How To Pick The Perfect Coffee Table For Your Home

If you've ever looked at a coffee table and wondered whether it served a purpose other than taking up floor space, you're not alone. According to Ballard Designs, one of the most common questions the firm gets asked is whether there is even a need for one. And for that, the answer is a resounding yes – both for practical and aesthetic reasons.

Besides being a good resting place for personal items that you bring with you to the living room – such as remote controls, books, drinks, and snacks – coffee tables can also be an eye-catching piece of furniture where you can show off your plants, vases, fresh-cut flowers, or one of a kind centerpieces.

But just as the right coffee table can complete a room, the wrong one is bound to fall flat. So here are a few tips to simplify choosing a coffee table that works for your space.

Get your measurements right

When choosing your coffee table, make sure you consider the size and scale of your living room because the last thing you need is one that isn't big enough or will end up making your room seem smaller than it is. 

As a first step, ensure any table you get is an inch or two shorter than the seat of your sofa. Thus, if you have an average-sized sofa, the table should be around 17 inches tall. That being said, if your sofa is higher (or lower) off the ground than normal, you will have to put a little more thought into finding the perfect size.

Another thing to remember is to keep a comfortable distance between different pieces of furniture, particularly because you will have to move between and around them. Hayneedle recommends keeping well over a foot of space between the sofa and coffee table to allow for freedom of movement. And if you are planning to have the couch and the coffee table in the same living area as your television set, you will also want to create some open space between the TV and your seating. The coffee table can slide comfortably into the space in between.

Decide on a shape

After you have sorted out the dimensions for your coffee table, you'll want to think about what shape will work best in your living room. For example, if your room is square-shaped, Joss and Main say you can't go wrong with a similarly-shaped table.

But if you prefer a softer feel, you'll want to check out a circular model, which is an excellent choice for smaller living rooms. And because circular coffee tables are less bulky, they can also give you more flexibility to pick a larger sofa. Round models also come with the benefit of being sold in a variety of eclectic styles, including some unique ultra-modern designs.

And if functionality is essential, getting a larger-sized coffee table that doesn't overwhelm your room will come in handy when you have multiple guests seated on the sofa who need a surface to set their things on. For such occasions, a rectangular or oval-shaped coffee table could be just what you need (via Emily Henderson).

Pick a material that meets your needs

Today's coffee table comes in different materials, from wood to metal, marble to glass, and upholstery to stone. As such, what you decide to go with will depend very much on your living environment. For example, if you have young children, you may prefer a coffee table made with softer material, such as fabric, to cut the potential of seeing anyone get hurt. On the other hand, kids are also famous for breaking fragile home decor pieces, so a glass coffee table might not be in the cards if you have destructive children at home. Check out some tasteful ottomans to find a safer, less destructive alternative.

Functionality should also play a key role in deciding your table's material. For example, if you expect it to hold plenty of food and drinks, you'll likely want something that won't scratch or stain easily. On the other hand, a well-designed solid wood coffee table can serve as staple decor for farmhouse-style homes. If, of course, those living there know how to care for and clean their wood furniture.