My husband and I have been having heated discussions about coffee tables lately. We are in dire need of a new coffee table, but we don’t have the same ideas about the style, size or material. Coffee tables can be complicated.

Although coffee tables are most likely to have made their way into American and British homes in the latter part of 1800s, their roots may be much older. Even the Etruscans of central Italy used rectangular, low tables to host lavish banquets.

In the early 1900s, the coffee table was more about the object than the coffee. The coffee table became an essential part of American living rooms when televisions were commonplace.

A coffee table is a major purchase, as I often tell my husband. A coffee table is something you will only need to replace every 10 years, so it’s important that you choose the right one. Consider these things when selecting a coffee table to fit your living room.

A Coffee Table is a Must in Your Living Room

Consider this: A coffee table can serve multiple purposes in your living space. When entertaining friends, it’s a place for cups and glasses to rest. You can keep books, photos, laptops, and other items within reach. You can set up a game or do homework there.

Rooms To Go Coffee Tables Round Coffee Table The Eye
Rooms To Go Coffee Tables Round Coffee Table The Eye

It might double as the dining table if there is a good TV show. It can also be used as a place for you to rest your feet after a long day.

A coffee table is a visual anchor that brings together all the furniture in the living area. It unites the sofa, recliners, end tables, and TV by creating a cohesive effect.

Coffee Table Shapes

There are many options for coffee tables, each with its own unique features. These are the basics:

Rectangular. Because everyone can reach it, the classic coffee table shape is most practical when paired with a long (three-seater couch or longer) sofa.

Oval. This table is an excellent alternative to a rectangular one. It has a smaller surface area but no sharp corners to bang shins.

Order A Beautiful Wood Coffee Table For Your Living Room
Order A Beautiful Wood Coffee Table For Your Living Room

Square. For smaller living spaces or couches that are narrower, a square table might be the best option. It is usually wider than a rectangular one, so it might not be as space-saving in the long term.

Round. Round coffee tables are also great for small living rooms, where chairs and couches are placed in a U-shaped pattern around the table.

Coffee Table Materials

You can find coffee tables in a variety of materials that vary in their functionality and durability.

Wood. Wood is the classic material for tables. It’s durable and versatile. Low-quality wood and wood veneer can show every scratch and dent. Even high-quality wood may show stains from nail polish, drinks, or other substances.

Laminate. Laminate coffee tables are cheaper than wood, and they’re more durable than wood. Laminate coffee tables can withstand being beaten up by toys from children, but they also have the ability to chip. The corners are sharp.

Glass-top. Glass-top tables are usually supported by a metal frame. They create a lighter feel in a living space, but they may not be suitable for homes with small children. Stephanie Engel, an interior designer and home stager for Minnesota’s Real Estate Bees says that glass coffee tables have a more formal look than traditional wooden coffee tables. They are better suited to formal living rooms or family rooms.

Stone or marble. Although not as common, you can make coffee tables from marble or natural stones. They look great, but they are heavy. Also, watch out for your shins.

Alternative Coffee Table Solutions

Engel suggests there are many alternatives to traditional coffee tables if you aren’t thrilled with the idea or don’t have enough space. Engel says that tufted ottomans are a popular choice. She also recommends a set of two or three nesting coffee tables, a vintage trunk and a pair of matching end/side tables. Garden stools and storage benches are all options.

How to choose the best coffee table

Engel suggests these points when choosing your next coffee table:

The space’s size. Engel says that scale and proportion are key to maximizing space. If the table is too large for the space, it will dwarf other furniture and make the room seem crowded. If the table is too small it will make your room look crowded. A coffee table with storage is also a good choice for small rooms.

The function of the room. What will you use the room for? Engel recommends that the main living space be made of a sturdy, long-lasting material like wood. You can choose something more decorative for a formal living space that is only used occasionally per year.

Dimensions of furniture already in use. Engel says that the size of any existing furniture should be considered, just as the space. The ideal length for a coffee table is one-half to two thirds of the length of a couch. It should also be the same height as the couch or a few inches shorter.

Furniture shape. Furniture shape should also be considered, especially if it is not a normal couch. Engel says that if a sofa is an L sectional or a sectional with chaise, then certain shapes and sizes work better than others. Engel suggests that a round or oval table is better for curved sofas than one with sharp corners.

Price. When shopping for furniture, most people have a budget in place. Your coffee table should be durable if it is the central point of your home. Engel suggests that quality furniture be purchased that will last for many years and is less likely to require replacement.

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