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Coffee Tables Buying Guide

It's not entirely clear when or where the first coffee table came into use, but it's certainly a ubiquitous piece in today's homes. In a living room in particular, a coffee table can elegantly show off a decorative centerpiece, or it can be put to use holding drinks, snacks, a collection of remote controls, or -- of course -- coffee table books. With all of these uses, it's no wonder there are myriad styles and materials for these indispensable pieces. 

Types of Coffee Tables

Types of Coffee Tables

Here's an overview of the vast range of coffee tables, from the basic versions meant to humbly hold items within close reach, to the scene-stealers with unusual designs or unorthodox materials that grab attention as they perform their tasks.

Simple

The simplest design for a coffee table is a rectangular surface measuring about 30 inches wide and 40-48 inches longóthe size you choose depends on the size of your sofa. If you have a long sofa, you need a longer coffee table so the people seated on the end cushions can reach it. Coffee tables can be made of wood (or a woodlike material such as particleboard and veneer), metal, glass, stone, or a combination of materials. As for shape, a coffee table can be a square, rectangle, circle, oval, or any design, as long as it's in proportion to the seating pieces grouped around it.

shop Simple
Regency Seating

The hardwood construction and simple design of Regency's Belcino Waiting Room Furniture Collection makes it ideal for waiting room...s and lobbies. The hand-rubbed finish protects the table surface from stains and chipping. The intersecting legs stabilize the surface so the table never wobbles or tips. Available in several finishes. read more

Regency Seating

This table from Regency's Belcino Waiting Room Furniture Collection features hardwood construction and a simple design ideal for w...aiting rooms and lobbies. The hand-rubbed finish protects the table surface from stains and chipping. The intersecting legs stabilize the surface so the table never wobbles or tips. Available in several finishes. read more

Community

Create a lounge area with the Callaway Waiting Room Collection by Community. This wooden coffee table gives guests a place for mag...azines and beverages while sitting in your lounge. The slightly beveled edge adds an elegant touch. Mix and match with other furniture in the series for a coordinated look. read more

Lesro

Lesro Weston series coffee table features solid hardwood construction, and attractive transitional styling.Coffee table features a... fivestep hand rubbed finish. Meets ANSI/BIFMA safety standards.Ships ready to assemble. W1470T5 read more

Office Star

The Wall Street Coffee Table creates a modern look by combining traditional wood veneers with a sleek chrome frame.Enhance the loo...k of your reception area when you bring this eyecatching coffee table into the space...Ships ready to assemble. WST12 read more

Ballard Designs

Coordinates with Sutton Dining Collection and Sutton Lounge Collection. Strong mortise-and-tenon construction. Patina will mellow ...to warm silvery gray if left untreated. Assembly required. A relaxed blend of warm textures and sophisticated style, our Sutton Coffee Table takes weekend entertaining very seriously. It's artisan crafted of solid teak to be naturally strong and resistant to moisture and damaging insects. Table top and bottom shelf slatted for drainage. Sutton Coffee Table features: . . . . read more

Ballard Designs

Hand crafted of solid mango wood. Layered hand-applied finish. We designed this impressive Coffee Table to coordinate with our bes...t-selling Andrews Table. The substantial baluster base makes a dramatic statement, while the routered herringbone top has plenty of space for serving a large seating group with room left for display.Andrews Coffee Table features: . . read more

Klaussner
$375.00 $500.00
at JCPenney

This Palermo coffee table with warm earthen tones provides the perfect blend of nature's beauty. 1-7/8 terra-cotta-framed top tabl...e toptumbled travertine cobblestone tilesdecorative square metal tubular legs in a distinctive bronze-tone finishTravertine cobblestone/terra cotta/metal base. Measures 56x32x18H. Assembly required; tools not included. Manufacturer's warranty. Imported. read more

Southern Enterprises
$219.90
at Walmart

Designed with elegant Asian styling, this Southern Enterprises Amherst Espresso Coffee Table provides an eye-catching centerpiece ...for the family room, living room or den. It is stained in a beautiful deep chocolate espresso finish and is constructed... read more

Frontgate
$999.00 $1,295.00
at Frontgate

Crafted of dark brown Manchurian ash and golden stainless steel. Works as a sofa table and serving station. Wipe clean. TThe sleek... Rivington Coffee Table proffers an elegant update to campaign tray tables used by military officers during the British Colonial period. The impeccably crafted transitional table makes a dramatic statement with clean lines and contrasting colors: low-slung, X-style legs in golden stainless steel offset the dark brown Manchurian ash top. . . . read more

