First think about what you need your coffee table to do for you or what your room is missing then pick a table that provides the solution. Before buying a table mark the footprint with painter’s tape so you can see the scale of the piece in the room and how that affects the surrounding furniture. If you have a very large room and a large coffee table you can break up the scale of the table by flanking it with pairs of ottomans or benches as in this example. When there’s a party they can be moved out of the way for better circulation but for everyday use these extra seats help connect the sofa at one end and the pair of chairs at the other end. Be sure to use a pair of ottomans — not just a single one. When you have two sofas or any larger seating arrangement a big coffee table might seem like the obvious solution. But also consider a pair of matching coffee tables. They will keep the focus off one large piece of furniture and let your eye move around the room more easily. One classic coffee table size is 48 by 24 inches so you can plan on that when thinking about your furniture arrangement. A large coffee table is often double that: 48 inches square.
A coffee table does a lot of work. It needs to hold books magazines drinks food — even games on game night. You might want to put your feet up on it or the kids might need a place for coloring. Plus it’s usually smack dab in the middle of the room where you can’t miss it — so make sure it’s a good one. Sculptural wood coffee tables tell their own story and can add a natural element and warmth to a room with multiple upholstered pieces. Sealers and of course coasters can help protect the surface from water damage. Sometimes a coffee table that isn’t the standard height or width is exactly what a room needs. In this instance a very low coffee table creates a crisp horizontal plane in the foreground offsetting the long horizontal line of the credenza in the background. A higher table would have blocked the view of the credenza and competed with it; the varying heights add interest.
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