how to buy a coffee table
Every sofa needs a stylish sidekick. Before buying, make sure your piece can handle more than just the remote (and your roomie’s feet!).
Published May 2, 2014 12:00 AM
Every sofa needs a stylish sidekick. Before buying, make sure your piece can handle more than just the remote (and your company’s feet!).
You’ve finally settled on (and fallen in love with) your sofa. You’re so close to completing the look. Stumped? Let us show you how to get the shopping done.
measure your space. Be realistic about the actual area you’re shopping for. We all have visions of tables we’d love, but a table that is too big or too small will make a room feel unbalanced. Before you begin browsing, measure the dimensions of the actual spot as well as the length of the sofa. think about how you live. Don’t skip over this one. Are you bringing a coffee table into a space that’s used for formal entertaining? Or are you more of an informal lounger (couch potatoes, we’re looking at you)? If you find yourself eating a fair amount of takeout in your living space, steer clear of painted and non-sealed wood surfaces, which moisture can easily mar. Likewise, if you’ll be hosting cocktails regularly, find a table wide enough to accommodate your favorite serving tray.
consider its function. How will you use the table? Will this be a purely decorative piece, or will you rely on it for storage? If you’ll count on the table for serving multiple purposes, then look for one with a bottom shelf, lift top, or drawer.
size matters: height. Look for a table that stands close to the level of your sofa’s seat (typically 18 to 20 inches tall). A lower table will give a space a modern vibe, but it shouldn’t be any lower than 1 to 2 inches from the seat of your couch.
size matters: length. A good rule of thumb is to pick a piece whose length is no more than two-thirds of your sofa’s total length; this will keep the table from overwhelming the space, while ensuring it’s accessible from the entire sitting area. The table should be placed about 18 inches from the sofa so it’s within easy reach, yet leaves enough room for legs. Make sure there are about two to three feet between the table and any surrounding furniture (console, wing chairs, side tables) so people can move around easily.
name your shape: square and rectangle. A square or rectangular design offers an orderly backdrop for decorative items, particularly books and trays.
name your shape: circular Circular always looks neat because it’s never crooked and is a good way to balance out hard-lined furniture. A round or oval coffee table is ideal if you have children or pets.
name your shape: alternatives If the traditional table isn’t your style, there are other options that can step in to do the job, such as an ottoman or vintage trunk. An ottoman is more laid-back and can double as seating. Plus, a tray on top will also make it functional. material matters. The options are endless. A see-through table (glass, Lucite, acrylic) can make a small room seem more spacious and tends to feel a bit more modern. Wood can warm up a space and is very durable and versatile. A solid topped table that matches the rug or floor tends to disappear and blend with the space.