After landing on a sofa (or a sectional), a coffee table is one of the next most important pieces of furniture in your living room. It helps tie together your seating area, and offers the practicality of a surface for placing a drink, kicking up your feet, and displaying your favorite coffee table books.
But with so many different coffee table sizes, shapes, and materials to choose from, it can be overwhelming to land on the right coffee table for your living room. So, today we’re going to help you out with a coffee table buying guide! We’ll walk you through the different coffee table shapes, show you how they work with different sofa shapes (think sectional or sofa chaise), and ultimately help you find the right coffee table for your space!
The Basics of Choosing a Coffee Table
But before all that, you’ll want to consider a few general rules of thumb when it comes to choosing the right coffee table.
Coffee Table Height
First up: coffee table height. You want your coffee table to be no more than 2-3 inches above or below your sofa’s seat height. (Though, the closer to the same height, the better.) If it’s too tall or too short, it won’t be as practical to use and frankly just won’t look as good.
Coffee Table Length
And, in terms of length, consider the space you need to walk and navigate around your coffee table within the rest of the room. A good rule of thumb is leaving about 17 inches from each end of your coffee table to the edge of your sofa for walkability. With that, in general you’ll want your coffee table to sit on the center of your area rug, no matter what sofa style you have or what shape of coffee table you choose.
Explore more coffee table do’s and don’ts here! Ready to dig in? Read on for our ultimate guide to choosing a coffee table to go with your sofa.
Best Coffee Table Shapes for Standard Sofas
If you have a standard sofa, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to picking a coffee table. You can safely go with just about any shape, and it’s just easier to know where to place it. (Simply center the coffee table on your sofa, and make sure it’s about two-thirds the length of your sofa.) So, really, it just comes down to preference. Below, you’ll see how different coffee table shapes work with a standard sofa.
Rectangular Coffee Tables
A rectangular coffee table fits well with a traditional, standard-size sofa. It offers a lot of surface area—providing a surface not only for people sitting on the sofa but also on the side chair. And, the coffee table pictured is a perfect example of the right height in comparison to your sofa. We’d say that, for a standard sofa, a rectangular coffee table is your best all-around choice. This is a no-brainer shape that you really can’t go wrong with.
Square Coffee Tables
When it comes to a square coffee table with a traditional sofa, our stylists recommend doing two squares side-by-side rather than just one. A single square coffee table would feel small and awkward on it’s own with a long rectangular sofa—leaving your seating area feeling unbalanced. So, doubling up on the squares gives your living room a more balanced, cohesive look. Plus, with two squares, you get double the surface area! It gives you the concept of a rectangular coffee table, but with more visual intrigue.
Round Coffee Tables
If you want to add visual interest to your living room, along with creating a bit of a statement in your space, go for a round coffee table. Just make sure it has a large enough circumference to balance out the length of your sofa! You don’t get as much surface space in comparison to a rectangular coffee table, so we recommend supplementing your seating area with some side tables for extra surface area. You could also consider doing two round tables, and either replacing them side-by-side like the squares, or staggering them, with one closer to the sofa and one further away. Staggering a set creates varied walking space around your tables and sofa and more visual interest to your set-up.
A round coffee table—whether you go for one larger table or a pair of smaller ones—is the most versatile shape and our pick for best all-around coffee table shape for any sofa style. Whether you have a standard sofa, a sectional, or a sofa with a chaise, a round coffee table will tuck into any shape, as long as the size proportions are correct. Round coffee tables are also the most kid-friendly shape, since there are no hard edges or corners.
Oval Coffee Tables
An oval-shaped coffee table is another great shape for a standard sofa. It’s obviously a bit longer than a round coffee table, so it gives you as much surface area as possible while still offering a softer, more organic shape. And choosing an oval style with a more unique base, like this one, adds some visual interest. Like a round coffee table, and oval is also great if you have kids, because of the round edges—no sharp corners here!
