Living Rooms & Coffee Tables….Is it a requirement?

Coffee tables can confuse and confound. Should they be higher then the sofa seat, lower; big or small…what??

A Wisely Designed space – living room or not – has to start with an honest assessment of desired function – in combination with a reverent nod to architecture. When I design for clients who are dealing with space pressed rooms – like those that city dwellers often deal with, the challenge is sometimes simply an issue of good placement and correct shape.

Here are some great Coffee Table Tips for Wisely Designed Living Rooms (and Family Rooms & Sitting Rooms…etc) in answer to the age old question:
To Coffee Table or Not to Coffee Table:

1) All upholstery increases in comfort factor when there is a place very near it upon which to place a drink – or your foot. (just don’t kick your drink. You need horizontal surfaces near seating.

2) Coffee Tables tend to create a cozier feeling for those seated behind it due to the subtle enclosure they provide to those seated ‘behind’ it.

3) If space is at issue, as a designer, I will do very small square ‘moveable’ coffee table that reaches perhaps to only 1/2 of an apartment sized sofa or love seat. Accessorized well, the look can be striking. My client can move the coffee table around as needed – to include from one side of the sofa to the other.

4) If space is at issue and you DO NOT trust yourself to be able to pull off the “deliberately undersized coffee table” – here’s a sure winner anyone can pull off: An oval shaped glass topped coffee table. They are not easy to find so you may need to have the glass cut. The point is – the glass will fall away visually – and that oval shape is far more forgiving in compact spaces than a rectangle would be with all its jutting corners.

5) Ottomans can double as coffee tables so don’t discount these. I’m working on a delicious and small sitting room in which we have done a small upholstered round ottoman that will do double duty as foot perch and coffee table.

6) If the coffee table must disappear – then end tables and side are tables are a must.

The problem with sitting around in an upholstered seating arrangement that lacks a coffee table is this: Coffee tables anchor the seating arrangement , provide great function and also provide a sense of comforting enclosure. Without them – you and your guests risk sitting around in a circle and feeling like you’re in a dental office waiting room. Or group therapy. Plus…where do you put the bruschetta you’re serving?

In the end, Architecture Trumps All. If space is limited or cut oddly due to a requisite foot path – nix the coffee table and put your coffee mug on the side table but in this case, do opt for deep cozy upholstery.