Choosing the Right Coffee Table

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What good is an attractive seating area, if it is underused and uncomfortable?

Whether you are looking to make a fashion statement and entertain guests with glitz and glamour or aiming to customize a cozy den for snoozing and relaxing—your furnishings should work together and be designed for comfort.

Regardless of style, start with the basics. Answer these 5 questions to find the perfect coffee table for your space.

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HOW WILL IT BE USED?

Your coffee table needs to be just as functional as it is stylish. Are you tight on space? Adding a coffee table with drawers or a shelf for additional storage would benefit your living area. Maybe you prefer to have a place to display your favorite accessories or a table that serves double-duty as a footrest. Identifying your needs and determining how the table will be used will help narrow down the selection.

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WHAT SIZE IS BEST?

Sometimes it can be difficult to visualize a space and determine how big or small your coffee table should be. A good rule of thumb is to allow 18 inches between the seating and the edge of the table. You should also consider the height of the table as it should be 1 to 2 inches lower than the seat of the sofa or chair.

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DOES IT NEED TO BE BABY FRIENDLY?

Do you have children or grandchildren crawling around your house? If so, choose a round or oval table with gentle edges in rooms where toddlers will be roaming.  Also, think about wood versus glass. Wood and porous surfaces may stain with spills, but glass shows fingerprints and smudges. You may opt for a finished stone or a synthetic tabletop that requires less maintenance to keep clean.

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DO YOU WANT TO COVER OR SHOWCASE THE RUG?

A glass-top table provides an open flow and unobstructed floor view, while a wood or stone tabletop surface may add dimension and serve as a unifying piece in your design scheme.

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DOES IT NEED TO BE EASILY MOVED?

Is your table in front of a sleeper sofa or in an area that also serves as a place to exercise?  You may want to consider buying a coffee table on wheels or two smaller lightweight coffee tables. Delray Beach Magazine suggests going for a group of small tables for areas like this:

A group of small tables can perform as well as a large single table, plus they provide flexibility in placement—ideal for small spaces.  Many manufacturers offer bunching and nesting tables to serve this purpose.

Large rooms require a furniture piece to anchor the space.  However, in smaller rooms, heavy coffee tables may overpower the room.  Know your needs then consider not only the scale of the table, but also its material’s effect.  Coffee tables with stone, iron and wood are heavier both physically and visually.  Glass and delicate metals, conversely, appear light and airy.

Delray Beach Magazine also suggests avoiding clutter:

Cover a coffee table with too many accessories, and there will be no functional surface to spontaneously place magazines, plates or beverages.  Overworked displays also clutter decors and hide a beautiful table surface.

Your coffee table may be the hardest working piece of furniture in your home. Serving as the catch-all for everything from magazines and remote controls to cocktails and stocking feet, make sure you choose the right coffee table for your needs and space.

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