There are many things you need to consider when choosing a coffee table. Of course, you should pay attention to the size of the coffee table. If you’re going to purchase a coffee table for your living room, the first thing you need to do is measure your space.

A coffee table typically has a height of at most 18 inches. On the other hand, the length of the coffee table should approximately be two-thirds the length of your sofa. Depending on your space and existing furniture, a coffee table could improve your living room’s function and flow, especially when you find the perfect one.

The 18-inch Rule

When choosing the right coffee table for your living room, a good rule of thumb is the 18-inch rule. According to Mitchell Putlack, a Chicago interior designer, the coffee table should be placed 18” from the sofa or chairs. The 18-inch rule can help you determine the shape of the table to get.

Putlack recommends a round table for small spaces. According to him, you can break the 18-inch rule because the edge of the sofa and the edge of a round table exists at only one point. A round table can be placed as closes as 12” to the couch.

On the other hand, square tables are appropriate for a living room with a sofa and chairs or a sectional sofa. 

Pay Attention to the Height

Typically, the height of a coffee table ranges from 16” to 18”, which relatively matches a standard sofa’s height. A traditional sofa seat usually stands 17” to 18” from the floor to the cushion’s top. Of course, the taller the sofa, the taller the coffee table can be. The same rule applies to shorter sofas and coffee tables.

A good coffee table should be long enough to be reached by everyone seated on the sofa. It shouldn’t be higher than 4” or lower than the top of your sofa’s seat cushions. To avoid awkward visuals like having a coffee table too high or too low relative to your couch, you can use the 4-inch rule.

However, although these rules can be useful, you should still choose the coffee table that matches your sofa well. The coffee table could be the same height as your sofa or 1” to 2” lower.

The Width of the Coffee Table Matters

Besides the height, you should also consider the coffee table’s width and depth when purchasing one.

The first step to choosing your coffee table’s width is determining where you’ll be placing it. Experts recommend leaving around 12” to 18” of space for easy movement. For comfortable foot traffic, the coffee table can be set 30” from other furniture. 

Placement and Proportions Important

If you’re going to place the coffee table with other furniture pieces, it’s recommended to leave a space of at least 30” if your living room allows. If not, an area of at least 18” can be used. You can follow these rules to avoid overcrowding in your living room.

Aside from the placement of the coffee table, another factor to consider is its weightiness. The coffee table should complement your existing furniture to allow for proportion and balance. If your sofa has tall and skinny legs, choose a table that has shorter and chunkier legs. On the other hand, if your sofa has no visible legs, a table with higher and skinnier legs would compliment it. 

Two Is Better Than One

Although one coffee table can be enough depending on your living room’s size, using two tables can improve your living room’s overall function and flow.

According to Mitchell Putlack, two smaller tables can work better than just one if you have a “narrow space and a really long sofa.” Additionally, two tables can also be used as night tables. 

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