Coffee Tables

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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Coffee Table

A coffee table is more than just a place to put your drinks or magazines; it’s a central piece of your living room decor. Whether you’re hosting friends, enjoying a quiet evening, or just looking for a place to set your remote control, a coffee table can enhance both the functionality and aesthetic of your space. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about coffee tables, from types and benefits to buying guides and care tips, specifically tailored for UK residents.

Types of Coffee Tables

Coffee tables come in a wide variety of styles and designs. Here are some of the most popular types:

  • Traditional Coffee Tables: These are usually made of wood and feature classic design elements like carved legs and ornate details. They are ideal for rooms with a more formal or traditional decor.
  • Modern Coffee Tables: Featuring clean lines, minimalist designs, and materials like glass and metal, modern coffee tables are perfect for contemporary living spaces.
  • Lift-Top Coffee Tables: These tables have a top that can be lifted to create a higher surface, making them ideal for working or dining in the living room.
  • Nesting Coffee Tables: Comprising two or more tables that can be stacked together or used separately, nesting tables are great for small spaces as they offer versatility and additional surface area when needed.
  • Storage Coffee Tables: These tables include built-in storage options such as drawers, shelves, or hidden compartments, making them perfect for keeping your living room tidy.
  • Ottoman Coffee Tables: Often upholstered and featuring a cushioned top, these tables can double as extra seating or a footrest. They are great for creating a cozy, multi-functional space.

Benefits of Having a Coffee Table

Investing in a coffee table offers several advantages:

  • Functionality: A coffee table provides a convenient surface for drinks, snacks, books, and decorative items, enhancing the usability of your living space.
  • Storage: Many coffee tables come with built-in storage options, helping to keep your living room organized and clutter-free.
  • Style: A well-chosen coffee table can tie together the decor of your living room, adding a stylish focal point that reflects your personal taste.
  • Versatility: Certain coffee tables, like lift-top or nesting tables, offer versatile solutions that can adapt to different activities, from working to entertaining.
  • Comfort: Ottoman coffee tables add a layer of comfort, providing additional seating or a place to rest your feet.

Key Considerations When Buying a Coffee Table

When selecting a coffee table, consider the following factors to ensure it meets your needs:

  • Size: Measure the available space in your living room to ensure the coffee table fits comfortably. Consider the height, width, and length in relation to your seating arrangement.
  • Material: Choose a material that complements your room’s decor and meets your lifestyle needs. Options include wood, metal, glass, and upholstered surfaces.
  • Shape: The shape of the coffee table should complement your seating arrangement and room layout. Common shapes include rectangular, square, round, and oval.
  • Functionality: Think about how you will use the coffee table. Do you need extra storage, or a lift-top feature for working? Choose a table that meets your specific requirements.
  • Style: Ensure the coffee table matches the style of your existing furniture and decor. Whether you prefer traditional, modern, rustic, or eclectic styles, there are options to suit every taste.
  • Budget: Set a budget before you start shopping. Coffee tables come in a wide price range, so knowing your budget will help narrow down your options.

Coffee Table Buying Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you buy the perfect coffee table:

  • Determine Your Needs: Assess your lifestyle and needs. Consider if you need a table primarily for decorative purposes, storage, or multifunctional use.
  • Measure Your Space: Accurately measure the space where you plan to place the coffee table. Ensure there is enough room to move around it comfortably.
  • Set a Budget: Decide how much you are willing to spend. Coffee tables vary in price, and setting a budget will help you focus on options within your range.
  • Explore Options: Research different types, materials, and styles of coffee tables. Visit furniture stores or browse online retailers to see what’s available.
  • Check Reviews: Read customer reviews and ratings to gauge the quality and functionality of the coffee tables you are considering.
  • Compare Prices: Compare prices across different retailers to ensure you get the best deal. Look for discounts, sales, and special offers.
  • Inspect Quality: If possible, inspect the coffee table in person to check the quality of materials and construction. Ensure it feels sturdy and well-made.
  • Consider Delivery and Assembly: Check the delivery options and whether the retailer offers assembly services. Some coffee tables may require professional assembly.

Pros and Cons of Different Coffee Table Types

Each type of coffee table has its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a closer look:

  • Traditional Coffee Tables:
    • Pros: Timeless appeal, durable materials, adds a classic touch to any room.
    • Cons: May not fit with modern decor, can be bulky.
  • Modern Coffee Tables:
    • Pros: Sleek design, often lightweight, fits well with contemporary decor.
    • Cons: Can be less durable, may require more maintenance (e.g., glass surfaces).
  • Lift-Top Coffee Tables:
    • Pros: Versatile, ideal for working or dining, offers hidden storage.
    • Cons: Can be more expensive, mechanisms may require maintenance.
  • Nesting Coffee Tables:
    • Pros: Space-saving, versatile, can be used separately or together.
    • Cons: Smaller individual tables may not provide enough surface area on their own.
  • Storage Coffee Tables:
    • Pros: Helps keep living room organized, provides extra storage.
    • Cons: Can be bulkier, might be more expensive.
  • Ottoman Coffee Tables:
    • Pros: Multi-functional, adds comfort, can double as seating.
    • Cons: Upholstery may require more maintenance, not as sturdy for holding heavy items.

