Sofas get all the living room glory, and sure they keep us comfortable. But the coffee table is the workhorse of the living room. It holds our drinks, remote controls, beloved tech devices, treasured trinkets, and, for better or worse, our take-out dinners at the end of a long day. With such a big, diverse job, we’d speculate that it would be one of the first furniture pieces you thought about when moving into a new place and/or re-decorating … except it’s usually not. So, you might need some guidance or inspiration in the coffee table shopping. It might feel like a shot in the dark, but fear not, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a shopping guide with a few rules to keep in mind when choosing a coffee table.

Consider the Space

The ideal distance from the edge of the sofa to the edge of the table is 45 cm —close enough to reach for your drink or put a magazine down, but far enough to stretch out your legs. People often leave too much or not enough room. If you have other seats in the room that you want to reach the coffee table, follow the same 45 cm rule.

Leave Some Room

Think about your room’s main passageway, and leave at least 75 cm from the outer edge of the coffee table to the TV stand or media cabinet. If you have a narrow room, you can get away with 60 cm.

Think Height

A coffee table's height is key. The surface should be the same height as the seat of your sofa or lower, so it's easy for guests to set down their dessert plate or cut a piece of cheese.

Balance Your Style

Strike a balance between your sofa and coffee table styles. If you have a plush, solid-color couch, try a glass table on a brass frame. If your couch is slim and more streamlined, you're fine with a chunkier table, maybe one with a thick wood top and solid base.
While you can, of course, go with whatever shape and size you like, to have an ideal relationship between your coffee table and sofa, you must pay attention to your seating configuration more than anything else.
  • A rectangular or oval coffee table works well for smaller rooms.
  • A rectangular or oval coffee table works well for smaller rooms.
  • Squares or round coffee tables are good for large seating configurations, such as large sectionals or a large sofa and love seat.
  • Round or oval tables are useful around children because of the absence of sharp corners.
  • Consider scale as well as actual measurements when selecting a size. Select a coffee table or a set of tables that is no more than two-thirds of your sofa's total length. An important thing to remember is to leave enough space around the coffee table for leg space.
Here’s a quick graphic by Emily Henderson to show you a breakdown of ideal shapes by sofa configuration:
Even designers have a tough time choosing the right coffee table because the options seem endless to pick from just the right one to fill the gap, but we’re here to help.
Discover more about DE.CI Coffee Tables Here.