Faced with endless choices of both designs and retailers – think Swoon, Made.com, Anthropologie, John Lewis, Wayfair, and the list goes on – the furniture shopping experience can be quite overwhelming. This is especially true when you don’t have any filters in mind to narrow down your search.

 

But, when it comes to finding the perfect coffee table, it’s easy – because there are only a few things to bear in mind when browsing: shape, size, placement and style. Stick to these four things and you’ll never go wrong (or table-less). Below, we show you how.

Step 1: Choosing the Shape

It all boils down to why you’re getting a coffee table in the first place. Coffee, right?! We buy coffee tables to accompany our sofas so that we can enjoy the finer, caffeinated things of life with a beautiful surface nearby to rest them on.

 

So the shape of your table relies heavily – and almost entirely – on the type of sofa you have. It must suit your seating arrangement, otherwise your living room set-up will feel unnatural and won’t be easy to navigate. It’s all about the flow.

If you have a Standard sofa (eg. two-seater or three-seater)

With a standard-sized sofa, like a two-seater or three-seater, opt for rectangular or oval tables. They should extend ½ to ⅔ of the width of the seating space (excluding arm width), meaning those lucky few bestowed with long legs can stretch out either end, while the rest of us get easy access to the biscuits.

 

Something brands are doing increasingly is the nesting table. These small tables often come stacked in sets of two or three, and can be pulled out from under each other to create extra surface area with staggered heights. Neat.


If you have a Sofa with chaise lounge

If you have a two-seater sofa with a chaise longue attached (a three-seater overall), opt for a round coffee table half the width of the “normal” seating space – or an oval style, two-thirds the width of this area. Both allow whoever has their feet up to swing them down and still have leg room, and the sociable oval gives ample surface area without creating a “wall” in front of you.

 

If you have a three-seater sofa with a chaise longue attached (a three-seater overall), opt for a long oval or rectangular table. They provide enough surface space for the number of people the sofa can seat. Just make sure you have enough coasters to go around!


If you have a corner sofa (L-shaped)

Visual harmony is key, no matter what your practical needs are, and nothing says “I know exactly what I’m doing” more than a round or square table accompanying an L-shaped sofa.

 

This is because both table and sofa back are equal in width and depth. The table provides a reflection of your sofa’s outer shape – easy for the eye, as well as for those sitting down who can squeeze past your knees  to go to the bathroom without sending mugs flying.

 

Phew. That’s the big bit done. The rest is pretty straightforward. Read on for more tips…


Step 2: Nailing the size

 

 

Width

As above, your table width should be between 50% and 70% the width of your couch’s seating space (and the non-longue bit on chaise longue sofas). This doesn’t include arms. This is so the two pieces “mesh” well together. A huge sofa with a delicate-sized table would look out of place and make the sofa seem overbearing.

 

So, if you’re lucky enough to own Swoon’s bestselling Porto sofa which comes in at a generous 178cm for seating width, you’re looking at a coffee table with a width somewhere between 89cm and 124cm. The Stellar table by Atkin & Thyme is a gorgeous option.

 

 

Height

As a general rule, your coffee table should reach the same height as your seat cushions – or up to 5cm lower and 3cm higher.

 

If you frequently host at home, we’d recommend opting for a steady and high table (ergo, a high sofa), so guests can pop their glasses down easily without leaning over and risking spilling wine on your new rug.

That said, how you decorate your home is up to you – and rules were made to be broken!


Step 3: Establishing the perfect placement

 

 

…and we don’t mean internships. Finding the perfect spot for your coffee table depends on so many factors:

 

Do you have a TV?

Is the sofa against the wall or in the middle of the room?

Is the living room an independent room or part of a larger space, eg. a studio loft?

 

We could go on. But the main prerequisite is that your coffee table doesn’t interrupt the natural flow of movement, or make you walk the long way to get to where you need to be (curled up on the sofa, if you’re us).

 

Here are the key measurements to bear in mind:

 

  • 40cm- 60cm  between sofa edge and table
  • 75cm – 150 cm between table and media unit/TV
  • 85cm – 150 cm  of walkway between other pieces of furniture

Step 4: Deciding on a type

 

 

 

The final decision is what style of table you need, love and can afford:

 

Are you constantly clearing clutter and running out of space? Pick a coffee table with built-in, hidden storage – like drawers, a shelf below the tabletop, a tabletop which slides up to reveal space within or a trunk-turned-table.

 

And when storage isn’t your priority but a sleek, ready set-up is, go for glass or metal. These contemporary and industrial styles are timeless – though not always child-friendly!

 

Looking to showcase your eye for design? Choose a table with just one stand-out feature – like a graphic marble or metal base, or solid brass strips inlaid across the entire tabletop.


For more table inspiration and styling tips, read our blog on how to use surfaces in the living room.

 

And, if you’re still unsure about what sizes and shapes will work in your living room, simply download our app to trial a range of designs in a 3D mock-up of your space.