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Coffee Tables: Choose the Right Size and Shape

An easy guide to understanding coffee tables. Plus 32 budget friendly options under $300!

Coffee tables come in so many shapes and finishes it’s hard to know what to choose.

Do you have a hard time narrowing down the wide variety of choices? 

Here I’ll teach you the basics for how to select the perfect shaped coffee table and decide if round, square, or rectangular is right for your room.

Plus do it on a $300 or under budget! Have fun shopping for your new coffee table. 

Coffee Table Styles

When you look at your living or family room, what do you think will complement the space the best.

Do you want a modern clean look, industrial, farmhouse, or traditional.

Really look at your current or planned style to see what will work best.

There are a ton of different styles of coffee tables in a variety of materials. 

Different types of Materials:

  • Wood
  • Marble or stone 
  • Mirrored 
  • Glass or acrylic
  • Upholstered
  • Woven
  • Natural materials (like cork)

Side note: upholstered coffee tables in fabric or leather look amazing, but aren’t the most practical since they are hard to clean. You also have to use a tray for drinks, so they are limited in their use.

Also think through how durable you need the top to be.

Do you need it to be cleanable or do you want to put your feet up on the table.

Can it handle people who don’t or won’t use a coaster?

My previous coffee table had a wood top and it took a beating! Here is a similar looking coffee table.

rectangular-coffee-table-sofa-living-room
Click here for coffee table source

We used it without concern and propped up our feet, ate on it, and I would lay on the sofa and set my drink in the corner every night. 

The finish wore off, chipped and eventually it ended up with a bunch of college kids LOL!

When I went to replace my old coffee table, I looked for different qualities this time.

Plus didn’t just focus on getting a good looking table.

Qualities to look for:

  1. Will the top be durable?
  2. Is it cleanable?
  3. Does it fit with my decor? 

This time I chose not only a beautiful coffee table, but one that was WAY more durable.

The white lacquered top completely changed the space and I can spray it down to clean – perfect!

If you are putting the coffee table in a room that doesn’t get a ton of use, then you can just think through getting one that looks good. 

family-room-armoire-pottery-barn-york-slope-arm-sofas

Post contains hand selected products, with affiliate marketing links throughout {full disclosure here} 

Shop the Room

Choosing a Coffee Table Finish

Next, think about what kind of finish you want the coffee table to have.

Does the finish coordinate with the rest of your furniture?

I’m a BIG fan of mixing a variety of finishes in a room.

You can mix painted and stained or stained and metallic easily for a visually interesting look.

Or think about mixing in woven or natural material coffee tables. 

rectangular-coffee-table
Click here for coffee table source

Typical Furniture finishes:

  • Stained
  • Painted
  • Metallic
  • Weathered

There are so many options, so you need to narrow down your choice by deciding what look you want to achieve.

Really think through now how it should look.

Do you want the coffee table to match the existing finishes in the room (like I did).

Pin It for Later!

right-size-shape-coffee-tables-under-300

Do you want it to be a statement piece that anchors the room?

Should the finish add some interest or do you want the coffee table to match the rest of the accent furniture?

For instance, if everything is paint get a painted coffee table or if everything is stained look for a coffee table that is predominately stained. 

square-coffee-table-sectional-sofa
Click here for similar coffee table

How-to Choose the Right Shape and Size Coffee Table

Last, but not least you will need to think about your living space and the shape of the coffee table you need.

In particular, you should make the coffee table accessible to everyone sitting around it.

That way they can easily reach the table and set down a drink or plate.

How-to determine the right size

  • Coffee tables should be no longer than 2/3 the length of your sofa
  • Leg room should be around 1.5 feet between the coffee table and your seating 

Furniture Arrangement by Shape

  • Oval or rectangular coffee tables are best in smaller rooms or in rooms with 2 identical sofas facing each other
  • Square or round coffee tables work well with sectional sofas or large furniture groupings 

Let’s look at some layouts get an idea of how the furniture can be arranged with the various shapes of coffee tables.

My main reason in showing you these layouts is to show you scale and the distance between furniture.

Two Sofas and a Rectangular Coffee Table

Furniture Layout 2 Sofas Rectangular Coffee Table

Having a rectangular table that is a little larger is perfect for this furniture layout with sofas directly across from each other and a chair at the end. 

Everyone in the room has access to using the coffee table, so they can prop up their feet or set down a drink. 

Sectional Sofa, Two Chairs, and a Round Coffee Table

Furniture layout round coffee table sectional sofa and 2 chairs

Click here for coffee table source

Many people have sectional sofas and get confused by what shape table will look best.

The best approach with a sectional sofa is to focus on tucking the coffee table into the L shaped area.

Both a round or square table fit nicely in that space, if you have a shorter sectional like I show above. 

If the “sofa” part of the sectional has 3 cushions and is longer, then an oversized rectangular coffee table may be best. 

Deep Sofa, Two Deep Chairs, and a Large Square Coffee Table

Furniture layout large square coffee table sofa and 2 chairs

In this layout, both the sofa and chairs are really deep at 44 inches.

Oversized furniture in larger rooms coffee tables have to be dealt with differently.

When furniture is deep and large filling up the room, the coffee table will have to match the other pieces.

An oversized square coffee table looks amazing in a space like this!

Tip: BEFORE looking for a coffee table, make sure to write down the measurements of the room. Draw a basic furniture plan on paper ore graph paper to refer to as you shop…especially online!

Before You buy: 

  • Use painters tape on the floor to map out the measurements of the coffee table to make sure it fits.
  • Measure and make sure you have 1.5 ft of space around the coffee table and other furniture
  • Hold up a tape measure to see the height of the table…is it around the same height as your furniture seats?

You will then see if you have enough or too little space between the furniture and the coffee table. 

  • Choose a coffee table that fits with the scale of the room and furniture leaving enough space to walk between the furniture. 
  • Don’t push all of your furniture against the walls, but instead pull pieces together leaving about 1.5ft between the table and seating pieces. 

Is this all starting to make sense now? Hopefully the answer is yes!

Coffee Tables for $300 or Less

Now that you now how to choose a coffee table that will look like a designer found it for you it’s time to go shopping!

I’ll group the coffee tables by shape to make this as easy as possible with a variety of styles from modern, transitional, and traditional design.

Plus a variety of finishes so you can find something that works in your existing space. 

Rectangular Coffee Tables

Round Coffee Tables

Square Coffee Tables

What do you think of all of these choices?

Isn’t it amazing what gorgeous design can be purchased for under $300 and sometimes half of that?

Good luck in your decorating adventures and I hope you find something you love!

Want more decorating ideas? Check out these other posts:

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Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer

Tracey

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8 Comments

  1. Tracey, thanks for the most knowledgeable post on coffee tables. Everything I wanted to know and even beautiful coffee tables to view. Found several I really like and using your guidelines they will work in my space. Thanks again for giving me information I needed and will use.

  2. I have a z Gallerie deep sofa beige color and across from it a white lacquer floating Tv stand. Was thinking to do a round nesting coffee tables in a wood reddish brown wood tone To change up the straightness if that make any sense. It it’s been difficult

  3. I love the diagram you have with the two chairs, deep sofa, and square coffee table. It looks so balanced and symmetrical. My husband and I are wanting to remodel our home and we’re looking at furniture. We’ll have to figure if a setup like that will work with our home. I love the idea of a square coffee table, though.

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