At one time or another, we've all needed to downsize and you may have found yourself wondering if there's an alternative to the coffee table most of us are used to. Maybe you're college-bound and find yourself suddenly having to share a dorm room that's cramped for just one person. Or maybe you're a recent empty nester that's just settled into a smaller home and have too much furniture and not enough space. Either way, you may find that the coffee table you once had simply doesn't fit into your new living arrangement. Then again, you might just be curious like we were and want to do something different. We did the research and found some creative alternatives to the traditional coffee table. Read on to see the great options we found!
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
When looking for alternatives to coffee tables, consider the space you have to work with and how much you have to spend. Fortunately, there are many alternatives that are not only more versatile than the typically fixed square or rectangular coffee table, but more cost-effective as well. First, arrange your couch or seating area. This will help you easily see where a convenient place to rest a drink or set down a book might be.
Now that you know the space you need to fill you can find the perfectly-sized alternative to the standard coffee table below -
- Matching End Tables
- Decorative Storage
- Tray Tables
- Nesting Tables
- Modular Cubes
- Milk Crates
- Stacks of Things
- Bar Cart
- Stair Shelf
- Mancave Specific
- Decorative DIY Tables
We thought there would only be a few different options to choose from but soon realized nothing could be further from the truth. Now our problem wasn't finding a great alternative to a coffee table, but rather choosing from the near-endless options! Read on to see what we discovered.
- 1. Matching End Tables
- 2. Trunks
- 3. Decorative Storage
- 4. Ottoman
- 5. Tray Tables
- 6. Nesting Tables
- 7. Stools
- 8. Modular Cubes
- 9. Bench
- 10. Milk Crates
- 11. Stacks of Things
- 12. Bar Cart
- 13. Stair Shelf
- 14. Man Cave Coffee Table Alternatives
- 15. Decorative DIY Tables
1. Matching End Tables
If you're already short on space, you probably don't know where you're going to put end tables either. You can simply set two beside each other where you'd normally put a coffee table. Not only does this help to repurpose your old furniture, but it offers you more versatile options for placement. You could stagger them for an interesting look, or move them around as needed when you need more floor space or have guests over.
If you have a few different varieties, you can stack tables to give you even more storage options!
Matching Side Tables
Side tables are usually placed to the "side" (hence the name) of a seat or couch. They tend to be smaller and are used for items that don't take up a lot of space, like drinks.
Side tables may be smaller and by nature, but pushed together they can form a small rectangle that gives you more space options. They don't always have to match either. These two slightly different tables are full of character on their own, but look even better together.
Trunks date back to medieval times and have been used primarily for storage, especially when traveling. Although we've certainly streamlined things a bit (rolling carry-on, anyone?), trunks are still popular as decor elements and stationary storage options. They lend an old-world charm that never goes out of style and can be large enough to store accessories any living room needs conveniently close at hand, like extra blankets for those chilly nights.
If you're going to use a trunk as a table in addition to storage, just make sure to get one with a flat top. Trunks come in so many shapes and styles, you're guaranteed to find one (or many) you love!
If you have a collection of antique trunks, you can stack them for a unique look. To add even more visual interest, offset the angles like the ones above. This arrangement also gives you an extra ledge or two to place things.
Not all trunks look they belong in the last century! This white footlocker trunk with sharp nickel trim looks polished and crisp.
3. Decorative Storage
Considering that many storage options are square or rectangular, it makes perfect sense that they could just as easily double as a coffee table. Since wicker is so textured, just be sure to choose one with a solid flat top made of some other material. That way your drink won't spill!
This blackwashed hyacinth storage trunk is perfect because it has a smooth wooden lid. Just make sure to use coasters!
A toy box can easily function as a coffee table and adds a touch of whimsy. Plus, it's a great way to quickly clean up the kid's toys when guests are coming over!
Ottomans are great to have not only to put your feet up on but to use as a table. While often round, there are many square and rectangular ones to choose from. You can easily place decorative trays over them to make them "drink friendly."
Tufted ottomans are popular because of their signature look.
Ottomans With Storage
Two smaller storage ottomans can be pushed together to make a coffee table. They can also store extra throw blankets!
5. Tray Tables
If you're really short on space, consider tray tables. Keep reading for some great options!
