Coffee Table Buying Guide

A coffee table traditionally sits in the centre of a room and therefore has a large impact on a room’s décor. A wise choice can bring all of the rooms furniture together creating a feeling of style and harmony, a poor choice can overpower the whole room or be unable to function in the way you need it to.

The choice of size, shape, material, style and what needs the coffee table must meet are vital considerations in ensuring that your coffee table sets the right tone for your room.

Before beginning to look for a coffee table you should work out what it is that you want it to do for you? Do you simply want to place coffee on it, display things, store magazines, or even use it as a dining table on occasion? Do you want a stylish modern coffee table that might be a statement piece, or a more subtle choice that will blend into the rest of the room?

You must also consider your budget. It is a good idea to set a budget for your coffee table before you begin your search. This will stop you falling in love with a coffee table that costs twice as much as you are willing to pay.

Sizing Your Coffee Table

Just as the size of a room will vary thus will the size of coffee tables. Some people want a larger coffee table for maximum impact, others prefer more floor space.

As a general rule you need two feet of floor space all around the coffee table and it should be no more than two thirds of your sofas length. It is useful if the coffee table can be reached from all of the seating in the room without standing up.

The height of your table very much depends on what you will use your coffee table for. Many modern coffee tables are low, however this might make it difficult to eat from if that is something that you plan to do. A great idea is to lay a sheet or blanket on the floor as a guide to the floor space that will be used and work out the size you are comfortable with. 

Coffee Table Shapes

Rectangular coffee tables are the most popular, however if you have small children you may wish to consider a round coffee table shape to avoid any accidents with sharp corners. Many people consider a rounder shape more social to sit around although it really depends on the configuration of your room.

 Square coffee tables are excellent in larger rooms although they can easily overwhelm smaller spaces. If you have a room with two sofas at right angles a square coffee table can help to give the room a more balanced feel where a rounder shape might feel out of place.

 Whether you select a solid shape or a coffee table with legs also changes the look of a room. A table with legs that you can see  right under may help the room to look larger whilst a solid coffee table can on occasion look more expensive but will also be more imposing and appear larger in the room. 

Coffee Table Materials

Glass coffee tables

Glass coffee tables are excellent for small rooms as they help to increase the feeling of space. They can also be good at helping to create a light airy feel.

However, think carefully if you have small children or are likely to have people that might be likely to have falls that use the room. Although glass coffee tables will be made of a special safer kind of glass they are not indestructible. A glass coffee table should never be used where it might be dangerous. Read my guide on glass coffee table safety if you need advice on how to prevent accidents.

Wooden coffee tables

Wooden coffee tables are still the most popular and many different types of wood can be used, from simple pine to a beautiful (but expensive) burr walnut. An oak coffee table will be durable and beautiful.

Many modern coffee tables are made from MDF (medium density fibreboard) which is an excellent choice for coffee tables as it is strong and easy to maintain. The beauty of real wood however is that it can be sanded back and restained or varnished if required.

What Will You Use your Coffee Table For?

Coffee tables are versatile things. Whilst some people use them only for the odd drink in front of the television, in many homes they have all but replaced the family dining table.

You need to bear in mind what you are going to use your coffee table for before choosing it.

Other considerations might be whether you need storage and if so whether you want the items you are storing to be in or out of view. Whilst some people want to use their coffee tables as display cabinets other people want somewhere that they can quickly hide any mess in the case of unexpected visitors. Lift top coffee tables can be a great idea if you have items that will be rarely used that you want to store inside. However if you have things that will be needed frequently the inconvenience of clearing the surface in order to open the lid may prevent you using it. Of course, if you have a very steady hand you might not find this a problem, however in my own experience this has created more spillages than I can count. If you are anything like me a drawer or shelf might be more useful.

Take Your Time In Your Selection.

A coffee table will be a key purchase for any living space. Don't allow yourself to be talked into a buying decision that you are unhappy with by a pushy salesperson. You will be living with your furniture, they will not. Consider your options carefully so that you can choose something that you will use and love for many years to come. If you are still undecided consider other coffee table ideas

The future of coffee tables...

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Comments 2 comments

Jenny 7 years ago

That's very cool! Great info and great hub!

David from 6 years ago

Thanks for the great info. Indeed there are a lot of things to consider when buying wooden coffee tables. The materials composing the furniture, the style and design and especially the budget. It's good thing though that there is a lot of styles and designs when it comes to wooden coffee tables, so that there will be a lot to choose from.

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