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How to Choose a Coffee Table

by Shelley Moore

Dark wood coffee table on light hardwood floor

Things You Need:

  • Tape measure

Usually, a coffee table is the center point of a sitting area. This area might be a small, cozy place with a sofa and a couple of chairs, a medium-sized family room that needs to be inviting for kids and their friends or an elegant living room designed for entertaining guests. You'll want to keep several considerations in mind when choosing your coffee table, including size, material, style and function. Taking a little time to prepare for the purchase can help you find a great addition to your existing furniture.

Choosing a Coffee Table:

  1. Make some measurements. Measure the length and height of your sofa and the area where you'll place the coffee table. The coffee table should be somewhat shorter in length than the sofa, but only you can decide the size that looks best. The table should be about the same height as the top of the sofa and chair cushions. Once you decide on the size of your coffee table, put some boxes in that area to create a form of similar size. Leave them there for a while to gauge how well a table of that size will work for you and with your other living room furniture.

  2. Consider the function of this coffee table. Will people be putting plates and drinks on it while conversing or watching television? Will it be the centerpiece of the room and have an attention-grabbing design? Would you like the table to be decorative, holding candles, books and vases or ceramic artwork? Should it have drawers to store coasters, playing cards and remote controls?

  3. Choose a coffee table that reflects the style of the room. If your living room or family room is traditional, for instance, the standard style is a rectangular oak or walnut table with legs and maybe a shelf underneath. A glass top over wood or metal legs can create an elegant and modern look and also makes the room appear bigger. For a contemporary presence, you might choose a geometric or other artistic shape and perhaps some bright colors.

  4. Consider coordinating the coffee table with a piece of furniture or other feature of the room. A black coffee table, for instance, can reflect an item such as a black piano or an entertainment system. A glass-top coffee table mirrors the glass doors on the china cabinet or similar living room furniture. An Oriental design coordinates well with an antique tea set on display.

  5. Provide a point of contrast. A room of all rectangular and square shapes benefits from a round or oval coffee table. Steel and glass is an attractive option when placed with leather furniture. A black table on a white carpet is striking.

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