Before the days of “shelfies,” it served as the focal place of my living room, a curated display of my 20-something aspirations. Next to all the reading material was a pretty candle that had never been lit, along with decorative trinkets that would rotate seasonally.
And then—and here’s the page when so many stories take a sharp turn—we had a baby. As this baby grew and became increasingly mobile, the coffee table transformed into something else: a danger trap. There’s the option of small nesting tables , like these , which can be spread out when you have people over. Others have a long, slim console table or shelf behind the sofa.
Or some do a table that fits over a sofa arm , like this , or an end table , like this. Now the space feels more open and inviting. There’s just so much freedom that comes with getting rid of it. Then they just get covered in “stuff” and lurk waiting to bite my shins while never being totally comfortable to use for anything. But just like any room in your house, we want you to make your spaces work for you, so ditch that check list and think outside the box. We’re advocating for you to pick exactly what you need, and in many cases, that might not be a coffee table.
Here are 10 living rooms that go without one — maybe one of these setups work for you!
Which is why we love using a storage ottoman in place of a coffee table. Pull them together in front of your sofa and you’ve got a spot for books or drinks, but they can easily be moved around your space. It’s great next to a big armchair, but it works well floating in front of a sofa too. They’re much easier to maneuver around than square or rectangular ones, and they’re just as practical. It’s way more comfortable for kicking up your feet, and there’s no worry you’ll scratch or scuff a wood or glass finish. Did you like this post and find it helpful?
As you can imagine, her little 1920’s craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Do you really want to place your drinks or plates of food or books where people’s bottoms or feet have been?
Regarding putting drinks and food where someone has sat before, we suggest getting a big oversized tray to hold those types of things. A coffee table with a solid top that can be easily cleaned is more efficient.
I don’t believe that anyone would want to put their plate of food or books on a surface where one’s feet have been.
We do have another solid throw in a similar shade of spa blue here.
You need a place to put up your feet, put down drinks, and most importantly, to anchor the room. If you’re looking to try something a little different consider these coffee table alternatives. They still give the illusion of a single table but can be pulled apart and used separately when necessary. This is a great option for small spaces that need versatile pieces of furniture. When you put a large tray on them it creates a solid surface so you can still place decorative or practical items, but when you remove the tray they can be used as extra seating. They also add a soft touch where normally there would be something hard and severe. Just remember that while they can be great for putting your feet up, vintage trunks sometimes have curved lids so you can’t always place things down on them. If you opt for one of these pieces make sure you also have side tables nearby. They don’t offer quite the same impact as a coffee table, but the advantage is their versatility as they can be used outdoors as well as in. If you decide to use garden stools as a coffee table alternative make sure to use two, as one will likely be too small to fill the space and it will look a bit lost. If you entertain on a regular basis a tray table can be a wise purchase.
Does every living room need a coffee table
Just make sure it’s not so heavy that you can’t easily lift it and carry it around the room. Also, tray tables come with some beautiful colors and patterns so they provide a really unique decorating opportunity. Feel free to use either one long piece or a couple of smaller matching pieces. The key is to make sure you maximize the amount of storage you get. Since they’ll likely be viewed from all sides make sure that the tables are finished all the way around. In a case like this acrylic waterfall tables would be ideal.
I know, a pic might be needed to give a good opinion. Then, we went to a sofa and loveseat with ottoman (which was adopted by our pup!), so no room for a coffee table again. Just depends on how you live in your home and what your personal needs are.
I guess i’m opposed to the ‘standard’ coffee table when there are other things for consideration. Ottomans are also being used as coffee tables, but to have no table is not strange. When they got a little bigger, we liked having the floorspace for play.
I couldn’t wait to get a coffee table after so many years without one, and have always had one since. Ofcourse, we have a couch with recliners and a loveseat with recliners. When the new house is finished, they are going in the kid’s den(my house is a hangout for my teens and their friends). Our family room has a leather couch with recliners, so a coffee table would have been more of a nuisance than anything. So if you want to decorate without one, don’t feel like you are missing the mark. Why spend money on a piece that serves little purpose?
If you want to put up your feet, then you need an ottoman or footstool.
Get Rid of Coffee Table
We now have the space and no toddlers so it has worked out perfectly.
You are correct les it is mostly for “decoration” but also it reminds me of where it was and the dear lady who loved it first. It begs for people to prop their feet on it, if their shoes are off. And he pulls up his rocking chair to draw.
