How To Choose A Coffee Table: A Complete Guide

In most cases, a coffee table is at the heart of your living room. So, it only makes sense that you would want to find something that looks great, fits the space, and suits your needs. But how exactly do you choose a coffee table? And where do you start?

Finding the ideal coffee table doesn't have to be a chore! It can actually be incredibly easy if you know what to look for. And with this guide, you'll be able to pick out the ideal table in no time!

Coffee Table Size

The first thing to consider to find the right coffee table is its size. This is especially important in a smaller living space. For example, in an apartment with a combined living and dining room area, you may want a bigger table so that it can double up as a makeshift dining table.


Generally, a standard table is around 16 and 18 inches high. But there's a little more nuance to choosing the right coffee table than its size.

The perfect coffee table height should be slightly lower or match the height of your sofa's seat cushion. If you want to go even lower, it's important to make sure that it's a maximum of two inches lower.

Additionally, you should avoid picking a table taller than your seat cushions. This can end up making the room feel out of proportion and much less comfortable to use!


Coffee tables can vary in width but are usually around 40 to 86 inches wide. This is obviously dependent on the size you want your coffee table to be as well as the scale of your other furniture.

To keep a balanced look in your living space, the rule of thumb is to pick a table that is two-thirds the size of your sofa. If your table is bigger than (or the same size as) your sofa, it can make the entire room seem more crowded and much, much smaller.


The depth of your table can make a huge difference. After all, you want to leave enough room for foot traffic!

It's best to have your coffee table sit at least 12 inches away from your sofa and around 30 inches away from any other larger furniture pieces like your TV stand.

To determine the ideal depth of your table, you're going to want to measure from your couch to the other furniture, and then subtract around 42 inches. This will give you the ideal size to suit your living room and the available space.

Choosing The Right Shape

Next, you'll want to think about coffee table shapes that would suit your space, such as a round or square table.

Rectangular coffee table

Rectangular coffee tables are great for bigger spaces since they take up a little more room than your average coffee table.

They also have a bigger surface area, so you can add decor or use the table more frequently. Rectangular tables are naturally more versatile thanks to this extra space. So, if you host board game nights regularly or like to use your coffee table as a makeshift desk, this is a great pick.

Additionally, they can also make for a great centerpiece in a bigger room if you choose a more ornate style!

Round coffee table

If you have a smaller living space, you may want to consider a round or oval coffee table. Round tables can soften the look of your living room and create a more fluid space to work with. Plus, if you choose a multi-functional piece, you can free up additional space in your lounge.

A round table can also be a great addition to rooms with more curved elements since they create shape harmony (which is especially important if you want to mix and match your furniture!).

Square coffee table

A square coffee table is a must-have if you have an L-shaped sectional since it can nestle perfectly into the corner. But, since they have a more classic look to them, they can also suit almost any decor style.

If you have a more structured space layout, a square table can help to give the room a sleeker, more stylish look.

Coffee Table Material

The material of your coffee table can make or break how well it fits into your living space. Typically, the most common coffee table materials include:

  • Wood coffee tables: Wooden furniture always brings a certain warmth and traditional charm to a room. It's also extremely versatile and can be paired with multiple other pieces of furniture.

  • Glass coffee tables: A glass coffee table can be a great addition to any modern family room thanks to its sleek and stylish look.

  • Metal coffee tables: Similar to glass tables, metal coffee tables look great in a modern room. They're also easy to clean and maintain and come in different variations to suit most color schemes and aesthetics.

  • Marble and stone coffee tables: For a more elegant look, you can always opt for a coffee table made from marble or stone. While stone may work better for outdoor tables, marble can elevate your space and make it look more polished.

  • Upholstered coffee tables: If you have children, an upholstered coffee table can be a good choice. You can think of these coffee tables as a mix between an ottoman and a table, which also means that they work as a multi-functional piece!

Other Considerations

So, now you know how to choose a coffee table based on its looks and size. But what about its functionality and everyday usage? There's more to a table than meets the eye - literally! You also need to consider its purpose, how it fits in with your overall room design, and your budget.


Whatever you choose to use your coffee table for, it's important to ensure that you pick one that suits your needs. While standard coffee tables may be great for general decor and additional surface space in your living room, they can be so much more.

If you love eating in front of your TV, for example, a coffee table with adjustable height may be the best choice for you! Or perhaps you want to take a break from your screen and settle in with your family for a board game night? Then a board game coffee table is your ideal pick.

Room design

For most of us, the living room doubles up as a space to entertain guests and can often be the heart of the home. Your coffee table should reflect that!

It's always a good idea to choose a table that complements the existing design of your living room and enhances its overall look.


Having a coffee table in your living room is fantastic, since it's both functional and pleasing to the eye. Still, some coffee tables (such as metal or glass tables) may be more expensive than others.

One of the most important things to remember is that you should always purchase a coffee table that falls within your budget. Ideally, you want to strike a balance between affordability and practicality. 


What is the best type of coffee table for a small living room?

If you have a small space, it may be best to pick a round or oval coffee table to help improve the flow of the foot traffic. You can also look for one that is multi-functional or with built-in storage to get more out of your table.

Alternatively, you can pick out a multi-functional dining table if you don't have a dedicated dining room. For example, the Dresden Board Game Dining Table is both functional and aesthetically pleasing - and can replace the need for a coffee table altogether.

Where should a coffee table be placed in a room?

Usually, your coffee table would be in front of your couch or in the center of the room. Either way, it should be around 12 inches away from your sofa, leaving enough room for foot traffic.

Can I use an outdoor coffee table indoors?

While you can use an outdoor coffee table indoors, it's not always ideal. Outdoor tables may lack the aesthetic appeal of indoor coffee tables, which can throw off the design of the room. However, outdoor tables with a glass top can make a nice addition to a sleek living space.

Final Thoughts

Whether you use your table for decor, as a dinner table, to host board game nights, or just to add some visual appeal to your room, there's a perfect coffee table out there for you. And now you know how to find it! Just remember: You should always buy furniture that suits your needs and that brightens up your unique space.