In what is now my second time fully designing a living room, I have fallen madly in love with a coffee table that is yet again “too small”. Jess, “What makes a coffee table too small?” Well, a coffee table should be at least half the length of your sofa. So naturally, this measurement is completely dependent upon the sofa you have. In my first apartment, I was dealing with two other issues – 1. My living room was small and narrow, not leaving me with a lot of coffee table size options in general and 2. I had fallen madly in love with and secured the navy pouf you see in the photos above and below. Whoops! I clearly didn’t consider that the height of my pouf was equal to or taller than most coffee tables…coooooool. But after hours and hours of searching, that sweet little black metal oval table came to my rescue and was the perfect height, shape, and material I wanted to beautifully contrast the pouf. So yes, today I’m going to talk about the wonders of nesting coffee tables and your many options in this category! I’m also going to walk you through my current coffee table situation because, “oops I did it again” 🙂
But before we get much further let’s go over the three basic “rules” (or our recommended guidelines since rules can always be broken).
RULE #1: I know I just said this but your coffee table should be at least half the length of your sofa. The right scale is going to look and feel so good. The last thing you want is for a coffee table to make your living room look smaller than it is. Scale is crucial to a well-designed room.
RULE #2: Your coffee table should be no more than 4″ higher or shorter than the top of your sofa seat cushions. This gives you A LOT of room to play so I wouldn’t stress about it. Just make sure you’re going to be happy with the height you’re setting your coffee cup down:)
RULE #3: 16″ to 18” is the ideal distance between the sofa and coffee table. Don’t cramp the space! This also means you want to watch out for the width of your coffee table so you don’t end up with something too big that takes up the area. This has been (and currently is) a pain point for me and has limited my coffee table options.
What I’m Working With
Did I know the coffee table was too small when I bought it? Yes. But I knew I wanted to do nesting coffee tables again because I wanted a round shape and my living layout couldn’t handle a large round coffee table. I also honestly love the nesting table look as it’s an opportunity to bring in another material, texture, and potentially a pattern. This particular vintage coffee table was also just too unique to pass up. I must have seen it on Craigslist for at least a month, never being able to get it out of my head. Now, while I LOVE it, coming up with its ideal “nesting buddy” hasn’t been as easy as I’d hoped (it’s my overthinking that’s been the problem to no one’s surprise).
Naturally, I tried it with the metal table first. It’s not terrible but it also isn’t right. I want the wooden table to be the star and having the metal table tower over it, it’s taking a back seat. Oh, and it you’re wondering where my beloved navy pouf is, don’t worry, it’s currently acting as my office chair footrest. It’s too tall to nest with my new table which I sadly also knew when I bought it. But speaking of poufs let’s start playing with my first option…
Option #1: Upholstered Pouf/Ottoman
This idea is seeming like the frontrunner at the moment but that’s currently all it is, an idea. It’s easy to come up with cool ideas in your head but finding “the right” piece that is the perfect size, color, and price is easier said than done (like with my first living room coffee table height issue). And because I’m me, I might see if I can get one made but that adds another challenge (the money challenge). I’ve been dreaming of a custom-made pouf because I’d love to use a patterned fabric. All of the patterned poufs that I could potentially buy or get gifted are simply not my style or aren’t the right size or not the right color. Is there another pouf option? Of course!
I am open to a more pillow-like soft pouf which might be a nice look in a room with A LOT of structured lines. With this style, I could potentially have an extremely talented, beautiful, smart, cool friend that knows how to sew *cough* Arlyn *cough* help me. Do you think public flattery will work on her? Working moms typically have lots of free time to help their friends make pieces of decor, right?? It also might not be as expensive as I’m thinking to get made since it’s basically a pillow and not a more solid piece of furniture that requires a wooden frame. This one is also a little easier to find if I’m ok with a solid color.
