Question: when is a table more than a table? Answer: when it’s the center of attraction. Tables are way more than a handy place to keep your used coffee mugs and newspapers; they’re a focal point that can pull the look of your living together like nothing else. That’s when they’re done properly, of course. When they’re done badly, the more cups, papers, and other detritus you can use to conceal the horror beneath, the better. But what should you consider when you’re choosing a living room center table? Are there any materials you should watch out for in particular? Any to avoid? And what about the style? Does a square table beat a round one, or is a trendy triangle the way to go? Find out the answers (and more besides) as we take you through our guide to choosing a living room center table.
Regardless of how pretty it is, a table whose size doesn’t match its surroundings is going to look, well…. odd. As livspace.com notes, a center table essentially works to ‘anchor’ a room by filling the gap created by the rest of the furniture. A tiny table in a huge room will look lost. A huge table in a tiny room will look overbearing. Take a good long look at your room and assess how your current furniture is arranged.
Measure out (by eye or with a measuring tape, whatever works for you) exactly what size table is going to fit best. As a general rule of thumb, something that’s around 2/3rds the size of your sofa will hit the right note, while in terms of positioning, take wayfair.com’s advice and leave a space of around 12- 18 inches between the table and the sofa, and 24 inches to 30 inches between the table and the TV stand, fireplace, or other fixtures and fittings.
While we’re on the subject of size, it’s worth pointing out we aren’t just referring to width and length. The height of a table can make a huge difference to its overall look (not to mention function). If the table’s too high or too low, you’re soon going to regret having paid more attention to its glossy finish than to its dimensions. To keep things balanced, opt for a table that’s either the same height as your sofa cushions, or no more than 2 inches lower.
Create a Sense of Balance
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating the perfect living room. No two people are the same, and no one should feel obligated to follow someone’s else arbitrary rules about taste and style in their own home. That said, there are certain things we all want (and need) in our homes – balance being one of them. To stop your living room feeling off-key, look for a table that will balance out your existing pieces. As mydomaine.com notes, if your sofa’s short, squat, and almost completely level with the floor, look for a table that’s slender and a little leggy. Conversely, if your sofa has the legs of a supermodel, look for a solid table with either no legs or short, chunky ones.
Think About Your Needs
Some people might want a table to hold their TV remotes. Others might want one to stow away their clutter. There’s no point buying a dinky little round table if you plan on using it for board games, or if your kid wants to use it to draw on. Equally, a delicate glass-fronted affair might not be your best bet if you’re looking for a sturdy storage place. Consider exactly what you need and buy to suit.
Consider the Style of the Room
A center table is designed to anchor a room, to pull disparate pieces of furniture together to create a harmonious whole. But it’s not going to do that if its style doesn’t complement the rest of the room. If you’ve styled your living area in a traditional, classical way, a futuristic, sculptural glass table is going to look completely off-key. On the other hand, an elaborate, wooden affair from the 19th century has no place in your sleekly modern, minimalist living room. Consider the textures, colors, and overall style you’ve used elsewhere in the room, then choose a table that’ll fit in with ease.
Look Beyond Wood
A wooden table is a classic, unquestionably. But don’t feel restricted to wood if it doesn’t suit your sense of style… and avoid it altogether if you have a mid-tone colored wooden floor. There are so many types of material available, it’d be hard to list them all. Some of the most popular choices you might like to consider include marble, travertine, Lucite, and glass (although remember to avoid glass and anything with sharp edges if you have kids or are particularly clumsy).
Be Happy to Make a Statement
If you’re the shy, retiring type, you’re going to need to get used to the fact that be adding a center table to your room, you’re making a statement. What kind of statement is up to you and your choice of materials, color, and so on, but it’s going to be a statement nonetheless. “I can’t say that a coffee table is ‘discrete.’ Even when you get a self-assembled IKEA coffee table, it can make a statement,” interior designer and CEO of KMW Interiors Kita Williams tells NBC News. “Anyone coming into your living room is going to have some kind of view or interaction with your furniture,” she adds, “no matter what or where it comes from. What may seem discreet or nondescript in your mind will always create a conscious and subconscious impression on your guest (and even you) when you engage with it in any way.”
A center table can make a big impact, no matter how small it is. Choose your material, size, and style wisely, and not only will you be introducing a very functional piece of kit to your room, you’ll also be adding a gorgeous focal point that’ll tie the rest of your room together perfectly.