highly versatile option for any living room. As the name suggests, nesting tables are designed to fit together as one table. But they can also be used as two separate accent tables and arranged around your living room as you see fit. Nesting tables commonly come as two circular or oval shaped pieces, however square and rectangular versions exist as well.

Bel Furniture wood accent chair

What Are the Different Coffee Table Shapes?

On that note, shape matters quite a bit, both from a utility standpoint and an interior design perspective as well. For example, if you have a sectional sofa, a square shaped coffee table would work quite well, but the same would not be true for a sofa with a chaise.

A circular coffee table fits very well with sectionals and sofas with a chaise, but not as well with a standard sofa. Round tables also maximize the space between it and your sofa, as well as make the room seem more open due to the lack of corners.

Oval shaped tables are the most balanced type of coffee table because its shape provides plenty of space for both storage and movement. They fit nicely alongside standard sofas and sofas with a chaise, but not so nicely with sectional sofas.

Marble coffee tables from Bel Furniture in Texas

What Color Should a Coffee Table Be?

Don’t feel limited to buying a standard, monochrome wooden coffee table. Nowadays, coffee tables come in a variety of materials and colors, so you’ll always be able to find one that visually matches your interior design style.

Stainless steel is a good material for brightening up a room, thanks to its reflective nature. Broadly speaking, stainless steel is also easy to clean and maintain, making it a kid-friendly choice for a coffee table material. Perhaps best of all, the sleek and neutral nature of stainless steel means it can mesh with many different materials; it can be an accent piece or a focal point (although probably not both, simultaneously).

While not exactly kid-friendly, glass tables are great for making a room feel bigger and more open. Glass tables send light around the room similarly to stainless steel, but with the added bonus of tricking our eyes into seeing an open space.

Acrylic tables offer many of the same pros as glass, but they are more lightweight and have better shatter resistance. However, an acrylic coffee table will cost more than glass, so it’s worth keeping that in mind when choosing a coffee table.

Bel Furniture blue modern couch

How To Choose a Coffee Table at Bel Furniture

While we’ve provided some more general practices you should consider when choosing a coffee table, there are always more questions to ask—the devil is in the details, as they say.

To really find the coffee table right for you and your living space, get in touch with our expert team at your local Bel Furniture! They’ll talk with you to understand your unique needs and situation, down to the smallest detail, and help you pick the coffee table of your dreams.

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