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  • matsuoka

    A number of furniture manufacturers are designing and producing quality tables that are as functional as they are beautiful. Photo: Matsuoka.

  • magnussen

    Look for added functionality like fold-out storage from today's coffee tables. Photo: Magnussen Home. 

  • LHB

    From simple to glamorous, there's a table available to meet the needs of most every room. Photo: Lexington Home Brands.

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From simple to glamorous, there's a table available to meet the needs of most every room. Photo: Lexington Home Brands.


Table Tips

Caroline Hipple of HB2 offers a few tips for finding your perfect table:

  • If you plan to use an area rug, it should be larger than your cocktail table.
  • Leave about 16 to 18 inches between your sofa seat and the edge of your table.
  • Average table height is about 16 to 18 inches for cocktail tables and 22 to 24 inches for end tables, and should correspond to your sofa’s arm height.
  • The height of console tables should relate to the back of your sofa, but are typically about 30 inches. “Width is relative, too, but a good size is about 52 inches long and 16 to 18 inches deep,” she says.

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  • Find Your Best Coffee Table

    Tips for choosing the most functional and stylish occasional tables for your room.

    by Jason Schneider

    The right coffee (or cocktail) table can add a finishing touch to your room. But how do you choose one that will be the perfect complement to your décor—and your lifestyle?


    Consider This …

    When thinking about a new coffee table, there are some important considerations, says Caroline Hipple of HB2 Resources. Hipple, along with her partner Dixon Bartlett, were instrumental in developing the Turning House furniture line.

    “Consider the room, the use, and especially, who will be using it,” she says. “Is this for a family room full of activity or the living room reserved for guests?”

    Hipple says to ask yourself a few questions before you shop:

    • What overall mood do you want to create in the room—casual “put-up-your-feet” or refined tradition?
    • What kind of seating group will the table anchor? What kind of rug will the table be paired with?
    • Will you use the table as a modern version of a TV tray? Is your entertainment area nearby?
    • What kind of storage will you need (magazines, DVDs, linens for a fold-out sofa)?
    • Will you be playing games? If so, what kind (board games, cards, video games)?


    Just the Right Size

    Coffee tables come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you know what size is right for you and your room?

    When choosing the size, says Hipple, consider the relationship to the sofa, chairs and general conversation area. “Many families err on the small side, so in this case, less is generally not more,” she says. “When in doubt, go larger—you’ll find the extra space useful and functional.”

    For finding the perfect size table for your space, Mark Smith, president of Emerson, et Cie, offers the following tips:

    • Your table should be 40- to 50-percent of the width of your couch.
    • In terms of depth, consider the flow of traffic around the table.
    • Typical coffee table height is usually 20 inches. Contemporary tables are lower, while formal tables are higher.


    Dare to be Different

    Coffee tables are no longer just “tables.” As lifestyles have evolved, so have form and function. Alternatives to the traditional coffee table, according to Smith and Hipple, include:

    • Anything designed for storage, such as trunks (old or new) and baskets
    • Leather, fur or fabric ottomans—look out for ones that even turn into beds


    A Mix of Styles

    While there are tables in every style and material imaginable, mixed materials are taking center stage. “Hot now are reclaimed or re-purposed industrial materials juxtaposed with an elegant design ethos to create a beautiful mix of weathered woods and oxidized metals, or wavy antique glass,” says Hipple. Smith adds that mixed media, such as iron or brass with wood and lacquers, are popular.


    Match Game

    Years ago, people purchased suites of furniture, in which everything matched. That’s no longer the case, particularly with tables.

    “People are living more eclectic lives, and traveling more,” says Smith. “They shouldn’t feel the need to coordinate any of their tables, except for size.”

    Hipple agrees. “Today it’s all about the mix,” she says. “It’s fine to have  matching end tables, but choose a complementary cocktail table by choosing a coordinating element, whether color or material, but varying the wood or tone.”