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How Far Should Chairs and Sofa Be From Your Coffee Table?

A photo of wooden coffee table and big grey sofa in living room.

We all want the same proportions and measurements to fit our vision of how to arrange a chair and sofa as it relates to the aesthetics of the coffee table. The arrangement of the furniture with respect to the space should respect the measures to gain comfort.

I had to learn that the hard way and so now I take close note of getting it right with the distribution of the living room and dining room space.

The Minimum Distances

Minimum distances are essential to space consideration. In the living room, we watch TV, we read and meet to talk. In a square room, to be able to do everything comfortably, we should be able to draw an imaginary circle of at least 2.5 m in diameter, because in that space everything we need should fit with ease.

Multiple Pieces of Furniture

Top view of a bright living room with large grey sofa, two chairs and a coffee table.

Sofa or sofas? If we like to meet to chat, the idea is to arrange the seats facing each other, be it a sofa and two armchairs or two sofas. To do this, we would need a width of about 4 m. However, if our living room is elongated, it is best to choose a sofa with a chaise lounge and an easy-to-move pouf that, at the same time, will serve as an extra seat.

We also need to choose a chair or sofa that accommodates our coffee table, so when we are entertaining the guests, they have a place to put their drinks. In that case, I would place the coffee table right next to the sofa with very little space between the two.

The Guests

When our guests feel cramped in the living room, it may be physically and uncomfortably restraining. Most of us want our own personal space. To ensure sufficient space for our family members and friends, there should be attention to the distance between our chairs, sofa, and the coffee tables.

For example, there should be approximately 60 cm or 24 inches between chairs. If each chair is 45 cm or 18 inches in width, then the space between each chair should be 15 cm or 6 inches. We should allow an extra few inches between the coffee table and the chair.

With the right space in between chairs and tables, the guests will be able to get up without disturbing each other.

To create a space where guests can be closer together, I would place the seats next to each other, about 15cm away. But, I would put the coffee table in the middle, leaving about 100cm between them. If I were to place them facing each other, it would create a ‘U’ distribution, unless that is what I wanted.

The Sofa

Front view of blue sofa and a carpet in a white living room.

The sofa should be at a sufficient distance from the furniture that ‘surrounds’ it. The coffee table should be about 45cm. So there is room for the legs and the table is still accessible. And if our sofa is glued to the wall, we should leave a distance of at least 10cm.

We should take advantage of those corners of our living room that are becoming empty.

Height of the Sofas

For the living room to be compensated for, the ideal is that the sofa seats and armchairs are of the same height in conjunction with the coffee table. Or failing that, the difference is not more than 10cm. A tip, if the seats are lower, they can gain the height you need with a cushion on the seat.

The coffee table should be at least half as large as the sofa. So they are proportionate and fit. The height of the coffee table should not be 10cm above or below the sofa, otherwise it is very uncomfortable. The auxiliaries, place them about 15cm from the sofa or armchairs.

And one more thing, these should always be smaller than the side of the sofa.

Choosing the Coffee Table

Close up view of wooden coffee table and carpet with a sofa background.

Let’s start with the assumption that the furniture already exists. However, we should ensure that the sofa and coffee table are bought at the same time, since these two elements have to work in coordination with each other. This is especially true if we are working with multiple chairs or sofas, and they are in the same seating area.

I would give more prominence to one piece if there is more than one sofa or chair. The shape, colors, and contrasts of each item must be considered in congruence with the distance. The shape of the sofa, chair, and coffee table should determine the layout.

The rectangular table is more versatile, unlike the square or round table, which forces us to expand the layout and space.

The Size and Shape of the Coffee Table

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

We would have to consider the sofa’s measurement to determine the size of the coffee table to choose from.  Most coffee tables have a measurement of 120x80cm. The usual height is generally 40 to 50cm. The general rule is to avoid exceeding the sofa’s height when choosing a coffee table.

If we exceed its height, it would hinder the continuity of the view of the television, the door or the window. It is important to keep everything fluid and so the distance between the table, chair, or sofa should be 50 to 60 cm, but the appropriate distance will be determined by the shape distribution of the sofa, namely L-shape, U-shape, or parallel.

If the sofa is smaller, less space is needed and the shape distribution would not be too much of a concern.


In summary, the coffee table and sofa should be between 14 inches to 18 inches apart. This allows sufficient leg room for the guests. Select a coffee table with four inches height of the sofa. Make sure the end tables have a similar height to the arms of the chairs or sofas, especially if we are placing them next to each other.


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