The coffee table is the unsung hero of your living room; a style anchor. The ultimate in furniture multi-tasking, its job is to unify the room visually, whilst acting as a footstool, dining table, display surface and storage centre.
It follows that choosing the right one for your living room is not a task to be underestimated, in terms of getting the style right for your living room to follow. Take cues from its age, material or size and springboard other decorating details from there.
An upcycled vintage chest might lend a lived-in patina that can be picked up in old books, a vintage armchair or hand-loomed Indian floor rug. Alternatively, an up-to-the-minute brass-and-glass design may inform your choice of a contemporary, streamlined sofa.
If you’re trying to work out why your living room design is not what it should be, look to your coffee table as a good place to start. “Your coffee table is the central focus of your living room,” says HB deputy editor Jane Parbury. “A centrepoint for you to display your treasures, as well as a practical addition to you living space. But it can be extremely hard to find the right style and size.”
“I love coffee tables for their form and function," says HB features editor Christina Beischl. "Pick the right one and it will not only give you a spot to put your cups and magazines, it can be a really stylish addition, adding a bit of extra ‘wow’ to your living room.”
“Try not to over clutter it,” says HB stylist Tilly Roberts. “If you have a beautiful piece to display, let it speak for itself.”
"I'd rather an enormous, oversized ottoman that you can put a tray on - then it doubles as a foot rest"Holly Byrne
Digital content editor and founder of Wee Birdy, Rebecca Lowrey Boyd is a mid-century modern girl, so naturally has a Parker coffee table. “When we're expecting visitors I love styling it up with a tray, books and pot plant,” she says.
“My coffee table now serves as TV cabinet,” says BHG digital content editor Livia Gamble. “In its place I’ve grouped together a pair of Kmart ottomans to act as my coffee table. I have a two-seater and three-seater sofa and it really fills the space and brings everything together.”
Of course, the need for a coffee table is not always paramount to your living room - functionality has a part to play.
HB editor Sarah Burman has a toddler, who kept hitting his head on the sharp corners of their coffee table – so for now she’s done away with it. “I also have a really small living room,” says Sarah. “I’m waiting for a bigger house to accommodate a nice round coffee table – that’s my dream.”
Digital content manager for food, family and home, Hannah Crawley doesn’t feel the need for a coffee table in their current living room layout, instead favoring floor cushions strewn around her large modular lounge suite, part of which is on wheels. “Once upon a time we upcycled an old landscape painting from the Salvos, laid it over a couple of milk crates and topped it with glass,” says Hannah. Now their lifestyle is more about flexibility. “We have an open plan living space that opens onto our outdoor room – so in summer we spend a lot of our time outside,” she says. “In winter, we tend to snuggle up with cushions and throws on the sofa.”
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