Coffee Table Height & Size Guide

Brosa Shamal Rectangular Coffee Table styled in coastal living room

Shamal Coffee Table | Shop all coffee tables

It’s got the name of our favourite beverage in its title, so it’s no wonder that a coffee table is one of the most integral elements of any living room. A place to rest your cup of joe (or your feet), relax with a movie or TV show and let the worries of the day fade away, coffee tables are multifunctional and important to absolutely nail.

As a result, there are quite a few factors at play when choosing a coffee table – will it be big enough to house your dinner plates on a chilled-out night at home, or to accommodate a sprawling board game when the kids have friends over? The activities you plan on using it for will inform what kind of coffee table you opt for, and its overall height and size.

If you’re ready to upgrade your coffee table, keep reading to discover a few must-know tips that will help you through the process.

Consider its primary function

Weigh up your day-to-day life and ask yourself – what do we use the coffee table for the most? If you’re a rough and ready family with a variety of uses for your coffee table, you’ll likely want something durable and sturdy, rather than ornate. On the other hand, if it’s simply a place to rest your drinks and some gorgeous hardcover books, you can opt for an intricate statement piece.

Once you’ve determined the main function of your coffee table, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision when it comes to size, height, shape and style.

Table shapes

Traditionally, coffee tables are rectangular, however that isn’t a hard and fast rule! Rectangular coffee tables have their perks, and are particularly well-balanced with a sofa due to their similar shapes. This means that everyone can access the surface space, whether that’s to lay down a teacup or put up their feet.

Brosa Blake Indoor / Outdoor Coffee Table in modern contemporary living room

Blake Indoor / Outdoor Coffee Table | Shop all coffee tables

However, depending on the style of your room, why not give another shape a try? Oval coffee tables are becoming increasingly more popular, and can add some excitement to the space amongst a lot of clean, straight lines. As long as you ensure the coffee table is still long enough for everyone to reach, you really can’t go wrong!

Clearance around the coffee table

Now that you’re feeling confident about the type of coffee table you’re after, and perhaps its shape, consider the clearance on all sides of your new furniture piece. Everyone who’s seated at the coffee table will need adequate leg room, but they’ll also need to be near enough to set down their items without having to stand up every time! (There’s absolutely nothing worse, trust us.) Aim for between 30cm and 45cm on all sides of your coffee table to allow for ample space for seated guests, as well as a healthy amount of room to walk around it.

Don’t forget to plan for this space when you’re envisioning the layout of your living room. It’s crucial that your coffee table is not just adequately spaced with your sofa, but also the entertainment unit, the walls and any other features within the room.

Optimal measurements

So, based on all of these elements, what size should your coffee table be? A common size is approximately 120cm in length and 60cm in width, although this definitely varies based on the style and shape of the coffee table. And, of course, this isn’t to say that’s an ideal size for your home – be sure to measure exactly how much space you have and choose accordingly. Remember, some families or homes may not require something as large as is average.

Height matters

Brosa Huber Coffee Table styled in classic traditional living room

Huber Coffee Table | Shop all coffee tables

Once the length and width are sorted, height is the final variable you’ll need to sort out before you dive into the fun stuff. A typical coffee table is between 40cm and 50cm tall, to accommodate the average height of your sofa (and the humans that sit on it!). Although most coffee tables are inherently a suitable height, consider whether it has a rim or ‘lip’ that’s taller than a comfortable height. If this is the case, the table should be slightly lower to allow for this.

Don’t forget the kids

If you’ve got children at home, there are a few additional things to mull over before you make that big purchase. Although rectangular tables are timeless, they might pose a hazard for families with kids, as they have sharp corners. To keep your little ones safe from harm, choose a round or oval-shaped coffee table in its place.

Mia Coffee Table styled in Scandinavian living room

Mia Coffee Table | Shop all coffee tables

Kids also affect the way you use your coffee table. You’ve probably identified this already, but if not, think about how your children might make use of this space. Smooth, round edges mean they can sit right up against the coffee table, creating the perfect foundation for doing homework, playing games or colouring in.

Match your style

The aforementioned ‘fun stuff’? This is it! Your home likely has a distinctive style, so your coffee table is just another opportunity to show it off and express your individual design tastes.

Here are a few things that typify coffee tables of varying styles: 

  • Scandinavian: Light wood, thin, even legs, gently curved edges. 
  • Mid century modern: Geometric shapes, chestnut-toned wood. 
  • Modern contemporary: Sleek lines, cool colours (black, white), metals. 
  • French provincial: Curved legs, intricate detailing, white or light wood. 
  • Classic traditional: Sturdy shapes, dark wood, bold shapes. 
  • Coastal: Light wood, simple shapes and detailing. 
  • New Art Deco: Metal legs, interesting surface materials (e.g. marble). 
  • Hamptons: Whitewashed wood, rectangular shapes. 

Keep in mind, as you let style form your decision, that certain designs can also impact space and functionality. Ornate trim may cut down on your usable surface area, whereas a glass top might not be the best choice with a rambunctious brood of kids or pets. Some tables may have feet that splay out from the base of the table, or elements that jut out from the main surface.

Every coffee table will have its distinctive features, but as long as you prepare for them, they’ll only add to the room rather than detract from it.

Other uses

Of course, we’re just working off a very basic model of a coffee table, here! There are also so many pieces that have quirky, exciting or multifunctional elements that diversify its uses within your space. From shelves to storage drawers and more, these are great additions to a coffee table and may be the make-or-break feature that helps cement your choice. Just ensure that, once again, you’re aware of how these elements may impact the placement and functionality of your piece.

Alternative coffee tables

Olsen Nest of Tables styled in mid century modern living room

Olsen Nest of Tables | Shop all coffee tables

If you’re still feeling a bit unsure about a coffee table, why not veer away from the traditional? Whether it’s a repurposed object or a different style and placement, there’s something to suit every furniture owner and their unique life. Consider smaller tables dotted around the space, acting as individual coffee tables for different parts of the sofa, or perhaps a nested set of tables that can be moved around as your needs grow and change.

Try it out

Finally, if in doubt, the best way to select the perfect coffee table – in terms of size, height and simply overall – is to try it out. If you don’t have a specific piece in mind, but want to test out the size, use some removable painter’s tape to measure out a space in your living room.

Already have a piece in mind? Try out Brosa’s View at Home feature, which uses augmented reality (AR) technology to position the furniture pieces you love as if they were in your home, without even lifting a finger.

Brosa’s range of coffee tables is expertly curated, with gorgeous, carefully crafted options for every home. Shop coffee tables today with Brosa and access Australia-wide shipping, virtual styling services and much more.