By Kelly O’Roark
When designing a living room, one of the first things on the to-do list is to find the perfect sofa, loveseat, chairs, and coffee table. While a coffee table might seem like an afterthought in relation to the sofa, loveseat, and chairs, it’s actually an integral piece in a living room set, as it’s what brings everything – and everyone – together. From game night to book club, it’s a place where a deck of cards, a bowl of popcorn, or a cup of coffee, can play a supporting role in creating memories. Because of that, it’s important that you have a coffee table that fits perfectly with your furniture and the size of your living room. So exactly how big is a coffee table supposed to be? That’s a great question, which thankfully, has a straightforward answer.
All you need is a measuring tape and about 15 minutes of time to determine which coffee table will best complement your seating area. Here are three factors that will help you determine which size coffee table is best for your living room.
When it comes to choosing the right coffee table, the height is the most important factor. The height of the coffee table compared to the sofa should be same. There is a little leeway, as the table can be 1 to 2 inches shorter, although it should never be higher than the sofa. The average height of a coffee table is anywhere from 16 to 20 inches, and usually somewhere in between since the height of most seat cushions on sofas and loveseats is about 18 inches.
In this specific living room, the top of the cushions on both couches are 19 inches from the ground, which means that an ideal coffee table height would be the same height. The coffee table chosen for this room stands 19 inches high, which is a perfect match. Since both heights are level, this makes it easy for people to access food, drink, and other items from a seated position.
Another important factor to consider is the length of a coffee table in relation to the length of the sofa. While you want a table that’s long enough to be in everyone’s reach, it shouldn’t look like a banquet table, as you want enough space to move around the table when walking in and out of the room. The best rule of thumb is to find a coffee table that is two-thirds of the length of the main sofa. In order to determine which size you’ll need, measure the length of your longer sofa (not the loveseat).
This particular sofa is 75 inches in length, which means that the coffee table needs to be approximately 50 inches long. This table fits the bill, and is exactly two-thirds of the size of the sofa.
If you like to double-check your measurements like I do, you can ensure that the table you’ve ordered is the right length once it arrives without using a tape measure. Once you have your coffee table, you can quickly and easily double-check the ‘two-thirds’ formula by lining up the coffee table with your main sofa. In this case, this visual aide solidifies our original measurements, as the coffee table ends where the last third of the couch begins.
When placing the coffee table in the center of the living room, it’s important to make sure that it’s not too close or too far away from the sofas and chairs. You’ll want to create a comfortable amount of legroom and enough of an opening where people can walk through easily, while still being able to reach the table when sitting. The ideal distance from the coffee table to the sofa is 18 inches.
Since this is an open-concept room, there’s plenty of space to do this. However, if your living room is small, you can get away with having as little as 12 inches of space between the sofas and the coffee table. (But again, the more legroom the better, if you can swing it.) Once the coffee table is centered at the ideal distance, you’re living room setup is complete!
Choosing the right size coffee table is simple when following this simple formula. The height, length, and distance in relation to the sofas will help you determine which table is best suited for your living room, so that you can focus on more important things – like the memories that will be made around that table.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Kelly O'Roark