Coffee tables can easily become the highlight of your living room, functioning as one of the most practical and social pieces of furniture. But if you’re laying out the floor plan, you might be wondering if the coffee table has to be centered. After all, the coffee table can really transform its surroundings. So, there are plenty of advantages and general rules you should consider. For your convenience, we brought you the answer.
Although it is customary for the coffee table to be centered in a room, this isn’t always necessary. In fact, some rooms do not have an ideal shape for this layout. Sometimes, a living room with an odd size can even work better by using two center points. What is most important is the relationship between your coffee table and the accompanying sofa or seats. The coffee table should serve function first, and then style.
While you can style the living room any way you please, the most popular guidelines tend to be inspired by practicality. This will help your coffee table flow with the rest of the room. So, keep reading to learn how to position your coffee table in a room, next to a sofa, and even how to work with a second table.
How do you place a coffee table in a room?
Any kind of coffee table position can simply boil down to personal preference. Still, whenever possible, many people choose to center their coffee table and let it dictate the rest of the room.
This approach will create a remarkable sense of symmetry in the room. The surrounding furniture and décor will always appear balanced. This can be especially useful for interior designs that prefer clean, tidy lines.
For example, most modern and contemporary interior styles ask you to organize your room until it’s unusually neat. You may even find some of these layouts in abstract scenes, which use these lines to balance out highly unique décor.
Also, all of the coffee table’s company will feel equally distant and accessible. In other words, you will be able to kick your feet up onto the coffee table just as comfortably as you could watch your television. Social conversations will be easy to hear because everyone will be seated around the coffee table at a reasonable distance.
Uneven Rooms and Furniture
But if you’re working with a narrow living room or one that involves awkward angles, it is more urgent to align your coffee table with the sofa or seats. That furniture is probably flush against a back wall in these layouts. As such, the entire space won’t always feel even. But the coffee table can still serve those seated immediately around it.
If the room has two ideal center points, then the coffee table can accompany the traditional sofa setup. Meanwhile, another piece of furniture or décor could occupy the second center point. This way, you create two evenly divided segments of the room, as opposed to treating it as an uneven whole.
You should also consider furniture that has abstract or L-shape designs. Pairing a love seat right next to a sofa will typically create an L-shaped layout as well. In this case, the furniture itself won’t look quite right if it’s centered in the room. Usually, these layouts are specifically used to fill out odd corners, to begin with. So, you wouldn’t need to center your coffee table in this situation either.
How far should a coffee table be from a sofa?
Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your coffee table around 16 inches away from a sofa. This way, no matter where you’re seated on the sofa, you can still comfortably use the coffee table.
In some rooms, your coffee table is mostly used for style, with lots of décor on top. In this case, you may be using side tables for drinks instead. Then your coffee table will have more room to let you decorate with sentimental things or conversation pieces instead. But everyone will still need enough room to freely walk between the coffee table and the sofa. You should also have enough room for your legs when you’re just sitting down.
Sometimes, you may be able to stretch the distance from your sofa another couple of inches in either direction. This can help you work with less flexible rooms, which may be too large or too cramped.
This way, the coffee table can remain centered or more effective. Specialists agree that you can get a coffee table as close as 14 inches or as far as 18 inches away from a sofa.
Where should a coffee table be placed with a sectional?
Sectionals can create different shapes because they are modular and not a single piece of furniture. But, you can still place your coffee table 16 inches away from the furniture. This is easily done by using the right shape for your table.
A rectangular or circular table can fit into these odd spaces. It’s important to use these shapes when you can’t center the coffee table with the furniture itself. As long as these two are paired evenly, it won’t matter if the table isn’t in the exact center of the room. You are creating a new plane of symmetry.
You can read the post How To Style A Round Coffee Table if you've chosen to use circular tables and are ready to move on to styling them.
Are coffee tables supposed to be lower than the couch?
Most of the time, it is better if your coffee tables are lower than the couch. This is useful for a number of reasons, including both function and style.
First of all, you don’t want any décor on the coffee table to block the view of your television. You would have to restrict your décor to flat pieces or not use any at all. Even if your coffee table sits farther away than usual, it would still appear distracting.
Considering that, a coffee table that looks too tall may begin to appear more like a kitchen table or a dining table. This could disrupt the focal points of the room. If the table is too high, it can begin to command far too much attention. That is especially true if the table is already positioned in the center of the room.
A lower coffee table will also function more effectively, allowing you to comfortably place your feet on the table. Lifting your feet too high would be irritating. You may also be less likely to spill your drinks or knock over décor if you have an elevated position over them.
What can I do with an extra coffee table?
An extra coffee table can be useful, but it really depends on the size. In smaller rooms, it’s always better to avoid the clutter of any extra furniture or décor. You can read the post 11 Great Coffee Table Ideas For Small Spaces for more details on how to work with less area. However, you can still make use of a second coffee table in certain circumstances.
For example, two small coffee tables can be used to create consistency in the room. Both tables can sit on either center point of a larger room. This way, there is a visual overlap that feels comfortable to look at.
Or, more likely, you can squish two coffee tables together in front of the sofa. This can help them function as a single piece. This is especially useful when you have square or rectangular tables but may look a little clunky with circular shapes. You can find coffee tables that are sold as an identical pair, which are more likely to work if you really want circular tables.
It may be possible to use very small coffee tables as end tables, which sit on either side of the sofa. However, this is less likely to work unless your tables are just the right size. Try to avoid using coffee tables that are deliberately sold as a set of two because they are traditionally set to different heights. While this can look appealing joined together, it will look very uneven on either end of a sofa.
The coffee table is such a useful and gorgeous addition to the living room that it’s easy to style it first and forget to consider the position. But it’s always worthwhile to plan the layout of your room, especially if the coffee table is going to take the exact center. Now that you understand the relationship between your coffee table and the sofa, as well as the room overall, you only have to worry about décor and personality.