Option #2: Stacked Pillows
In my last(?) blog post about this room, I talked about all of the coffee table and rug options I had considered as well as my floor pillow idea with fabric samples. This option is that idea but I’ve realized that I need to be extremely careful with the pattern choice. I have some decor pieces you can’t see in this photo (I’m saving them for the reveal) that make me very nervous about adding more than one pattern. The impulse to overdecorate, given the hundreds of ideas in my head, is STRONG. I keep reminding myself that I need to cool it. With all that said, I think I can find a pattern that works and brings in color (likely a dark blue). When I originally had this patterned pillow idea, I was planning to mix two or three patterns, now I think only one pattern for both pillows or one patterned and one solid. Arlyn did technically offer to help make these after I gently asked if she’d be willing…but I asked her after I hung her dining room pendant a couple of weeks ago. That wasn’t my plan I promise! I had zero ulterior motives! I still might find some I like but so far no dice.
Option #3: Another Coffee Table
Another super legitimate option is simply another round (ish) or oval coffee table that’s shorter than the one I have. Ideally, this would also be vintage to add additional soul and depth to the room. My graphic is comically bad but as you can see I’m looking for something visually lighter, maybe with legs. The size is just my biggest challenge. Finding a coffee table I like that is under 15″ tall, under 24″ in diameter (at most), and not very expensive is a tall order. But who knows! Maybe one day soon the perfect option will pop up on a late-night Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace search. Anything is possible!
But enough about me and let’s talk about YOU. First, let me make sure you know that no matter the size of your living room, you can always have nesting coffee tables. This isn’t just for small space dwellers. Actually, if you have a really large living room, it’s a perk to be able to separate your coffee tables to accommodate guests sitting in various areas. Now that we can all have them, there are two types – matching and non matching. One is not better than the other. It’s simply preference. So naturally, I rounded up some options in both categories so if you need a coffee table setup and don’t want to have to search, hopefully this with help.
Matching sets are great for a couple of reasons – it creates less decision-making to create your “nest” and they are visually calmer since they aren’t contrasting each other (like a mixed set would). Here are my current favorites:
1. The Morro Tables: Simple, organic yet modern, and would look good with so many styles.
2. Nesting Coffee Table: Perfect if you want a little drama that isn’t too visually heavy.
3. Pompeo Round Ivory Cast Resin Nesting Coffee Table Set: Trendy but in the best way and can be used outdoors!
4. Wade Nesting Coffee Tables: Emily has used these before and they are SO pretty in person. Modern traditional at its finest. They come in all three of those wood tones so you can mix and match or go with one tone.
5. Cannellini Nesting Coffee Table Set: Another trend-forward set that I adore. If I didn’t think the small one was too chunky I’d grab it for my living room. Also, I’m pretty sure they are only sold as a set…
6. Jewel Round Coffee and Side Table Set: Affordable, cute, and lots of texture, what’s not to love?!
Non Matching Sets
I was reminded of a few things when I was putting these together. Not all coffee tables are meant to be nestable. Unless it’s a set made for each other, you need to make sure the main coffee table has an overhang. That’s what makes most nesting possible. As you’ll see below, you can have your small table be taller than the main but then that table needs an overhang. Just some thoughts before we get into these combos (measurements have all been checked:))
1. Augie Oak Wood Coffee Table + Willy Charcoal Brown Round Pedestal Side Table: I love the modern chunky look and it’s making me think maybe I just need a smaller pedestal table instead of my “larger” oval one. The coffee table does actually have a matching nesting buddy in case you prefer that look.
2. Zeke Oval Brushed Oatmeal Coffee Table + Boucle Black Pouf: Simple, chic, AND affordable!
3. Ellington Round Coffee Table + Olivia Round Pouf: Playful with that pretty fluting and pretty rust ottoman (that actually comes apart into two floor cushions!)
4. Volume Round Pedestal Coffee Table + Hopedale Modern Jute Pouf: This feels like a refined organic vibe, right? Also, those prices aren’t bad either.
5. Miri Coffee Table + Square Ivory And Rust Checkered Pouf: For a more contemporary look, this is perfect. While the pouf is a little more on trend, that coffee table will last a long time stylistically.
6. Homage Round White Oak Wood and Marble Coffee Table + Cassius Side Table: Oh I really love this one. Lots of different materials. Chunky yet delicate. Just perfect:)
I hope this was a fun read that got you thinking about the wild world of nesting coffee tables and if you needed one, maybe you found it! Wish me luck on my continued journey:)
Love you, mean it.
Opening Image Credits: Design by Jess Bunge | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Makeover Takeover: Jess’ Long Awaited (Small Space) Living Room Reveal