How To Choose A Coffee Table For Your Living Room

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Learning how to choose a coffee table is an important part of your living room design. It’s all about finding one that looks good, functions for your needs, and complements your style.

Your coffee table is the central focal point in your living room. It’s the heart of social interaction as well as a place to put down drinks and books.

As you look at the coffee table options consider how it will complement your existing furniture in both style and scale. The one you choose should work well with what you have and allow space for movement.

Key Takeaways

  • Your coffee table is the center focal point of the living room.
  • It should complement your existing furniture and room layout.
  • The best choice will be stylish and functional.

This post is all about how to choose a coffee table for your living room.

READ MORE>>> Furniture Inspiration On Inspired Design Talk

living room with blue sofa and white coffee tables

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Coffee Table // Round Side Table // End Table // Round Side Table

What’s the purpose of a coffee table?

The purpose of a coffee table is both practical and aesthetic. They’re multi-functional pieces that contribute to the practicality, organization, and vibe of your living room.

It’s where you can put down drinks and snacks, display your favorite decor, and keep organized. Choosing the right coffee table involves understanding your needs and design style.

black and white living room coffee table with unique sofa
Miles Willis McDermott’s monochromatic interiors • Wanderlust Fulfilled

Functional Uses

  • Surface for drinks and snacks: It’s a convenient place to rest your coffee cup, mug, or snacks while relaxing or entertaining guests.
  • Storage: Many coffee tables have drawers, shelves, or hidden compartments for books, magazines, remote controls, blankets, or other living room essentials.
  • Display surface: Coffee tables are a place to display your favorite decor like vases, sculptures, plants, photo frames, or other personal treasures, for personality and visual interest.
  • Temporary workspace: Some coffee tables can be used for writing, working on a laptop, or doing puzzles, providing a flexible workspace when needed.

Decorative Roles

Beyond utility, a coffee table adds to the look and feel of a room. It should complement your style through the material, shape, and color.

  • Focal point: The coffee table often serves as the central piece of furniture in a living room, anchoring the space and setting the overall vibe.
  • Balance and proportion: Choosing the right size and shape coffee table helps balance the proportions of the room and create harmony.
  • Style and personality: The material, color, and design of the coffee table can reflect your personal style and complement the overall décor of your living room.
  • Light and reflection: Glass or reflective surfaces can brighten a room, while darker materials can create a cozy and intimate environment.
round coffee table with fireplace

Style and Aesthetics

Choosing the perfect coffee table is a balance of function and personal taste. Your coffee table should blend with the theme of your living room.

If you have a traditional vibe, look for a coffee table with rich wood textures and classic elements. For a modern look, a minimalist design with clean lines and metallic accents would complement your style.

Current Design Trends

Educate yourself on the current coffee table trends so your coffee table doesn’t feel outdated. Tables with sustainable materials or mixed materials are having a moment.

Other popular trends are geometric shapes or biophilic design which blends natural elements bringing the outdoors in.

coffee table with built in terrariums

Current coffee table trends include:

  • sculptural pieces of art
  • bunching tables
  • multi-layered
  • multi-function
  • mixed materials
  • modern manipulation
  • natural elements
  • unexpected textures
  • nesting tables

Placement and Spacing

Choosing the right placement and spacing for your coffee table guarantees it’ll complement your room’s layout and required usage. Make sure to measure and have a clear understanding of the traffic patterns in your living room.

The shape of the table you choose should fit and work well with your existing furniture layout. Rectangular and square coffee tables add order and formality, while circles and ovals are more inviting and great for traffic flow.

Your current furniture will help determine the best shape. For example, a square coffee table can nestle perfectly into the ‘L’ shape of a standard sectional.

curved sofa with channel tufting

Clearance and Accessibility

For accessibility, there should be at least 18 inches of clearance from the edge of the coffee table to the surrounding furniture. This allows for comfortable legroom and movement.

The table should be no more than two-thirds the length of your sofa to avoid overpowering the room. Be sure there’s enough room to move around the coffee table and easy access to seating.

How To Choose A Living Room Coffee Table

When choosing a coffee table, you need to consider materials, size, proportions, and shape compared to the function. The best material for a coffee table is the one that complements your living space.

Set a realistic budget and shop within your means. The perfect coffee table exists no matter the price point!

Material Choices

Wood: Offering durability and warmth, wood is versatile for various interior designs. Think of oak or walnut for a classic look.

Metal: Sturdy design and provide a sleek modern feel in contemporary spaces.

