Choosing this small but useful piece of furniture can be tricky. James Treble shares his tips.
James Treble advises how to choose a coffee table.
A COFFEE TABLE IS MORE than just a spot to put a cup of coffee – it’s also a resting place for reading material, trinkets, even feet – and a design element in a room. Thought to have originated in Britain in the 1870s and influenced by the popularity of the Anglo-Japanese furniture style, the low coffee table is now standard in almost every home. But with so many options available, deciding which style and design will work best can be confusing. Here are my tips to help you choose the right coffee table for your living room.
1 SIZE MATTERS
It’s important to find the right sized coffee table – you don’t want to have to reach too far for that glass of wine or have such a large table that your guests have to squeeze past each other to get around the room.
There are many table options that will make a design statement, however often a striking long, low table or an interesting odd shape doesn’t work in more conventional living areas. Scale is always important in any room, so the table’s shape should be considered, and should relate to the furniture around it. The most common shape is probably a rectangle, as this works well placed in front of a long sofa or between two opposite-facing sofas. The length should be between half and two-thirds the length of your sofa to provide easy access and not swamp the furniture.
2 RIGHT ON STYLE
When putting a room together, I suggest creating a lookbook so you always have a guide to refer to when
selecting each piece. This way you can ensure your completed room looks consistent. But remember, these images are only a guide, so be creative and make your own look, rather than copying others.
For inspiration, look to the furniture in the room, as well as the artwork, flooring and accessories. If you have a wooden floor, a metallic table can add contrast and a little bit of bling. If you have tiled floors, a timber table can add visual warmth and help remove any echoes in the room.
The materials should also be in harmony with the rest of the room.
If you’re creating a coastal feel, a wicker table may fit the bill. If you are going for a bit of Hollywood glamour, perhaps glass and chrome is the best choice. Remember that each piece should complement the others so that together they create a look, rather than having one huge statement piece which may date and overwhelm every other item in the room.
3 TABLE ALTERNATIVES
There are many functional and conventional coffee tables to choose from but, depending on your desired function, the coffee table doesn’t
have to be a table. Why not use an old steamer trunk? It can become a conversation piece, as well as providing storage space.
If you are trying to create a slightly industrial feel, source an old timber barrel and have some glass cut for the top. Or you could use an old work trolley with wheels, which can easily be moved around the room when it’s time to party.
Another popular option is to use an ottoman. The padded top is a great place to put your feet and you can always place a decorative tray on top when you need a harder flat surface for drinks or food. When you have extra guests, you can use a selection of smaller ottomans or stools, which can easily be moved around the room in endless configurations. They’re also great for a large family so everyone can have their own table when it’s dinnertime or movie night.
4 EXTRA STORAGE
If you’re short on space and storage, having extra room inside
your coffee table is a great idea. It allows you to have a functional surface for decorative items, drinks and food, and space inside to store items not needed every day. Look for a table with large, deep drawers or one with space underneath. You can then place decorative storage baskets in woven seagrass or cane underneath, which look interesting and still provide storage.
Old suitcases are another option: stack two or three on top of each other to create storage and make a piece of your family’s history a part of your home.
Many ottomans have lift-up seats or lids, which provide plenty of space to pack things away. These are also a great way to add pattern and colour, which you can then use to highlight designs in your cushions or the colours in an artwork.
There are many options for coffee tables, so be creative and think outside the box!
The perfect fit Scale and shape are important considerations.
INDUSTRIAL EDGE Wood and metal coffee table in Black, $35, from Kmart. SPARE SEAT Handle ottoman in Dove/Tan, $149, from Freedom.
METALLIC MAGIC Honeycomb mesh coffee table in Gold, $399, from Freedom. SOLID WOOD Hemnes coffee table in Black-Brown, $199, from Ikea.
In keeping Look for a colour and style to suit existing furnishings.
Wheelie good A mobile version is both versatile and practical.