There’s nothing like adding an artful coffee table to make a big impact in the living room. So many styles, shapes and materials are available today that it’s easy to find a one that will add some drama to a space. Whether the style is modern, rustic or totally indescribable, the coffee table will be an important element in the room. We found examples of coffee tables that blur the lines between art and design in the most beautiful ways.
How to Choose a coffee table
Even when choosing artsy coffee tables, it’s important to keep some basic guidelines in mind. These considerations aren’t meant to constrain your choices but rather help you pick one that works with your specific space and lifestyle.
Assess Your Space
Measure before you buy! It’s critical to know how much space you have to work with. Ideally, you want to have 18 inches between the edges of the sofa and the coffee table. This keeps it close enough to be convenient but spacious enough for your legs. By the way, if you have other seating that flanks to coffee table and needs to be reachable, the same 18-inch guideline applies.
For traffic flow on the other side of the table, you’ll need more than that. The best space will be at least 30 inches of room between the coffee table and the wall, any cabinets or other structures. In small spaces, sometimes 24 inches can work.
Mind the Height
Because you’ll constantly be reaching for things, the height of a coffee table is very important. Moreover, the optimum height for your table is dependent on your sofa, but should be an inch or two lower than the seat. While most coffee tables are about 18 to 18 inches high and work with many sofas, if the style if your sofa is lower or higher than the norm, you’ll need to search for a table with the appropriate height.
Go For Contrast
Even within a particular style of décor, contrast between your sofa and coffee table — as well as with the overall dominant materials — should be a goal. By this we mean that if your sofa is lean and leggy, pair it with a more substantial coffee table. It it’s overstuffed and cushy, pick something lighter in appearance.
The same concept holds for the materials in your space. If the room is dominated by wood, you don’t want to add more with a wooden coffee table. Instead opt for a different material like glass, metal or stone to balance out the look. Similarly, if your living room is all glass and metal, a wood coffee table can balance the look with some warmth.
Consider Your Household Needs
Your lifestyle and how you use the living room is a big consideration in the choice of a coffee table. Is it a casual space where family members will likely put their feet on the table or is this a room largely for adults and entertaining? Do you need storage in the table and is the style convenient for how you use the table? Finally, if you have children in the house, it’s key to pick a kid-friendly coffee table, which means that it’s round or oval without sharp corners and is not made of glass.
Coffee Table Alternatives
Of course, a coffee table does not have to be a table. Many people prefer to have a large ottoman take the place of a coffee table because it doubles as a footstool and seating. For serving food or drinks a stylish tray provides a stable surface. Or, opt for an old fashioned trunk or a coffee table made from a repurposed item with glass on top. Finally, one of the latest rends is using several occasional tables of different sizes in place of a coffee table, which is ideal for smaller spaces and for those who entertain frequently.
21 Unique Coffee Table Design Ideas
Galerie Scene Ouvert
This is a very artful coffee table that incorporates the concept of multiples. The sculptural table by William Coggin is ideal for a room that sees a lot if entertaining. The sculpted protrusions highlight the center parts that are still level enough for setting down a plate or glass. It’s also exactly the kind of table that makes a statement all on its own and needs no accessories or other styling.
The Volcano Table by Gal Gaon is an example of a coffee table design that immediately takes center stage. Designed and fabricated in Israel, Gaon’s works present inherent internal conflict in their form. Coffee tables this large need to be reserved for a spacious living room and the dark, hefty look should be paired with sofas and chairs that have a softer appeal, like the ones pictured here. This table also needs no accessories and offers plenty of space for guests to set down a glass or cup.
When the sofa and chairs are all solid colors, a patterned coffee table can add a lively edge to the room. This black and white coffee table is part of the ChromaticO collection by Jaime Hayon. Stone is always a durable, family-friendly option and when it incorporates high style like this table does, it’s a distinctive choice for a living room or a family room.
The Future Perfect
Another artful stone coffee table option with a lighter look is this Geology Table 03 by Chen Chen and Kai Williams. The surface is made of stones that are split in half, the flat surface polished to a high gloss and the underside left natural. The individual chunks of stone are then set on a steel support frame. This is definitely a conversation starter and a coffee table that will always have you mesmerized, pondering the different patterns and shapes.
Sarah Myerscough Gallery
The sinuous lines of these sculptural coffee tables by Irish designer Joseph Walsh add elegance to any living room. Part of his Dommus Suite of furniture, the tables and other pieces are crafted from bleached ash in forms that present some seemingly impossible curves. Absolutely ideal for an entertaining space, these are an ideal way to add a wood coffee table to a more formal living room.
Functional Art Gallery
An avant-garde coffee table is a great design twist that can totally reshape your living room. Designed by Theophile Blandet, the table is an exploration of materials that comes together in a piece that is truly different. Highly artful, this coffee table will definitely spark discussion and be a focal point in a modern or eclectic living room.
Glamorous and earthy at the same time, the amethyst crystals at the center of this spectacular coffee table are definitely the focal point. Created by Jean Arriau, the Coffee Table Irusha is made from polished brass that is etched with a radiant design. Surrounding the crystal are the French words “Je t’ai trouvée – Pour toujours – La vie est belle” which translates into “I found you – Forever – Life is good.” This is an example of when a coffee table can be a spiritual addition to a living room.
Quark Bronze is one of a limited edition series of low coffee tables in a number of different materials. Created by French-born Emmanuel Babled, the tables are made in Plexiglas, copper, wood or marble. It is a large and dramatic coffee table, ideal for anchoring a large room. Its form is much like a major piece of sculpture, which only enhances its functional qualities. Babled combines traditional Italian craftsmanship with digital tools that help him create very precise pieces. He has worked in Paris and the in his own studio in Milan. From there, he moved Amsterdam and has now settled in Lisbon, continuing his work with a variety of materials.
