4 Questions to Ask When Buying a Cocktail or Coffee Table

What do I call it?

This gorgeous living space uses a rectangular coffee table to have great discussion over.

Image Credit: vanguardfurniture.com

“Cocktail table” and “coffee table” can be used interchangeably when talking about this piece. Some people will insist that coffee tables are round and cocktail tables are rectangular. Or that cocktail tables are slightly taller.

However, most designers will use the terms more loosely. Most high-end furniture manufacturers will have them labeled as “cocktail tables” on their websites, so keep that in mind when searching!

What size do I get?

Size is mostly determined by how much room you have between your seating. The table needs to be about 15 to 18 inches from the front of a sofa or chair. Most coffee tables are about three feet in one direction.

What shape do I get?

A square coffee table looks great with an L shaped sofa.

Image Credit: vanguardfurniture.com

  • A circular coffee table is great for arrangements geared toward conversation. Place four to five chairs around the table or slide it in a U-shaped sectional.
  • Rectangular coffee tables are ideal for the area in front of a sofa used for TV watching, so that you can kick up your feet during a game or your favorite show. Rectangular cocktail tables also work well between two sofas to create conversation space with easy traffic flow.
  • Square and oval cocktail tables are flexible and great for surrounding with an array of seating options such as a sofa, two chairs and maybe a bench! Squares also slide into the L of a sectional nicely, while oval cocktail tables allow you to get into that corner seat without banging your knees on a point! (Also great for protecting the heads of little ones!)
This cocktail table makes a statement in this living space!

Image credit: bernhardt.com

What material do I get?

Wood coffee tables can be very beautiful, but caution must be taken when placing drinks on them. Glass is easy to clean and adds variety of materiality if a lot of the other furniture in the room is wood. Metal and stone are very durable options as well but are sometimes forgotten. Why not upholster it and create some extra seating for entertaining? Keep a tray on it for everyday use.

Today's Home Furniture


When my parents, Sigmund and Audrey Lenchner, both Taylor Allderdice graduates, founded Today’s Home, they had a vision to enrich the lives of area families by bringing true quality home furnishings to Western Pennsylvania. Over the decades, Today’s Home has emerged as a true “family business” success story. Through the years, our dedicated employees have managed to grow the company in an age dominated by big box retailing and mega chains.

Now Today’s Home, with its roots firmly planted in the luxury residential furnishings market, has additional operating companies in Designer Furniture Outlet Stores and TH TRADE Commercial. DFO has become the luxury closeout treasure-hunter’s favorite haunt. Our newest addition, TH TRADE, provides ASID level design to our commercial contract customers. We invite you to contact a Today’s Home designer to visit our showroom and see the world of possibilities awaiting you at Today’s Home.