Buying a coffee table seems easy enough – it’s a rather small piece of furniture in comparison to your couch or dining table. It has quite a niche use – some people may not even see the need for one at all. So why all the fuss? What is it we even need to pay attention to with this unsung hero of the living room? Depending on your lifestyle and the way you (or your family) intend to use your space, the way you need to shop for a coffee table will change. If you’ve got kids, fur babies, limited space or a strict budget, this comprehensive coffee-table guide should make your decision a lot quicker and simpler.
Let’s go through the four rules on how to get the most out of your investment and live regret-free (when it comes to your coffee table at least).
Your coffee table should fit your existing furniture – unless your heart desires otherwise, you shouldn’t have to rearranged and purchase furniture just to complement a coffee table you didn’t need to waste your hard-earned money on.
1. How Tall Are You?
Height is important! The general rule for coffee table heights is:
the same height as your couch cushions (seat cushions) or slightly lower (by about 5-10cm).
This ensures the coffee table doesn’t look disproportionate to the rest of your furniture and also functions well whilst you’re using it – not too low so it’s not awkward to eat take-out off and not too high so it doesn’t disrupt the line of sight when you’re kicking back watching your favourite movie.
2. What Size Are You?
Whether your couch is a straight, conventional three-seater, a loveseat or L-shaped – look for a coffee table length/ diameter that’s proportional to your couch. Typically, a coffee table that is longer than your couch looks too overpowering and doesn’t make a lot of spatial sense.
Look for a coffee table two-thirds of the length of your couch. So if you own a three-seater (approximately 230cm long), look for a coffee table that’s about 150cm long.
3. How Do I Position It?
You don’t need to dally back and forth between moving your coffee table five centimetres from the couch, standing back, looking at it and then shifting it again. The usual measurements to position your coffee table close enough to the couch and far enough from the TV is:
45-50cm away from your sofa. This gives you good clearance to walk around and not hit your shin on an edge every time you pass it. Between your TV and couch, allow for 60-75cm of space.
4. What Do I Do About Shape?
Round and Square:
These are great for modular sofas with an L-shape or with limited space. Round tables are especially great for young families – sharp edges and no corners mean fewer injury risks. Squares and circles give you great surface area without sacrificing your precious lounging space.
Something always worth considering is the way you use your space already. If you’re the kind to kick your feet up and relax, maybe a square or round ottoman may suit your needs better than a solid coffee table. A versatile interior design trend is putting a large tray on an ottoman – its use then doubles as a coffee table and ottoman.
Oval and Rectangle:
These longer coffee tables usually work with larger couches or U-shaped couches. They’re not too wide (deep) either so everyone can reach their coffee cup from the table and still have a tonne of space to move around without feeling cramped.
Nest and Asymmetrical Tables:
Nest tables are great for people who need a lot of surface area but don’t have a lot of space. You can store these away in the corner of the room or next to the couch then pull them out when you need them.
Asymmetrical Tables or oblong tables are great statement pieces that can balance other asymmetrical couches with an L-shape or parlour lounges.
Ultimately, your coffee table should bring balance to the rest of the room. Check out our Feng Shui post to get the full low-down on peace and harmony in interior design. If your couch has higher legs and has soft upholstery, go for a ‘heavier’ coffee table like marble or concrete. Contrastingly, if your couch is bold like a leather sofa, go for a lighter wooden material or a plush fabric ottoman. Your coffee table can either be the anchor of the room or something portable to suit your lifestyle.
Have fun and choose what makes you happy!
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