Finding a coffee and side table set for your living room seems like a simple enough task when you first think about it. You walk into a store you like, pick the best piece, and go back home with it (or get it delivered), but upon further reflection, there are many more options in picking the right coffee table than fulfills the eye.

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First, it needs to be the correct size-both height-wise and in terms of length and width. It needs as the right scale and proportion to the space and needs to work with all your existing furniture. The material needs to fit with your lifestyle and work well in the area. It even needs to suit the needs of the family, whether this means that it must be kid-friendly or have enough storage for TV remotes and other miscellaneous things.

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Only after you have answered all these questions can you really begin finding the perfect coffee table for you and your space. So how do you choose a coffee table from start to finish? We outlined five rules which you can follow just before investing in a coffee table you’ll love.

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Measure the furniture’s height
There’s nothing more awkward than a coffee table that’s too high or too low. To make sure you feel comfortable in your living space, choose for a coffee table that’s the equal height as the cushions on your sofa or one to two inches lower. Any more and you risk the living room looking and feeling just a little off.

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Identify the color scheme.
Determine whether your room has a particular color scheme that a coffee table will need to fall into. In case you have all natural colors, for instance, a bubblegum-pink table may be looks strange for the space.

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Although playing with color is certainly allowed, be sure you do not make a room with no cohesive color scheme, as this can make the room look chaotic disjointed.

Measure the height

Gauge the height of your sofa’s seat – a good coffee table should be at most the same elevation or even lower. If the table is too high, it may seem clumsy. Generally , selecting between a square, rectangle, circular, or oval coffee table boils down to the length and clearance required around it. Usually, your coffee table must be 12 to 18 inches from your sofa-any more or lower than that it will feel uncomfortably close or far. Between your coffee table and your TV stand or fireplace, you should calculate at least 24 inches to 30 inches to leave enough room for moving around the room.

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To discover the ideal coffee table width, measure the length between your settee and TV stand and subtract 42 inches.

Strike the Right Balance
An additional useful guideline to follow the moment selecting a coffee table is its “weightiness. ” In other words, it may complement the other home furniture in the room to make the space look balanced and proportional. What does this all mean? If your sofa has high skinny legs, consider a table that’s solid all the way to the ground or has shorter chunkier legs. On the other hand, if your sofa has no visible legs, find a coffee table that has higher skinnier legs. An interior designer once told me that when a room feels too “leggy, ” it doesn’t feel as grounded-and it’s something that’s never left me.

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Consider Your Own Needs

A number of people eat by their coffee table or just use it to store their remote controls and other little things. That’s why a coffee table should have enough surface space for your needs. Will you be one to play board games in the living room frequently? Be sure it’s a comfortable piece to gather around. Do you have a tendency to put your feet up on the coffee table when watching TV? Maybe an ottoman is a better choice for you. As for coffee tables that are kid-friendly, opt for a piece that has no sharp edges and isn’t made from glass.

I’ve read enough horror stories of kids breaking glass tops to know it’s not a good idea.

Choose Your Materials Carefully

* Assess your cleaning habits. A few materials are more high-maintenance than others. If you clean your home on a daily basis, a glass coffee table might work out very well for you. If you are more of a once-monthly kind of cleaner, a sturdier material such as wood could possibly be a better bet. If you abhor cleaning, an upholstered coffee table may be the one for you.

* Take an honest check at your lifestyle. When you have children or a lot of pets (particularly cats), you’re going to want to buy a durable table made with solid wood or metal, possibly in a curved shape to avoid dangerous edges. Many other materials may become broken or marred easily. Conversely, if you live alone or live with only a partner, you can shell out for more complex or delicate tables.

Although you can buy a table that does not typically suit your lifestyle, you may need to clean, repair, or replace it often.