La Fuente Imports
$151.20 $189.00
at La Fuente Imports

This is one of our most affordable handmade rustic coffee tables. The sturdy legs and simple lines create an elegance that goes we...ll with any decor. The unencumbered sides give this Mexican rustic pine coffee table versatility...place a cloth and candles on the tabletop and cushions on the floor to create a romantic and exotic dining area for two to four people. This charming rustic furniture piece has been produced with care using new, kiln-dried ponderosa pine. It is finished with a rich, honey-colored furniture wax to bring the wood grain to life. All iron and hardware is hand-forged with a distressed, rust-colored finish. Every piece is 100% solid wood (no laminates, particle board, or veneers), carries a one-year warranty, and unlike other on-line stores we try to keep all items in constant stock for delivery to your home or office in just 2-3 weeks. Square Julio Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table Without Wormwood. 35"W x 20"H x 35"D. Pine Rustic Pine Collection. New. read more

Kid- and Pet-Friendly

Coffee tables are both assets and liabilities in homes with small children and pets. Many toddlers have learned to walk by first cruising around the edge of a coffee table, which is the perfect height for such an activity. However, a coffee table with sharp corners can cause bruises and injuries for the same teetering toddlers. If you have an angular table, add foam bumpers. Or choose a more child-friendly shape, such as round. Beware of painted wood tables, which can flake or peel when chewed on. And finally, a glass or stone table can pose a hazard if it breaks or chips.

Built-In Storage

There are many reasons to choose a coffee table with storage, such as drawers, shelves, or cabinets, built into it. You can keep remote controls contained, tidy up magazines, or hide away throw blankets. Some coffee tables even have deep inner cabinets under a hinged table surface, which you can use to stow everything from board games to sheets for a nearby pullout bed.

Unique Designs and Materials

Coffee tables are commonly made from stained wood, polished stone, or glass. But you can also find unusual materials, including enameled metal, chrome, hammered bronze, poured concrete, smoky glass, colored glass, textured glass, slices of tree trunks, leather, and plastic. A coffee table made from one of these unusual materials functions as a decorative punctuation point in a room, fostering conversation and comment.

Upholstered

Some people like to use large upholstered coffee tables because they may have a casual look, can match your upholstery, and are ready footrests. With a tray or another hard surface on top, they can also hold drinks. Larger than an ottoman, which is sized to match a chair, an upholstered coffee table should have dimensions that relate to your sofa. It may be a circle, square, oval, or rectangle, and the surface may be taut or tufted. And it may be upholstered in fabric or leather. Some upholstered coffee tables can be quite elegant, with carved legs, high-end fabric upholstery, and trimmings such as nailhead or fringe.

Specialty

Specialty coffee tables have additional concepts or abilities built into them. For example, some have chess boards painted on the surface. Some contain small propane fire pits. Others have a top that rises to lap height to become an eating or work surface. Chances are good there is a design available to meet your specific needs.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Here are a couple of other factors to keep in mind when purchasing a coffee table.

Height

When a coffee table is the proper height, a person sitting on the sofa can easily reach forward to set down a drink or pick up a cracker. This means most tables should be 16-18 inches tall, but if you have a taller sofa or one with tight, plump cushions that boost you up a bit, the coffee table should be a bit taller. If you frequently eat at the coffee table, you may also want it to be talleró20-22 inches should do it.

Care and Cleaning

For a piece of furniture that handles everything from feet to fish sticks, it's important to know how to clean and care for the type you're buying. Glass and polished-stone tables will show fingerprints. Wood tables need occasional oiling, and you should always use coasters under drinks to prevent damp glasses from damaging the surface. Upholstered coffee tables will benefit from a stain-retardant coating as soon as you bring it home and periodically thereafter. Specialty materials, such as poured concrete, will have their own care requirements.

Furniture on sale
Klaussner
$375.00 $500.00
at JCPenney

This Palermo coffee table with warm earthen tones provides the perfect blend of nature's beauty. 1-7/8 terra-cotta-framed top tabl...e toptumbled travertine cobblestone tilesdecorative square metal tubular legs in a distinctive bronze-tone finishTravertine cobblestone/terra cotta/metal base. Measures 56x32x18H. Assembly required; tools not included. Manufacturer's warranty. Imported. read more

Palermo Coffee Table, Bronze
Frontgate
$999.00 $1,295.00
at Frontgate

Crafted of dark brown Manchurian ash and golden stainless steel. Works as a sofa table and serving station. Wipe clean. TThe sleek... Rivington Coffee Table proffers an elegant update to campaign tray tables used by military officers during the British Colonial period. The impeccably crafted transitional table makes a dramatic statement with clean lines and contrasting colors: low-slung, X-style legs in golden stainless steel offset the dark brown Manchurian ash top. . . . read more

Rivington Coffee Table - Frontgate
La Fuente Imports
$151.20 $189.00
at La Fuente Imports

