Coffee Table Alternatives: 10 Genius Options + My Client’s #1 Pick!

A.K.A. “The ‘I Hate Coffee Tables’ Client Project. πŸ™‚

If you’re looking for coffee table alternatives for small spaces or large, this post will get your brain firing! πŸ™‚


I thought I’d heard it all, but a client recently admitted to me (as we worked on designing her entire downstairs look and feel),

“So…I hate coffee tables!”

I knew what she meant (I don’t like generic/standard coffee tables much either), but it’s always good to double check.

When I asked what was, to me, the obvious next question (“How about ottomans?”), she answered, “As long as they’re not too couch-y.”

Really, she wanted a hard-surfaced table…but not just any coffee table.

Hours of work lie ahead of us to find her magical unicorn coffee table! (And that’s just for one table in one room, amidst an entire 1st floor redesign.)

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Option #10: Smaller Tables Combo!

One option I’m giving her is to avoid a coffee table all together and go for a combination of smaller tables in front of her seating area! We need more wood warmth & texture in this room, so I’m liking something like this. Look at those three shapes together! MWAH! (Chef’s kiss!)

Creating something like this would work well!

The above is a custom design, but the below is available pre-made and would not only be perfect for an extra-large space (many standard coffee tables are just too dinky-looking!)…

…but they’d look AMAZING against a standard-style sofa, giving it a much more elegant, upscaled vibe with that texture, color, movement… (Most living rooms are missing some or all of those elements in their furnishings.)

SHOP NOW

You could also vary the colors if you’re not into pure neutrals:

You can also go with a creative take on nesting tables, like this one I’m using as a current option for another living room project:

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COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES FOR SMALL SPACES

Option #9: Bonus Storage + Seating!

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A recent client with children LOVED this suggestion! Her kids congregate around the coffee table so much and she didn’t want the standard poufs or little ottomans (“something more upscale and unique”)…and we found it!

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Option #8: Go Sculptural!

As we talked more (I’m telling you, helping people design their homes is like being a therapist a lot of the time!), I started hearing that it wasn’t so much coffee tables that she hated. It was the “standard” style coffee tables!

It turns out she was open to “more sculptural” tables in her living room.

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While all I can picture is my kids using this as a slide, it was so beautiful I have to include it. This is artwork as your furniture.

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I’ve gotta include designs like this for my more architectural-loving clients!

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Options #7 & #6: More Sculptural or Uniquely Finished!

This first one is high-end and expensive; the second two are a bit more palatable if you’re on a tighter budget.

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Sometimes it’s not a unique shape you need…it’s a unique finish, like this lovely:

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COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Option #5: Add Texture!

Love the total uniqueness to this one:

Update: that one is now sold out (you gotta be quick to grab these, people!), but here’s a sleek and budget-friendly alternative I can’t wait to use in a project!

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Texture can also be added with this coffee table, which also nails the sculptural element, so a win-win!

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Another of my absolute favorite styles is this rugged and timeless piece:

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If you’re not feeling bold enough to experiment outside the traditional wood, then go with this solid slab of wood…INCREDIBLE. I want it! Solid wood from ONE piece can be difficult to find…I might get this one for our next room (if it’s still available)!

coffee table

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Option #4: Work of Art!

How beautiful and unique is this?!? If you’re yawning at “the usual coffee table” everyone has, this may be your winner! Looks like it belongs in an art museum…yet totally sturdy enough if you have a family!

Here’s a highly accessible version I love:

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This coffee table is 100% unique and could be SUCH a good addition to a living room that needs shape and interest. None of your friends have this coffee table yet, I’m willing to bet!

See more coffee tables we’ve helped clients find HERE!

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES FOR SMALL SPACES

Option #3: Pallet Coffee Table

OK, so I didn’t actually pitch this to her because it’s totally not her style :), but if you’re looking for something inexpensive AND for coffee table alternatives for small spaces, this is a great one!

We made this while we lived in our tiny 2nd flat in New Zealand that literally had ZERO room for a dining room table, so we ate in here! πŸ™‚

white pallet coffee table with wheels

Read “Our Famous $20 Pallet Coffee Table with Wheels!”

And to make up for my slipping that one in πŸ˜‰ , here’s another one of the more “architectural” tables our client considered during the phase we were going black. πŸ™‚

If you can’t seem to choose between the functionality of a coffee table vs a coffee table ottoman, try a waterfall coffee table over your ottoman! These can easily be adjusted or slid back and forth to accommodate the needs of the moment:

coffee tables

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Option #2: Go with Alternative, Sustainable Materials!

How much fun is this mid-century bamboo as a coffee table alternative? In the right space, it would be perfect!

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Vintage Bamboo Coffee Table

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

Option #1: What the Client Chose!

I’m a sucker for marble, yes yes I am! πŸ™‚

Was this my dream coffee table? Pretty close to it! WHAT A STUNNER! (You can own it too, while it’s there…send me pics of it in your space so I can drool. I can never have too much drool in my life. πŸ˜‰ bahaha)

MY FAVORITE

In second place is this gorgeous-shaped, luxe-feeling marble piece that will absolutely take your living room from bleh to MWAH!

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Here’s an alternative:

alternative coffee table

The kicker of this story is that in the end, she chose what is a GORGEOUS coffee table–but it’s still one of the closest to a “standard” coffee table of all of them! πŸ™‚

To be a good designer, you have to be a good listener…and that often means listening to not just the words but what’s behind the words, what the client is REALLY wanting but they don’t even know it…

…and sometimes helping them see how a certain piece is the perfect answer for

COFFEE TABLE ALTERNATIVES

BONUS IDEA for YOU: My Personal Favorite! πŸ˜‰

And actually, now that I’ve mentioned it above, I’ve gotta put our internet-famous coffee table ottoman here for those of you who are new to our site! (Welcome!) You’ll never believe what we made it out of! πŸ™‚

ottoman coffee table
“You’ll Be Surprised at What We Made Our Ottoman Coffee Table Out Of!”

To save you HOURS (or is it DAYS?) of weeding through all the garbage coffee tables of the internet’s retailers, we’ve narrowed them down for you right here! πŸ™‚

Next…

We’re booked through 2025, but you can book a 1.5 hr consult with us OR (even faster yet!) grab one of our Plans & Design Guides instantly! (highly recommend!)

You’ll also want to read

  1. Living Room Area Rug: The (Only) 7 Rules You Need to Know!
  2. 5 Reasons We Ripped Out Our Wood-burning & Converted to a Gas Fireplace!
  3. Long Living Room Layout: 15+ Genius Design Ideas (With TV, Fireplace or Without)!

PS: Our complete list of every project by room is viewable HERE!

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