A lip edge or tray top on a coffee table is always a smart choice if you have a tendency to spill your coffee or have kids that will be using the coffee table for snacks and drinks. They’re also good if you entertain often and don’t want to worry about red wine getting spilled on your carpet. Coffee tables should be the same height as the surrounding seating with 18 inches being a good average (although it will depend on your furniture). If you select a coffee table with a lip make sure the lip isn’t higher than the adjacent seating or you’ll end up hitting your drink against the lip when you try to set it down. The idea is to put your drink down not up.
Keep an upholstered ottoman 18 inches from a sofa or chair so you can easily put up your feet and make sure the height is consistent with the surrounding seats. If you get a tufted ottoman consider the depth of the tufts — especially if you expect to eat on it. Crumbs will find their way into the tufting and are not always easy to get out. Round coffee tables aid circulation especially where there are many available seats as in this example. If not every seat can reach the table make sure there’s another surface at hand. Using a vintage object for a coffee table adds a bit of history — a story — to a room and is one of my favorite things to do. Make sure the piece is stable and all the connections are secure. If you need to refinish the piece ask the vendor precisely what it’s made from as this will help in the refinishing process. Another consideration is how it will sit on your floor or rug and if it will damage those surfaces. Splintered table legs or rusty metal bases can scratch or stain the flooring. Secondhand stores sometimes leave those areas unrefinished so be sure to check.
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