Usage Tips for Your Coffee Table

Maximize the functionality and lifespan of your coffee table with these tips:

  • Use Coasters: Protect the surface from water rings and stains by always using coasters for drinks.
  • Keep It Clean: Regularly dust and wipe down your coffee table to keep it looking its best. Use appropriate cleaners for the material.
  • Decorate Thoughtfully: Use decorative trays, books, and small accessories to style your coffee table without cluttering it.
  • Balance Form and Function: While it’s important for your coffee table to look good, ensure it also meets your practical needs, such as providing enough surface area for everyday items.
  • Avoid Overloading: Do not overload the table with too many heavy items, especially if it has a glass or delicate surface.

Shopping for Coffee Tables Online

Buying a coffee table online offers convenience and a wide range of options, but it requires careful consideration:

  • Read Descriptions Carefully: Ensure you understand the dimensions, materials, and features of the coffee table. Pay attention to details such as assembly requirements.
  • Check Reviews: Look at customer reviews and ratings to gauge the quality and reliability of the product and the seller.
  • Compare Prices: Use comparison tools and websites to find the best deals. Don’t forget to factor in delivery costs.
  • Verify Return Policies: Make sure the retailer has a reasonable return policy in case the coffee table doesn’t meet your expectations.
  • Look for Discounts: Take advantage of sales events, discount codes, and promotions to save money on your purchase.

Coffee Table Reviews

Before making a purchase, it’s helpful to read reviews from other buyers. Here are some aspects to consider when evaluating reviews:

  • Quality of Materials: Check if reviewers mention the sturdiness and durability of the coffee table.
  • Ease of Assembly: Look for comments on how easy or difficult the coffee table is to assemble. Some might come with challenging instructions or missing parts.
  • Customer Service: Consider feedback on the retailer’s customer service, especially if there were any issues with delivery or returns.
  • Value for Money: Evaluate whether reviewers felt the coffee table was worth the price they paid.
  • Overall Satisfaction: Look for general satisfaction levels. A high number of positive reviews usually indicates a reliable product.

Prices and Discounts

Coffee table prices in the UK can vary widely depending on size, material, and brand:

  • Budget Coffee Tables: Starting from around £30 for basic models made from MDF or metal.
  • Mid-Range Coffee Tables: Prices range from £100 to £300, offering better materials and more storage options.
  • High-End Coffee Tables: Luxury and designer coffee tables can cost upwards of £500, often featuring premium materials and unique designs.

To save money, look for seasonal sales, sign up for newsletters from furniture stores for exclusive discounts, and use price comparison websites. Don’t forget to check for discount codes on voucher sites before making your purchase.

Choosing the Right Coffee Table

Selecting the right coffee table depends on your personal needs and the specifics of your space:

  • Evaluate Your Space: Consider the size and layout of your living room. Measure the area where you plan to place the coffee table to ensure it fits well.
  • Define Your Style: Match the coffee table style to your room decor. Modern rooms may benefit from sleek glass tables, while traditional settings might prefer wooden tables with ornate details.
  • Assess Storage Needs: Determine if you need a table with storage options such as drawers or shelves to keep your living room organized.
  • Consider Future Needs: Think about potential future changes, such as moving to a different home or changing your room’s layout, and choose a coffee table that can adapt to these changes.

Caring for Your Coffee Table

Proper maintenance can extend the life of your coffee table:

  • Regular Cleaning: Dust and wipe down the surface regularly to prevent dust build-up and maintain its appearance.
  • Avoid Moisture: Use coasters and wipe up spills immediately to prevent water damage, especially on wooden or upholstered surfaces.
  • Protect from Heat: Use heat-resistant pads or trivets under hot items to prevent heat damage.
  • Check for Repairs: Periodically check for any loose screws, wobbly legs, or other issues and fix them promptly to avoid further damage.
  • Use Furniture Polish: For wooden tables, use furniture polish to maintain the finish and protect the wood.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What size coffee table should I get for my living room?As a general rule, your coffee table should be about two-thirds the length of your sofa. Ensure there’s enough space around it for movement, typically leaving about 18 inches between the table and seating.
  • How do I choose a coffee table that matches my decor?Consider the style, colour, and material of your existing furniture. For a cohesive look, match the coffee table with other pieces in your room, or choose a statement piece that complements your decor.
  • Are glass coffee tables safe?Glass coffee tables are generally safe but can be a concern in homes with young children. Look for tempered glass options, which are stronger and safer, and consider rounded edges to reduce the risk of injury.
  • How do I maintain a wooden coffee table?Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe the surface regularly. Avoid placing hot or wet items directly on the wood, and use coasters to protect from stains. Periodically apply furniture polish to keep the wood in good condition.
  • Can I use a coffee table as extra seating?Yes, some coffee tables, especially ottoman styles, can double as extra seating. Ensure it is sturdy enough to support the weight and consider the comfort of the surface for sitting.


Choosing the right coffee table is an essential part of creating a functional and stylish living room. By considering the type, size, material, and style of the coffee table, you can find the perfect piece that meets your needs and complements your decor. Whether you prefer the elegance of a traditional wooden table, the sleek look of a modern glass table, or the versatility of a lift-top or storage table, there are options available to suit every taste and budget. Remember to read reviews, compare prices, and take advantage of discounts to make the best purchase. With proper care, your coffee table can serve you well for many years, enhancing both the functionality and aesthetic of your living space.

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