How To Choose Your Coffee Table: Part 2

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Art Deco, classic, urban industrial, rustic or cutting-edge contemporary – the coffee table is making a comeback. And whether it’s the hero or a humble spear-carrier in your living room, choosing the right one is the key to balanced design.

Your coffee table is often the last piece to be fitted into your living space. And the temptation to shove in something that vaguely fits is all toooooo  tempting. But a little finesse (or is it restraint?) can mean all the difference to your aesthetic.

In Part One of our how-to guide, we looked at considerations of scale, size and space. Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. We’re talking style, shape, shade and surface!

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Whether you’re fostering a love of fussy ornaments, courting that laid-back coastal vibe or exuding the height of Japanese minimalism, there’s a coffee table to suit your bent. From upcycled wood to brass and glass, those blessed with shapely legs and sleek shelving or sporting stainless steel, you’re spoilt for choice.

When it comes to style, the possibilities are infinite.

From left: GLOBE WEST Elle Marble Side Table, Cafe Lighting Stockton Cube Side Table, Authentic Models Stateroom Trunk Side Table and Amalfi Sly Stool, available online at Zanui.

First things first: decide whether your coffee is the star of your room or simply a valuable member of the support cast. Is it a statement piece or an anchoring element within your design scheme?

Your coffee table can be complicit within your existing aesthetic. Or it can add an incongruous element for electic ambience or a dash of personal charisma. Either way, make it a conscious choice that’s aligned with your choice of sofa.

Image source from left: viat, and

If your sofa is plush and solid, perhaps opt for a leggy chrome and glass model. If your couch is streamlined and sophisticated, a chunkier rustic wood style might be just the ticket. If you’re working the Hampton’s look, a coffee table with storage baskets adds stylish functionality.


What do you expect from this coffee table? How hardy should this baby be? Are you going to be kind to it or will it be the victim of tough love? Is it all about the look?

Your answer will define your choice of material.

From left: Cafe Lighting Kingston Coffee Table, Bonavista Interiors Isabella Wenge Rectangle Coffee Table and Dover Mason Marlow Coffee Table, available online at Zanui.

Rough-hewn upcycled timber not only bears the tests of time but increases in personality with age. It adds rugged good looks and textured personality to your space. The warmth of wood is great in large open spaces with high ceilings where it doesn’t look too bulky or intrusive.

Equally, if you have kidlets complete with sweating drinks, a glass table-top has the benefit that it will not stain. It’s easier to clean, it enhances the sense of space (particularly in long, narrow rooms) and it displays your feature rug (if you have one!).

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Colour is another important consideration. Statement or subdued? Is your coffee table creating the only splash of colour within a scheme of neutrals?

If your coffee or side table is a feature piece, it might introduce a pop of vibrant colour. Opting for teal or mustard hues? Pick up this colour in your décor accents. In smaller rooms an understated piece works well in creating a sense of openness.

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And lastly just a note on shape. Consider the silhouette of your coffee table in terms of your aesthetic – are you opting for sleek modern, Scandi, shabby-chic or a more spartan Shaker style? Clean-lines vs something more sculptural?

From left: GLOBE WEST Deco Circle Nesting Tables Set of 2, GLOBE WEST Industria Lattice Round Coffee Table, GLOBE WEST Arden Side Table, Soundslike HOME Kleo Square Coffee Table, and Soundslike HOME Tropica Driftwood Drum Stool, available online at Zanui.

If you’re looking for something kid-freundlich, an oval or round coffee table removes the threat of sharp corners. Living the single life? Go to town with gorgeous geometric and Art Deco shapes.

And there you have it. The finishing touch to your living room! Well done, you. Sit down – put your feet up! You deserve it. 😉

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.