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.
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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