Buying any living room furniture is an investment, so it pays to work out exactly what you want and need from each piece before parting with your hard earned cash. The coffee table plays a huge role in defining the look of whole space — plus, make the wrong choice, and it can really affect the way you use the room. So, whether you are considering round coffee tables, square coffee tables or a piece of bespoke furniture, here are the top five questions you should ask yourself first.
1. How Big?
This question is top of the list for good reason – too small and your new coffee table will be dwarfed by the proportions of the room and your other living room furniture, too big and the coffee table will be overwhelming.
Even more important than the length and width of the new coffee table is its height. Measure from the floor to the top of your sofa or armchair seat cushions and aim to buy a coffee table that is roughly the same. You don’t want to be stooping or reaching up to access that all-important cuppa.
Next, bear in mind that for the space to feel comfortable and to avoid a cramped feeling, there should be at east 12 inches of space between a coffee table and the seating around it. And, finally, bear in mind that experts recommend avoiding anything that is bigger than two thirds the length of your sofa to avoid the coffee table becoming a dominating feature in the room.
2. What Will I Use It For?
Coffee tables with storage are the perfect solution for those looking for somewhere to house those living room essentials that can be hard to keep organised — remote controls, DVDs, magazines etc. If you constantly strive for more storage space in the living room, a coffee table with storage will be a huge benefit to you. A coffee table with a glass shelf, or one with drawers, a lift up lid or space for storage baskets beneath is ideal.
3. What Colour Do I Want?
Wood and glass coffee tables are no longer the only options out there, and choosing a colour that really adds something to the rest of your living room décor will really enhance the whole look of the room.
Take inspiration from the colour trends of the moment, which very much focus on warm, soft shades, such as blush pinks and dusky rose as well as powdery sky blue. Metallics are also still big news, from copper and brass, to soft gold — metallics within wallpaper or soft furnishings will look the epitome of luxury when teamed with a bold black coffee table.
Colour trends at the moment are all about the contrast between dark and light, so don’t be afraid to be bold with your colour choices — for example a striking black coffee table amidst a swathe of contemporary white and grey décor will look fabulous, as will a moody navy coffee table set in contrast to a neutral grey and pink palette.
This is where bespoke furniture really comes into its own, allowing you to mix, match and general play around with colours until you are happy with the result.
4. Which Finish Will Suit The Room?
This is a consideration that often gets overlooked, but paying attention to the finish you choose for your new coffee table will really pay off.
Gloss finishes tend to work best in more contemporary living room schemes, their sheen and clean lines really working towards a sleek, minimalist look. However, those with young children or an aversion to dusting might want to take a minute to consider that fingerprint marks and dust will show up far more with this finish.
A matt finish results in a more subtle overall look so is perfect for those looking for a coffee table to blend in with a more neutral scheme.
But the choice doesn’t end there. If you are aiming for a shabby chic look, a weathered or more rustic finish could be for you – be that in the form of a distressed painted piece, or a well-used original retro item.
5. What Shape Will Work Best?
This choice generally falls into four categories: square coffee tables, round coffee tables, rectangular coffee tables or oval coffee tables. Of course, there will be other, more abstract options if you look at the one-off pieces out there — the squoval coffee table, for example, is the perfect option for those unable to make their minds up, plus its pleasing retro, quirky looks fit in with most interior schemes.
A curved coffee table, with softly rounded edges, will take up less visual space in a smaller space, as well as being easier to negotiate your way round with its lack of sharp, angular edges. Circular coffee tables also add a nice sociable feel to the room, giving off an air of a warm, gathering space.
Square coffee tables carry with them a reassuringly solid and symmetrical look, whilst rectangular models look elegant and work very well on a practical basis — plus their shape often echoes that of the sofa.