How to choose the right Coffee Table

Coffee tables are a great addition to any living area. They can be functional and practical, giving you the surface space you need to put your coffee, rest your favourite book and store the remote controls. But vintage coffee tables can also be lovely, decorative pieces of furniture and used to pull the room together.


If you want to achieve the perfect proportions, start with measuring up your room, seating and space. This will help you with a few of the golden rules of room planning and picking furniture. The ideal space between a sofa or settee and edge of a coffee table is approximately 12 to 18 inches. They can vary in height, with a standard coffee table being between 16 and 18 inches. Remember to check the height of your seating, if your sofa is higher, you may want a higher coffee table. Choose any shape you like, but it should be at least half the length of your sofa. This may all seem like a lot to think about, but don't let it stop you from picking a table you have fallen in love with! Your space should make you feel relaxed and comfortable when you use it, so if you need a higher table to use a laptop at, just go with what feels right for you.

If you have a small living space, think about going for something round or oval. Round tables save space and can be the perfect coffee table for L shaped seating, whilst oval tables are perfect for narrow rooms or high traffic areas. Think the retro G Plan Astro or a nice mid century circular coffee table. They can also be a sensible, safe option if you are a little prone to bumping yourself, or if you have young children or pets; we all know how easily bumped heads can happen with little ones. 

You may find a coffee table you love, but will it fit with your sofa? Although we would encourage you to choose something that makes you feel good when you see it, just make sure it's not too big or too small for you. Do you want it to be more decorative? Do you need a table with a magazine rack or shelf, do you want extra storage with a lift top coffee table? The humble coffee table can be an important part of the living room, so try and make it work for you. What will you use it for? if you do a lot of entertaining, a larger coffee table may be more useful for guests to make use of. For example, I have a rectangular coffee table in my lounge, a rustic chunky coffee table which is a little battered from regular use by my primary aged child. It's a bit higher than the sofa seats, but it had to be to meet our needs. It's a central part of the room and constantly in use. My son uses it for coloring in, school homework, building lego, eating snacks and it is exactly the right height to play board games on. We paired it with a small stool for him to sit on, and it has been more used than I could have imagined. A wooden coffee table was particularly important for us as it was safer than glass or marble in our situation, and with the wear and tear is receives it was perfectly fine to buy a second hand, vintage table.


There's nothing stopping you from stepping away from the traditional table when it comes to choosing a coffee or occasional table. Think vintage storage trunks or upholstered ottomans, both can work particularly well in a room where extra storage is required, and let's face it, who doesn't need a bit of hidden storage! If you're anything like my family, blankets and extra cushions are often used on the sofas on cold nights and need to have a space to be cleared away. If you want to use them around the room, choose smaller low side tables that can be put together or used separately where they are needed. Use vintage luggage or suitcases for really low level storage or tables. You could use trays on top of ottomans and footstool to shake things up a bit and provide a bit of layering throughout the room. Whatever furniture you choose, be confident that you can use it!

Kernow Furniture is online store based near Redruth, Cornwall. We hold a large selection of furniture and decorative items. You can find many eras and styles of antique, retro, and vintage furniture, homeware and gifts. We offer fast national delivery on all items. We welcome viewings by appointment on 01209 316220.


June 22, 2021 — Benita Ellis-Kelly

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