This Post may contain Affiliate Links. Please read our Disclosure for legal jargon.
It is my firm belief that people ignore coffee tables without realizing just how important they are. You’re in the waiting room of an office for a job interview and you pick up a few magazines to browse so you can contain your nervousness. You’re at a friend’s place binge-watching a show and you reach out to get some nachos. You are tired after a long day at work and flop down on your couch, propping your feet up.
Now how exactly do you think this all is happening huh? Ever acknowledge the table under the magazines, nachos or your feet? Ungrateful.
Coffee tables are not just used for keeping things on them anymore. They’ve become multi-purpose and are an absolute essential for any house. While the original design was basic, we now have a whole host to choose from. I’m going to introduce you to the coffee table family so you can make the best choice for your family!
Types of Coffee Tables:
Original and the best. Oh wait, isn’t that a cornflakes tagline?
When I say traditional coffee tables, I mean the first classic design. Although there are several variations of it now, none of them have the charm this oldie carries. This type of coffee table is simplistic and minimal. It is generally made of wood and the tabletop is rectangular or wooden.
In the coffee table family, consider this as the wise, old grandfather. If you’re like me and prefer basic, uncomplicated designs, go for it. You’ll have noticed that some pieces of furniture seem to occupy too much space, they look heavy and dumpy.
On the other hand, the traditional coffee table will blend right in and won’t crowd your space. And you can’t go wrong with this because this style is evergreen. The traditional type does not usually have storage space though.
If you’re looking for effortless elegance, grandpa is the way to go.
This is the uncle who lives in the countryside and farms.
This homespun coffee table will bring the folksy vibe right to your house. I mean don’t get me wrong, modern furniture is great, but one does get tired of seeing it everywhere. This kind of table will more often than not be wooden.
It might even have a touch a brass here and there. It is suited to informal settings like dens, farmhouses, or log cabins. It is strong, sturdy and reliable. Some rustic coffee tables are even styled like crates or barrels. Come home after work and this table will remind you of green pastures, and clean air.
People use the term ‘modern’ everywhere when it comes to furniture. I mean no Susan that armchair is not modern, you’re ruining it stop. Let me clarify this once and for all- modern furniture refers to a 20th-century design philosophy focusing on precise, simple and clean-lined furniture.
These types of coffee tables are sleek and suited to formal settings like offices. But that does not mean you can’t get one for your place. If your home decor calls for subtle style, go for it. The aim of this type of table is combining functionality with aesthetic. And yes, consider this as the quite cousin who surprisingly went to an Ivy League.
No, I did not use a synonym of modern as a new type. What then, is contemporary furniture you ask? Anything that is in style or in line with current trends is contemporary.
If your coffee table is in vogue then it is current and contemporary. Think of this as the cousin who keeps buying the latest fashion from brands and knows the A-Z (Armani to Zara) of what’s new. It is very updated an example would be a transformative coffee table.
Are you also a fan of space savers? Do you love furniture that is compact and efficient? Me too! Folding coffee tables are easy to store and very portable. When they’re not in use, you can simply stow them in the basement or closet. They are also durable and functional.
Some of them come with a small storage compartment too. But you may have to compromise on style here a little because the utility is more important in such a design. If you are short on space then folding coffee tables are your best option. They are the petite and elfish aunt which every family has.
Vintage furniture has my heart! It is so beautiful and elegant. These days the coffee table designs incorporate the vintage charm as well as modern functionality. If you want your decor to have an old-world feel, a vintage coffee table is a marvelous idea! Think of vintage coffee tables as the poised grandma of the family who starts each sentence with “In our days…”
Authentic vintage pieces are on the expensive side and that might not be affordable for everyone. So what you can do instead is buy a table which looks vintage but is not actually vintage. Examples of such coffee tables are those shaped like chests or trunks or even apothecaries.
Too broke to go to an exotic beachy location? We’ll bring the beach to you with this coastal coffee table. As you’ve probably guessed, coastal tables are supposed to carry a light, beachy vibe with them. Soft sand, the sound of the waves and flocks of seagulls are what you should visualize around this table. Does your family have that one uncle or aunt who is ALWAYS traveling? Yeah, the coastal coffee table is that uncle or aunt in furniture form.
The design and purpose of this table make it more suitable for casual and informal spaces. No one wants to think of Pina-Coladas in-office meetings. Sometimes this design might get a bit too casual for many settings. But think of it this way- it is a free mental trip to Hawaii!!!
This is a serious table that is purpose-driven. Think metal grinding, heavy machines, factory noises. Now all of this sums up and you’ve got yourself a sturdy table. The use of wood or metal in such a design will be more rough and crude but the effect will be impactful.
You will have to design things around an industrial table with precision because getting the combination right in the decor is important. And you don’t know it but this kind of table has a lot of potential to surprise you by fitting into classy and soft decors. Imagine a strict dad in a Santa Claus cap…
This is the chihuahua of coffee tables- the family dog! The top and the legs are equally thick and the top is almost always rectangular or square. Despite its ultra-simple design, it is possible to have fun with it by using two materials or a unique upholstery.
