Coffee Table Buying Guide by Gillmore British Design

Coffee tables are essential furniture items in any living room or family room. They serve a practical purpose for holding drinks and remote controls, but they can also add to the overall design aesthetic of the room. With so many options, buying a coffee table for your space can feel overwhelming. Fear not; that's why we've put together this coffee table buying guide to help you make an informed decision. We will cover the key considerations when buying a coffee table and placement and arrangement tips. By the end of this guide, you'll have all the information you need to select a coffee table that meets your style preferences and functional needs.

How to Choose a Coffee Table

The choice of coffee table designs available to you is extensive, so to narrow down your options, here are the top considerations when you buy a coffee table:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Material
  • Style
  • Functionality


One of the top considerations when selecting a designer coffee table is size. The size of your new living room table should be proportional to the size of your room or seating area. A coffee table that is too small or too large will throw off the balance of the space. A good rule of thumb is to choose a coffee table approximately two-thirds the length of your sofa.

Coffee Table Shapes

The shape of your coffee table is also essential to the overall look of your living room. Square or rectangular coffee tables are some of the most popular choices. These can work well in many different living room designs. However, round or oval-shaped coffee tables are superb for smaller spaces and add a softer touch to a room. A round coffee table with no sharp edges may be safer if you have young children. Our Finn round coffee tables can overlap, giving you ample usable space. You can also move them around and create different functional areas when entertaining.


The material and finish of your coffee table will impact its overall look and feel. Metal coffee tables are ideal for an industrial interior design. However, by carefully selecting metal, one table design can suit many different interior design trends. For example, brass and polished chrome metal have a classical feel. Black powder polish offers a more industrial or Scandinavian vibe, and our Finn coffee tables provide these options and more.

In contrast, wooden coffee tables are a classic option that can work well in various styles, from traditional to modern. Glass coffee tables can create a sleek, contemporary look. The Iris coffee table has an unusual ‘antiqued mirror glass’ top for chic vintage glamour.

Styles of Coffee Tables

When selecting a coffee table, it's essential to consider the style of your living room. A sleek and minimalist coffee table may be the best fit if you have a modern living room.

On the other hand, if you have a more traditional living style, a wooden table or fabric-top coffee table may be a better option. The Finn Large Circular Tables featuring pale/dark wood or pale/dark stone top feature these materials on each side of the same top. You get a modern coffee table you can flip over to suit your mood or as the seasons change.


Lastly, it's essential to consider the functionality of your coffee table. If you entertain often, choose a coffee table with built-in storage, such as shelves or drawers. The Alberto coffee table collection includes a sleek magazine shelf, providing stylish living room storage.

Coffee Table Placement & Arrangement

The placement and arrangement of a coffee table play a significant role in the flow and functionality of your living room design. The top things you need to consider when arranging your new coffee table include choosing the right location, determining the proper height, and organising the seating around the coffee table properly.

Choosing the right place for your coffee table

The location of your coffee table depends on the layout of your living room and other furniture. Most commonly, the coffee table is situated in the centre of the seating area. Doing this allows easy access from all sides. If you have a smaller living room, place the coffee table against a wall or in a corner to maximise the available space. The Iris Coffee Table Combination Top is perfect as you get a beautiful coffee table with a handy tray included in the design. 

Determining the Proper Height

The height of your coffee table should be proportional to the size of your sofa and chairs. A coffee table with the same height or slightly lower than your seating will be the most functional choice and more comfortable. 

Arranging the Seating Around the Coffee Table

The arrangement of your seating around the coffee table must be both functional and visually appealing. If you have a rectangular or square coffee table, position your sofa and chairs to face each other, creating a comfortable and intimate seating arrangement. If you have a round coffee table, arrange your seating around the table in a circular or semi-circular sequence, creating a more casual and relaxed atmosphere.

Also, consider leaving enough space around the coffee table for foot traffic and ease of movement. If you have a larger living room, you can use a coffee table set to create separate seating areas or to create a big statement by placing them alongside each other. The Kensal collection features rectangular and square coffee tables that will work perfectly.

Buying a coffee table can be a great way to upgrade any living space. It provides a functional surface for holding drinks and is perfect for decorative items to complete the room's aesthetic appeal. Whether you opt for a traditional wooden design or a modern glass-top table, a coffee table can be a practical and stylish investment that adds utility and beauty to your home.

 Want to create more visual impact in your living room? Our range of elegant coffee tables is available with matching side tables. If you have space, you can complement the look of your new coffee table with side tables or end tables to create a cohesive design.