Design Dilemma: Considering the Coffee Table | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Considering the Coffee Table

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There’s something weird about coffee tables. While they remain one of the most prominent and utilitarian pieces in a home, holding TV and stereo remotes, books, and even standing in occasionally as extra seating or a dining table, we somehow never spend too much time choosing them. We opt for something rectangular, or maybe something round or square, and call it a day. But life is a lot more exciting than that!

Sure, a coffee table serves a practical purpose, but why miss out on a real opportunity to flaunt your style? Choose a unique coffee table and make a stand-out statement. In the living room above, for example, who would have ever imagined that a cast bronze tree trunk could work so perfectly, walking a line between fun and glam while standing up to the other strong elements in the room, such as the  patterned wallpaper and curtains? It’s totally unexpected, but it works, and it says a lot about the personality of the home owners as well.

You might say the same about the table below, more restrained and utterly in keeping with the mid-century mod look of the room.  It’s simple and modernist, and yet utterly individual and unique. The owners couldn’t have made a better choice.

eclectic living room how to tips advice

And if you’re in a mood for a striking coffee table that does not take up a lot of visual space, you might opt for something like this lucite stunner, below:

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It’s the best of both worlds — open space and an actual piece of furniture at the same time.

So what should you ask yourself when shopping for a coffee table?

First consider the context. The shape of the room itself, whether it is square, long and narrow, large or small should inform your choice. Do you want your table to take a starring role or to fade into the background? Does it need to have storage space in addition to table space? Do you have kids who like to put hot drinks on the table? Do you need to move your table around to let out the couch when guests arrive for overnight stays?

Whatever you do, open your mind to the possibilities. Just because you need a coffee table doesn’t mean you have to buy a coffee table. For example, the homeowner below chose four stools to provide a sculptural lift in her living room:


contemporary living room how to tips advice

These stools can easily be rearranged or moved as the owner sees fit. In fact, stools of any sort can make a great coffee table. Below, see Chinese garden stools used as a coffee table:

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Another alternative to the traditional coffee table is an upholstered ottoman table that can serve as a place to rest weary feet, as well as a place to put drinks or books. If you want to go this option, you might invest in a tray to provide a sturdy space for beverages. Keep in mind that upholstered ottomans used as coffee tables will appear bigger and bulkier than your average table, simply because there is usually no visible floor underneath. You can solve this problem to some degree by choosing a piece where the legs are visible.

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Remember that coffee table height can be very flexible. While most people prefer tables that rise to the height of the seat of the couch, in recent years, very low coffee tables have come into vogue. Seek out a height that works well with the scale of your existing furniture.

contemporary living room how to tips advice
modern living room how to tips advice

Another take on the traditional coffee table is to go cafe table height. A taller coffee table can work very well in traditional settings. Take a look:

traditional family room how to tips advice

If you’re looking for a “star” coffee table, think any table with sculptural elements. Tree trunks, organic wood shapes, tables with sculpted bases, are all going to instantly catch the eye. Two more examples below:

contemporary living room how to tips advice
contemporary living room how to tips advice

And what about a suspended coffee table?

modern living room how to tips advice

So you see, your options are endless! There’s no reason to end up with a dull wood table when there are so many cool coffee table choices out there. Enjoy the hunT!

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