A traditional Parsons coffee table has the quality of fitting into almost all spaces, saving you the worry of buying a new table when you redecorate. It is one of the sleekest designs and exudes sophistication!
Anything and everything out of the box (like the one in image) is a novelty. A novelty coffee table can exceed your wildest imaginations- take this one with the lady’s legs for instance. Or the puzzle coffee table.
This style will never fail to surprise you because novelty coffee tables are your fantasies come true! If you like some spunk in your furniture and like experimenting, novelty is your best friend. Think of this as the eccentric cousin who dresses like Willy Wonka.
11. Ottoman Style:
Human beings are a pro at using things for purposes they weren’t invented for. We use the couch to sleep instead of sitting, we then went a step ahead and made a futon. I have a friend who uses her fridge as a cupboard (she’s totally okay, it’s all good).
Now we use ottomans as coffee tables and it is a huge trend. They look very classy and chic. Most ottomans are very lightweight and easy to move. They even serve as spare seating in emergency situations. They are kind of like your younger sibling- you make them do the work they weren’t created for.
What’s a space saver, convenient, and more than one coffee table? A stacking coffee table with 2-3 tables (*applause*). As the name suggests, this kind of coffee table has more than one table and they are on top of each other.
When guests turn up suddenly and there’s too much food to serve or when you’re having a movie marathon and want to eat like Joey Tribbiani- pull out the other table. No more crowding on one table! This is a great solution for space and accommodation issues. This is the mom of the family- a solution for sudden situations.
If you don’t want a coffee table, go for this one. I know I have splendidly baffled you but I will elaborate. Many people don’t like extra furniture and want to keep things clean or minimal. So how do you get the function of a coffee table without actually getting one?
Platform style coffee tables are very low and keeping things on them is the equivalent of keeping things on the floor without it looking clumsy. Since they’re obviously below the eye level, they won’t get in your way (visually). They’re your introverted elder sibling who doesn’t like attention. However, a teeny weeny drawback is that you’ll have to bend each time you need something.
In this day and age, people live in small scale space and every centimeter counts. Any extra space or storage opportunity is welcome. Coffee tables often come with storage compartments or drawers to keep things like books, magazines, chargers or coasters.
The things which are all over the place can be organized here. Hence, storage coffee tables are highly effective and helpful, especially if your house is small. This is the aunt who always keeps everyone’s stuff while they enjoy it. She’s the designated bag and phone caretaker!
You can make your own or get them readymade. Pallets are awesome in coffee table form because of their structure. They are suitable for casual settings like rec rooms. Such a design is ideal for recycling old wood. You can get reclaimed wood and utilize it to make a table. In the coffee table family, they’re the black sheep cousin.
We’re not done yet and you aren’t dismissed. What you see above are the styles of coffee tables so you know which kind of aesthetic and function you want. But what about the make? Which material goes best with your decor and climate? Here is a guide to the coffee table materials:
Different Coffee Table Materials:
The most popular material, and with good cause! Wood looks very elegant and is also quite strong. Wood looks classic and you can choose a kind which matches your decor. For instance pine is amber but mahogany has an orange or red tint.
If you even redecorate, you need only re-polish your table with shade matching your decor. And this style comes with strength (kind of like a buy one, get one free offer). There is no point in buying flimsy coffee tables, right? Wooden coffee tables are super sturdy but this generally makes them heavy too.
The weight of wood might not make it an ideal choice for older people or anyone with back problems who won’t be able to lift it. If you are in the habit of moving your table, steer clear of a heavy one. Wood will also require protection from its arch-enemy moisture.
No more spilling water and juice on the coffee table because those stains will stick. If your climate is humid or rainy, consider other materials because you don’t want to end up with rotten wood. However, a solution for that issue can be a glass tabletop.
Wood lasts for a long period if cared for well. If you are on a budget, you could also consider synthetic wood.
If your living room is small scale, listen up. I have a magic trick to make it seem bigger. Actually, I don’t, glass does. Glass gives a spatial illusion and makes places look bigger than they are. It is also relatively inexpensive and lightweight. It is a beautiful, material and cleaning it is a piece of cake.
Although cleaning is easy, glass gets dirty just as quickly. Another drawback is that glass is also delicate. If your house has a toddler who might be doing a lot of jumping around then the glass will not be an ideal choice for you. For the non-toddler households, make sure you buy tempered glass.
It is stronger and if it breaks, the shards will not hurt you. Most people store things under a coffee table but since glass is transparent, this might not be an option.
If you don’t want your whole table to glass, only the tabletop could be so. Glass tabletops add a lovely sheen on all materials and prevent damage. Moreover, glass is anti-microbial which is why hospitals prefer it.
Glass is always in fashion, light, pocket-friendly and beautiful but is it ideal for your home environment? You tell me.
