Choosing the right coffee table

Choosing the right coffee table

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Choosing the right coffee table

Choosing the right coffee table for your space seems simple enough: You walk into your favourite shop, select a piece you love, go home and voila! But wait a few hours, reflect a little more, and you may realize that you made the wrong choice. Like choosing the right couch, finding the right coffee table involves some bigger considerations. Size, height and width all matter, as does scale and proportion. Does it have to be kid-friendly or storage-friendly? Does it fit your lifestyle or your room?

Consider size first

Is there anything more awkward than an ill-fitting coffee table? One that’s too high or far too low? The general rule is that you should find a coffee table that is ideally standing at the same height as the cushions, or one to two inches lower. If you go too far on either side of that equation, it will just look off and throw the whole space into question.

Don’t forget proportion

Similarly, look for a coffee table that has the right length in relation to the width of your couch. In specific terms, this means your coffee table should be two-thirds the length of your couch. So, for a 96-in. couch, look for a coffee table that is 64 in. long. Also, think about distance, too: From the edge of your couch to the edge of the table should be 18 in. Why? You want it to be close enough to reach for your drink or put your book down, but far enough that you can stretch out your legs.

Balance your style

Find harmony between your couch style and your coffee table style. If you have a substantial couch in a solid block of colour, try pairing it with a lighter version of a coffee table that’s glass with a chrome frame. If your couch is more streamlined and smaller in frame, opt for a coffee table that has more weight to it, whether that’s a wooden piece or an entirely solid base.


Do you have pets or children? It might be best to opt for a coffee table that has an oval shape – no hard edges mean no possible injuries. Consider what the primary use of the table will be: Is it purely decorative, for storage, or for entertaining purposes? All of that comes into play. Some tables come with shelves or drawers, others with materials that may stain if a wet drink or food is placed on it. Pick a piece that works with your lifestyle.


There is a plethora of different materials to choose from, from woods to metal, marble and Lucite. Again, this depends on your overall room (and house) style. You want the coffee table to meld harmoniously with all of your other furnishings and not stand out like a sore thumb. Whether you favour contemporary or vintage, take a quick snap of your space to bring with you on your buying excursion. It will really help store clerks find the appropriate style for you, and you can also remind yourself of exactly how your space looks while out shopping.

Consider multiple mini-tables

Maybe a bit controversial for some, but sometimes a set of mini-tables works better in a space than one larger coffee table. This is especially true of smaller spaces because it offers a level of flexibility in terms of how you use the tables, and where you put them.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design on CityTV’s Cityline.

Follow Lisa’s blog at


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