As a focal point of any living room, no matter how small or spacious, a coffee table works hard both as a practical piece of furniture and a stylish statement. Whether you opt for something contemporary with a sleek finish, an ornately carved antique chest or a fabric-topped ottoman for a bit of cosy appeal, it will bring the room together, give guests a natural gathering point and can also work as extra seating. Polly Sweet spoke to Caroline Chin Geyler, founder and head stylist at Arete Culture, for her advice on choosing the perfect one for your home.
What are your tips for selecting the perfect coffee table?
I think a coffee table should be function first. It’s something that will have to handle spills and knocks so you want it to be hardy! I like using stainless steel for this reason – a quick powder coat and it can look very elegant. A functional table should be something easy to clean and that doesn’t absorb stains. Instead of marble, I always recommend using high-quality tiles – there are so many great options in the market these days and with our marble-look tiles you can hardly tell the difference! If you have kids or you’re accident-prone, look for something that is round and doesn’t have sharp corners. A bonus is that round coffee tables also help to balance boxy furniture and softens the feel of a room.
Upholstered or hard top – what are some of the pros and cons?
What I love about ottomans is that they double as functional and comfortable seating. If you have children, you can very easily clear the top and let them climb on it. The downside is that the surface tends to be trickier to work with so you have to be careful about placing liquids on top, for example. Trays provide a nice flat surface as coasters alone can be dicey! As with anything upholstered, maintenance is more expensive as you have to get the piece professionally laundered. Hard tabletops are the status quo and I wouldn’t really say there are cons for them.
What are some of your go-to pieces for dressing a coffee table so that it makes a lasting impact?
- I always start with a tray. Trays visually separate and add visual interest by providing texture and contrast. Trays also corral disparate items, which anchors the mess and visually neatens clutter.
- I like adding organic elements to coffee tables because the various shapes provide tension and make the table interesting to look at. Items like flowers add height and drama while smaller shells and corals double as paperweights. Try to vary the heights on your coffee table and also arrange things in odd numbers – a go-to styling trick for sure!
- I always add scents, whether it’s scented reeds or a candle. Scents are so important for how we experience a space and good design is about engaging all our senses!
#06-01 Tan Boon Liat Building
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