How to Choose the Right Size & Shape Coffee Table for Your Living Space
November 15, 2021
There are many important elements that make up a cozy and stylish living room design.
After you have chosen a comfortable seating arrangement, whether it be a sofa, sectional, chair, or a combination, the next step is to choose a coffee table.
The coffee table is an essential piece of furniture in the living room as it ties the seating arrangement together while also offering a practical surface to place drinks, snacks, or a good book.
Although necessary, choosing a coffee table isn’t always easy. With so many sizes and shapes to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which coffee table best suits your space.
At La-Z-Boy, we have over 90 years of experience selling quality and comfortable reclining furniture, but our selection goes beyond the iconic recliner chair. Through partnerships with manufacturers such as American Drew, Kincaid, and Hammary we offer a range of occasional tables, including coffee tables, to complete any living room design.
In turn, many of our clients ask us for advice on choosing a coffee table of the right size and shape to complement their living room furniture arrangement.
With expert advice from Zeina Badawi, an interior designer at La-Z-Boy Kanata, this article will outline all the considerations when choosing the right coffee table, including size, shape, material, and placement.
In this article ...
- Coffee Table Size (Width, Height & Length)
- Coffee Table Shape
- Coffee Table Material & Weight
- Coffee Table Placement
Coffee Table Size (Height & Length)
When it comes to the size of your coffee table, first access the scale of your room and the size of your seating, whether it be a sofa, sectional, or chair.
It is a good idea to measure your space and determine how much room you have for a coffee table, prior to beginning your search.
Measuring your space isn’t always easy. Check out the article How to Measure a Room for the Right Furniture to get some helpful tips!
Coffee Table Width
According to Zeina, the ideal coffee table is two-thirds the width of your sofa. Regardless of the shape, she recommends proportioning both pieces under this scale.
Coffee Table Height
Ideally, a coffee table should be the same height or no more than 2-3 inches above or below the sofa seat height. The closer in height, the better!
If the coffee table is too tall or too short, the coffee table will not be practical nor stylish.
Coffee Table Length
It is important to consider your space and the traffic flow of your living room when considering the length of a coffee table. You want to ensure that there is enough space for your family and guests to walk around the coffee table with ease.
As a rule of thumb, leave 17 inches of space from each end of your coffee table.
Coffee Table Shape
Coffee tables are offered in a variety of shapes! Between rectangular, square, round, and oval, it can be tricky to decide which shape best suits your living room.
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to base the shape of your coffee table on the seating arrangement. Certain shapes pair well with specific types of living room seating …
Oval & Rectangular coffee tables pair nicely with sofas.
Round & Square coffee tables look great with sectionals or larger furniture groupings.
Round coffee tables also work well with a sectional with a chaise, a chair, or small furniture groupings.
Keep in mind that these are recommendations, not rules! There are many considerations and possible variations when it comes to choosing the shape of your coffee table in partnership with your seating arrangement.
Rectangular Coffee Tables
A rectangle is the most common shape for coffee tables. It pairs well with traditional, standard-sized sofas and offers lots of surface area for decor or drinks.
Square Coffee Tables
As previously mentioned, a square coffee table pairs nicely with a sectional or large furniture arrangement.
The square nicely fills the empty space in the middle of a sofa with a chair or a sectional configuration.
With this being said, square tables can also be creatively paired with a traditional sofa. While the length and width of one square may appear small and awkward in proportion to the sofa, two squares side-by-side looks great, creating a balanced and cohesive look.
Two squares not only doubles the surface area, but it offers more visual intrigue than a familiar rectangular coffee table.
Round Coffee Tables
Similar to a square coffee table, a round coffee table also works well when paired with a sectional as it fills the space in the middle of the configuration nicely.
In comparison to a square coffee table, the round shape has a more continuous and smooth look to it. Not to mention, a round coffee table lends to smoother traffic flow as nobody has to worry about bumping into sharp edges.
Given that a round coffee table offers less surface area in comparison to a rectangle, you may consider supplementing the seating area with side tables. Further, you may also consider using two round tables, side-by-side, like the squares or two round nesting tables.
In fact, a circle is a versatile shape that you can have fun playing around with. With soft edges, you may even stagger the round tables for a more interesting design and varied walking space. You may even pair one large table with one or two smaller tables.
Oval Coffee Tables
An oval coffee table combines the best characteristics of a round coffee table and a rectangular coffee table.
It is similar to a round coffee table in its organic and continuous shape and similar to a rectangular coffee table as it provides length in surface area.
Like a round table, an oval coffee table works well with a sofa and chaise. It also pairs nicely with a traditional sofa.
Keep in mind that round and oval coffee tables are kid-friendly as they have no sharp edges. In fact, if you have small children who love to be rambunctious around the living room, consider using an upholstered ottoman as a coffee table. An ottoman in leather or La-Z-Boy iClean fabric is not only safe for children but spills and crumbs are easily cleanable.
Abstract/Organic Shaped Coffee Tables
Finally, there are coffee tables on the market that come in abstract shapes made of stone, metal, glass, and wood.
Abstract shapes are great for inspiring movement in the living room design as they give off a dynamic look and sense of fluidity. Not to mention, this type of coffee table can appear quite interesting and add dimension to the room.
Given that abstract shapes come in many different forms, it is difficult to recommend what type of seating arrangement it is best paired with. Simply analyze the size and shape of the coffee table and consider the size and scale in comparison to the sofa.
Coffee Table Material & Weight
Size and shape aside, Zeina says the material and type of coffee table is something to consider as it impacts the proportions of the room, or “weightiness”. In other words, the material and weight of the coffee table should complement the other furniture in the room to make the space feel proportional and balanced, says Zeina.
For example, a retro and narrow sofa should be paired with a coffee table of similar weight and proportion. Something heavy looking, even if it is the right size, will throw off the look and balance of the room.
In contrast, a big, bulky, and plush sofa is best paired with a heavy and sturdy-looking coffee table. A dainty coffee table would look underwhelming next to a sofa of such stature.
Coffee Table Placement
Once you have found a coffee table of the correct size, shape, and material, you must also consider the placement of a coffee table in your space.
Ideally, the coffee table should sit in the center of an area rug, with the seating arrangement placed around it. According to Zeina, this is not always possible, depending on the shape of the room and overall furniture layout.
If the coffee table cannot be placed in the center of the area rug, ensure that the table lives at the center of the conversation area, says Zeina.
As a rule of thumb, there should be 12 to 17 inches between the coffee table and the seating. This creates comfortable legroom and makes it easy to reach for your drink.
For more information on furniture placement, check out 8 Practical Tips for Arranging your Living Room Furniture.
After reading this article, you have all the information you need to choose a coffee table of the right size and shape to perfectly suit your seating arrangement.
Now it is time to start shopping!
At La-Z-Boy, we offer a range of coffee tables in a variety of shapes and sizes.
These coffee tables are sourced from three trusted brands: American Drew, Kincaid, and Hammary. Not only are these coffee tables well-made, but they are also fashion-forward. Made from the highest quality materials, our selection of coffee tables at La-Z-Boy cater to traditional, transitional, and modern interior design styles.
While some of these coffee tables can be admired on the showroom floor, there is much more where that came from! Our design consultants would be happy to help and show you the entire coffee table selection from the American Drew, Kincaid, and Hammary catalogues.
The design consultant can also provide you with detailed information about the products that catch your eye, such as dimensions and material samples.
You may even consider taking advantage of our complimentary design services at La-Z-Boy to ensure that the size, shape, and style of the coffee table you choose fits seamlessly into your space.
We look forward to meeting you and helping you find the perfect coffee table!