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    Difference Between a Coffee Table and a Sofa Table

    Where to Use Coffee Tables and Sofa Tables

    Coffee Table vs. Sofa Table

    Coffee tables and sofa tables are popular living room furnishings that enhance the style and functionality of your space. However, there are a few major differences between the two that may affect which one you choose for your home. It’s important to know the features of each so you can pick a table that fits your space, your decorating style, and your practical needs.

    This article covers the key differences between coffee tables vs. sofa tables, including:

    Discover whether you should round out your living room design with a coffee table or a sofa table.
    Discover whether you should round out your living room design with a coffee table or a sofa table.

    What is a Coffee Table vs. a Sofa Table?

    In most homes, a coffee table is the centerpiece of the living room layout. Timeless and highly functional, these pieces often provide a landing spot for TV remotes and magazines, a place to serve refreshments or a space for your loved ones to gather around and play cards or a board game.

    A sofa table, on the other hand, is primarily a decorative piece that offers a few practical storage features. Also known as console tables, these furnishings can fit neatly behind a couch, loveseat or sectional. However, their versatile designs make them a fitting accent for other areas of the home as well.

    A coffee table is often the center of an intimate conversation area, while sofa tables tend to work best behind or beside seating arrangements.
    A coffee table is often the center of an intimate conversation area, while sofa tables tend to work best behind or beside seating arrangements.

    Key Differences Between Sofa Tables and Coffee Tables

    If you’re trying to figure out whether to decorate your living room with a coffee table or a sofa table, it’s important to know what makes each option unique. Learning about their differences can help you determine which table type would best suit the size and function of your various layouts. Check out the following comparisons so you can make an informed decision between these two tables.

    Sizes & Shapes

    General coffee and sofa table sizes become obvious when you look at these pieces side-by-side. Coffee tables typically have wider, low-profile designs, while console tables usually feature tall, slim frames. Both table types come in various shapes and sizes, however, so finding their precise dimensions can show you which one best fits your space and complements the other furniture in the room.

    To ensure a cohesive look, choose a console or coffee table that fits your room and has similar dimensions to the other furnishings in the space.
    To ensure a cohesive look, choose a console or coffee table that fits your room and has similar dimensions to the other furnishings in the space.

    Coffee Table Dimensions

    Most coffee tables usually stand somewhere between 16 and 18 inches tall. Length and width measurements for these pieces vary depending on whether you select a round, rectangular, square or oval-shaped option. However, they usually fall between 48 to 54 inches long and 24 to 30 inches wide.

    A coffee table should sit just below your sofa or sectional seat to keep TV remotes, drinks and snacks within reach. If you have the space, select a long, wide coffee table that can hold plenty of living room essentials. Otherwise, you can choose a small coffee table or a set of stackable nesting tables with similar dimensions to the other modest furnishings in your small living room.

    When placing a coffee table in front of a reclining sofa or sectional, be sure to leave enough room between the two furnishings to avoid bumping into the table as you recline the seat.

    Sofa Table Dimensions

    Although they can come in smaller sizes, most sofa tables are roughly 15 to 20 inches wide and between 25 and 30 inches tall, which is similar to the height of a typical sofa. Your console table should be the same height or lower than the back of your low-profile or high-back couch, so keep that in mind as you browse different sizes.

    Due to their sleek, narrow frames, sofa tables tend to take up less space than coffee tables. However, you can find some longer models that are closer in length to your sectional sofa. You can also discover units with wide square, oval or half-moon designs if you want a larger console table for your roomy layout.

    A demi-lune table sits just a few inches below the back of a loveseat.
    A demi-lune table sits just a few inches below the back of a loveseat.

    Placement Options

    Although you usually find both these table types close to a couch, their flexible designs can work for a range of different setups. For example, setting a coffee table in the center of your seating area gives each guest easy access to the items on the tabletop. However, if you live in a tiny apartment, a small coffee table could also serve as a side table between a loveseat and a small sectional.

    Sofa tables are usually along the edges of a living room seating set rather than in the middle. Those who live in studio apartments and homes with open floor plans might use sofa tables as dividers between rooms, though they also work well as decoration against a blank wall. Some people use these consoles in entryways, hallways and dining rooms as well.

    While putting a coffee table in front of your couch and a sofa table behind it is a common practice, you can place these tables in different areas to create a unique arrangement of your own.
    While putting a coffee table in front of your couch and a sofa table behind it is a common practice, you can place these tables in different areas to create a unique arrangement of your own.

    Typical Uses

    A coffee table’s height and position are ideal for keeping remotes, magazines and a cup of coffee within easy reach. Many provide storage drawers and display shelves which allow you to keep items handy yet out of the way. Some tables come with a lift top, which can be convenient for storage, laptop use or eating quick meals.

    Some living room sets may come with a cocktail ottoman that offers similar functionality to a coffee table. Wide surfaces give you a place to set a tray of snacks and drinks, while the plush, upholstered surface also makes it the perfect footrest or impromptu seating option for your comfortable setup.

    Use a coffee table with drawers, cubbies and shelves for storing living room essentials.
    Use a coffee table with drawers, cubbies and shelves for storing living room essentials.

    Along with helping you put a beautiful finishing touch on your interior design, sofa tables give you a place to display decorative accents like framed photos, table lamps, vases of flowers and silk floral bouquets. Some console tables also have shelves, drawers and cabinets to help you keep your layout tidy and clutter-free.

    Many sofa tables also offer storage features and spacious tops to display decor.
    Many sofa tables also offer storage features and spacious tops to display decor.

    Coffee Tables & Sofa Tables by Style

    Both sofa and console tables can enhance your design and make a beautiful statement in your home. A glass and silver coffee table brightens up your layout and makes a striking impression on visitors. Meanwhile, an elegant console table in the foyer gives guests a sense of your stylish personality from the moment they walk through the door.

    If you like the timeless appeal of a classic coffee table, consider choosing a model with a cherry or dark wood finish, clawfoot legs and a sleek Mission-style frame. Traditional sofa tables feature a similar look and may also have fluted or curved legs and antique pulls. You could also go for a vintage aesthetic with tables in a shabby chic blue or pink color and distressed detailing.

    Capture a vintage look with a shabby chic sofa and coffee table set.
    Capture a vintage look with a shabby chic sofa and coffee table set.

    Modern coffee tables are low to the ground to support a clean, streamlined look. Sleek acrylic, marble or metal tables work well with white or black leather sectionals. Taking on a more abstract shape, a modern sofa table with a unique base and glamorous gold or mirrored accents adds shine and shape to your look.

    Two sleek sofa and coffee tables complement this contemporary sectional.
    Two sleek sofa and coffee tables complement this contemporary sectional.

    Which is Best: Coffee Table or Sofa Table?

    Coffee tables and sofa tables have different dimensions and often serve different needs. Many living rooms feature one or both of these table types as stylish and functional elements of their overall design. If you’re struggling to choose between one or the other, consider adding both of them to your setup.

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