Coffee Table Buying Guide

Coffee Table Buying Guide


You may think that picking your coffee table is as easy as buying kitchen towels. You just get them without much thought, bring them home, and they fulfill their purpose. However, your coffee table has more varied functions than your kitchen towels. It needs to suit your family's lifestyle needs. It has to be the perfect size in terms of your living room space. It also has to work well with the furniture already in place.


If you’re a big family and you have little kids in the house, you need to consider this as well. You wouldn’t want your coffee table to be a source of little accidents when kids bump into their pointy corners. You surely wouldn’t want to simply let go of the idea of having a coffee table to complement your living room area. 


Now it sounds like a task, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. Let me help you by giving you tips on how to choose your coffee table with these considerations.


Coffe Table Shapes

Coffee tables come in a variety of shapes, and for some, it doesn't matter much. In reality, though, every form is meant for a particular seating configuration.


  • Rectangle

This shape is the most widely used because people, especially the ones who plan to build a family, buy longer couches that can seat more family members. This shape pairs well with these and works to balance soft lines in most living room spaces.


  • Oval

An oval-shaped coffee table will also work well with lounger couches and is a matter of preference for those who want rounder tables. This feature will also help when you have toddlers in the house who might bump into sharp edges.


  • Square

This shape will be perfect for a square seating arrangement and living rooms with smaller couches. Some people still prefer this shape even when they have more significant couches, but people who are seated on the ends of the sofa will have to reach out for the table.


  • Round

Round coffee tables will fit smaller couches and compressed seating configurations. If you buy a long sofa, it will make your coffee table look small. This shape is also appropriate for homes with little kids.


Coffee Table Materials

Different materials such as wood, metal, glass, and rattan, among others, make your different coffee table types. The presence of kids in your home, how long you want your table to last, and how much time you have in cleaning it will influence your decision as to this aspect. The following are most of the materials used to make every kind of coffee table, and you can choose and pick from among them.


  • Upholstered

Most people use their coffee table as a footrest. Upholstered ones can work as an ottoman and a place where you can set down your food tray or drinks, and it will do both jobs excellently. This type is also suitable for homes with kids because they are rather cushy.


  • Stoneware

Slate, granite, or even marble are the most common stones used to manufacture this type. They pair perfectly with floors that have soft rugs or made out of a hardwood. To avoid scratches and ring stains from your drinks, clean them regularly using a gentle cleanser, and use coasters when setting down hot or cold beverages. 


  • Leather

This material makes for a unique type and is quite similar to an upholstered one in providing a dual purpose. You can prop your feet up on the table since underneath the leather is some soft cushion. You can also use the wooden tray that usually comes with the table for your food and drinks.


  • Rattan

Rattan gives your living room the summer feels and is perfect for living rooms situated outdoors. As long as it doesn't rain much, your rattan coffee table is durable enough to weather the outside elements. It's also an excellent choice for homes with children as well as in conservatories.


  • Metal

If durability matters to you, you should go metal. Some homeowners are also going after the industrial look, and metal is the perfect material to achieve it. Aluminum and stainless steel are the most common metals used in these types of coffee tables.


  • Glass

Glass coffee tables will work well in smaller living room spaces because the transparency will provide an illusion of extra space.  You can choose an all-glass design for a modern theme or go for a simple glass-top coffee table.


  • Pine

If you want a wooden coffee table but not the usual dark types, you can choose pine. It's a paler color and preferred because of its distinct grain, durability, and strength. Those who opt to add an effortless and light modern feel to their living room space will choose pine coffee tables.


  • Mahogany

Mahogany is a reddish wood type and is very durable and makes for a beautiful and classy looking coffee table. Also, it can be varnished or stained a specific color to go with your versatility and varied interior preferences.


  • Walnut

This type is another popular hardwood option and has a lovely straight grain with streaks of dark red or purple. Its natural color is warm chocolate brown, and it brings an opulent touch to any living room. It is also very durable with its hard finish like any other hardwood type.


  • Oak

Oak is also one of the popular ones. It has a beautiful grain and color that comes in two types: the white oak, which is brown with hints of grey, and the red oak, which is greyish brown with hints of red. It is a very durable wood that will make your coffee table last quite a long time.


  • MDF Wood

General wood type is a cheaper alternative to the other kinds mentioned above, but you have to be careful not to fall for the MDF and foils, which are not authentic wood. They may look like wood on the outside, but they are not as durable or sturdy as real wood. There are so many wood types to choose from that will fit your preference and budget.


Coffee Table Styles

This aspect is where coffee table manufacturers have poured their creative juices on – the form of what they consider to be the focal point in any living room space. You can have a one-of-a-kind coffee table specialized to meet your specific needs.

