A sofa (or a sectional) is probably the most important piece of furniture in your living room—but a coffee table is a close second. Not only do they add a layer of practicality to your living room, but often this piece of furniture is a way to drive home the style of your space. So, when it comes to choosing the perfect coffee table for your living room, start with figuring out the best shape and size for your sofa and overall room. (Check out our guide to coffee table shapes and sizes for everything you need to know about that!)
Once you have a coffee table shape picked out, you’ll want to think about materials. In general, the material you choose is tied pretty heavily to your interior design style. (Not sure of your style? Take our free style quiz!) If you find yourself drawn to a certain interior design style, there are some materials that will fall into your style and others that won’t. Keep reading for a break-down on the predominant materials for coffee tables and what styles go with them!
Wood Coffee Tables
Wood is the most common material for coffee tables (along with stone). As such, it fits into most styles—though different finishes will cause it to lean in different style directions, making it the material with the most diversity in it.
Wondering what finishes go best with what styles? Lighter finishes will have a more Scandinavian and modern vibe, with a lighter and airier feel. Teak or acorn finishes are very mid-century. Meanwhile, dark wood finishes will have a more classic, rustic, or industrial vibe. Weathered woods will also fit well in a rustic, coastal, or industrial space. A red-tinted finish will be in the American traditional camp, along with some classic looks. And then there are the ornamental woods, like a burl wood, will have a contemporary or glam vibe, with their nature-sculpted quality. These pieces are statements in and of themselves, a great example of material being used as ornamentation.
Different shapes will also help drive home the style of a particular wooden coffee table. A round drum coffee table will have a different style and vibe than a rectangular coffee table with tapered legs, even if they have the same finish. But, regardless of the finish and shape, a wood coffee table adds a natural and organic element to the space. Just remember to use coasters! And know that some woods require special polishes and cleaners—so be mindful of that when cleaning and maintaining your coffee table.
Glass Coffee Tables
Glass coffee tables are perfect styles for those with a glam, minimal, or transitional and contemporary aesthetic. Often, glass tables will have metal frames and legs—and the color and finish of the metal will help drive home the overall style.
We love how easy a glass coffee table is to clean and maintain. However, you will still want to use coasters, and you won’t want to burn a candle straight on the glass. In fact, if you’re worried about scuffs, scratches, or other damage, you may want to layer a cloth or mat down to protect the glass. This isn’t a good material for a high-traffic space, and it’s definitely not kid-friendly.
Acrylic + Lucite Coffee Tables
Looking for the best modern coffee tables out there? Go for an acrylic or lucite coffee table. They’re also perfect for glam and minimalist spaces. Many acrylic or lucite coffee tables come in an arc shape, which adds a bit of a statement in your living room, even though it’s a translucent material; this makes the shape itself the decoration. And, if they’re not entirely acrylic or lucite, they’re often paired with some sort of metal, like brass or gold legs—which really plays into a glam aesthetic.
This is a very low-maintenance and easy-to-clean material. This is a great material for small spaces; since they’re translucent, they don’t add visual weight or clutter to your space.
Metal Coffee Tables
Many metal coffee tables sit within the industrial or transitional camp, especially if the metal is silver or pewter. Though, if it’s a gold or brass finish, it probably falls more in the modern or glam world. It’s rare that you’ll see an all-metal coffee table though—usually metal is paired with wood or glass elements, which will also influence what interior design style it most closely aligns with.
Metal is a strong material that’s fairly easy to clean. However, with its proclivity toward rusting, you’ll definitely want to make sure you use coasters! And you’ll want to make sure to dust often, as metals will show even the finest elements of dust. (In fact, the same goes for glass and acrylic coffee tables.)
Stone Coffee Tables
There are many different stone materials that can be used in a coffee table—though marble is by far the most common. Marble is really beautiful and can pair with almost all interior design styles, though you’ll most commonly see it in a glam, minimal, or modern space. We love how, with any style, it adds an organic modern touch to your living room. Some marbles are very subtle, with minimal veining, while others are actually more dominantly black with white veining (perfect for a maximalist space). Marble is similar to burl wood in that the material is the ornamentation and statement, in and of itself.
Marble is a very fussy and high-maintenance material though. While many marble coffee tables have finishes that protect the stone from water, scratches, and stains, not all do. (Make sure you read the product description so that you clean and treat the surface appropriately.) On the bright side, many stains fade over time with marble—they’ll sink deeper into the stone over time, and eventually fade or disappear completely. However, you definitely want to avoid a marble coffee table coming in contact with citrus or acid, as these will eat away at the marble or the finish.
Natural Material Coffee Tables
And, of course, there are natural materials, like rattan and seagrass, which add a nice pop of texture to your living room. Depending on the shape and finish, coffee tables in natural materials can go in a boho, eclectic, or coastal space—or even some rustic contemporary or modern homes! They’re great kid-friendly coffee tables, since they typically don’t have hard edges and natural materials are pretty forgiving around kids!
Maintenance is pretty simple with a natural material coffee table—just wipe any spills down with a damp cloth, and use coasters and even trays to help keep it looking its best! With woven materials, dust could easily collect in nooks and crannies, so be sure to dust frequently!
Once you’ve landed on the right shape, style, and material for your living room design, you get the joy of styling your coffee table, which adds additional personality to your space. Some people prefer a very minimal and clean tabletop, while others love a highly styled look. Check out our coffee table styling ideas for some inspiration!
Ready to find the perfect coffee table for your space?