4 Expert Tips To Choose A Coffee Table Set

Usually, when you think of a coffee table, it's a simple lone purchase. But whole coffee table sets can give your space some easy design cohesion. In order to figure out which style is best for you and your home, below we'll cover the types, materials, shapes and how many pieces you should get in coffee table sets.

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Which types of coffee table sets are best?

To get a good idea of which kinds of sets you have to choose from, below are the main types. 

  • Nesting tables: This type of set has one main table and usually one other table that can slide out from under the first table. Some nesting tables have three pieces. These are good for if you have extra company over from time to time and could use more tables for serving. 

  • Multiple table types: Sets like this have multiple tables, all with different uses. For instance, a set might have a coffee table, an end table and a console table.

  • Coffee table and two end tables: The most common type of coffee table set is one coffee table with two matching end tables. The end tables look great set on either side of a sofa that sits in front of the coffee table. It's an easy way to get some coordination in a living room.

Black Nesting Coffee Table
Marble Nesting Table Set with Gold Frame
Triangle 2 Piece Nesting Tables
Single Classic Wooden Coffee Table Set
Grey Wood Coffee Table Set
3 Piece Coffee Table Set

How to choose the styles in coffee table sets?

  • Geometric: It's surprisingly common to find coffee table sets that make use of funky shapes. These styles are good for Mid-Century Modern or funky artistic spaces. 

  • Understated wood: One of the most common styles you'll find is a basic wooden design in all the tables, usually painted a neutral color like white. Choose these for casual or transitional spaces.

  • Metal and wood: It's also common to see coffee table sets with metal bases and wood surfaces. These often give an industrial feel, especially if the wood is highly textured and rivets are visible on the base. 

  • Metal and glass: For the most modern and austere of styles, choose a set with a metal base and a glass surface.

Wooden 3 Piece Coffee Table Set
Metal and Cherry Wood Coffee Table Set
Metal and Wood 2 Piece Coffee Table Set
Grey Wood and Silver Metal Legs Coffee Table
Metal and Glass Round Coffee Table Set
Golden Metal and Glass Coffee Table Set
  • Wood base with glass surface: It's also common for sets to have a wood base and a glass surface. The wood is often of a deep color, making these good for regal and high-end styles.

  • Rustic chest: A unique look is coffee table sets that are made to look like they are old, rustic chests. These are good in industrial, period or rustic styles.

  • Flared legs: A flare style on the legs can give the piece an ornamented classic or retro look.

Geometric Retro Coffee Table Set
Oval Glass and Wood Coffee Table Set
Glass and Grey Wood Coffee Table Set
Retro 3 Piece Coffee Table Set
Glass and Wood Legs Coffee Table Set
Big Rustic Coffee Table
  • Modern mixed material: Modern pieces tend to make use of contrasting textures. You might find a coffee table set with a glass surface, stark metal supports and curved white shelving. 

  • Ornamented wood: Some pieces may come with carving on the piece to give it a classic or regal look.

What shape to choose in a coffee table set and where to place it?

You also have a few options when it comes to the shape of coffee table sets. One of the most common shapes is a long, rectangular coffee table and square-shaped end tables. These look great around a classic sofa setting, where you place the coffee table in front of the sofa and the end tables to each side of the sofa. Square end tables also look great next to chairs. 

It's also common to find round coffee tables and end tables. These look good around shorter sofas, since the round coffee table doesn't cover as much space lengthwise. Though if the coffee table is more oblong, you could use a longer sofa style. Round end tables can also be placed anywhere more easily, since they don't have straight edges that make them look like they should be placed alongside something.

Some sets have a little more diversity in shape. You might have a square coffee table, a square end table and a rectangular console table. In this case, the coffee table goes in the center of a sitting area. The end table can be next to a chair or sofa, or off against a wall. The console table looks best when placed against a wall.

Simple Wooden Rectangular Coffee Table Set
Silver Elegant Square Coffee Table Set
Round Coffee Table Set
Round Nesting Coffee Table Set
Grey Wood Rectangular Coffee Table
Free Form Coffee Table Set

How many pieces come in coffee table sets and how to choose the set amount?

Another point to consider is how many pieces you should get in a set. By following a few interior tips, it's easy to figure out how many pieces to get.

If you have a smaller space, combining multiple uses into one area is key. So smaller spaces do best with nesting tables, where you can slide one or two tables under a main table when not in use. So in this case, you'll want a set that has two larger nesting tables or three smaller nesting tables.

A major interior concept to keep in mind is balance. It's common to find a coffee table with two matching end tables. This is because you create a pleasing balance in the space when each side of a sofa has the same end table, which matches the coffee table. That's why the majority of coffee table sets have three-piece designs. If you're going for a traditional sitting area, choose a style that gives visual balance, like the matching coffee table with two end tables.

You can still find sets with just two pieces. These sets are a good way to keep down the overall cost. It's common to see the larger of the tables placed next to the smaller of the tables in front of the sofa. You can create some unconventional geometry this way and keep the space looking more open due to the gap between tables.

You could also place the smaller table off to the side. It's common to find this placement in more artsy and geometric styles because this look goes for more artsy and fun placements, rather than the traditional idea of visual balance.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.