Coffee tables are industrious pieces of furniture. They perform all sorts of different tasks: a a place for your mail, a place for your two-dozen remotes, a place for your feet, and – of course – a place for your coffee! But coffee tables have the potential to be so much more than another drop zone for your accumulated stuff. They are an absolutely critical component for your living room’s aesthetic. And they’re an essential companion for your sofa. Learn the best ways to choose a coffee table for your own home!
Size Matters: Width
Tall, Grande, Venti. We all know our preferred Starbucks coffee size. But not everyone knows the best size for a coffee table. Or, rather, the best size for what their space demands. The first and most important dimension to consider for your coffee table is the width. A well-balanced room traditionally features a coffee table that is about 2/3rds the width of your sofa. When centered this allows for an equal amount of space on each side of the table. This allows people to easily access the sofa without having to play a game of leap frog with the coffee table. If you have a sectional sofa with a chaise then the same rule applies, but you should only take into account the space in front of the sofa portion when determining the width of the table. You’ll want an open lane for traffic between the chaise and the coffee table. This width rule is practical but it’s also important for the Feng Shui of the space. It creates a balance to the sofa and allows for a good flow of energy.
Photo by @kyleecampbell
Our Pierce Coffee Table looks great with our Logan 2pc Sectional in this photo! There’s plenty of room between the chaise and the coffee table so that a dog can freely roam. However, this table is on the cusp of being too wide for the space. It extends clear to the left edge of the sofa. Not the end of the world, but something to consider when shopping for your own space!
Size Matters: Height
Most coffee tables are between 12″ and 20″ tall. That’s intentional since the height of a coffee table is directly correlated to the seat height of the average sofa. A sofa’s seat height is the measurement from the floor to the top of the seat cushion. When searching for the right coffee it’s advised to choose a coffee table that is the same height as the seat height of your sofa. You can also choose a coffee table that’s a couple inches shorter than your sofa’s seat height, but if you go too low then you start to lose the functionality of the coffee table. Leaning way down to pick up things off your low coffee table gets old fast. On the other end of the spectrum, a coffee table that’s too tall will never quite look or feel right in the space. It should never be taller than your sofa’s seat height. You definitely don’t want the coffee table to obstruct any sight-lines while sitting on the sofa.
The Bodie Storage Coffee Table is a great width for this sofa. But it’s also a little lower than the seat height of the sofa. It’s also a bit too far away from the sofa. This makes the coffee table feel like it’s a standalone piece as opposed to a companion to the sofa. And the coffee table really should feel like it’s chosen with the sofa in mind.
Size Matters: Depth
In this case depth not only refers to the actual size of the coffee table, but also its distance from the sofa. Ideally a coffee table is between 12″ and 18″ away from the sofa. This is a good distance because it helps ensure that you don’t slam your shins into the edge of the table (not that that’s ever happened to us…). Any closer and it’s a squeeze. Any further away and your coffee table will feel like it’s on its own island.
The depth of the coffee table itself is not the most essential dimension. A big, square coffee table is fantastic if you have the room for it. If you have a sectional sofa with a chaise then you can use the same rules for width to determine a good, balanced depth for your table. The coffee table should be about 2/3rds the depth of the chaise portion. The key is to find a coffee table that feels like it belongs with your sofa. The size is essential for achieving that goal.
How to Style Your Coffee Table
Now that you have your coffee table it’s time to think about decorating it. The coffee table provides an incredible opportunity for showcasing your design skills. Start out by splitting your table into equal sections. Each section should feature items of varying heights and textures. Again, striking a balance is the goal. But why read about it when you can watch this video tutorial from Kyle Schuneman? He explains the design theory for rectangular coffee tables and round coffee tables.
The standard shapes for coffee tables are rectangular, square, and round. Square and round coffee tables take up the most space. These are ideal for homes that have lots of room to work with in front of the sofa or for room where the sofa and coffee table are being used for conversational seating. If your living room is centered around the TV then a rectangular coffee table is likely your best bet. If you like less clutter then it can certainly be worthwhile to consider a coffee table with built-in storage or a storage shelf. Because a TiVo remote and a Playstation controller aren’t exactly the most beautiful things to stare at.
Find Your Favorite
We have a huge new selection of coffee tables available that we’re extremely excited about. These are some of the nicest coffee table options we’ve ever featured. Take a look through our full collection and find your favorite!