A coffee table can do a lot to set the style for a room, but don’t get carried away. A beautiful table that looks fantastic and fits your decorative theme can still be a disaster, there are several things to think about before you buy.
Shape: A coffee table usually sits opposite a sofa and so has two competing requirements. It must be positioned close enough to be of use, somewhere you and your guests can put a glass or tea-cup, but it must also leave enough space for someone to sit without cramping their legs and feet.
While these requirements may sound mutually incompatible, the problem can be solved quite easily by choosing a table where the base is a lot smaller than the surface, in other words a low, functional table where the surface overhangs the legs.
A bare coffee table isn’t contributing to your interior design, so be sure to choose one with plenty of room for the accent of your choice, a flower arrangement is a good choice, or a small candlescape or silk plant.
Style. The surface of any low table is extremely visible, this is why it can set the tone for a room. If you have a very small space, a glass table, and hence no visible top, may be ideal, but for most the glass top represents a maintenance headache, wood, and leather are preferable.
A carved wood table is ideal to match an eclectic style, a smooth or inlaid surface is beautifully traditional and a distressed, painted wood surface can be the ideal accent for a cottage style room, as well as the focus of today’s ‘shabby chic’ decor.
A surface with any relief can be a problem, restricting the space available for a decorative flower arrangement or vase of fruit, and of course making the table less useful for its primary purpose, the support of cups of coffee.
Storage: It is impossible to keep a neat, designer interior without good storage, and since the coffee table usually occupies quite a lot of floor space, built in storage is ideal, even if it is no more than a drawer to store the many remote controls required by a modern household.
Weight. The coffee table is one of the most frequently moved pieces of furniture in any home. It needs to be well balanced, heavy, but move-able.
Height: A coffee table should be low in order to give the room an uncluttered appearance. Ideally, the table should reach to the height of the sofa seat, the more horizontal lines in a room, the more cramped it will appear. Tea tables, in contrast, should stand higher, typically the height of the sofa arm.
Length. Coffee tables are typically rectangular, the long edge should run along the length of a sofa. If you have an L shaped configuration, you might consider a square or triangular table.
In some large rooms, small square coffee tables which can be moved around are a better idea. In this case, the ideal accent is a square vase, usually a 5 inch cube, filled with realistic silk flowers in a color which accents the room.
Choose flowers or plants for your table with care. Although most of us still prefer the real thing, silk plants need light and water to flourish, yet they are ideal for bringing color and texture to the darker parts of a room, hence artificial plants and flowers which are extremely realistic are now the decorators best friend.
Add flowers to your coffee table to complete the design. Hydrangea flowers look good with all types of traditional interior and can be found in a wide range of colors. Orchids, though lovely, are rather too tall for a coffee table arrangement, but calla lilies are ideal for modern interiors, or gerberas if you’d like something less formal and with more color.
Roses look good everywhere, but remember your lovely ‘just picked’ arrangement will seem a lot less believable in winter, so be prepared to substitute a silk plant or maybe a display of bulbs such as Amaryllis (which can also be silk) in the depth of winter.