Ergonomics
12 Jan 24

Should your coffee table be lower or higher than your sofa?

As a living room essential, your coffee table is tasked with responsibilities for placing objects, resting your feet, and even dining for a casual TV dinner.

Aesthetically, a wrongly sized coffee table can appear jarring and disrupt the visual balance of your space. Functionally, you risk pulling a muscle using a coffee table that is not ergonomically sized for your day to day use.

Designers prefer low, very low

Many designers prefer a lower coffee table in relation to your sofa sitting height. So if your sofa seat height is around 40cm, you want to go for a table that is at least 2.5 to 5cm lower for that designer look. And if you have the stomach for it, a design that literally hugs your floor seems to be the in thing at the moment.

We looked through the coffee table catalogue of Minotti, an Italian brand that is the very definition of peak designer furniture (also very expensive!) and saw designs averaging in the low 30 centimetres with one design going as low as 13cm.

In contrast, Ikea's very affordable and has mass appeal coffee table catalogue has a bigger variety of designs at the 45cm height.

Low coffee tables may have that designer look but past a certain height, your back has to work harder picking up and putting down items. If aspiring to be on a decor magazine cover is not a priority for you, look for proportion instead.

Like this ⬆️  is just rich celebrities, furniture designers and interior designers conspiring to make a statement (or in our opinion, being jerks).

Coffee tables that are just right (at the right height!)

Coffee tables at the same height as your sofa seat height accommodates your sofa's sit-in depth, ensuring easy access to items placed on the table while comfortably seated.

The proportionate coffee table height - just slightly lower than your sofa sitting height

This height also ensures that items placed on the coffee table is out of immediate view, which is great when talking to someone sitting opposite you or when watching the TV.

Visually, this Goldilocks dimension also ensures your table is at a good line of view so that you can actually see the furniture and actively avoid walking into it.

The case for a tall coffee table

The tall coffee table design finds no favour from designers because of its proportion. The height also makes it difficult to source for, even on popular shopping sites.

We don't get requests for tall coffee tables often. So when Studio Abby commissioned us to make one, we wanted to know where the inspiration came from.

The hotel inspiration for a functional coffee table height

Her client liked the idea of being able to dine comfortably from his sofa while staying at the Hotel Shangri La. He took this photo and asked her to replicate this experience at his new home.

Being able to custom make both the client's sofa and the coffee table ensures that we are able to use colour, material and design to mitigate the odd proportions of a taller coffee table.

Side view of of the planned proportions of custom made sofa and coffee table

Proportionally, Studio Abby worked with us on a coffee table that is the same height as the sofa's arm. By reducing the variety of heights at the living area, the coffee table stands out less.

Choosing a pedestal base design also ensures  Studio Abby's client can do less shimmying and get in and out from the sofa with more ease compared to a 4 legged table base design.

Neither sofa nor coffee table is the focal point. Both comes and works well as a understated set

The designer chose a cream beige faux leather to upholster the sofa and  a cream base engineered quartz table top to keep the design as invisible as possible.

Apart from your sofa, it is also important to consider the size of the room, the furniture surrounding it, and your chosen aesthetic. Make an appointment to speak to our product consultants and get a coffee table that is just right for you.