Modern Coffee Table

A modern coffee table is more than just a place to set down your remote control and pile of magazines. It can also serve as a focal point, anchor the room and provide additional storage.

To ensure your coffee table works best for your space, consider the following factors: shape, material, size and function.

modern coffee table
modern coffee table

1. Material

After a sofa, a coffee table is one of the most essential pieces of furniture in your living room. It serves as a focal point, supporting magazines and books, and it’s also a great spot to display decorative accents and personal mementoes. With sleek lines, contrasting colors, and unique materials modern coffee tables add style to your space while being durable enough for everyday use.

Wood remains a popular choice for modern coffee tables, gelling well with almost every interior design style, from minimalist to mid-century modern to rustic styles. Glass coffee tables are a popular choice too, particularly for a contemporary look. Some even have a metal frame for added durability and strength. And, for an eclectic twist, there are a variety of contemporary tables that incorporate mixed materials, such as wood and marble or stone and glass.

When shopping for a new coffee table, consider the size of your seating area and how you’ll be using the piece. A good rule of thumb is to choose a table that’s two-thirds the length of your sofa for a comfortable fit.

For a more functional touch, opt for a repurposed or recycled coffee table. Some eco-friendly designs like this one from Burrow use reclaimed ash or walnut from barns in the Midwest and include all of its character marks, including nail holes, splits, and weathering. The company also focuses on transparency, letting you know they keep costs down by making their own bases and sourcing all wood from forests within the United States. The coffee table also features a plant-based finish that’s non-toxic and VOC-free, so it won’t off-gas. This style is durable and a perfect fit for any family room.

2. Shape

The shape of a modern coffee table can make or break the overall design of your living room. The style and material you choose for the top should complement or coordinate with your seating, and it’s also important to consider how the table will be used. Depending on your family’s needs, you may want to look for a rectangular coffee table that can double as a work surface, or one with unique open shelves for displaying decor and books.

For example, this modern rectangle coffee table from Anthropologie features a unique bone inlay that’ll add pattern and texture to any neutral space. The hammered brass sheen and wooden base are perfect for adding a hint of luxe, and the handcrafted nature of this piece means that each one has slight variations that make it even more special. Another option is this modern glam style coffee table from Noir which has a beautiful base that looks like a sculptural piece of art and will make a bold statement in your home.

If your tastes skew more rustic, Seattle-based designer LeeAnn Baker recommends this wood and steel coffee table with a parquet inlay design that reflects classic Spanish furniture. The asymmetrical legs give this table a dynamic feel and it’s easy to mix and match with more traditional or contemporary seating pieces.

For a sleek and modern look, consider this minimalist rectangular coffee table from West Elm with a geometric silhouette that’s crafted of solid kiln-dried wood. The clean lines and natural wood color make it a versatile choice for almost any space, while the unique base is a standout feature that will be sure to get people talking.

3. Size

A modern coffee table is home to many essential items – like a steaming cup of coffee and the TV remote. As such, it’s important that this staple piece is easy to reach for anyone seated in front of the sofa. To ensure that, the right height and length are key.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, the general rule is that a coffee table should be about 2/3 of the width of your couch. For height, you’ll want to aim for something that sits 1 or 2 inches lower than your sofa’s seat cushion. By following these simple rules, you’ll be able to find a coffee table that fits your space and leaves room for walking between seating and the table.

The shape of your coffee table will also influence how it looks in the space and how well it works with your decor style. For example, if you have a lot of straight lines and squares in your space, a rectangular table might fit better than a round one. Similarly, if you have a lot of natural wood pieces, a modern wooden coffee table with a mid-century feel could complement them beautifully.

If you’re still unsure which shape will work best, consider how you plan to use your modern coffee table. For example, if you have children, you might want to consider a circular or oval coffee table that doesn’t have sharp corners. On the other hand, if you’re using your coffee table for reading or entertaining guests, you might want to consider a more functional model with shelves or drawers. This way, you’ll have a place to store all the little things that tend to get scattered around the living room like books and remote controls.

4. Storage

Modern coffee tables offer clever storage options, which help to streamline your living room decor and keep the tabletop surface free from remote control clutter, electronics cords, drink coasters, books, kids toys and more. Look for a piece with a lift top or hidden drawers that open without removing the item stored inside. Baskets are another great option for storing items, as you can easily change out the contents to suit your current needs.

To style a stylish storage coffee table, look for decorative containers with a neutral color scheme that blends in to the rest of your home decor. Use them to tuck away everyday essentials like electronics chargers and remote controls, or fill them with a handful of succulents or decorative plants. A large bowl or set of stacks of trays works well for stashing throw blankets and books, and you can add interest by using different shapes and textures.

Alternatively, you can opt for a streamlined storage coffee table that offers only a few open shelves for out-of-sight items. This square piece, for example, pairs a clean-lined silhouette with a rich wood finish to suit most interiors. It also comes with a matching ottoman that doubles as an additional seating option.

If you want to make a more dramatic statement with your modern coffee table, consider a piece with a glass display area. The striking shadow box silhouette is a head-turner that elevates the everyday and can be used for more than just displaying decorative objects. Add some height to the arrangement by stacking book piles or a series of black and gold boxes, and play with texture by combining faceted geometric vases with polished metal trays.

5. Function

A modern coffee table can be so much more than a pretty place to put your feet up or display your collection of design books. These versatile pieces can be a functional workstation, a home for your remote control or a stylish way to store small decorative accents like candles and vases. They can even help to tie a room’s decor together by providing a consistent surface for objects of interest.

The right size for your coffee table can make or break the look of a space. While some designers prefer a larger table that can double as an extra workspace, smaller options may be more suitable for rooms with limited floor space. The height of a coffee table also has a significant impact on its function. Too tall and a table can feel too bulky or out of balance in a room, while models that are too short may not provide enough space for drinks or snacks.

While cohesion is key when it comes to decorating a living room, don’t be afraid to explore contrasts. For example, a high-gloss finish against a matte or natural wood can add an unexpected element of drama to any setup. Or, a circular tabletop can play up the sculptural appeal of modern furniture.

If you’re looking to add a little versatility to your living room, consider a nesting set of two modern coffee tables. This style from Nathan James allows you to easily reconfigure the two individual tables depending on your needs, whether you need a large surface for entertaining or a compact option for smaller spaces. These tables also feature a unique design that uses the same material for the top and base, creating a unified and seamless appearance. This set of tables is available in either winter wood or washed oak, and it’s crafted from kiln-dried wood that’s sourced from responsibly managed forests. This material resists stains and moisture, but be sure to wipe down the tabletops regularly to avoid buildup.

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