The origin of the coffee table is up for grabs. The earliest European coffee tables were made in Victorian Great Britain. The idea for a low table that one would use primarily for beverages and decorative items originated either in the Ottoman Empire or the Japanese tea garden. In particular, the popularity of Japanese style in 1870s and 1880s Britain is the likeliest source of inspiration for the coffee table.
As coffee tables have evolved, interior design experts now identify seven main types of this piece of furniture. There are plenty of variations within them depending on the materials used, including wood, glass, metal, rattan, leather, and more. In the end, coffee table styles all boil down to these seven main styles.
#1 Industrial Coffee Tables
Industrial coffee tables are having their moment right now. Built to evoke the work of the 19th century factory and the industrial heritage of many North American cities, you can find these in homes, condos, and coffee shops across Canada. Some design critics say the appeal of modern industrial design comes from the absence of industrial work in our lives now.
#2 Mid Century Modern Coffee Tables
Even more popular than industrial design, mid century modern refers to a style of furniture from the 1950s and 1960s. Typified by clean lines and bent wood, mid century modern carries a lot of nostalgia. For many Millennial homeowners, it evokes the furniture they remember from their grandparents’ homes.
#3 Modern Coffee Tables
Drop the mid century and what you get is a range of styles that have evolved over the last 100 years, influenced by Modern architecture to give these coffee tables bold new shapes. If you love Modern art and exciting experiments with form and space, a Modern coffee table is perfect for your living room.
#4 Contemporary Coffee Tables
Contemporary coffee tables are where designers’ imaginations run wild. Just about anything is possible with contemporary design and they commonly feature glass and metal in wildly inventive forms.
#5 Parsons Coffee Tables
Always square or rectangular, these beautiful coffee tables are known for their stability and construction. They feature four flush legs that share the thickness of the table top, giving it a solidity that’s hard to find in other coffee tables.
#6 Shaker Coffee Tables
This unique design stems from the Shakers, a religious sect whose values are reflected in their furniture. Simple, honest, and functional, these will appeal to anyone who wants a well-made, minimalist table. They eschew ornamentation in favour of asymmetrical but functional additions, such as drawers.
#7 Cottage Coffee Tables
Cottage coffee tables are easy-going, rustic pieces of furniture that wear well. Dominated by feminine detailing like turned legs, cottage coffee tables are ideal for both cottages and your home in the city. They have an honest appearance that will wear nicks and scratches well. It’s an unpretentious kind of style that belongs in the home of anyone with kids or who doesn’t want to have to worry about refurbishing furniture.
Now that you’re familiar with the seven essential types of coffee tables, you’re ready to start shopping for your own.