Choos­ing this small but use­ful piece of fur­ni­ture can be tricky. James Tre­ble shares his tips.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WITH JAMES TRE­BLE

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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