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Coffee tables are definite attention-getters. Their central place in a living room, often literally, accords them a major starring role, so it’s little wonder that shopping for this centerpiece presents some challenges. With the wide variety of contemporary tables available, arriving at the ideal design for your space may take a good deal of time and effort. Typically, size, shape and materials will be the primary deciding factors when you start shopping, so review these guidelines to help narrow your choices down:
While the size of a room and its related space limitations will obviously determine how large or small you finally buy, size (in and of itself) is less of a factor than size in relation to the other furnishings in a room or space. A coffee table that appears to be the perfect size out of context, may not be nearly as impactful when viewed along with the furniture, lighting, and decor already in place, while a central table that appears to be too small may end up looking perfect in your home. So, rather than fixate on size, think about the overall composition of your room first, and how your coffee table will fit into that composition—how prominent or understated a role it will play—and then shop accordingly.
Square, round, hexagon, asymmetrical. There’s no such thing as a perfect shape for because shape is specific to a table’s design features and the personal preferences of its owner. Whether or not a particular shape is better for your space is impossible to predict, so don’t get too invested in shape over other more important things, like quality, style, and how it fits into the room’s overall design scheme. Consider the rest of the elements in your room or space, how decorative or practical you want your table to be, and, of course, how passionately you feel about a particular design.
From glass to wood, steel to plastic, the material choices for coffee tables is almost limitless. But remember that like a sofa or favorite chair, the hard working coffee table tends to see a lot of use. Unlike other pieces of furniture, though, these tables tend not to fall out of fashion easily, making the investment in a well-designed, piece worthy long-term investment.
Expensive contemporary tables, which are made from precious materials or are one-of-a-kind designs, may be visually arresting, but may also require extra care and maintenance. The key is to focus on how you expect your coffee table to be used, and which materials make more sense for your particular needs. Glass, certain metals, and plastic composites typically are low-maintenance materials, requiring little more than a wipe with a damp cloth, while polished, high-quality wood may be easily marked by liquids, for instance, requiring coasters or other maintenance considerations. When shopping for designer coffee tables, simplicity, quality and longevity remain good guidelines—as they do for all modern design.