10 Living Rooms Without Coffee Tables

This blog post about Living Rooms Without Coffee Tables was originally published in 2016 and was updated in August 2023.

Living Rooms without coffee tables

If you’re furnishing your first living room, there’s often a mental check list that comes to mind. Sofa? Check. Chair? Check. Coffee table? Check.

But, just like any room in your house, we want you to make your spaces work for you, so ditch that check list and think outside the box. We’re advocating for you to pick exactly what you need, and in many cases, that might not be a coffee table.

Here are 10 living rooms that go without one — maybe one of these setups work for you!

Use a leggy tufted ottoman in a small room that already has heavy furniture pieces

Use a Leggy Ottoman

If you have a room that has lots of heavy pieces (here we have a large secretary and two skirted upholstered pieces), we like to bring in a leggier piece, like our Tristen Square Ottoman. It helps keep the room from feeling too cramped, but it’s still comfortable and functional!

An Ottoman With Storage

Multipurpose furniture is one of our all-time favorite decorating Do’s. Which is why we love using a storage ottoman in place of a coffee table. It’s both foot rest, surface for drinks (when outfitted with a tray), and storage for office supplies, files, board games, or even throw pillow and blankets so things are easy to grab when you need.  In this light and airy living room, we used our Amelia Storage Ottoman.

Group together several small accent tables instead of a coffee table

Use a Grouping of Accent Tables

A couple of accent tables are really all you need, especially if you aren’t interested in a big, coffee table. Here, we used three small wooden tables, and you’ve got plenty of surfaces for placing drinks, accessories, or books, but all of these tables are easy to move around your space based on your needs.

An upholstered ottoman offers extra seating in a living room

Ottomans for Extra Seating

Another reason we love using an ottoman in place of a coffee table? If you love having friends and family over, a big tufted ottoman can be moved around your space for extra seating. Here, our Carmel Cocktail Ottoman is upholstered in a super soft velvet for serious style and comfy seating.

Use two small leather ottomans in a living room

Two Small Ottomans

We love an ottoman, but that doesn’t always mean it has to big a huge one that takes up half your floor space (although those are great in lots of spaces). In this room, we used two small leather poufs. Pull them together in front of your sofa and you’ve got a spot for books or drinks, but they can easily be moved around your space. Simple and versatile!

A small cocktail table beside a couch

Use a Cocktail Height Table

We often forget about cocktail tables, but they’re a great solution for living rooms where you may not want a coffee table. Our is Andie Side Table one of our favorite pieces to use in living rooms. It’s great next to a big armchair, but it works well floating in front of a sofa too.

round ottoman table

Use a Round Ottoman instead of Square

For rooms that have lots of traffic, a round ottoman is a great choice. They’re much easier to maneuver around than square or rectangular ones, and they’re just as practical. Here, our Hayes Round Ottoman creates a nice & soft central point for this living room.

Use a large tufted ottoman instead of a coffee table

For Casual Family Rooms, Try an Ottoman

For a formal living room where you would be entertaining, a coffee table makes sense, but in a casual family room? We opt for an ottoman. Anywhere where you’ll be watching TV (did someone say Netflix marathon?), an ottoman is ideal. It’s way more comfortable for kicking up your feet, and there’s no worry you’ll scratch or scuff a wood or glass finish.

Here, we combined the best of both worlds with our Malone Leather Cocktail Ottoman—it provides the comfy footrest a family room needs with just enough flat table storage to put drinks, snacks, or your favorite decor.

Round tufted ottoman instead of coffee table

Include Plenty of Side Tables

If you’re using an upholstered ottoman in your living room, remember to have plenty of side tables around the room for placing drinks. We like using a large round table in corners and garden seats are great for tucking next to a low slung arm chair.

We’re always getting questions about coffee tables, so hopefully we’ve answered them all here.

To shop coffee and accent tables or ottomans at Ballard Designs, go here, or find more coffee table inspiration below:

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Jenn S.

    December 7, 2018

    There are three identical raw-edged wood tables in the “Use a Grouping of Accent Tables” section, along with the Durham Tray Table. Where can I find those raw-edged wood tables? They would be perfect for my small living room.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      December 10, 2018

      Sadly these tables have been discontinued. So sorry!

  2. Reply

    Lisa AB

    February 19, 2017

    Are not the Ottomans another form of a coffee table. Do you really want to place your drinks or plates of food or books where people’s bottoms or feet have been?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      February 20, 2017

      Hi Lisa,
      In our minds, a coffee table is simply a table, not an upholstered piece! But you’re right, many people consider ottomans and coffee tables to be one in the same.
      Regarding putting drinks and food where someone has sat before, we suggest getting a big oversized tray to hold those types of things.
      Thanks for reading!

    • Reply

      Lisa Brown

      August 6, 2018

      I don’t see the sence in using a fabric ottoman to sit a cup of coffee on or food. A coffee table with a solid top that can be easily cleaned is more efficient. I don’t believe that anyone would want to put their plate of food or books on a surface where one’s feet have been. Just my thoughts.

  3. Reply

    Diane Souza

    July 2, 2016

    I have three prints by the same artist 2 are 24w x 20h and 1 is 20wx24h. I want to put them over my sofa, how can I hang and space them?I love Ballard designs and get many good ideas.

  4. Reply


    April 12, 2016

    Where can I find the throw blanket (grey, blue, cream) on the top picture with the blue accents?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      April 12, 2016

      Unfortunately that throw blanket is discontinued! I’m so sorry. We do have another solid throw in a similar shade of spa blue here.

  5. Reply


    April 8, 2016

    Where can we buy the 2 floral pictures in “Include Many Side Tables?”

  6. Reply


    April 7, 2016

    Where can one buy the blue patterned rug in the photo labeled ‘Use a Round Ottoman…’