Utilised as the final missing component in your living room’s décor, a piece designed to contrast with the colour and style of a seated area or simply to hold drinks when friends and family come to visit, a coffee table is an item of furniture that acts as a centrepiece to any home’s room for entertaining guests.
A coffee table may be taken for granted, but if it doesn’t complement other items of furniture in the room it's situated, it could be the downfall of your entire aesthetic. In this blog, we explain the many uses of coffee tables before providing help on what criteria you should consider for picking out a new coffee table for your home.
What is a coffee table used for?
In the process of decorating a living room or another space that is designed for relaxing and spending time with friends and family, sofas are a component that simply cannot be ignored. However, coffee tables are often seen as the second most important items after sofas, providing an additional practical element to combine with your sofas and completing the look. Indeed, while many people may choose to include a coffee table for design purposes or simply because they feel it’s mandatory, it would actually be more beneficial to use a coffee table for practical purposes.
With many styles, shapes, colours and materials to choose from, a coffee table can fill unwanted space in a seated area. That said, coffee tables do more than just please the eye, offering support for holding drinks, television remotes, magazines, and if you actively look to turn your coffee table into a centrepiece, books, vases, candles, lighting and ornaments.
How to pick a coffee table
Often located in the middle of a living room space, a coffee table can’t be ignored, so you need to make sure that the one you pick is perfect. Coffee tables are available in a vast selection of different forms, but it’s possible to pick out the correct option for your living room providing you consider the material, shapes and uses of your ideal coffee table.
Coffee table materials:
Wood - ideal for a rustic, authentic feel
Glass - a minimal option for upmarket layouts
Mirror - perfect for promoting a feeling of elegance and enhancing the appearance of space
Metal - typically associated with vintage feels or used as an arbiter between new and old
Marble - popular with light tones and sophisticated décor
Coffee table shapes:
Rectangular - modern and best suited to larger areas
Square - suitable for both practicality and representing symmetry alongside other items of furniture
Circular - casual and easier for people to move around with ease
Oval - a welcome mix between the perks of square and circular options
Aside from the visual side of your coffee table, it would be beneficial to think of practical uses. For example, an ottoman would be an alternative option for privately storing items, nesting tables give you the option to split off your tables into separate pieces and use in different areas of the room, or you could opt against a coffee table, instead using a couple of matching side tables.
What shape of coffee table goes with a sectional sofa?
A key consideration when it comes to choosing a coffee table is that it works alongside other pieces of furniture in your living room. This extends to any components in the room - including curtains, bookshelves, lighting, the fireplace, doors, windows and even the colour of the room itself - but whether the visual aesthetic works or not will be dependent on the shape, size, colour and style of your sofa. However, while this will take some thought, you may be even more uncertain of your living room’s layout if you have a sectional sofa.
Sectional sofas are made from several pieces, often meaning that it could be formed as a corner sofa or possess a section that allows the user to lie down. As such, they aren’t always square shaped and symmetrical, leading to potential problems with finding a coffee table that fits alongside this type of sofa.
Matching a coffee table with a sectional sofa isn’t actually as difficult as it may sound, and you shouldn’t have any problem doing this as long as you bear in mind a few fundamental factors. For instance, it’s crucial that your coffee table is proportionate to your sofa. Sectional sofas are often oversized and significantly larger than traditional sofas, so this could mean investing in a larger coffee table.
As for L-shaped corner sofas, square coffee tables will present a sleek sense of correlation between similar shapes with circular coffee tables will provide easier navigation for anyone looking to sit down or stand up. The important factor for making a coffee table work with this type of sectional sofa is to ensure that it is positioned inside the length of the sofa. If it overlaps outside of the sofa’s length, the oversized nature of the sofa will look more out of place, making it stand out uncomfortably.
How to choose a coffee table size
Identifying a coffee table that is the correct size for your living room is just as important as finding one that is visually appealing and complements your existing colour scheme and decorative style.
A coffee table is typically between 16 and 18 inches tall and around 58 inches long, but that’s not to say that these measurements are right for the space you’re decorating.
If you need help with picking the size of your table, you should:
- Ensure that there is at least two feet between the coffee table and all other items of furniture
- Measure your room to get a feel for what size would work best
- Pick a coffee table that is around two thirds shorter than the length of your sofa
- Check that the height of the coffee table is in line with the sofa's cushions.
While these tips are likely to help the process of choosing the correct size to suit your sofa and other elements in your living room, you should make sure that you’re sizing a coffee table using your own specifications.
For instance, if you have a lot of space in your living room and you’ve planned for your furniture to be several feet away from your coffee table, it would be more suitable to get a coffee table that is wider, longer and closer to the ground. Alternatively, if your living room is more compact and you want a cosier feel and more storage options, it would be better suited for your coffee table to be thinner, taller and carrying shelves and drawers for holding items.