When you first consider it, selecting a coffee table for your living room appears to be a simple chore. You stroll into a store you like, choose your favorite piece, and take it home (or have it delivered), but there are many more decisions involved in selecting the appropriate coffee table than meets the eye.

First and foremost, it must first be the appropriate size, both in terms of height and length and width. It not only needs to be properly scaled and proportional in the room, but also work with all of your current furniture. The material must complement your lifestyle and function effectively in the space. It must also meet the needs of your family, whether that means being children-friendly or having sufficient storage for TV remotes and other random goods.

Be mindful of the height

Nothing is more inconvenient than a coffee table that is too high or too low. Choosing a coffee table that is the same height as your sofa cushions or one to two inches lower would make your living space more comfortable. If you add any more, the area will start to look and feel strange.

Pay Attention to the Proportions

Similarly to finding a coffee table that has the right height, you should look for one that has the right length in relation to the width of your sofa. Ideally, your coffee table should be approximately two-thirds the length of your sofa though that's up to preference.

Know Your Clearance Rules

After you've determined the ideal height and length for your coffee table, it's time to decide on the best shape. The length and clearance necessary around a coffee table often determine whether it is square, rectangular, round, or oval. Traditionally, your coffee table should be 12 to 18 inches away from your sofa; anything closer or farther than that may leave uncomfort. You should leave at least 24 to 30 inches between your coffee table and your TV stand or fireplace to allow for circulation. To get the width of your perfect coffee table, subtract 42 inches from the length of your sofa and TV stand.

Strike the Right Balance

Another helpful factor to remember while selecting a coffee table is its "weightiness." To put it another way, it should balance and proportionately complement the other furnishings in the room. What does all of this mean? Consider a table that is substantial all the way to the ground or has shorter chunkier legs if your sofa has high slender legs. If your sofa has no visible legs, however, pick a coffee table with higher, skinnier legs. When a room feels too "leggy," it doesn't feel as anchored, according to an interior designer.

Choose your material reasonably

Last but not least, before shopping for your perfect coffee table, consider a few materials that would work well with your lifestyle and your space. Don't just default to wood as there are so many options out there. Now that glass is out of the question for families with small children, think of other options that could work well for your lifestyle. If you have a small space, a lucite coffee table could be a good option to not visually clutter the room. If you have hardwood floors in a mid-tone color, try staying away from wood—and pick something complementary such as marble or travertine. Think of whether you'd rather be able to move the piece easily or if you'd rather have it stick to one place permanently. These are all questions that can help you choose the perfect coffee table.

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