This blog post about Living Rooms Without Coffee Tables was originally published in 2016 and was updated in August 2023.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
- How to Match a Coffee Table to Your Sectional
- The Truth About Coffee Tables and Why You Need One
- How to Style a Console, Bookshelf, or Coffee Table
- How to Decorate a Coffee Table
To stay up to date with all things How to Decorate, sign up for our monthly newsletter.