Published at Wednesday, July 31st 2019, 09:19:46 AM. Coffee Table. By Fredda Ostermann.
Wanted: the perfect spot for a stack of books, a casual dinner, or your tired feet. Here, how to find the multitasker of your dreams.
#1 SizeBefore setting foot in a store, consider proportion: You don't want a piece that dwarfs its surroundings or vice versa.
If you're thinking of a classic oblong table, go with one that's half the couch's length or shorter (usually 44 to 48 inches) and about 22 to 30 inches wide.
The oversize square is fashionable these days, however whether you select that or a rectangle, make sure there are two to three feet between the "piece" and "surrounding furniture", so people could go around easily.
In tight quarters, a round table (with a maximum diameter of 36 inches) might be your best bet, since a circle is less difficult to navigate (no sharp corners) and works nicely with both love seats and L‐shaped sectionals.
Whatever shape you select, look for a table about the same height as your sofa's seat (typically 18 to 20 inches) to create a strong horizontal line that would help unify the room.
#2 FunctionAs the architectural adage goes, form follows function‐or at least it must. So when deciding which table to buy, ask yourself how you'll use it.
Would it hold your magazine collection? Be your central serving spot at parties? Give a perch for your favorite decorative items?
People who love to entertain must consider circular or elliptical pieces, which guests would naturally gather around. If you need more storage, check out lift tops (great for stashing blankets), Mission tables (with a low shelf for magazines and books), or tables with drawers, like apothecaries (for photo albums).
Glass is the easiest surface to keep clean, if it's one uninterrupted sheet, and some models are sleek showcases for collectibles, protecting them from dust underneath a glass top.
Two warnings: If you have young kids, steer clear of glass tables‐the edges could be dangerous unless set in a frame.
Also be wary of tempered, or safety, glass‐though often less expensive, it's created to shatter when broken, just as a car window does (regular, non‐tempered glass is slightly thicker and isn't labeled).
#3 FormIf you're in the market for a bargain, you may be tempted to buy an under‐$30 particleboard number covered in a veneer.
Also with regular to heavy use (think everything from kids doing school projects to guests sitting down on it), that kind of table would probably scratch and stain; also, any veneer might peel. Better budget choices: treated wicker, reed, or bamboo, which start at $50 and are sturdy enough to hold even the heaviest pile of books.
(Bonus: Investing in sustainable materials like these is a good green move.) If you're looking for a family‐friendly piece that's also a keeper, consider solid wood, which most experts recommend for its durability and versatility.
There are endless styles to select from in a wide range of prices, from $60 for unfinished birch to $2,000 and up for a "white oak stunner" that would last generations.
(For maximum sturdiness, create sure the wood has been cut along the grain, so it runs parallel to the edges, and check that the legs are screwed and glued in, or that they have dovetail joints, where the pieces are cut to fit together without hardware).
Also long lasting, albeit not as warm looking: glass or molded acrylic (e.g., Lucite, Plexiglas), which create the illusion of space; these run from $150 to thousands of dollars for contemporary collectors' items. In truth, a coffee table could be created of anything‐cork, copper, aluminum, driftwood, or even an antique door. What matters most is that it suits your taste.