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.
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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