Photo: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer
Choosing a coffee table, like any piece of furniture that takes center stage in a room, can feel like a daunting task, but there are actually a few simple rules for getting it right. Interior designer Nina Gotlieb points out that it’s helpful to consider the proportions and relative mass of each piece in your living room. “Sometimes, if you have a super-leggy couch, you don’t want a super-leggy coffee table. Or if you have a sofa that’s upholstered all the way to the ground, you don’t want a super-massive coffee table because then everything feels too heavy,” she says. And you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with nontraditional shapes and materials. There are plenty of fun designs out there that range from the tried-and-true (mid-century design, for example, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere) to the unexpected (consider a table with undulating edges) that you can incorporate without turning your living room into a mismatched playhouse. To help you find the coffee table that works best with your budget and your space — whether you want to make it the focus of your room or have it play a more supporting, holding-the-remote-control kind of role — we talked to 15 interior designers about their favorites.
I’ve roughly arranged the tables below by material, starting with wood, which comes in a variety of styles, from contemporary to mid-century modern to more rustic styles. Marble continues to be a popular choice for a tabletop as well, but other stones, like travertine, can give you a more casual feel. There are also plenty of tables that incorporate mixed materials, too, like wood and metal, glass and metal, and wood and marble, adding a bit more texture and dynamism to a piece.
Coffee tables come in a few basic tabletop shapes: round, oval, square, rectangular, or a variation therein. They can stand on four legs (or fewer or more), or have a plinth- or pedestal-type base, or be shaped like a drum. Some come with additional shelving or built-in storage. What you’re looking for will depend on how you want to arrange your space, keeping in mind the scale of your other furniture like sofa and accent chairs.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a good-looking table, but if you’re looking for premium materials, you’ll have to pay up. There are plenty of options in the $500-and-under range here, and I’ve denoted them with $ in the specs. Anything in the $500 to $1000 range will be denoted by $$, and anything above $1000 will be designed by $$$.
Material: Solid wood | Style: Round, nesting | Price: $$
I love how versatile this line of coffee tables from Stockholm-based design studio Hem is. It’s available in three sizes — small, medium, and large — which can be used individually or as a nesting cluster, thanks to the differing heights of each one. It comes recommended by interior designer Penelope August, whose preferred configuration pairs the medium and large size tables (shown here), and who notes they would function well with sectionals, either as a cluster or separately. According to August, “the two overlapping circles work well in L-sofa configurations where a single table always seems too far from one side or the other.” Of course, one (or three of them) could work with a regular sofa as well. Made of solid oak (black and natural finishes) or solid walnut (dark brown finish), they are well priced for the quality of wood you’re getting, August adds. Prices start at $559 for the smallest table.
Material: Solid wood | Style: Tear drop or round | Price: $
Article is a reliable source if you’re looking for quality mid-century-inspired pieces at a reasonable price point, according to Eliza McNabb, a designer at Hyphen. She suggests pairing two tables from its Amoeba line to create tiers — and the ability to reconfigure a space whenever necessary. These are a good option if you want the nesting look — try the round or triangle table with the taller end table — without spending too much money. Like the Hem tables above, they are constructed from solid wood.
Material: Solid wood, metal | Style: Round | Price: $$
If all you want is a single round table, consider this one that Los Angeles–based designer Kate Lester recommends. She likes the sleek Danish-inspired look of the solid-oak tabletop contrasted with the waxed black joinery, which I think gives it a little more edge.
Material: Solid wood, metal | Style: Round, storage | Price: $$
Sometimes you might want a little more from your coffee table, which is why photographer and designer Tommy Lei loves this multipurpose option from Menu that has hidden storage underneath the tabletop. “This sleek interpretation is the perfect balance between form and function,” says Lei. “The turning element is genius — easily stow away books and other knickknacks without having to lift your coffee cup.” Also made of solid oak, it has black chrome braces connecting the trio of thin legs and a matching knob that helps you glide open the tabletop.
Material: Plywood| Style: Round, storage | Price: $
For something slightly cheaper that still incorporates storage, Lei recommends this one from Ikea. “We love a good dupe, and this is as close as we can get to the Menu Turning Table at a fraction of the price,” he says. “You lose the fancy turning function but in return you gain a generous level of storage that is ideal for chunky coffee-table books. I would also use it as snack or blanket storage.” Made of bent plywood, the airy piece has waterfalling legs with rounded edges and a lipped tabletop that keeps small items from falling off the surface. “Priced under $150, this is a definite steal for a well-designed coffee table,” adds Lei.