Glass: Create a sense of openness and can make rooms appear larger. However, they require regular cleaning and careful use.

Acrylic: Has sleek transparency and modern lightness that’ll highlight the rug or flooring underneath.

Marble: Marble coffee tables bring timeless elegance and cool sophistication to any living space.

Cement: Offer industrial chic, rock-solid durability, and weather-resistant practicality, anchoring your space with natural texture and a modern edge.

Concrete: These are durable, stylish, weather-resistant, and practical for indoor and outdoor spaces.

Mirror: Add an expansive look, and a touch of glamour, while blending in with multiple design styles. Just remember fingerprints and glare are included.

Bone Inlay: Sustainable coffee tables that’ll elevate your space with exquisite artistry, timeless elegance, unique patterns, and natural beauty.

Glass and acrylic will make smaller spaces appear larger since they are light and airy. Larger spaces can handle almost any finish including mixed materials.

Size and Proportions

Height: Your table should be the same height as the seat cushions of your couch or one to two inches lower for ease of use.

Length: Aim for a table that is approximately two-thirds the length of your sofa to balance the space comfortably.

contemporary style living room with neutral color palette

Shape and Functionality

The coffee table style you choose should be based on your sofa, floor plan, and design style. Different silhouettes will give a different vibe to your home.

Since the coffee table placement is typically at the center of the room it’s perfect for creating a focal point. The more unique and original it is the more of a statement it’ll make.

Types of Living Room Coffee Tables

There are many different types of coffee tables to choose from. They’re available in oval, round, rectangle, square, bunching, and nesting tables.

In smaller rooms an oval or rectangle coffee table saves space. While larger rooms can handle square, round, nesting, or bunching tables.

Round and oval coffee tables are best for little ones since there are no sharp corners to knock into.


types of coffee table collage

Rectangle Coffee Table

The most popular shape is the rectangle coffee table. It provides plenty of surface area for snacks, books, magazines, and your favorite home decor.

This silhouette will provide plenty of room for multiple people to use it comfortably. The linear design will add balance and style to your furniture arrangement.

rectangle coffee table collage

Rectangle coffee tables work well with the following:

  • Standard sofa
  • Long chaise sectional
  • Long sectional
  • Cuddler sectional

The rectangle coffee table is great for any design style from modern to traditional. Rectangular tables provide ample space and fit well with long sofas or in narrow rooms.

rectangle coffee table

This shape works best with sofas that have a similar rectangular shape. Rectangle coffee tables would not work with a curved sofa because the lines would compete against one another.

They would work well with the cuddler sectional since the larger side is rectangular. There would be plenty of room to walk around and create a focal point.

A single rectangle coffee table works well in the standard living room. In large spaces, a pair can be used to anchor the seating area and make a statement.

Furniture arrangements in a similar layout could also use a rectangular coffee table. For example two sofas opposite each other or a sofa opposite two chairs.

How To Choose A Square Coffee Table

Square coffee tables are fabulous for creating a balanced symmetrical design. This style is available in wood, metal, cement, mixed materials, and more.

square coffee table collage

A square coffee table works well with the following:

  • L shaped sectional
  • Double chaise sofa
  • U shape sectional
rectangle coffee table with sectional

Aside from these sofa styles, a square coffee table would work with furniture arranged in a similar layout. For example, a sofa with two accent chairs creates a similar arrangement to an L-shaped sofa.

A sofa with two chairs on either side would create a U-shaped layout perfect for a square coffee table. Ottomans could also be combined with the sofa and chairs to create various layouts as well.

Oval Coffee Table

oval tables collage

The oval coffee table is similar to the rectangle shape except the corners have curved edges. This silhouette is best for those with small children or elderly family members.

It combines the benefits of round and rectangular shapes, offering a harmonious look with a convenient layout for seating.

I can’t tell you how many black and blues I’ve gotten from bumping into the corner of a coffee table. A personal problem I know haha.

An oval coffee table will soften sharp edges in a room and define the space. In smaller rooms, the oval shape will save space and help direct the traffic flow around the table.

Oval coffee tables work well with the following:

  • Standard sofa
  • Curved sofa
  • Chaise sectional
  • Cuddler sectional
  • Angular sectional
oval coffee table layout with curved sofa and sectional

The rounded edges will add an organic element and harmonious look. Unlike the rectangle coffee table, the oval shape will complement the lines of a curved sofa perfectly.

When it comes to the sectional sofas it’ll work best with the cuddler, short L-shape, or chaise sectional styles. If you like a more classic sophisticated vibe the oval coffee table is for you.

