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Coffee tables have become hardworking living room staples thanks to their many functions. A coffee table is a place to set drinks, stash magazines, organize remotes and display fun decor. Because of its central placement, it’s often referred to as a center table and can serve as the focal point of the room. You’ll want to ensure that it fits and complements your space perfectly, keep the following tips in mind when considering your coffee table options:

What type of coffee table will suit my lifestyle?

To determine this, think about how you’ll be using your table. If you love to entertain, you may want a round living room coffee table to encourage guests to gather around. If you’re trying to anchor your furniture arrangement, a square coffee table works well to define a seating area. Looking to combine a coffee table with storage? Seek out unique coffee tables with lift tops, shelves or drawers. A storage coffee table that doubles as an ottoman is also a stylish and functional option available on Houzz. Want one that displays decorative items but doesn’t make a loud statement? Consider a glass coffee table: it’s easy to maintain and it’ll blend right in with its surroundings.

What size coffee table do I need?

This isn’t a simple decision between small coffee tables and an oversized coffee table. It depends on the size of your seating around the table. A coffee table should measure about two-thirds the length of your sofa and allow 16 to 18 inches between it and the surrounding furniture. In general, the coffee table height should be approximately the same as the sofa’s cushions. If space is at a premium, turn to a round or oval coffee table. Without sharp edges, they’re easier to walk around if the surrounding furniture is closer than usual. If you have an oversized sectional, a large coffee table will allow everyone to access the surface regardless of where they’re sitting.

Read our Coffee Table Height Guide for more coffee table dimensions.

What material works best for coffee tables?

These pieces tend to get a lot of use, so quality should definitely be a standard when you’re comparing different options. A wood coffee table is a nearly foolproof choice. Durable and versatile, wood can withstand the wear-and-tear of daily use. A glass top or acrylic coffee table tend to be pricier, but are long-lasting and timeless. For particularly budget-friendly center tables, consider a reed, bamboo or wicker coffee table.

How can I protect my coffee table?

These pieces are also called cocktail tables, and for good reason — they become a resting place for beverages more often than not. Along with that comes the potential for scratches and water damage, so use coasters to maintain your table’s pristine condition for years to come. Regardless of whether your coffee table is carefully sealed, water rings have a way of leaving their mark. Plus, coasters can double as decor! Also, watch out for wayward feet as well: shoes can leave unsightly marks, so politely ask guest to remove them on their way inside.