Material: Solid wood | Style: Curvy | Price: $$
For a rounded coffee table that’s not quite an oval and not quite a circle, consider this one that interior designer Lauren Ashley Allan recommends. “I love the natural, harmonious feel and curved lines,” she says of the table that’s handcrafted in the southwest of France of birchwood for the top and beechwood for the legs. It’s treated with natural oil, giving it a raw-wood look.
Material: Wood | Style: Square, rustic | Price: $$$
For those whose tastes skew more rustic, Seattle-based designer LeeAnn Baker recommends this acacia wood coffee table inspired by classic Spanish design. A parquet-style inlay top pairs with twisted legs that feel like something out of an old villa. She loves how versatile this transitional (i.e., striking a balance between new and old) piece is, and Griffin agrees, noting that its lighter-wood tone mixes well with more traditional, darker-toned pieces.
Material: Reclaimed wood, metal | Style: Rectangular, industrial | Price: $$
“Etsy is a great resource for well-priced, handmade pieces,” says McNabb. She explains that it’s easy to work with vendors to create custom pieces that will fit your space perfectly — a must for those living in city apartments. It’s also a more affordable first step into the custom-made world, since a coffee table won’t be as expensive as a bed or a dining table, for instance. She recommends this industrial coffee table made from reclaimed wood and H-shaped hand-welded steel legs if you’re going for a farmhouse vibe.
Material: Wood, metal | Style: Industrial, storage | Price: $$
I got this table used over ten years ago and it has held up phenomenally. The raw mango finish has only gotten more interesting and camouflages grease, water, and wine stains pretty well, and the lifting storage mechanism is as reliable as ever. We have it in the TV room, and the pop-up tabletop is great for eating or using as a work space when you want to watch something at the same time. And the storage inside is more than ample — we use it for stashing (or hiding) remote controls, paper towels, magazines, and whatever other junk we have lying around. The industrial look has aged pretty decently, too, and can blend into most décor schemes without calling too much attention to itself, in part because of its slender, blackened steel legs. Despite it being, in essence, an empty box, it feels hefty, making it a solid multipurpose option for those looking for a little more functionality in a coffee table.
Material: Solid wood | Style: Rectangular, plinth | Price: $$$
Jenny Xie, content designer and author of shopping newsletter Ode, had her eye on this pedestal style from newish Canadian DTC-furniture brand Sundays for months in 2021, “when furniture prices were soaring amid supply-chain issues. No other coffee table won me over during that time. I liked it on first sight,” she says. “I was looking for something simple that still had a presence. That’s what got me hooked on the idea of a ‘pedestal’ coffee table in general, where there’s a base and the surface overhangs. It comes off as being sculptural.” Made of solid reclaimed oak, it has “exposed dents and nicks,” elements which Xie appreciates and thinks exudes a vibe of being “humble” yet “high-quality.” Now that she’s had it for a year and a half, she loves that it’s “spacious, makes a quiet statement, and has that natural ‘Japandi’ aesthetic that I can’t help but enjoy.”
Material: Solid wood, marble | Style: Rectangular, storage shelf | Price: $$$
Here’s another plinth-y coffee table — but this time with a stone top that incorporates storage. Interior designer Dee Murphy recommends this classic square coffee table for being a “design chameleon” that can be easily styled in a range of aesthetics. The smooth Carrara marble top and a base made from wide planks of solid American ash give the table a contemporary Scandinavian vibe that still feels warm. A low shelf offers additional storage space for all your impeccably curated art books.
Material: Solid wood, marble veneer | Style: Rectangular, storage shelf | Price: $$
This one is topped with Carrara marble veneer which sits on a sleek mid-century-inspired solid wood base that includes a shelf. It comes recommended by Rachel Schwartzmann, founder of the Style Line and CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL, who owns it herself and uses the storage shelf for books.
Material: Metal, marble | Style: | Oval | Price: $$
If you’re going for an “easy Milanese” vibe, sisters Hollister and Porter Hovey of Hovey Design recommend the Secant Table (which is actually designed by Sara Wright Polmar, a Norwegian). They call it “one of the most Italian-looking tables we’ve seen” for its streamlined industrial look and, of course, its “heavily veined” marble top. (You can choose a glass top and a base in a different color, if you please.)
Material: Travertine veneer | Style: Rectangular, plinth | Price: $$$
Victoria Adesanmi, the founder and principal of interior-design studio Aesthetics Studios, loves the fact that this coffee table from CB2, inspired by post-and-lintel construction, has legs, since most don’t, making it a unique option. “We all know marble and travertine are in and here to stay. I love the simplicity of this design,” she says. The oversize piece is covered in a natural travertine veneer and is low to the ground, making it ideal for large sectionals and rooms.