How To Choose A Round Coffee Table

round cocktail tables collage

The round coffee table works in similar seating arrangements to the square table. The major difference is it’s the perfect complement to a curved sofa or sectional.

A round coffee table works well with the following:

  • L shaped sectional
  • Double chaise sofa
  • U shape sectional
  • Curved Sofa
  • Curved sectional
round coffee table with sectional and curved sofa

If you have a chaise sofa or a square-shaped seating arrangement a round coffee table is a great option. It’ll soften hard edges and create a cozy intimate living space.

The round coffee table will encourage long conversations and be perfect for family game night. It’s a popular silhouette used in many interior design styles.

These encourage flow and are safer in homes with children due to their lack of sharp corners.

Nesting Coffee Table

nesting tables collage

Nesting tables are a grouping of multiple tables that are at different heights. They’re great for large and small spaces. The tables can be stacked for everyday use or pulled apart when entertaining.

Nesting coffee tables are fabulous for adding personality and style to your interior design. They’re available in a mix of materials and price points.

These tables work well with the following:

  • Standard Sofa
  • Modular sectional sofa
  • L-shape sectional
  • Sofa and chair arrangement

The beauty of the nesting tables is they can be stacked or nested together to save space. They can also be pulled apart when you need more surface space for entertaining.

These tables are awesome for smaller spaces where you need to maximize the square footage. They offer flexible arrangements for different furniture layouts and activities.

Bunching Coffee Table

bunching tables collage

A bunching coffee table is a set of two or more smaller tables designed to be used together or separately. They often come in nested configurations, where smaller tables fit underneath the larger ones for space-saving storage.

These super cute coffee tables that are typically 20-25″ wide. They can be round, square, hexagon, and abstract shapes.

The beauty of these small tables is they can be rearranged to change up your layout. Guests can also move them so they function when you have company over.

These tables work well with the following:

  • Standard Sofa
  • Chaise sectional
  • L-shape sectional
  • Sofa and chair arrangement

Square bunching tables can be placed two in a row instead of the traditional rectangular table. You can place four together to create a large square coffee table for open spaces.

Placing three hexagon bunching tables in the center of a sofa and chairs adds interest and style to a room. This is perfect instead of a traditional round coffee table.

The arrangements are endless which is why they’re a great option for any home. They’re available in a variety of colors and materials. You can get them in wood, metal, cement, marble, brass, and more.

Octagon Coffee Table

octagon wood coffee table

The octagon coffee table will have a similar feel to the round silhouette. If you’re looking to make a statement and add interest this shape is perfect.

An octagon coffee table works well with the following:

  • L shaped sectional
  • L-shape seating arrangement
  • U-shape seating arrangement

It has eight equal sides that’ll add symmetry and balance to your living room. The eye-catching design is sure to be the talk of the party.

Organic Coffee Table

black organic coffee table

An organic coffee table is awesome to make a statement in your interior design. They combine natural elements and materials inspired by nature and the earth.

Materials include wood, stone, rattan, and bamboo. The shapes are curved, asymmetrical, and raw. Raw finishes and live edges are popular characteristics of the organic coffee table.

The beauty and imperfections of the natural materials are highlighted in the stunning silhouette. They’re perfect for adding warmth and tranquility to any space their in.

Organic coffee tables work well with the following:

  • Standard sofa
  • Curved sofa
  • Chaise sectional
  • Cuddler sectional
  • Angular sectional

Drum Coffee Table (How To Choose One)

how to choose a drum coffee table arhaus weathered metal round modern coffee table

The drum coffee table was inspired by the shape and design of a drum hence the name. They’re perfect for adding function, style, and interest to your living room design.

Depending on the material used they’ll have a contemporary, boho, rustic, or industrial vibe. These unique tables have an eye-catching appearance that’s sure to be a conversation starter.

A drum coffee table works well with the following:

  • L shaped sectional
  • Double chaise sofa
  • U shape sectional
  • Curved Sofa
  • Curved sectional

Sculptural Coffee Table

black sculptural coffee table

A sculptural coffee table is a cross between function and artwork with its unique style and curved silhouette. It can be found in various materials such as wood, cement, and metal.

Shapes include round, rectangular, square, and oval. If you want to add style and personality to your interior design this furniture is for you.

Waterfall Coffee Table (How To Choose One)

waterfall coffee table

A waterfall coffee table is similar to the popular kitchen island trend. The tabletop is a continuous design that flows into the legs or base.