Low maintenance is the superpower metal has. Let’s face it- we’re all busy. Nobody has the time to look after the furniture. We need things which require the least effort from our part. Metal is a great choice if you’re a busy bee because it just needs the periodical cloth cleaning or white vinegar in extreme cases.
It will have no problems of rot or termites. Metal is also pretty strong (it is pretty and strong). It is lighter than wood and convenient for shifting. But. There’s always a but. But you will have to keep it away from direct sunlight or it will heat up.
You can’t keep it in front of open French windows because the sunlight will transform your coffee table into a frying pan. And if the metal coffee table is of low quality, the legs can scuff the flooring. But the pros outweigh the cons here. And oh, did you know that metal furniture is eco-friendly?
There are some materials that captivate people with their beauty. Your marble coffee table will be the conversation topic at every party and gathering you host because it is just that stunning. It is available in several colors so you will easily find one which matches your decor. And if you maintain it properly, marble will last long.
In case of damage, a professional can restore it so you don’t have to stress about accidents. Marble is fixable. Marble is also high maintenance. If your space is low-traffic (less happening, like a formal living room) then great! But if your kids plan on making
Play-Doh cats on marble, then you’re in for a disaster. Marble coffee tables will require regular cleaning and care because they stain and scratch easily. It is also on the more expensive side. If you’re still keen on marble, here are a few pointers-
a) Never use home cleaners like vinegar or wine on marble. Get special marble cleaners.
b) Use coasters! Condensation, water rings, stains, ugh.
c) Seal marble after consulting a professional.
What looks like glass but is not glass? Acrylic. I hate it when furniture crowds the room or makes it stuffy. And that is why I’m a big advocate of transparent furniture. It looks neat and never congests.
It is also very durable, scratch-resistant and light. The cherry on top of the acrylic cake is that it is cost-effective. But you can only use warm water and mild soap for it’s cleaning because regular cleaners might crack it. And obviously, we can’t fix the cracks. You will also have to coat the acrylic to make it UV resistant or it will…*gasp*…yellow.
No one ever wants yellow furniture. So basically, acrylic will require preliminary steps but it will stand the test of time.
How many of you have no idea as to what is rattan? You just came across the word and will now Google it. No don’t. I’ll tell you- rattan is a vine which is woven into furniture. The weaving is called wicker which is why you might get confused between rattan and wicker.
Rattan is very durable and strong. It is weather-resistant and eco-friendly. But after a while, it starts to give. The weaving of your coffee table will loosen and this will require repair. Rattan does need some maintenance because loose ends look awful. Furthermore, it might go out of style easily as it has a slightly retro look to it.
Honestly speaking, the leather looks so sleek and modern without even trying. It could be cheap faux leather but the coffee table will still look classy and upmarket. So if you’re on a budget, go for synthetic leather. Generally, leather coffee tables are ottoman style.
The leather is an upholstery for a soft cushioned base where you can stretch out your legs and relax. Original leather might not be a good idea for a coffee table because it is expensive and requires a lot of care. But synthetic leather is easy to clean, inexpensive, and stylish.
Now you know the aesthetic, function, and composition. We just need to go over some technical points before you’re equipped to purchase a coffee table for yourself!
Ask yourself the purpose of your coffee table. Is it there for keeping things? Or for use as a footrest? Do you occasionally eat on it?
If the coffee table is simply meant for keeping articles like magazines or knick-knacks, you have two options. Either keep it exactly as high as the seat level of your sofa or keep it a bit lower. If you intend on resting your feet, then it must be as tall as the sofa seat but never higher. Same if you use it to dine. If your guests have to strain themselves in order to reach the table, the height is wrong.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- MEASURE YOUR ROOM. Before buying any furniture, always measure your space because you do not want to end up with furniture that is too small (extra space) or too big (congestion).
When you buy the coffee table, measure it as well. If you see something in the store which looks attractive but you think might be bigger, don’t buy it. Also, take care of proportion- your coffee table must be as big or as small as the rest of the furniture (sofas, armchairs, etc).
Coffee tables also require your attention. You will have to maintain them periodically. If their visual appeal wears down, then repaint them. Hold your horses, different materials require different paints so don’t end up using glass paint on wood.
Repainting is a good solution to touch up and make your table look new.
For wooden coffee tables, sanding and sealing will make them as good as new. After sanding, vacuum any dust residues thoroughly. Choose the wood sealant carefully and follow the instructions on the pack.
Alright, let’s consider something fun. You always have the option of making your own furniture if you’re artsy. Get creative by making your own coffee table using milk crates or pallets or anything that is flat. The opportunities are endless. You know exactly what you need for your decor, which is precisely why you ought to make it yourself.
And now we’re done. Consider all of these factors before you buy this integral piece of furniture for your house. Don’t hurry, overspend, cheap out or compromise. There’s a coffee table out there made just for you and you shall now embark on the journey to find it!