Should a Coffee Table Be Higher or Lower Than Sofa?

Do you ever find yourself asking, “Should a coffee table be higher or lower than a sofa?”

If you're a design aficionado, you'll know there's a lot of debate around this pressing issue, especially if you’re looking for a beautiful aesthetic. This is because, although it might seem obvious, there are multiple aspects to consider when it comes to ensuring the best results.

Coffee tables come in thousands of different shapes and sizes, most of them standing between 40 and 46 cm high. And, aside from their dimensions, styles and material choices, many of them even offer an array of storage facilities to help reduce clutter and mess. For this reason, each offering can serve a variety of purposes, allowing you to use it for anything from a workstation to a platform for drinks, snacks, ornaments and remote controls. 

If you have a big space it is probably true that you’ll need an expansive table too. But when it comes to choosing one that’s the ideal height for your sofa, your decision will significantly impact the overall look and feel of your room. 

Should a Coffee Table Be Higher or Lower Than Sofa

Curious to find out more? Read on as our expert design team explores the pros and cons around coffee table measurements and what’s best for your living spaces.

What is the ideal coffee table height?

With multiple uses, from providing a resting point for your feet to showing off your favourite books, coffee tables are an essential element in good interior design. And, to accommodate all of its functionalities and the spatial components in your room, its height is crucial. 

Most design professionals will tell you that they generally plan for a table to be very slightly lower than your sofa. By rule of thumb, this means that whatever you choose shouldn’t be more than 2,5 - 5 cm shorter than your living room ensemble and will average a height of between 40 and 46 cm.

This will make certain that a person of average size can place an object on it without bending their back or overstretching their arms to reach the tabletop. 

However, if you have a very small sofa that is low to the ground, chances are you’ll end up with a table that is a bit higher which, in that instance, is an acceptable configuration. 

If you’re a born entertainer and love to plan regular parties with lots of friends, then going against the grain and finding a slightly taller coffee table is probably a good idea. Not only will it enable guests to grab their drinks and snacks more easily, but it will also prevent opportunistic pets from jumping up and helping themselves.  

The same goes for if you have your meals in your living room in front of the TV on a regular basis. Tables for these purposes should average between 50 and 53 cm.

The Billy coffee table  collection by Cattelan Italia brings you the best of both worlds with a series of offerings in various heights. Featuring refined Canaletto walnut or oak tops and slender legs in a range of lacquered steel or bronze finishes, they will add a touch of class to any modern home. We recommend that you invest in a trio to cover every eventuality.

Coffee tables that are too low can make your room feel cramped

Coffee tables are a great way to make a room feel cosy and inviting, especially when beautifully styled. For inspiration on how to do this properly, take a look at our latest interior design projects portfolio. 

However, if you pick one that’s too low, it can actually create a cramped, uncomfortable environment. 

Imagine, for example, you're sitting on the couch with a friend or family member, just chatting away. If your coffee table is low to the ground, you'll be forced to sit up straight in order to keep from bumping your legs on it. Plus, you’ll have to stretch downwards in order to grab a glass or snack. 

This may make you feel tense and uncomfortable, resulting in reserved conversation or general awkwardness - a situation that’s certainly not conducive to a sense of ease. 

In fact, both you and your guest will probably end up feeling rather annoyed and frustrated, which will completely defeat the object of a fun-filled social occasion.

Should a Coffee Table Be Higher or Lower Than Sofa
Should a Coffee Table Be Higher or Lower Than Sofa


Coffee tables that are too high can make your room feel uninviting

The key to an inviting conversation area is to ensure that your furnishings feel like they’re at the same level, creating a sense of harmony. For this reason, it's important to consider the height of your coffee table in relation to the other furniture in your living room.

A coffee table that's too tall will make you feel like you're sitting next to a pedestal. This is likely to create a sense of distance and obstruct natural flow, connection and conviviality.  

Instead, infuse your space with a sense of airiness by finding something with a light top and base similar to the fabulous Madagascar coffee table by Eichholtz. Its reflective clear glass top is supported by a geometric, stainless steel structure, designed to brighten up your living area and make it feel welcoming. 

Measure the height of your sofa before buying a coffee table

To avoid making any mistakes, we recommend that you measure the height of your sofa before buying a coffee table. You’ll then know exactly what dimensions you’ll need, allowing you to design your living space like a pro. 

These four simple steps will help you get it right:

  • Measure the distance between the floor and the top of your sofa seat.
  • Determine the length of your sofa or seating arrangement from the exterior of one armrest to the exterior of the other.
  • Choose a coffee table that is no more than 5 cm lower in height than the top of the sofa seat. 
  • The length of your coffee table should be around two-thirds of the length of your sofa.  

Find a coffee table to suit your style and budget

Choosing the right coffee table for your sofa is all about factoring in certain elements that will ensure you get your perfect match. Here are some things to think about:

  • Make sure your coffee table is in proportion with your sofa without dominating it. 
  • Find something that is functional, preferably with some extra storage space like drawers, shelves or hidden compartments.
  • Choose one that is made from a material that is durable and easy to clean, enabling it to withstand daily use and potential mishaps.
  • Set a budget and get the best coffee table you can find in that price range.
  • Make sure that you consider both style and aesthetic - it should match the overall decor of your room

Coffee tables that will inspire you

Coffee tables come in many different genres, materials and sizes, allowing you to hunt down something that adds functionality, sophistication and visual appeal to your rooms. Here are 3 we absolutely love:

  • The Barrique coffee table by Naos is the perfect example of this brand’s commitment to innovation, bringing a sense of movement to modern environments. With its cage-like steel base and an eye-catching top that folds out to reveal three lower glass shelves, it’s the perfect choice if you want to embrace a multi-layered aesthetic. 

  • The Nilo coffee table, designed by Laskasas, has a sturdy geometric profile with a refined, pure marble structure and elegant lacquered wood interior. An impressive balance between modern and classic genres, it offers ample surface space and a handy inner compartment that will show off your favourite books and ornaments. 

  • For something completely different, the Lapiaz coffee table by Boca do Lobo will stun your guests with its glamorous aesthetics. Comprising three separate components that come together to form a whole, it is organic, functional and fun. Featuring a polished stainless steel exterior and accents in brass sheeting, it brings dynamism and elegance to your ensemble. 

In conclusion

FCI London continually aims to provide you with quality products that are designed and manufactured with attention to detail and fine craftsmanship in mind. We are confident that our curation of world-renowned brands will more than meet your expectations, filling your living spaces with an unquestionable sense of style.

If you’re hunting down a bespoke coffee table, then getting the proportions right is essential. Remember to find one that compliments your sofa and provides the perfect platform for your accessories, glassware and snacks. Finding the right height will also enhance the flow and ease of your room. 

Browse our luxury collections for some fabulous ideas or chat with us today and we’ll help guide your choices. Our London showroom is open 7 days a week for your convenience, so pop in anytime and let our professional design team get the ball rolling. 

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