It can have a curved or straight edge but either will have a visually pleasing appearance. Materials include wood, acrylic, metal, or glass.

This table is awesome for both contemporary and minimalist spaces. They can be a variety of sizes and shapes including square, rectangular, or free-form designs.

The sleek silhouette, smooth lines, and seamless flow will add elegance and harmony to your interior design.

Upholstered Ottoman Coffee Table

ottoman coffee table with metal base

The ottoman coffee table is great for those with children or if you need extra seating. They have a padded top that can be upholstered in fabric, leather, or faux leather.

This type of coffee table will add comfort and style to any room in your home. The padded top can be used as a footrest or coffee table with a tray.

Some also have added storage which is great for blankets, pillows, books, and magazines. It’s helpful to keep your living room neat and organized.

The shape can be round, square, or rectangular. Depending on which one you choose will determine the shape of your sofa.

Storage Coffee Table (How To Choose One)

modern rattan coffee table

A storage coffee table is perfect for smaller spaces or when you want to hide clutter. They’ll help you stay neat and tidy while being stylish too.

Aside from drawers some will have open shelves or display areas. These also come in a variety of styles, materials, finishes, and sizes.

See above for the ideal sofa for round, square, oval, and rectangular coffee tables. Remember to leave a 12-18″ distance between your sofa and coffee table.

Swivel Coffee Table

burl wood swivel cocktail table

The swivel coffee table is similar to a lazy susan that would be used in the center of a table. It can be rotated 360 degrees giving you access to the full surface no matter where you’re sitting.

This style is typically round but materials range from wood, glass, metal, acrylic, and natural stone. It’s the perfect style for those who entertain or live in smaller spaces.

Some also have drawers for added storage which is a bonus design feature. Friends and family are sure to be obsessed when they come for a visit.

A swivel coffee table works well with the following:

  • L shaped sectional
  • Double chaise sofa
  • U shape sectional
  • Curved Sofa
  • Curved sectional

Expand Coffee Table (How To Choose One)

expandable furniture black coffee table with blue velvet sofa
expandable coffee table to dining table with chairs

Last up is my new obsession the expand coffee table. The multifunctional designs are perfect if you live in a small space or have a large family you entertain during the holidays.

The benefits of transformable furniture are they’re compact for everyday use but expand when hosting. This coffee table was designed with flexibility in mind. It’s easy to move, rearrange, and adapt to the changing activities and needs of your growing family.

Whether you need more space or extra seating expandable furniture is the way to go.

I hope this round-up of the different types of coffee tables helps you buy the one that’s perfect for your home.

Best Places To Buy Coffee Tables Online 2024

There are so many retailers in this category but I have found it best to limit the options. When I start the design process I first dream and look at all the trendy styles.

At first, I’m looking for the vibe I am after so budget is not a factor. After I let myself dream a little the next step is to find the best coffee table in the style and price I am after.

By going through these steps you will not limit yourself out of the gate. This is the best way to design a space that is unique and will express your personality.

how to choose a coffee table collage

1. Arhaus– Original coffee tables that are sure to add interest to any room.

2. Jonathan Adler– Unique cocktail table options that will add originality to your space.

3. Scout & Nimble– Love everything about this site including its coffee table selection.

4. Lulu & Georgia– A favorite place with cool modern choices.

5. Serena & Lily– More of the coastal vibe but they have a lot of original options.

6. Anthropologie– A great resource for coffee tables especially if you are a lover of the Bohonavian vibe.

7. West Elm– Great options that have a mid-century feel.

8. CB2– Love the modern coffee table selection at this online resource.

9. Crate & Barrel– Modern, stylish, and fun versions of coffee tables for your home.

10. Alchemy Fine Home– A high-end retailer with many designer favorites.

11. Bloomingdale’s– Has a lot of to-the-trade names that are perfect for the contemporary home.

12. Design Within Reach– Modern vibe at a higher price point that is perfect for those who love clean lines and a minimalist look.

13. Williams Sonoma Home– There are many unique contemporary coffee table options here that will give you a sophisticated look.


In conclusion, choosing the right coffee table for your living room is a balance of style and function. As the central focal point of the room, it’ll set the tone for everyday use and entertaining.

The one you choose should blend with your existing furniture and room layout. It should elevate and enhance the overall look and feel. By prioritizing these features, you’ll find the perfect coffee table for your living room design and daily needs.

This post is all about how to choose a coffee table for your living room.

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Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Nicole DelaCruz

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