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How to Choose the Perfect Coffee Table

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We love working with coffee tables, as they are both beautiful and infinitely practical.  Here are some of our best design tips.

1. Generally, your coffee table should be about two-thirds the length of your sofa.

2. A coffee table should either align with the seat of the sofa or be about one to two inches lower.

3. Place your coffee table 18 inches away from your sofa, or any other seating in the room.  If it faces a TV stand or fireplace, leave at least 30 inches from the edge of the coffee table for walking around.

4. In oversized rooms, you can often combine coffee tables to create what you need.  For a large square, place two rectangular ones side by side.  Or get creative and join three triangular ones to form a neat whimsical shape.

Regina Andrew Herringbone Nest Cocktail Table
Regina Andrew Herringbone Nest Cocktail Table

5. For a more relaxed feel, an ottoman is a practical option, beloved by kids of all sizes.  For drinks and snacks, you can always add a tray on top.

6. If you have small children, avoid sharp corners by either choosing an ottoman or an oval or round table.  Waterfall edges are also a great choice.  Also, you may want to stay away from glass until the tots are a bit older.

7. In a small space, glass or acrylic coffee tables almost virtually disappear, so they’ll make the room feel lighter.  Plus, you can easily wipe them down, so they’re great for drinks.

Design by IMG; cocktail table by Interlude Home
Design by IMG; cocktail table by Interlude Home

8. Mirrored and metal coffee tables are a great way to bring glamour and light to a room.

9. If you have rounded or curved seating, a circular or oval coffee table usually work best.

Susan Glick Designs; Interlude Home cocktail table
Susan Glick Designs; Interlude Home cocktail table

10. Unusual geometric shapes are appropriate in rooms inspired by foreign travels.

Austen Octagonal Cocktail Table
Austen Octagonal Cocktail Table

11. “If the room is neutral, a pop of color in your coffee table can serve as the art in the space. (Nicole Fuller of Nicole Fuller Interiors via The Wall Street Journal)

12. Bring the outdoors in with a beautiful wood coffee table.  “We love to offset straight lines of furniture with a natural, organically shaped tree stump coffee table. The irregular, natural shape is a great contrast to furniture and straight lines within the room and is a great way to bring in natural elements inside. (Holly Waterfield, designer for The Brooklyn Home Company via The Wall Street Journal)

Brianna Michelle Design featuring Noir Round Teak Wood Coffee Table

13. A stone coffee table can elevate any space.

Susan Glick Interiors featuring Interlude Home furnishings

Ready to pick out your favorites? Check out some of our most popular coffee tables:


Want to see more?  See our entire selection of coffee tables here.

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