Is it even a living room without a coffee table?
Coffee tables came into the limelight during the Victorian era, and their popularity has only grown since then. Owing to their multi-purpose utility, it comes as no surprise that they have become more of a necessity than a luxury.
However, choosing the perfect coffee table isn’t something you can do in an instant. So that it serves its purpose without requiring you to strain your muscles, your preferred coffee table should be of the right height. The question then becomes – what is the ideal coffee table height?
To answer this, we’ve curated a comprehensive yet easy guide that will help you to calculate the perfect height for your coffee table.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
What Is The Perfect Coffee Table Height?
To answer it simply, we can say that the ideal height of a coffee table should be between 16 inches and 18 inches. But there’s more to the story. Determining the perfect height should take into account a handful of critical factors, the most important of which are the height of the sofa and the subsequent seating arrangement.
In the following sections, we walk you through different seating arrangements and the corresponding coffee table height that fits them the best.
Standard Height/Couch Level
Going back to the average height we mentioned before, coffee tables ranging from 16 inches to 18 inches in height are ideal for couches that are not more than 20 inches high. This is based on a rule of thumb that the top of the coffee table shouldn’t be more than 1 or 2 inches lower than the height of the seat cushion.
Moreover, such a setup allows everyone to comfortably reach the table without putting too much strain on their back. Not only that, but a lower table surface ensures that whatever you keep atop doesn’t obstruct your view across.
Should you decide to rest your feet on the table, your legs stay on an almost perfect level with the ground and don’t have an awkward steep or downward incline. However, a standard coffee table may sit relatively low for overstuffed cushioned sofas so that’s where the coffee table height has to be put in relation to the couch.
Taller Than The Couch
It’s not unusual to find coffee tables that are significantly taller than the couch. You may opt for a tall coffee table if you have:
- A shorter couch
- Low-profile seating arrangements like a ground sofa
- Enthusiastic pets
- Storage space underneath the table
Tall coffee tables with a height between 19 inches and 21 inches are generally preferred for sofas that are lower than 17 inches (average sofa height). This is because you may not find anything shorter than a 10-inch couch, for instance. Likewise, if you have a ground sofa, even the shortest coffee table will seem tall!
However, short sofas and couches aren’t the only reason why people may opt for tall coffee tables in the first place. Several homeowners prefer to have an elevated coffee table to prevent their pets from climbing them. Thus, we’d recommend going for one such table if you want to keep its surface above your cat or dog’s eye-and-nose level.
The elevated surface of your coffee table will come in handy if you have storage space underneath. As a result, you won’t have to bend too much to get hold of your favorite book or magazine.
Taller coffee tables are also preferred if they double up as dining tables as the increased height saves you from stretching and bending for each bite.
Sure, tall coffee tables don’t provide very comfortable ease of access when compared to the standard ones. But that doesn’t mean it should deprive you of any comfort at all. For this reason, most interior designs suggest purchasing a table that is not more than 4 inches taller than the cushion.
Anything taller than that, and it might look like there’s a dining table between your sofas! Plus, if you plan on decorating it with a showpiece, the resultant height will surely obstruct your view while talking to the person across or watching the TV.
Homeowners may often find themselves in a fix when their coffee table sits too low for the couch. Of course, a quick solution to this problem is buying a table with an appropriate height.
But the situation can become tricky if the existing one perfectly matches the decor, and a taller variant isn’t available at the moment. Moreover, they might not want an added expenditure for the same purpose.
In such cases, there’s a cheaper and more effective DIY alternative to ease your troubles. All you will need is a piece of the table’s surface material (for example, glass or wood). Its thickness will depend on the height that you’re looking to achieve. Similarly, the length and width should perfectly match the dimensions of the tabletop.
Once you have it, go ahead and secure it on the table with a hot glue gun, double-sided tape, or rubber vacuum suction cups. Additionally, you may also paint it with the same color as that of the table. Not only will this elevate the top, but it will also amp the decor of your room.
Another way of increasing the coffee table height is to add a surface between the table and the ground, but it may not be of much help. Firstly, the material has to be sturdy enough to tolerate the weight of the table.
