Choosing the right coffee table alternative can be challenging. You need to know all your options. Settling on something that doesn’t fit into your lifestyle could mean wasted effort.
Over the years, I’ve seen how it works just as well to use a more casual piece of furniture. Break away from a uniform look to personalize your room. Explore creative and functional coffee table alternatives that will enhance your living room.
Elevating Spaces: Top Coffee Table Alternatives
The best coffee table alternatives for a living room include a long list of candidates. A few of my favorites include a side table, trunk, pouf, tufted ottoman, or vintage chest. A fruit crate, garden stool, and suitcase are also high on the list of great alternatives.
|Coffee table alternative
|Two individual tables
|Too many table legs
|Rounded lids lack a flat surface
|Extra flexible seats
|Need trays for items
|Prone to stains
|Small accent table
|Rim keeps items in place
|Short stool or side table
|Openings collect dust
|Stackable set of three sections
|Less cohesive look
|Section of a tree trunk
|Benches with a lidded compartment
|Hidden space with an extra seat
|Heavy when full
|Wheeled cart with glass shelves
|Needs frequent cleaning
|Lots of character
|Tricky to match certain decors
|Stack of vintage suitcases
|May look too bulky
Many people think that a coffee table is a necessary piece of furniture for the living room. It’s where you put down food, rest your feet, or have dinner while binge-watching Netflix. But, a traditional coffee table can be too low for a comfortable dinner or too hard as a footrest.
Mix things up and save valuable space, by using a practical coffee table alternative.
1. Pair of Side Tables
These make great coffee tables. You can easily push side tables together or pull them apart. A side table is generally inexpensive, making it a great option if you are on a budget. You can move it to the sides of the sofa if you need extra space in your sitting room.
Even when pushed together, there may be a seam where the two side tables meet, making your drink or plates wobbly. Likewise, they may not appear as permanent as a coffee table would. Despite that, it’s easy to find a side table in various sizes, shapes, and colors.
- Pros: Flexible arrangement, inexpensive
- Cons: Potential seam, too many table legs
2. Vintage Trunk
Vintage trunks are incredibly sturdy. They can anchor your living room by providing a solid coffee table alternative. They are also among my favorites because they provide compartment options. They are a great place to put pillows, blankets, toys, or books. Thrift store finds can be great conversation starters.
But, trunks tend to be very heavy, so you may have trouble moving them to a new location if you need the floor space. Some rounded trunks won’t provide you with a sturdy surface. The plus side is that vintage trunks add a lot of interest and appeal to your space.
- Pros: Ample hidden compartments, very sturdy, stylish statement
- Cons: Heavy to move, rounded lids lack flat surface
A pouf is another coffee table alternative to a standard table. Its soft texture also makes it great as an extra chair in a living room when using a sofa. Patricia Gibbons from the design team at sofa.com says, “They are easy to move around and are versatile without compromising on style”.
The main disadvantage is that you’ll need trays to place food and other items. Like an ottoman, a pouf also requires more extensive cleaning when stained. Despite that, poufs provide an elegant contrast to any interior design or decor.
- Pros: Extra flexible seats, easily moved
- Cons: No compartments
4. Tufted Ottoman
A tufted ottoman is another excellent coffee table alternative. It can double as more seating, which is great if you love to entertain and want to ensure everyone has a place to sit. Small details, such as nailhead trim, will set your ottoman apart from other furniture in the home.
The fabric will soften the overall appearance of this coffee table option. That ensures that it doesn’t create harsh lines in your living room. But, you must use trays when putting anything on the tufted ottoman that could spill. Otherwise, you may have a huge mess to clean up.
- Pros: Extra seating, style statement
- Cons: Needs trays for plates
5. Tray Table
These smaller tables can easily be moved out of the way when they’re not in use in a living room. What I love about them is they traditionally have a finished surface. That means you don’t need to worry about water rings on the furniture.
They don’t have a very large surface area, yet you can store small items on a tray table from IKEA. Because of the smaller size, if you accidentally bump into the table, it is easy for it to fall over.
- Pros: Easily moved, rim keeps items in place
- Cons: Limited surface area, lightweight, tips easily
6. Fruit Crate
Fruit crates made from wood make great coffee table alternatives. They are perfect with country or farmhouse chic interior design. I usually style them with a wicker storage basket and boho-inspired decorations.