This is one of our most affordable handmade rustic coffee tables. The sturdy legs and simple lines create an elegance that goes we...ll with any decor. The unencumbered sides give this Mexican rustic pine coffee table versatility...place a cloth and candles on the tabletop and cushions on the floor to create a romantic and exotic dining area for two to four people. This charming rustic furniture piece has been produced with care using new, kiln-dried ponderosa pine. It is finished with a rich, honey-colored furniture wax to bring the wood grain to life. All iron and hardware is hand-forged with a distressed, rust-colored finish. Every piece is 100% solid wood (no laminates, particle board, or veneers), carries a one-year warranty, and unlike other on-line stores we try to keep all items in constant stock for delivery to your home or office in just 2-3 weeks. Square Julio Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table Without Wormwood. 35"W x 20"H x 35"D. Pine Rustic Pine Collection. New. read more

Square Julio Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table Without Wormwood 35"W x
La Fuente Imports
$255.20 $319.00
at La Fuente Imports

Kick your feet up on this rustic Keko Mexican rustic pine coffee table! Ideal for any rustic or southwestern decor, it features a ...carved skirt and two spacious drawers, for your remotes and miscellaneous living room items. This charming rustic furniture piece has been produced with care using new, kiln-dried ponderosa pine. It is finished with a rich, honey-colored furniture wax to bring the wood grain to life. All iron and hardware is hand-forged with a distressed, rust-colored finish. Every piece is 100% solid wood (no laminates, particle board, or veneers), carries a one-year warranty, and unlike other on-line stores we try to keep all items in constant stock for delivery to your home or office in just 2-3 weeks. Keko Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table. 51"W x 16"H x 28"D. Pine Rustic Pine Collection. New. read more

Keko Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table 51"W x 16"H x 28"D
La Fuente Imports
$164.80 $206.00
at La Fuente Imports

The sturdy legs and simple lines of this very affordable Mexican rustic pine coffee table give it a classic look that combines wel...l with a leather sofa or other southwestern decor. The distressed finish of the handmade wooden tabletop excuses the occasional spill and weary foot. The large surface has plenty of room for books, magazines, newspapers, or a game of cards. This charming rustic furniture piece has been produced with care using a combination of new, kiln-dried ponderosa pine and genuine wormwood accent planks between 50 and 250 years old. It is finished with a rich, honey-colored furniture wax to bring the wood grain to life. All iron and hardware is hand-forged with a distressed, rust-colored finish. Every piece is 100% solid wood (no laminates, particle board, or veneers), carries a one-year warranty, and unlike other on-line stores we try to keep all items in constant stock for delivery to your home or office in just 2-3 weeks. Lyon Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table. 47"W x 20"H x 23"D. read more

Lyon Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table 47"W x 20"H x 23"D
La Fuente Imports
$287.20 $359.00
at La Fuente Imports

Perfectly square with the top opening from both sides, this is a beautiful piece of southwestern furniture. We all need extra stor...age and this gives you plenty in any room of your home. It's ideal as a Mexican rustic pine coffee table...push the creative envelope and use it for exotic dining while seated on the floor! Wherever you use it, you'll appreciate its rustic hand-made workmanship and versatility. This charming rustic furniture piece has been produced with care using new, kiln-dried ponderosa pine. It is finished with a rich, honey-colored furniture wax to bring the wood grain to life. All iron and hardware is hand-forged with a distressed, rust-colored finish. Every piece is 100% solid wood (no laminates, particle board, or veneers), carries a one-year warranty, and unlike other on-line stores we try to keep all items in constant stock for delivery to your home or office in just 2-3 weeks. Trunk Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table. 35"W x 18"H x 35"D. Pine Rustic Pine Collection. New. read more

Trunk Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table 35"W x 18"H x 35"D
BDI

A truly streamlined piece for contemporary living spaces. The BDI Stream Coffee Table design focuses on clean lines, which proves ...the ideal way to show off the unique blend of materials. The frame is comprised of two soft-cornered rectangular steel... read more

Stream Coffee Table by BDI - Satin Nickel - Long - 1501G ES
BDI
La Fuente Imports
$135.20 $169.00
at La Fuente Imports

The sturdy legs and simple lines of this very affordable Mexican rustic pine coffee table give it a classic look that combines wel...l with a leather sofa or other southwestern decor. The distressed finish of the handmade wooden tabletop excuses the... read more

Julio Mexican Rustic Pine Coffee Table Without Wormwood 44"W x 20"H x
The HON Company
$186.73 $399.00
at Shoplet.com

The HON Company HON80191NN Scratch-, spill- and stain-resistant laminate stands up to heavy use. Heavy-grade, warp-resistant parti...cleboard features high recycled content. A high-quality solution for any organization wanting to make a great impression on clients and visitors. Laminate color is Mahogany. Excellent for private offices, lobbies, waiting rooms and commons areas. Classic flat edge profile matches all basyx by HON BL Laminate desking components. Attractive Occasional Tables from HON, one of America's office furniture leaders. Scratch-, spill- and stain-resistant laminate stands up to heavy use and is specially treated to withstand boiling liquids. 1-1/8 thick solid core top is made from durable high-performance particleboard. Perfect for any casual space where ideas and information are exchanged informally. read more

The HON Company HON Laminate Coffee Table | 48W x 20D
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