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Are Coffee Tables Old Fashioned Or Out Of Style?

A living room design interior with sofa and round coffee table.

No, coffee tables aren’t old-fashioned, nor are they out of style. They are definitely, absolutely, unequivocally indispensable. Some designers will tell you that coffee tables rule. Other designers will state that coffee tables belong back in the 20th century.

They both have a point for various reasons. Grab a coffee, kick back, and we’ll talk about coffee tables.

Related: Coffee Table vs Cocktail Table

Why Coffee Tables Are Old Fashioned

Today’s furniture designers keep your comfort and convenience at the forefront of their minds. Do you need lumbar support? Done. Care to kick back and relax? They design sectionals that do just that.

Do you require a sofa with storage for your books? They can do that. Need a cup holder? Got you covered.


A photo of interior living modern classic style room.

With innovations like these, coffee tables are obsolete. Add to this the fact that, with sectionals, they take up a lot of space in a living room. If you were to add a coffee table to the mix, someone would be barking their shins on the table. So space is a big consideration when coffee tables are the subject.


Another consideration is that today’s styles dictate less clutter. Minimalism is the keyword used by today’s stylists and designers. Occasional tables are placed beside chairs and sofas, leaving space in the room for people to walk and look you in the eye. Guests aren’t distracted by the clutter usually found on a coffee table.

This means that people will need to find a place to stash their glasses, book, inhaler, candles, candy dish, remote, TV guide, DVDs, and all the paraphernalia that comes with just living. A living room without all that clutter, you have to admit, would be prettier.


A serious little boy with big bruise on his forehead after bumping.

I can’t tell you how many times my children fell against or ran into coffee tables when they were babies (yes, it was back in the 20th century.)

I probably should have owned stock in Bandaid and an ice company. Babies aren’t aware; they just do their little thing at top speed. If anything like a coffee table gets in the way, well, now they’re aware.

The Case For Coffee Tables

Okay, so you have a cup holder on your sofa or easy chair. Great, so you have pockets on the sides of the sofa for your TV guide, book, remotes, and the odd DVD. The snag to that is that you’ll be holding your inhaler, glasses, phone, and other necessities in your lap. Not comfy. For what reasons would you want a coffee table?


People buy houses and some furnishings just to have storage. Some beds, for instance, contain drawers for bed linens or whatever you want to store in them. Some fold-out sofa/beds are made with tables, book storage, and cubbies built into them. Why should it be different with coffee tables?

No longer are tables just a slab of wood or glass on legs. Now, they contain cabinets, shelves, and cubbies for storage, in addition to telescoping panels for your laptop. Absolutely anything can go in these storage spaces, and you’ll still have an attractive table for your living room.

Make Your Statement

Unique modern coffee table in the living room.

Many people today are into natural, sustainable, and real. Processed isn’t healthy, so more and more people are turning to sustainable. I’m the type, for instance, to buy a slab of raw wood on legs for my living room.

No varnish, no finish, just plain real wood. Other homeowners prefer bamboo or another type of sustainable material for their tables. Go ahead and let your tables express your aesthetic.

Fits Your Needs

My brother and sister-in-law eat their meals on the coffee table in their living room while watching their favorite shows. I can’t say I haven’t done that, too, but I prefer not to be distracted from the food. I sit in the dining room to eat.

However, there are a lot of people who can’t move easily from room to room, so someone brings them their food where they’re sitting (think Meals on Wheels for the elderly.)If this sounds like you, or if you only use your living room tables when visitors come, then whatever does it for you is what you need.

How To Know If A Coffee Table Is Really Necessary

A white round coffee table with a cup and books in top.

Whether or not you should put a coffee table in your living room is basically down to your taste and needs:

Space. Occasional tables, pie crust tea tables, or even plant stands can stand in for a coffee table if the space just isn’t there. Larger rooms, of course, will hold a coffee table and then some.

Practicality. Will you use the table for eating in front of the TV, or will you use it to hold your things as you sit in the living room?

Aesthetic. You might not be selling your house, but rooms full of “proper” furniture are pleasing to the eye. If the table completes the aesthetic, then, by all means, buy one.

Small children. You want your furniture to be comfortable and convenient. However, with little kids around, accidents will happen. If a coffee table is really necessary, then make sure it has rounded edges or is round or oval, so there won’t be any boo-boos.

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