Abstract/Organic Coffee Tables
An abstract or organic-shaped coffee table is great for inspiring movement in your living room, adding a functional statement to your space. There’s a sense of fluidity when you opt for a more organic shape—though, depending on the specific style you choose, it can give a totally different vibe to the space. Here, we have both a table that’s a soft triangle shape with three legs, and a more heavy, organic style, which each create completely different looks to the seating arrangement. With the second one, you’ll want to make sure you figure out the balance—since it’s such a heavy, solid piece, you wouldn’t want to pair it with a delicate or small sofa. With all coffee tables, consider the size and scale of your sofa and pair a coffee table accordingly.
Regardless, abstract and organic shapes in coffee tables work well with a regular-sized sofa, offering a more dynamic look. We love that, whatever vantage point you have in the room, you’re going to see it differently. This gives your coffee table the feeling of being an evolving object within your space that adds dimension and a sculptural quality.
Best Coffee Table Shapes for Sectionals
While all of the same shapes are available to you when you have a sofa with a chaise or a sectional, different shapes and sizes work differently within this context. While we’re just showing you how these shapes work with a sofa with a chaise, the same principles apply to a sectional with a full L-shape.
Rectangle Coffee Tables
If you opt for a rectangular coffee table with a sectional or chaise, you’ll just want to make sure the length of the coffee table fits with a safe amount of space between the edge of the sofa and the chaise, without the end of the coffee table going past the other end of the sofa! A rectangular coffee table gives you more space relative to the rest of your seating arrangement though (in this case, in the foreground of the image) since the shape means it’s not protruding into the side of the seating area that’s opposite your sofa.
Square Coffee Tables
A single square coffee table works really well for a sofa with a chaise or a sectional. It tucks perfectly into the angle of the chaise while still giving you enough breathing room. It’s also great for those who love a more traditional take on a seating arrangement, since the lines of the coffee table align with the lines of the sofa, with edges meeting edges and the square shape echoing the angle of the sofa. This is our pick for a no-brainer coffee table shape that you really can’t go wrong with when you have a chaise or sectional.
Like the look of a square but want softer edges? An ottomoan is a great coffee table alternative, which also provides a comfortable, makeshift seat or footrest!
Round Coffee Tables
A round coffee table with this sofa shape has a grounding element and is easier to navigate around than other shapes. It offers more room to play around with the chair placement within your living room, and overall is easier to design around since you don’t have hard lines or edges. As with a traditional sofa, you can also opt for two smaller round tables versus one larger round coffee table. This creates a more playful look that’s very flexible and forgiving. You can stagger them and even swing one around to be a side table when you want to. It breaks up the angle of the L-shape on the sofa and adds an organic element that brings some breathing room to your layout.
Oval Coffee Tables
An oval coffee table works really nicely to balance out the edge of the sofa. The table pictured is a smaller model; we’d recommend sizing up if you’re going to do an oval with this type of sofa. But just make sure you have enough room for walking on all sides of the table.
Abstract/Organic Coffee Tables
An abstract or organic coffee table would also give you that ability to break up the angle of the L-shape of the sofa. The soft triangle table fits really nicely in this setting and adds a bit of a statement to the center of the room. This is a bigger table, but it doesn’t feel too large for the space. That’s because, since its legs lift it off the floor, there’s a sense of airiness to this look. (One of our favorite tricks to help a space feel larger.)
The more solid, geometric coffee table also works in this set-up, but it’s definitely a heavier approach. It anchors the center of the room and visually balances out the weight of the chaise versus the chair that’s diagonal from the chaise. However, since it’s a solid, heavy table, it’s not very moveable.
Explore Coffee Table Styles
Choosing the best coffee table to go with your sofa also means finding one with the right style. As evidenced by the variety of coffee tables featured in this post, there are so many styles to consider! If you’re uncertain about what style or shape of coffee table to choose, take our style quiz, or work with one of our designers to find the best furniture pieces and layout for your whole living room!
Ready to find the perfect coffee table for your space?