So, instead of a 4-inch thick wooden plank, you may end up using a whole wooden box. Besides, there’s the risk of staining the floor or rug. And we’d highly recommend against using glass for this purpose.
Coffee Table Buyer’s Guide
Height is an important, but not the only factor that makes your preferred coffee table perfect. There are multiple aspects that should be considered before taking that final call. And now that you have a fair idea about deciding on the ideal height, let’s have a look at some of the other points to take into account.
Homeowners generally follow the ‘two-thirds rule’ while determining the length of the coffee table. In that sense, the table’s length should be about two-thirds the length of the sofa. So, for an average three-seat sofa that’s 84 inches long, the length of the coffee table should be at least 54 inches.
This guideline ensures that the coffee table is in proportion to the seating around it and doesn’t look disproportionately big or small. While long coffee tables can hinder movement, small tables don’t provide adequate access to everyone sitting on the sofa.
This brings us to another crucial aspect-the placement. Make sure that you leave a minimum of 12 to 18-inch space between the coffee table and the surrounding seating. By doing so, you allow an averagely tall person to effortlessly get on and off the sofa.
Additionally, this gives him sufficient room to stretch his legs fully. And there are fewer risks of people bumping into the table while walking around.
Coffee tables come in various shapes, and each one has a role to play in enhancing the overall setup.
Round coffee tables are a popular choice for rounded or overstuffed couches. But when paired with angled sofas, they help soften the look and add a touch of warmth to the decor.
Just like round coffee tables, oval coffee tables are capable of softening the room’s overall look, especially if you have a lot of sharp edges around. The sinuous look thus created also aids visual flow.
A square or rectangular-shaped coffee table should be your go-to if there’s too much roundness in the room. It will come in especially handy if the goal is to maintain sharp lines throughout the decor.
- Light Colors
Light-colored coffee tables have a significant role to play in making the space look bigger and airy. They don’t have to be in the exact color as the other furniture, but a similar shade or tone will definitely render a classy charm!
- Dark Colors
Not to the point of making the room appear cramped or poorly lit, but dark-colored coffee tables can break the monotony of pale colors. We’d highly recommend opting for one if your living room is adorned with a combination of light-colored sofas against white walls.
- Shakers Coffee Table
Shakers coffee tables are known for their minimalist designs and multi-purpose functionality. Mostly made of wood, almost all of them have a designated storage space with metal pulls (for drawers).
- Cottage Coffee Tables
Available in different shapes, these coffee tables are mostly characterized by turned legs and painted or distressed finishes.
- Industrial Coffee Tables
As the name suggests, industrial coffee tables replicate the look and feel of factory tools with their metal or wooden structures and sturdy constructions.
- Mid-Century Coffee Tables
Sporting clean, simple lines and bentwood or molded plastic finishes, mid-century coffee tables are bound to please the minimalistic in you!
- Parsons Coffee Tables
Whether square or rectangular, the most striking feature of this type of coffee table is its thick legs.
- Contemporary Coffee Tables
Contemporary coffee tables are popular for their unusual designs and quirky blend of shapes. These are mostly made of metal and may sometimes have a glass top.
Some Important Tips
Before we wrap up the guide, here are some quick words of advice:
- Make sure that you have measured the height of your couch correctly. For this, grab a measuring tape and secure one of its ends against the bottom. The other end should be placed just above the surface of the seat cushion.
- If your living room has multiple separate seats, try to place individual coffee tables on each end for better convenience.
So, what is the perfect height of a coffee table?
If you ask us, we’d say that it depends mostly on the seating arrangement. The height that suits your tall couch may not be of any use for someone who has a ground sofa. Apart from that, the width and shape can also influence the height you finally opt for.
For example, the width of a round coffee table may be such that you don’t have to stretch your arms at all! In that case, even a shorter height won’t be too troubling. But it may significantly impact the clearance.
Hence, we’d suggest devoting considerable time to planning out things before you make that purchase. And as far as cost is concerned, the diverse price range starts from below $100 and can extend well beyond $1000.
So, there is a 100% chance that you will find something per your needs and within your budget.
That’s all the time we have for today. Adios!