Often the last piece of furniture to be bought – after the sofa and storage – coffee tables are often, even unintentionally, the focal point of a living room, so finding the perfect coffee table décor ideas is a must, as well as knowing if a coffee table should be lower than a sofa.  

Should a coffee table be lower than a sofa?

It may seem insignificant at first thought, but the height of a coffee table is actually of great importance. The relative height of the coffee table, and other furniture, is key when deciding how to design a living room. Get it right and you’ll have a cohesive scheme that’s the envy of your friends and family.  The answer to this vital question may decide the final look, feel, and function of your home. Get it wrong and you risk creating a scheme that confuses the mind.  Catherine Staples, the principal designer at Toronto-based Aspen & Ivy (opens in new tab), agrees. ‘It depends on the style,’ she says. ‘So a modern home tends to have furniture that is the same height. Whereas traditional or transitional styles play with sight lines for interest.’ Take these points into consideration in your living room layout ideas and you won’t go wrong.

1. Choose a coffee table that is lower than your sofa

There are many possibilities at play when deciding whether your coffee table should be lower than a sofa. Firstly, think about the focal point. Not taking the focal point into consideration is a furniture arranging mistake to avoid. A focal point in a room is important, not only does having one help to anchor a room, but it also serves as an area to decorate around.  Here, rather unusually, the standout feature is the impressive window and vista beyond. In this earthy space, designed by Cortney Bishop (opens in new tab), the coffee table is lower than the sofa, which works beautifully to enhance the view and chime beautifully with all the wood, raw and neutral elements elsewhere. Elegant, and effortlessly chic, a combination of raw wood, woven materials, and natural textures is a timeless choice that will you will love for years and years.

2. Keep a coffee table at the same height for practical purposes 

Finding a coffee table that is the same height as your sofa has many advantages, but as well as height, you should also consider the material used. A coffee table doesn’t always need to have a hard surface, in fact, investing in a padded or upholstered design, also known as an ottoman, will add softness, and texture to your family room. Plus, you can also use your coffee table as a footrest if it is the same height as a sofa.  One of the most common mistakes made when specifying an ottoman is to do with size, says interior decorator and fabric designer Susan Deliss. ‘If you are not sure about the size of the ottoman, fold an old sheet to the size you think might work and lay it on the floor in front of your furniture,’ recommends Susan. ‘Ask yourself, can you walk comfortably between it and your sofa or chair? Can your legs reach it if you sit on your sofa and want to put your feet on it?’

3. Go for a coffee table that is taller than a sofa

If you want your coffee table to stand out and not just be a sideshow to surrounding furniture, invest in a design that is taller and unusual. The contrasts between the varying height of furniture will make a space feel interesting and unexpected – and will also highlight the differences between individual pieces so the eye appreciates them more.  Find the line between eclectic and chaotic. Don’t cram too many pieces into your living room – and balance out the furniture with neutral walls. 

Best places to buy furniture 

Anthropologie (opens in new tab)Bloomingdale’s (opens in new tab)Wayfair (opens in new tab)Target (opens in new tab)Nordstrom (opens in new tab)The White Company (opens in new tab)