We will start with the unique pieces first before we move on to the typical designs.


  • Parsons

This design can be square or rectangular and has thick quadrate legs as heavy as its flat top. This model falls in the new design category, although its makers created it since the 1930s. It's quite simple but can be made unique and beautiful by adding materials depending on your preferred design.


  • Mid-Century Modern

In the 1950s and 1960s, coffee tables are mostly designed as clean and straightforward as possible, using bentwood or molded plastic. Even models made out of wood have simple finishes to showcase their inherent beauty.


  • Vintage

They purposefully made these coffee tables to show off the distinctive designs of our ancestors. The designers embellish them with old-fashioned repurposed materials like reclaimed wood, and licensed plates, among others. This design will work well if you construct the entire living room to follow the overall vintage theme.


  • Industrial

The industrial look will feature the feel of a factory setting with unpolished metal or wood but created with sturdiness. This design will go well with living rooms by a loft or maybe to provide contrast with spaces that use softer themes.


  • Coastal

Coastal style coffee tables are mostly made out of light-colored wood to give that beachy, summery nature feel. The living room must have natural shapes and a casual tone, more laid-back than rustic and traditional themes.


  • Rustic

This style is the countryside that meets the Victorian era. Most models utilize wood, and designers create them in more conventional and more straightforward configurations compared to the modern ones. Some makers add brass materials to portray a specific long-gone feel.


  • Modern

This style has the broadest range of options given that these are from the 20th century. This design includes mid-century styles, Bauhaus movements, and the Art Deco style. Its emphasis is on the fusion of beauty and function, cleaner shapes, and simple designs.


  • Contemporary

This type is an umbrella term used to include a host of styles for coffee tables. When you say contemporary, you mean that the design evokes an updated, fresh, and present time feel. It can take the form of a ground-breaking style by featuring a coffee table with detachable wedge-shaped ottomans underneath the body.


  • Traditional

Finally, when you say traditional, it's the most common design today. It surely doesn't mean outdated, but on the other hand, the style encompasses timeless themes. A coffee table is said to be a traditional type if you make it out of wood and is rectangular or square, or some other standard forms.


Coffee Tables Features

Coffee tables today have expanded their purpose. People don't mean for them to be a piece of furniture to occupy the vacant space in between your living room couches and chairs or a place where you can set down your drinks. Some designs today even provide seating options as well as some storage space.

Below are some of the various purposes given to coffee tables today.


  • Ottoman

Because you usually set up coffee tables before comfortable couches, people cannot help but prop their legs up on them. This habit paved the way for the new models of coffee tables, which are purposed to be ottomans. A new category has been created for "ottoman coffee tables" to make sure that they serve both functions excellently for the homeowners.


  • Nesting Tables

These tables come in various shapes, but the function is to provide options for expansion when more space is needed and then to nestle them back together when not in use. The progressively little pieces all fit under the main section.


  • Trunk

This type of coffee table functions as a vast storage space for your kids' toys or any other stuff that you need to stow away in a convenient place. They are usually rectangular in shape, hollow inside, and have a lid, much like a conventional suitcase trunk.


  • Tray Top

This coffee table will make serving food and drinks easier for you. The tabletop can transform into several serving trays that are detachable from the main stand.


  • Lift Top

This model has an excellent feature of adjustable heights. Depending on your purpose, you can lift the central tabletop to a level appropriate for cocktails, or maybe for dining, and then bring it back to coffee table height when not in use.


  • Storage Space

This feature is distinct from the trunk design because it offers more space to store your things. Other than empty spaces, it can have shelves, bins, and drawers as well to keep your remote controls, blankets, pillows, magazines, etc. so that your living room space is free of clutter.


Coffee Table Dimensions

Even if you have the best-shaped coffee table made out of fantastic material, with incredible style and features, if the size is off, it can throw off your overall living room design. Here is how to make sure you measure for success.


Get your measuring tape and determine the height from your floor to the top of your sofa cushion. Measure the length of your couch as well, including your chairs and your seating configuration as a whole.

Keep in mind that the standard is for you to choose a coffee table size with a height that is 2 inches lower than the top of your sofa cushion and nothing less. For the length, it should be approximately two-thirds of the length of your couch. 


Final Words

When planning to furnish your living room space, put the coffee table last on the list. This way, you can pick one that will go perfectly well with all the other furniture in place, considering all the features and types earlier mentioned.


Remember that size is everything. You don't want to overwhelm or underwhelm your space. You also want to provide enough area around it and throughout the living room set for people walking.


Choose the appropriate color, shape, material, features as well to go with the entire theme of your home.