Buying a Coffee Table

Since the Victorian era, the coffee table has been an integral part of every living room. Today, this champion of the furnishing world is even more popular, offering an extensive array of beautiful and functional choices. Whether you’re furnishing a new home from scratch or re-designing an existing room, there are certain key considerations to keep in mind when buying a coffee table. With the myriad of choices available, this can be a daunting task. Do you choose rectangle, square or round? Should you opt for wood, metal or glass? Will you want to use it as a place to put your beverage while watching TV or as an alternate dining table? Will you want to put your feet up on the surface? These are some of the questions you should ask when you set out on your search for the perfect coffee table.

Consider the coffee table’s primary use. If your room is formal, chances are the table will be used primarily for the decorative display of accessories or prized possessions. Therefore, you would want to select a table that has a large surface and is supported by a sturdy base. This could include a wood table, either tiered for added support or with substantial legs. A glass table with a metal base would be an excellent choice. This style table offers some relief in a formal room that is already laden with layers of decorated space.

In a more casual environment, you may want a table that is more practical. Perhaps you’d like to prop up your feet. Again, a solid base would be best. If you’re searching for extra storage, a table with an open base under the top surface works well. This allows the use of decorative baskets to store items such as magazines and remotes. There are a number of very handsome coffee tables with drawers, providing a perfect space to store things out of view. Today, the unconventional is being widely used as coffee tables. The ottoman is a perfect example. Place a decorative tray on top and you have a multi-purpose table. An old trunk can double as a coffee table, providing great rustic style and added storage. There are genuine antiques available, but many furniture retailers are showing beautiful, quality reproductions.

Look for quality of materials and craftsmanship. Most wood tables are made with pressed fiber board and veneers. These are good choices for cost and durability. Fiber board is composed of recycled wood fibers with glue and resin that are blended using extreme high pressure. This makes for a material that is strong, durable and resistant to splitting. When sealed with veneers, this makes for a table that will last for many years under a household’s daily activities.

Glass tables are made to last. When you think of glass, you may think delicate. However, most glass tables today are made with tempered glass. Tempered glass is not only strong but it can also withstand extreme heat and cold. Tempered glass, according to Wikpedia, is glass that has been strengthened by undergoing thermal or chemical processes that create balanced internal stressors. This allows the glass to break in small fragments instead of sharp shards. Check to make sure the glass table you select is made with tempered glass, especially if you have children.

To achieve a harmonious interior, style, balance and scale are important elements when making your coffee table purchase. Take a look around your room. Make a note of what design style would complement your other furniture. If your room is traditional, you may prefer a wood table. Add some punch to the room with a contemporary glass and chrome table to offset the room and mix it up a little. Always in style and always elegant is a glass table with a curvy metal base in burnished gold or brass. Really make a statement and pair two smaller tables in front of the sofa.

Contemporary interiors call for sleek and uncomplicated lines. Oval or round glass tables with chrome bases are always great paired with contemporary style. Add a great boxy tiered wood table with a sturdy base to anchor the room and bring in some warmth.

Pay attention to scale. If your room is comprised of large, overstuffed sofa and chairs, choose a table that is comparable in size. A large wood rectangular table would fit in nicely. If your room contains some heavy wood pieces, you may consider buying a coffee table that will lighten the weight in the room. For example, a large glass table keeps with the scale and balances out the heavier furniture. A glass table in a predominantly wood furnished room will add an unexpected touch of panache and prevent the room from appearing too weighted down.

When considering scale, the rule of thumb is to choose a table that is either the same height or a little lower than the cushions of the sofa. As for length, a coffee table should be no more than two-thirds the size of the sofa. You will also need to be mindful of the space surrounding the table. Always try to leave at least two feet on every side.

Don’t forget the size of the room when thinking about scale. If you have a small space, consider using a glass table. The glass visually enhances the space of the room and gives the impression of lightness. If your space is large, the coffee table you select should mirror that. Don’t bring in a small table for it will get lost in the room. Think about a large wood table, perhaps tiered or with drawers. A substantial table makes a bold statement and is extra functional with added storage possibilities.

Now, what about shape? Again, consider your room. Take a good look around. What shapes do you see in the furniture, fabrics and accessories? Play on those shapes. For example, if your sofa is upholstered in a square geometric pattern, you can mirror that pattern by choosing a rectangular or square table. Add visual interest by selecting a contrasting round table. If your furniture is predominantly square, bring in a rectangular, oval or round table to offset the room. This creates a great sense of balance as well as being visually interesting.

An important consideration when buying a coffee table is family. If there are young children in the household, sharp edges should be kept to a minimum. When you have pets, you may also consider the sweeping radius of their tails! Give some thought to your family gatherings as well. If you play host to a large family crowd that stays standing, selecting a coffee table that is easy to move may be a wise choice. Further, an easily mobile table can serve as an added surface for appetizers and fun themed party favors. Consider a round table, which is much easier on the legs when guests are moving around!

Above all else, have fun! Listen to your instincts. Take in all the quirky, beautiful, elegant, casual and interesting styles of coffee tables available. If the one you select doesn’t work, try something else. With so many options available, you can’t go wrong.



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