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Is it Better to Have a Round or a Rectangular Coffee Table?

  • Coffee table styling
  • Coffee Tables
  • furniture
  • Guide
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Ed Hawes
wooden coffee tables

A coffee table is the centrepiece of a living room. Fact. Whether it’s a round coffee table or a rectangular one, the coffee table brings a space together and centers a room. Deciding to choose between a round or a rectangular coffee table involves understanding the dynamics of your space and the functionality and style of the room. Below, we’ve come up with several considerations you need to take when choosing between a round coffee table and a rectangular one.  

Is it better to have round or rectangle coffee table?

There are six considerations to make when choosing between a round of rectangle coffee table. 

round coffee tables

What does the space look like? 

The design and shape of a coffee table can have implications for the traffic flow of a room. For example, the curved edges of a round coffee table are ideal for small living rooms or for rooms where the furniture population is dense. Round coffee tables allow for easy movement around the room and reduce the chance of accidental injuries from shaped edges. The circular nature of round coffee tables creates a communal aesthetic, inviting social and engaging gatherings. 

Larger living rooms are perfect for rectangular coffee tables because they help centre a room and anchor a space. Rectangular coffee tables pair well with large sofas, like Swyft’s generously proportioned Model 06 modular sofa, as they provide balance. 

How are the seats arranged?

The arrangement of your sofa setup has an important role to play when looking to choose between round coffee tables or rectangular ones. As mentioned above, round coffee tables are perfect for social occasions, which means pairing with U-shaped sofas, corner sofas, or a selection of armchairs – like Swyft’s Model 02 mid-century armchair – creates an intimate setting. It allows the entire party to be comfortable, and close to the round coffee table.  

rectangular coffee tables

Rectangular coffee tables work well in traditional interior spaces. Pair a large sofa with one armchair, like Swyft’s Chesterfield armchair, for a functional space ideal for everyday use. It also allows those using the living room to be close to the coffee table with enough space to rest of items on a coffee table.  

What style do you want to create? 

From mid century coffee tables to minimalist coffee tables with drawers, dark wooden coffee tables to Scandinavian-designed rectangular coffee tables. The style of a coffee table can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a room, often setting the tone for the room’s style. Round coffee tables, by nature, appeal to a modernist interior design which can act as the foundation of a room; as well as being a statement piece. 

As mentioned previously, rectangular coffee tables work perfectly in traditional and classic interior styles. Rectangular coffee tables often have storage space and drawers to hide miscellaneous items from being on show. Coffee tables with drawers also have a surface area that encourages decorative items and ornaments. 

The style of a coffee table, round or otherwise, can be boosted with a paired area rug. Much like Swyft’s Jute rugs or Sovereign rugs, if placed underneath a coffee table it will further help centre a room. To perfect the art of rug placement, be sure to follow the 70% area rug rule.  

Consider the materials used 

Following on from style, it’s important to think about the material of your coffee table. The coffee table material will have a big impact on its style and functionality. Wooden coffee tables, for example, can be heavy to move, but add warmth and will last a long time. Metal coffee tables create an industrial, modern aesthetic, but are often cold to touch and have sharp edges – worth noting if there are small children in the home. Glass coffee tables have a sophisticated and luxurious style, and will make a space feel bigger. However, fingerprints and dirty marks will be commonplace, so more cleaning and maintenance are required. 

glass coffee tables

How do you use the space?

Consider the type of lifestyle you lead – if it’s a sociable one, where gatherings, game nights, and movie nights are commonplace, a round coffee table will act as a central focus for guests. If your lifestyle is on the quieter side, and more relaxed, then a rectangular coffee table would be a better functional option. 

When it comes to choosing round coffee tables or rectangular coffee tables for your living room, it comes down to personal preferences. To guarantee you’ve made the right choice, always consider the room’s aesthetic, the coffee tables’ functionality, your lifestyle, and the room’s seating arrangements.

Is a round coffee table better for a small living room?

For smaller living rooms, a round coffee table is a better option than rectangular coffee tables because they take up less space. Round coffee tables don’t have corners which makes them more suited to tight spaces. They allow for easier traffic flow around a room, which works well for small living rooms, where space is a premium. 

What is the best shape for a coffee table for a small sectional?

It depends on the layout of the small sectional sofa or modular sofa. If the sectional sofa has a chaise or ottoman, a round coffee table will be more accessible to all of the seats. A rectangular coffee table will work best paired with a long modular sofa if it runs alongside the sofa. This will create clean lines with a balanced look. Square coffee tables are ideal for those with L-shaped sectional sofas. A square coffee table will look cohesive in the L-shaped section whilst being, within reach of most seating areas on the sofa.   

wooden coffee table

How do you position a rectangular coffee table?

Positioning a rectangular coffee table helps with balance, interest, and functionality of a living room. A rectangular coffee table should be placed in the centre of the main sofa, to ensure it’s within reach of everyone. Make sure your rectangular coffee table is 12-18 inches away from the sofa. This leaves enough room for traffic flow but is close enough to be able to reach items on the coffee table. To guarantee ultimate comfort and limit over-stretching from those seated on the sofa, the coffee table should also be the same height as the seat height, no more than 1-2 inches below the seat height. 

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