Material: Stone | Style: Round | Price: $$
“For those looking to purchase a price-friendly stone coffee table, this option is perfect,” says Adesanmi of this round table made of volcanic ash, stone, fiberglass, and sand resin from West Elm. “I personally love it and have used it twice for two residential projects. It’s suitable for indoors and outdoors and brings an organic element to any living room.”
Material: Acrylic | Style: Waterfall, rectangular | Price: $
If you’re looking for a coffee table that doesn’t distract from the other furniture in your room, Murphy recommends this curved acrylic number from CB2, which she likes to use in a space “where I feel the eye needs a ‘rest’” — in a room that has a lot of color or pattern, for example, or even in a small space. “The table won’t crowd or compete with the rest of the furniture or décor. It also works well with all design styles,” she says. Plus, it’s a great price.
Material: Metal | Style: Square, removable storage tray, four colors | Price: $
Here’s a straightforward, utilitarian option that Kirsten Grove of We Three Design Studio recommends. It’s a square, powder-coated-steel table designed by Danish collective Hay that features a tray tabletop (all the better for catching your red-wine spills) and a wiry frame. Grove thinks the simple design lends itself to a variety of décor schemes, including Scandinavian and mid-century. Bonus — the tray is removable.
Material: Metal | Style: Round, storage shelf, 17 colors | Price: $
Rayman Boozer of Apartment48 is a fan of this simple steel coffee table and its round, slim profile, which, he says, “subtly allows you to make bold choices with your other furnishings.” I especially appreciate how smooth and stonelike the finish feels. A second shelf provides always-welcome extra storage. Shown here in natural steel, it’s also available in 16 different eye-catching colors.
Material: Metal | Style: Round, drum | Price: $$
Meghan Hackett-Cassidy and Erin Hackett of Bronxville, New York–based Hackett Interiors recommends trying a circular drum table, especially for rooms with sectionals. “Those rooms are usually a little less formal, which is why we gravitate to the drum,” the designers say, adding that this particular one from Crate and Barrel is “substantial and effortless.” The powder-coated hammered-iron surface feels cool and earthy.
Material: Wood veneer | Style: Round, drum | Price: $
Here’s a variation on a drum-style coffee table that Havenly lead designer Toussaint Derby recommends. “The hourglass shape is a cool differentiation,” she says. It’s made of a deep wood and almost looks sculptural, thanks to its cinched silhouette.
Material: Glass, metal | Style: Rectangular, storage shelf | Price: $$$
Tiered brass and glass give this coffee table a hint of glamour. It’s another favorite of the designers at Hackett Interiors, who say that incorporating glass can “elevate the style of a room if you’re looking to create a more formal feeling.” I love those dainty, Frenchy scroll posts.
Material: Glass, metal | Style: Round | Price: $$$
Interior designer Elizabeth Stuart loves this iconic glass-and-steel coffee table from mid-century-modern architect Warren Platner, calling it “design at its best.” First introduced in the ’60s, the table features a base made of curved steel rods and a thick, tempered-glass tabletop. Designer Amee Swarz recommends it for its “airy feeling” and suggests pairing it with a modern sofa or sectional, adding that the top is durable and heat- and scratch-resistant, making it ideal for a family with kids and for entertaining guests.
Material: Wicker | Style: Rectangular | Price: $$
The Hovey sisters “hate sectional sofas with uneven sides,” explaining that they “throw off the symmetry of a room and make coffee-table selections very hard.” To combat that asymmetry, they suggest adding an extra section to the short side with a square coffee table, like this woven-wicker one that can also work as seating or an ottoman.
• Victoria Adesanmi, founder and principal of Aesthetics Studios
• Lauren Ashley Allan, interior designer
• Penelope August, interior designer
• LeeAnn Baker, interior designer
• Rayman Boozer, Apartment48
• Toussaint Derby, Havenly lead designer
• Nina Gotlieb, interior designer
• Kirsten Grove, We Three Design Studio
• Meghan Hackett-Cassidy and Erin Hackett, Hackett Interiors
• Hollister and Porter Hovey, Hovey Design
• Tommy Lei, photographer and designer
• Kate Lester, interior designer
• Eliza McNabb, Hyphen
• Dee Murphy, interior designer
• Rachel Schwartzmann, founder of the Style Line
• Devin Shaffer, Decorilla lead sales designer
• Elizabeth Stuart, interior designer
• Amee Swarz, interior designer
• Jenny Xie, author of Ode newsletter
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