I really think itdepends on the space, what’s already in the room andthe function of the room as well.
We do not use a coffee table in our great room. It really interrupts the flow of the seating area.
I do have some type of side table with each seat (sofa and chairs). Too often they become cluttered up with “stuff”. In our sunroom, we do use a small coffee table. Looks great in the room and serves a purpose.
That is my go to spot to look at my decorating mags, read, just enjoy the scenery.
I love ottomans and we do use one in the great room – but not in front of the sofa and not in place of a coffee table. Do what works for you and don’t feel like you “have” to have a coffee table.
We also didn’t have a coffee table when they were little; they are old enough where we could have one but they love spreading their toys all over the floor so we just have two end tables for now. One of my rules of decorating, is do what you like and what serves you.
I do think that there needs to be a place to put a drink for most, if not all, of the seats.
My youngest is still just one year old so it will be a while before we get one again.
We have an ottoman that is positioned like a coffee table. Oh and we don’t have end tables next to the couch.
I have another large brass tray like the one i’m using as a table, but need a base that matches the other one, or need to find 2 of something that match.
I like the idea of using 2 smaller tables because they could be moved around very easily. It was too much of a hassle to constantly move it.
We do have a big ottoman that we put in its place, but it’s easier to slide out of the way.
We have a tea table which is smaller than most coffee tables and a bit higher. It is nice having a place to set drinks etc.
I wouldn’t prop me feet on a coffee table (uncomfy) and wouldn’t want to put a drink on either there for fear of spilling it. Being in the military, we’ve had our share of homes and various sizes of spaces. My husband brought this very clunky solid wood coffee table into the marriage. It wasn’t so bad in our last couple of homes because the family rooms were very spacious and the table didn’t dominate the space.
However, the current home we are in is a different story. We’ve just never had issues with them running into it or getting hurt. Also, because we did not have side tables, not having a coffee table quickly became an issue. Our rooms were full up with all their toys/swings/bouncy chairs.
I also never had to worry about sharp corners etc. But if you have guests and you entertain in that old-fashioned way of having conversations, then you need to have a place in the center of the seating for food, drinks and so on.
I sent a coffee table that was not perfect for a space in my house to a second house, where it is more suitable. In any case, it depends upon the way you live and how you use the room. Or maybe you just entertain in the kitchen or outside?
I have to have a coffee table, if only for my feet to have something to rest on.
I believe you can never have too many ottomans. But as you see from all the ways you use it, it is a table. It is not intended for resting shoes or feet upon, especially if you are then dining on it,; resting feet on the edges wears the finish on wooden tables.
I dislike how they can block traffic flow in a room.
We have a nice big ottoman and some great side tables which looks good and works great for us. In my home, our coffee table is nearly as long as our sofa and eats up a lot of floor space in our small living room. The room is our children’s primary play area so this would open up more space and also make the room feel larger by simply having less furniture to look at. Some have used end tables and/or poufs to perform some of the functions of a coffee table. If you, too, skipped a coffee table – how’s it working out?
This domestic staple is increasingly viewed as dispensable. Phasing out extraneous and outmoded furniture is a whole different beast. Just a handful of the flat surfaces in this author’s living room. The coffee table is normally topped with clutter and the c-table is usually tucked into a chaise lounge.
You put it in front of the sofa and put stuff on it!
Many arguments against coffee tables revolve around their sheer size in relation to the amount of stuff — more often than not clutter — that’s regularly placed on them. All of these things can be put away, thrown away, or easily placed on one of the other five surfaces in the immediate area. Your couch-dwelling cat (probably) won’t judge you too harshly if you opt to get rid of your coffee table.
I look at them and immediately notice that something is conspicuously absent. What is that hole in the middle of the room?
It felt a little off, like a glaring abyss. My household doesn’t include yoga-practicing children.
I can see the appeal of making way for additional floor space. One potential coffee table substitute: a very large ottoman that doesn’t free up much space but is a touch more versatile. She also mentions this thing , which appears to be one step away from the unfortunate phenomenon known as the over-arm couch caddy. Yes, my coffee table is partially a clutter magnet and my living area certainly isn’t lacking in additional flat surface areas. Have you parted or considered parting ways with your coffee table?
Coffee tables, a domestic staple since the mid 19th century, are now appearing on lists of non-essential furnishings. Learn about the natural mechanisms that produce breathtaking fall foliage each year.