The way you use a coffee table will help inform your selection. The way you use a coffee table will help you decide which type to buy. Some people rarely use their coffee table, and prefer it solely for decoration. Others, actually use it. This category of homeowners means that they need a durable table that won’t easily scratch. Therefore, it is important to them that they be able to easily clean it.
Solid construction is also recommended for those whose living room must withstand a heavy coffee table. A coffee table can also function as storage in cramped quarters, but don’t necessarily limit your search to models with built-in shelving under the tabletop if this double-duty is a must-have feature. Tables with an open and airy base can still accommodate attractive stacks of books, filling the negative space between floor and tabletop.
The proportion of the coffee table needs to be in keeping with both the size of the living room and the scale of the surrounding furnishings. A generally accepted rule of thumb when pairing a classic rectangular coffee table with a sofa is that the table should run from 1/2 to 2/3 the length of the sofa.
The tabletop should run level (within a few inches) to the top of the seat cushions of the surrounding furnishings. Size also has a huge impact on the traffic flow of the living room, so you must consider ease of movement around the coffee table. Be sure to factor in about 3′ in between the coffee table and the closest adjacent furnishings.
Square, rectangular, circular, ovular. There are as many coffee table shapes as there are materials and finishes, but remember that you’re not decorating in a vacuum. Pick out shapes from patterned textiles, art and objets in the living room, and let these pre-existing geometrics inform this decision. If the safety of children is a concern in a particular concern, a rounded table with gentle edges may be a wise selection.
Stylistically, you may choose a table that either counterpoints or mirrors the shape and style of the other furnishings in the living room. Pairing a traditional, curved sofa with a crisp and contemporary Parsons table can be a great contrast, while on the other hand, pairing that Parsons table with a similarly clean-lined, low back sectional could make a dramatic impact. Take some snapshots of your existing living room furniture with you on your hunt to help you visualize the possible combinations.
Think outside the box for stunning coffee table substitutes. An upholstered ottoman topped with a tray is a very popular trend, as is using antique trunks, or other low to the ground chests.