This is the Number One Rule of Thumb for Picking Out a Coffee Table

published Jun 13, 2021
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Credit: Rikki Snyder

The Small/Cool Experience is a shoppable online home design showcase and social event full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Genesis G70, LUMAS, Overstock, Tuft & Needle, Chasing Paper, and Interior Define for making this experience possible.

Coffee tables are the tiny unsung heroes of living rooms: they’re the prime spot to store drinks, kick up your feet, and stash your favorite books and trinkets. So picking out the perfect one for your own space shouldn’t be taken lightly. With the amount of options and styles out there (round! rectangular! acrylic!), the shopping process can definitely feel overwhelming. That’s why, before you buy, there’s one huge thing to consider: how you want your coffee table to function.

Albie Buabeng, known for her home inspo Insta account Albie Knows, walked Apartment Therapy readers through tips for selecting the perfect coffee table in an Instagram video as part of the online 2021 Small/Cool Experience. The first step? Ask yourself one question: “How is it going to serve you in your space?” Buabeng advises that “when you’re thinking about choosing your coffee table, first and foremost you need to think about how you’re going to be using it.”

Sounds like a no brainer question, right? It’s a table. But if you take a moment to really think about your lifestyle and how you specifically plan to use your coffee table, you’ll start to narrow down this vast shopping category in important ways. “Is it just going to be a centerpiece, but also someplace you can put down drinks?” says Buabeng. “Or do you need it to serve an additional purpose, like a storage table?”

Credit: Rikki Snyder

For her own home, Buabeng turned to the latter, with a stylish round wooden coffee table from Apt 2B that features a hollow interior and a barely-there lid for tucking things away inside. (And yes, note to self, coffee tables can come with storage and organizing solutions.) Buabeng’s specifically has room for an extra set of bedding that goes with her family’s sleeper sofa. And, speaking of family, she also opted for a round coffee table because it’s more kid-friendly (and can offset other furniture with a lot of 90 degree angles).

Check out the video on Instagram for more coffee-table shopping tips, and shop some designer-approved coffee tables captured in the rooms of the Small/Cool Experience.