My only problem with a fruit crate is that the wood is prone to moisture. Still, the shapes can be a unique talking point besides your sofa.
- Pros: Unexpected, inexpensive
- Cons: Durability concerns
7. Garden Stool
A garden stool offers a nice flat surface for your items to rest on. It can stand up to wild weather, so you don’t need to worry about water damage from a glass. You can place hot food or drinks on a garden stool without the heat damaging the surface of the coffee table stool.
Some garden stools have decorative cutouts on the top. Items stored on the stools can fall through. Compared to an ottoman, you’ll need to clean a stool so it won’t look dirty in a living room.
- Pros: Natural material, easy to move
- Cons: May need frequent cleaning
8. Nesting Table
A nesting coffee table has sections that slide under each other when not in use so that they don’t take up a lot of space. Space-saving and multi-purpose designs improve ergonomic performance. Such tables occupy 25% to 80% less space than single-function items placed together.
The space-saving concept is valuable for a small living room, but they have drawbacks. Nesting tables don’t have extra compartments due to their design. Since they vary in size, they may not provide you with the cohesive look you want in your living room.
- Pros: Space-saving, various sizes
- Cons: Less cohesive look
9. Tree Stumps
A tree stump or a carved piece of wood is a DIY coffee table alternative. It gives an organic, country, and natural look to a living room. Sara Syrett from Twelve on Main says, “You can rearrange them to your liking, separate them, or keep the logs together.”
A disadvantage is that you’ll need to stain, gloss, and seal to make the tree stumps safe, even as a small chair. Once done, you can make them into smaller tables. The result will match your rustic-inspired interior design.
10. Storage Bench
Storage benches are quite comfortable and functional. They come in many shapes and sizes and are excellent if you need extra seating. It’s also the perfect place to store extra pillows, blankets, or magazines in a living room. I have a bench as one coffee table.
Like an ottoman and a small sofa, a storage bench can double as a chair or an entryway bench. But, the large size makes it difficult to push out of the way if you need the floor space for an activity.
- Pros: Hidden compartments
- Cons: Heavy when full
11. Bar Cart
Bar or drink carts are generally on casters, making them very easy to move out of the way. Their handles make them easy to control and they’re great as a side table. Drink carts are incredibly stylish in a living room. Plus, there’s a lot of room for items you’d typically have on a coffee table.
It can be very difficult to find a drink cart lower to the ground, which may be too high to see over or around easily. You’ll also need to clean this coffee table frequently to keep it looking clean and bright.
- Pros: Mobile, shows off contents
- Cons: Size not adjustable, needs frequent cleaning
12. Vintage Chest
A vintage chest has a classic nautical touch, making it a unique coffee table alternative. When paired with a vintage chair or sofa, this lets you create an antique and rustic decor for your interior.
But, it isn’t considered safe as a piece of furniture when kids are around. A Consumer Product Safety Commission report shows 250,000 furniture-related injuries among children. 25% of those came from a hard coffee table.
- Pros: Lots of character, spacious compartments
- Cons: More selective in matching the rest of the living room decor
I’ve had clients wanting fun, interesting, and unexpected coffee table alternatives. Stack as many or as few suitcases as you want, to create organizing compartments in the living room.
It’s crucial to choose suitcases that will fit with the decor collection of your home.
- Pros: Unexpected, portable
- Cons: Durability concerns, water protection needed
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can You Use Instead of a Traditional Coffee Table?
There are many creative alternatives to coffee tables, such as a pouf, an ottoman, and even a tree stump. The options allow unique style statements in living rooms.
Is It OK to Not Have a Living Room Coffee Table?
Going without a coffee table is perfectly fine. You can use several small tables or an ottoman to hold drinks and remotes while opening up the floor area. Focus on conversation areas for guests instead of having a central table.
How Can I Style My Living Room Without Coffee Tables?
Without a coffee table, try floating furniture to create intimate spaces for conversation. Incorporate unexpected surfaces like trays and a garden stool. Play with height and texture to add interest at different levels.
With so many options, you can create your own table with a personalized design. Consider your needs and style to pick the best coffee table for your living room.