Modern and weighty, this imposing yet intriguing coffee table is by Studio Nucleo. Called the Iron Age coffee table, it is indeed made from burnished iron. The cutouts are reflective and add extra dimension to the shape, which is already different thanks to the geometric cuts around the perimeter. The table was created exclusively for the Ammann Gallery by the Studio, which is a collective of artists and designers based in Torino, Italy.
Like a geometric mosaic, the Artide is a low table that is an art piece od hand-carved glass panels. Created by Ghiró Studios of Italy, the new design features a brass base and framing around each panel. The irregular pieces of brass on the surface are not just inlays, they are the table’s brass legs that extend up through the surface of the table. A limited edition of 12 tables was produced, along with two artists proofs. This is a spectacular table both from a distance for its shape and shine, and from a closer perspective for its artful details.
Cristina Grajales Gallery
Mexico City-based interior designer Gloria Cortina created this Mathias Coffee Table from hand-hammered patinated brass. The irregular geometric shapes fit together a bit like a puzzle but have a lot of versatility for an arrangement according to a specific space. Cortina generally works with materials like tropical wood, special types of stones, textured metals and sumptuous textiles that she sources locally as well as globally. Her work is a ” blend of Old World sophistication and Mexican flare” that has made her very popular among connoisseurs of high-end design in Mexico, writes the Cristina Grajales Gallery.
David Gill Gallery
Elegantly curving lines are characteristic of designs by the legendary Zaha Hadid and this coffee table is no exception. Made from aluminum coated with a polyurethane lacquer, the table is part of a limited edition set. The richly colored, glossy surface highlights the reflective angles and smooth silhouette. If you can’t live in a Hadid-designed building, having this table as the focus of your living room is just as good — maybe even better!
Dark and deeply veined, this marble coffee table by Hervé Langlais is from the Architectural Landscape Collection. It is made from Altissimo marble from Italy and inlaid with a geometric motif of polished brass. Its size is imposing and the brass detail is a more delicate counterpoint that draws you in to study the surface of the table, including the distinctive veining pattern. The table base is also polished brass.
OK, so technically this is a bench, also by Langlais, but we also love it as a coffee table design. The Banc Archs has a smaller footprint making it versatile for a tighter space. The piece is made from Santos rosewood with a thin strip of polished brass at the ends and on the middle arch at the bottom. The rosewood is particularly attractive with its beautiful grain on full display. The work is also from his Architectural Landscape Collection.
This marvelous vintage piece is a coffee table by Warsaw-born Jorge Zalszupin. The designer fled Poland for Romania, where he studied architecture before moving on to France and then Rio de Janeiro after WWII. The design is unique, with its rounded curves at the top, which are contrasted with the sharper angles of the end and leg shape. The top includes a hanging magazine rack, which is very different but also very functional. The wood is rich and glowing, a perfect example of a super special vintage piece of furniture.
Related: 21 Lift-Top Coffee Tables That Surprise You In The Best Way Possible
The Propeller Table by Samuel Marx looks just like its namesake. The vintage piece was created circa 1945 and the propellers around the base are designed to display books. The small ledge at the bottom of each of the eight wood sections is meant to hold up a book. The base rotates, allowing access to all the books from any side of the table. This is wonderful for artbook lovers who would like to display their favorites more openly than in a stack.
Magen H Gallery
For a spectacular sculpture that just happens to also be a coffee table, look no further than this work by René Broissant. Created in 1970, the base is made from iron and its sweeping shapes support a hefty, organically shaped glass top. A beveled edge that is highlighted by an opaque strip helps define the perimeter of the glass and frame the abstract base.
Striking in its simplicity, this coffee table by the renowned Gio Ponti is without a doubt a timeless piece. Designed around 1953, the oak and brass base supports a simple circle of glass, putting the unique intersecting design in full view. Ponti’s genius can be seen in his architectural as well as his design projects.
Priveekollektie Contemporary Art | Design
The Cloud coffee table by Barberini & Gunnell was created specifically for the Priveekollektie gallery. Made up of several separate forms, the table is made from orange onyx, supported by a base of solid brushed brass that has been coated to prevent oxidation. The artists said they “wanted to kidnap a cloud, slice it into thin sheets like it’s done with blocks of marble.” The rounded shapes and beautiful striations of the onyx, combined with the golden hue, do indeed conjure up visions of clouds. A very dreamy coffee table indeed!
A modern material joined together in an ancient way, the Medusa coffee table by Italian designer Andrea Anastasio is an assemblage of organic shapes, lashed together. The perspex pieces and chromed metal base are a contrast to the rounded forms of the sections and joining technique. Designed in 2018, Anastasio’s table is characteristic of his work, which reiterates “simple gestures or craft techniques like assemblage, weaving, collage, etc. or just by juxtaposing objects, underlining gestures and aspects of daily life that normally go unnoticed.”
Maria Wettergren Gallery
In another example of how simplicity can be striking, is this table from the Maria Wettergren Gallery. The cube frame that supports the base is deceptively simple but casts a geometric shadow that adds depth. Much like the shapes we drew in school to show depth, this table frame creates the same optical illusion in its shadow: To which side is the rectangle going.
From large and imposing tables to sleek, sculptural models and pieces that rely on simple geometry, artful coffee tables add more than just function to a living room. They add design flair and can be the focal point of the space in front of the sofa. Why go with a plain coffee table when there are so many specatcular design choices to make a room more exciting?