Foldable Tray Tables
Foldable tray tables are ideal because they can easily be folded and put away. And, they've come a long way in design since the original "TV tray."
C-shaped Tray Tables
These tables get their name from their convenient "C" shape which allows you to either push them into a couch or use as a side table. Either way, these only take up a fraction of the space normally occupied by a coffee table.
Decorative Tray Tables
Tray tables can be as dressed up or as dressed down. But who can resist this elegant setup?
6. Nesting Tables
Nesting tables get their name from their ability to "nest" within one another. Not only does this save space, but you get two or more for the space of one!
These "nesting besties" are irresistible.
Stools are a great alternative for a coffee table because they come in different heights and take up much less space. Plus, they're usually round which adds an interesting design element to any room.
Garden stools, in particular, come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. I mean, how cute are these, seriously?
This rivet round stool with storage basket is perfect for storing that controller that always seems to go missing.
8. Modular Cubes
Modular cubes are wildly popular as much for their personality as their practicality. They come in numerous design and color options and are incredibly versatile in that you can stack them into the shape that fits your needs. You can face them down or out to allow for storage.
Storage cubes are an affordable alternative to a coffee table. They offer numerous storage options and can house bins that hide the contents. Perfect for when you need to tidy up quickly!
Benches aren't just for sitting. Because their shape is so similar, they can just as easily be used as a coffee table.
This handcrafted bench is as attractive as it is practical.
Bench With Storage
The trick to using a storage bench as a coffee table is simple-just remove the cushion and voilà! You have a smooth surface to work with.
10. Milk Crates
Milk crates are ideal coffee table alternatives because they're lightweight, can be easily moved or stacked, and come in so many colors and designs. Just flip them open side down and you have an instant table!
This DIY designer spraypainted milk crates metallic gold and then stacked them into table legs. Simply add a board and you have one crafty coffee table!
This set of three rustic wood crates can be found at Amazon. They can be stacked or nested, depending on what side is faced down.
11. Stacks of Things
Maybe you're strapped for cash right now and can't even afford thrift store furniture. Why not make some out of old magazines or books you have lying around?
Stacks of Books or Magazines
The great thing about using things like books to make a table is that you can make it as high or low as you want it and arrange them into any shape that works for your floor space and seating arrangement. The possibilities are endless as long as you have enough materials!
Stacks of Suitcases
Suitcases stacked together adds an antique touch.
12. Bar Cart
If it's always 5 o'clock somewhere in your home, we've got you covered. Why not have a bar cart act conveniently as a coffee table? You don't even have to get up to refill your glass!
Bar carts don't always have to be tailored to liquor. This wine cart is for you if you prefer sipping merlot on your couch after a long day.
We love how this bar cart really shines!
13. Stair Shelf
You might not think "table" when you hear "stairs." But once you picture a short flight of stairs, you can quickly see how much storage real estate you get for such a small footprint.
This wood stair shelf in a whitewash finish is neutral enough to pair with any decor and chic enough to impress your guests!
14. Man Cave Coffee Table Alternatives
We've got coffee table alternatives that will have either you or that special man in your life loving his man cave even more than he already does!
This vintage spool and barbed wire make for one rugged coffee table!
A toolbox table lends a masculine, industrial feel to any man cave. Just be sure to pick one without the handle on top like this trunk with the door on the side so you have a smooth flat surface to rest your beer.
Barrels make unique tables and are a fun conversation starter. They can be halved or kept whole and stood upright to support a tabletop. They can even be used as table legs! Keep scrolling for different ways to use whiskey barrels as a coffee table alternative.
15. Decorative DIY Tables
Of course, why pay for what you can do yourself? If you're artsy, pick up a paintbrush and go to town. If you can hardly draw a stick figure to save your life, you can usually find creative tables like the ones below at a thrift sale or antique store.
You can always glue on an image to a small dresser like this map of the world. Bonus, you get drawers for extra storage!
Ever wondered what you could do with a collection of random mismatched tiles? We've got an idea!
Or how about this rainbow mosaic design?
Hopefully, we've inspired you to find the perfect coffee table alternative! If you're still wanting more, click here to see these 15 70's style coffee tables that will give your living room a retro touch!
If you've got guests coming over for the holidays, we've got you covered with these fall-themed curtains!
And if you're looking for a shabby chic living room makeover on a budget, we've got some awesome (and affordable) design ideas here!