Finding the right coffee table for you

Bastian Coffee Table, White

Trying to find the perfect coffee table for your living room might seem easy at first. But then you start thinking about size, shape, material, finish. So let’s break it down so you can find your perfect coffee table.

Coffee tables are often one of the last things we think about when we start to style our living rooms. But more often than not this little surface can end being the centrepiece of your space. The one element that ties it all together. This might seem like a lot of pressure for one little table, but it’s easier than you think.

Coffee Table Size

First things first, you gotta decide how big you want your coffee table to be. Some homes work well with large, impactful coffee tables. Others thrive with petite surfaces. If you’ve already outfitted your space with your sofa you can use it as a reference point. A lot of the time, though not every time, you’ll want your coffee table top to be equal to the height of the seat of your sofa. Of course perfectly equal is probably pretty impossible, but close enough is close enough.

Mia Coffee Table, White

In terms of surface area, it’s a little harder to be concrete about that. Some people are favourable to a large coffee table, with plenty of surface space to house all of their living room essentials, with room to spare for a few decorative accents.  Of course, you can always also incorporate side tables in your space for extra surface if you’re partial to a smaller coffee table.

The best way to decide the size you need is to look at your current arrangement and see how much space you have. You won’t want to crowd your living room, and yet an overly sparse space can feel just as odd. Measure the room and find a coffee table that takes up a portion (no more than a third, normally) of that space.

Coffee Table Shape

While a round coffee table is very common, it’s not your only option. Rounder silhouettes do lend themselves to more relaxed, contemporary styles. But a square centrepiece in your living room is perfect for an impactful accent.

Suffolk Coffee Table


A square or rectangular frame is a more modernist shape and can work well in those kinds of styles. But more than that, it can be easier to create sleek lines in your space for an organised aesthetic. Line up your coffee table to be parallel with the edge of your sofa and your rug (if you have one in your living room) and the entire space can feel just that little bit more put-together.

Of course, you may still prefer the softer shapes of rounded coffee tables. These silhouettes can be a lot more adaptable, complementing one or more styles at a time. (Which is great when you’re trying to style your home to please everyone’s preferences—learn more about here.) Rounded coffee tables are also great in homes with younger family members, or those that are just a little clumsy. Surely everyone can speak from experience and say that accidentally walking into a rounded edge hurts less than walking into a corner.

Coffee Table Functionality

There are plenty of homes where the coffee table surface is all that’s needed in terms of storage space. It’s enough room for the TV remote, perhaps a candle, and room to rest your cup of tea or coffee. But there are homes that need more than this. This is where storage coffee tables enter the equation.

Palladia Coffee Table

If you need a little extra space in your living room, a shelf or two underneath the top of your coffee table wouldn’t hurt. Neither wood a drawer, or even a lift-up top with storage within. There are plenty of ways and options to make organising your space easier. (After all, where would we store the extra batteries for the remote if not within the coffee table?)

The downside to these storage coffee tables is their bulk. Yes they save space by providing convenient storage, but that storage has to come from somewhere. And it comes from that amazing negative space in your living room. Negative space, for those wondering, is the empty space between one object and the next. In terms of coffee tables, this is often the gap between the top and your floor. This can create a lighter, more contemporary, relaxed aesthetic in your home. Not to mention it can literally be lighter, as storage coffee tables are often more heavy than those without storage. (Meaning that they can be a lot better for people who live in apartments or flats and may have to carry it up/down stairs when moving.) It’s all about what suits your needs

Coffee Table Material

Again this is not, perhaps, something about which you immediately think when considering your coffee table. But regardless, the material of your coffee table can be a very important element in terms of style and usability.

Rabat Coffee Table

Common materials include wood and MDF (medium density fibreboard) which both create an organic, natural style. These looks can be perfect in more contemporary, wood-and-white styles as well as vintage, deep oak aesthetics. Not to mention their neutral colouring is easy to style. They are also relatively light materials and can be easy to move and rearrange for a convenient design.

On the other had, these materials can be easy to stain if they’re not treated well. (Wooden tables form rings from drinks relatively easily, unless you take precautions against this.) One of the more sturdy options you might like marble, which is resistant to heat and moisture. Marble is also ideal for a more throw-back, vintage-glam-inspired aesthetic. After all, what says natural, earthen luxury (discover this trend here) like organic marble in your space?

In the end, every style has its ups and downs. Big or small, squared or rounded, storage functionality or standard silhouette, and material are all choices that you can make to reflect your own, unique style in your home.

Paige Riddiford is a writer and editor from NSW with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong. When not writing, Paige is often found reading, baking cakes, playing video games, or binging whatever's new on Netflix.