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“How big should a coffee table be?” is the question on everyone’s mind (narrow down something that many of us touch away on our search engines) lately. And, the answer is that it depends on many variables in your living room.
What Is The Height Of A Coffee Table
The best coffee tables (opens in new tab) are not made to measure. Some cute pieces are on the thin side, other wow-factor furniture is wide, and many tables we love are long. But there is a science to styling a coffee table in your living room.
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We asked the question “How big should my coffee table be?” to the pros, who were able to give some good (universal) advice that suits all venues – big and small.
They developed a number of important factors that may influence your decision on the table you choose to place in your living room, taking into account your living room layout, your existing furniture and how you use this social space.
“We’ve all been there. You just bought a great sofa and now it’s time to choose the best coffee table to match and maximize your space better. How do you decide what size coffee table to buy? This can be a difficult task, especially if you’re working with a small space,” says resident designer Kyle Schuneman, APT2B (opens in new tab)
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“If you choose one that’s too big, you’ll overwhelm your space. If you choose one that is too small – especially in relation to your sofa – your room will look unbalanced.”
“Your coffee table should be proportional to the sofa it’s paired with and the size of the room it’s in. Coffee tables are usually bought after seating and other furniture, so if you have a tape measure and a calculator, it’s easy to work out the exact size you’ll need your table to be.’ says Amber Dunford (opens in new tab), chief stylist at Overstock.com (opens in new tab).
When asking yourself how big a coffee table should be, you should consider how tall it can be. Besides, you don’t want it blocking your TV viewing. And, on the other hand, you don’t want it to be so short that you have to do a deep squat just to pour your coffee down, otherwise your coffee table decor is out of sight. So what’s the magic rule for making your coffee table work for you?
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“Your coffee table should be 1-2 inches shorter than the height of your sofa seat cushions,” says Schuneman.
“This is especially important if you like to put your feet up. It also helps create a proper, unobstructed eye line when sitting on the sofa and allows you to comfortably grab snacks and other items from the coffee table. This is the most important measurement when choosing the right size table, so take a look at the table heights first.’
“The ideal coffee table is two-thirds the width of your sofa. If you have a sofa with a chaise longue, then the table should only be two-thirds the size of the sofa. This creates a balanced look in the room.’ says Schuneman.
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“If you have a sofa with a chaise longue, we recommend that the coffee table does not protrude into the room further than the armchair. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is that the size of the room determines the depth of the coffee table. If you have a narrow room, choose a table that is not too deep. If you have a larger living room, you can choose a larger, square table or even a round coffee table.’
“The depth of your table should be narrow enough to leave at least 30 inches between the outside edge of the table and the next obstruction, such as your TV mantel.” Dunford explains.
“That distance can be longer in a larger living room where you have more space to work. If you have extra seats on the opposite side of the table, just make sure there is enough room for an adult to walk comfortably between the two.
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“To find the perfect table depth for a small living room, measure the distance between the edge of your sofa and the base of the TV, fireplace or extra seating. Subtract 30 inches from this measurement. Then remove the space you want to leave between the couch and the inside edge of the table (see the next section for perfect coffee table placement). The remaining measurement is the ideal depth for your new coffee table. For larger living rooms, just keep the 30-inch minimum rule in mind.”
“If you have to leave a little less space on either side of the table than recommended here, that will be fine as long as you can still walk around the room easily. Of course, you should also consider how much surface is enough for everything you plan to place on the table.’
And, if you’re looking for more small living room inspo, we’ve got more tips on how to choose furniture for a small living room.
How To Select The Right Coffee Table Dimensions For Your Home
Of course, if you don’t have a tape measure handy or don’t want to do the math, there are easier, much simpler ways to tell if a particular coffee table works in your living room layout (opens a new ear).
“If your feet hit the table when you sit, the space is too narrow. If you have to strain to get items to the table, it’s too big. The shape and style of your table will also determine its volume. says Dunford.
“The distance from the front of the sofa to the coffee table should be between 12 and 18 inches. Fifteen inches is usually a comfortable distance for walking and sitting.” says Schuneman.
Coffee Table Buying Guide
“Any closer, and it can start to feel tight. Plus, and you won’t be able to comfortably reach it when you’re enjoying a snack or finding the remote control. Place the table in the middle of the sofa so that there is equal space on each side of the table.
“This also guarantees that you will be able to move around the table without having to shuffle to the side. You’ll want unobstructed paths between the TV and the table. Otherwise, the space will feel incredibly cramped and crowded. He’s a total feng shui killer.”
“Think about your space and make sure there is enough room for comfortable walking for you and your guests. We recommend leaving about 30 inches of space between your table and other furniture, such as your media stand. Remember, not all coffee tables are rectangular. Think outside the box. Often, a square, oblong or circular table is better suited to the space you have to work with.’
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To create a cohesive space that flows well, you should ideally choose an appropriately sized table that matches the look of your living room. Contemporary coffee tables look great in contemporary designs and designer pieces can create a real focal point, particularly in neutrally decorated rooms.
“Before buying a coffee table, it helps to take a front-on photo of your current living room so you can consider the table’s proportion to its surroundings.” says Hina Khan, senior director of content marketing at Society6 (opens in new tab).
“If you have a modern aesthetic, you’ll probably want a smaller coffee table to balance the room, while if you have more traditional pieces, you may gravitate towards larger tables.”
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“Think about shape when choosing a new coffee table. Instead of defaulting to a classic rectangular coffee table, consider how a square coffee table, a round coffee table, or an oblong coffee table might best complement your space.” says Nadia McCowan-Hill, resident stylist at Wayfair (opens in new tab)
“Rectangular tables go well with longer sofas. If your room has a lot of soft lines, consider breaking them up with a rectangular coffee table. A round shape works with shorter sofas and more compact seating arrangements, as long sofas tend to make round coffee tables look small. It’s a good choice if you have small children or pets as there are no sharp corners to bump into.”
“If conventional isn’t your style, freeform coffee tables are for you. Geometric styles such as triangular, hexagonal and semi-circular modern coffee tables (opens in new tab) will look good in a funky yet relaxed environment. If you choose a more abstract shape, your everyday coffee table can fit into your space like a sculpture or a work of art. We recommend a free-form style if your living room has a modern, sophisticated look.’
Workshop Coffee Table
In addition to asking yourself the question “How big should my coffee table be?” Another thing you might want to think about is the primary purpose or function your coffee table will have. While a gold coffee table is an idyllic choice to show off the modern decor of the coffee table, a black coffee table can be a smart choice to become a WFH desk as well.