The Top Fifteen Unique Coffee Tables
The humble coffee table is ubiquitous in home design. However commonplace this piece of furniture may appear, it doesn't mean it needs to be boring. On the contrary, this useful furniture can go from dusty to dreamy with help from Nest Casa editors who have culled today’s most exciting styles.
The History of the Coffee Table
But, first, where did this workhorse table originate from? According to US furniture folklore, F. Stuart Foote, the founder of American Imperial Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, MI, claims to be the inventor. As a businessman and devoted husband, Foote said he created the coffee table to solve his wife’s entertainment dilemma. The furniture company was known for its dining tables; thus, Foote lowered the legs on one of the styles presumably to allow for guests to sit on the couches and stuffed chairs to have a place to put food and beverages when not seated at a dining table. Hence, the casual dinner party concept was launched.
Regardless of Foote’s claims, other historians place the coffee table as far back as the 1720s. However, it was likely serving tea and cocktails and was almost waist-height at 27 inches. Manufacturers seized upon the idea as coffee became the social drink of daytime entertaining and hot liquid cups required a place to be rested when not consuming it.
Japanese tea garden tables inspired the lower height. Ultimately though, they indeed came into being with the television’s advent in the home and were adjusted to a height of 16-18 inches to make sure nothing would block the TV screen’s view.
The Most Unique Wood Coffee Tables
This most humble of materials makes for some surprisingly dramatic coffee tables. For instance, in this townhome in Brussels created by Olivier Dwek Architects, a stark white combined with dark wood makes for an impactful visage in this living room. Breaking up the graphic sofa and chaise lounge, which sit perpendicular to each other, is a custom live edge wood coffee table in the shape of a parallelogram, adding another dimension to space.
Editor’s Picks: Wood Coffee Tables
With smooth oak cylinder’s and brass top, this beefy coffee table expressly takes cues from designs at 180 House, the soon-to-open private member club in London’s Strand from the founders of Soho House.
Comparatively to a giant wood drum, the Lunas round coffee table rests in on sculpted brass legs. Notably, this base carries this distinct Guanacaste wood grain topper like a jewel.
Defying the limits of what can be achieved with wood is the Airela solid ashwood and mahogany finish table from AMORPH. Designer Amir Habibabadi applied car manufacturing techniques to this beguiling table.
The Most Unique Metal Coffee Tables
If you’re a home metalhead, then a metal coffee table is for you. But rather than conjure up an image of a tough wrought-iron table more suited to an outdoor garden than a living room, how about something a little bit more unexpected? This monolith matte brass table steadies this otherwise light and airy room with its bold body and base.
Editor’s Picks: Metal Coffee Tables
Milo Baughman’s quintessential 1970s American classic drum coffee table in brushed bronze is worthy of a spot on the dance floor at Studio 54; alternatively, it makes a great place to house drinks while the party stays at your place.
Like a pretty white flower, this Yalta brass coffee table fans out in a circular nature with Agaria white marble ‘petals’ encased in its gleaming brass framework. If cornering the unique angle appeals, this is THE table to own.
Giving the appearance of a smooth rounded pebble found in a stream, ultimately, this silver leaf coffee table is the star of the most exciting scene in your home, the living room.
The Most Unique Glass Top Coffee Tables
Obviously, one of our favorite designers here at Nest Casa, Kelly Wearstler, has nailed the chicest glass-top coffee table. Pictured in this divinely simplistic somber, but equally captivating, is a massive glass top coffee table that displays a hollow center featuring a pyramid at its base.
Editor’s Picks: Glass Coffee Tables
Ultimately nothing beats two favorite looks in one, in this case, glass and wood. The transparent glass top shows off the star-like shape of the wooden base.
Generally, museum-worthy travertine and glass held nicely together with brass framing to hold it in place will stir the same curiosity as even the most intriguing curated artifact can.
Mid-20th Century Coffee Table with Glass Tiers and Black Frame by Angelo Ostuni$2,050.63 BUY NOW
Certainly, the mesmerizing base of this elegant Mid-Century coffee table designed by Angelo Ostuni will captivate even the most casual of passers-by.
The Most Unique Acrylic Coffee Tables
Markedly what makes an acrylic coffee table is quite often what its transparent nature reveals. For example, the pair of Seventies-inspired modern coffee tables shown here show off a colorful book collection in keeping with the theme of this vibrant and truly original library, which features an image of a true original, Coco Chanel.
Editor’s Picks: Acrylic Coffee Tables
Alternatively, in black, acrylic can be seen as a sleek mysterious coffee table. Alexandra Von Furstenberg, creator and lover of all things acrylic offers this two-tiered black coffee table version with glass-mirror insets offering style and practicality.
To demonstrate acrylics’ practically invisible nature is this clear Lucite - a high-grade type of acrylic - and brass coffee table from Williams-Sonoma, which lets the room do all the talking while careful not to overwhelm the rest of the room. Furthermore, it provides a place for books, cups, vases on its clear top and additional storage in its brass drawer that looks almost suspended in the air.
Particularly intriguing or “Brutiful” as this table is aptly named is this unique coffee table by designer Birnam of Birnam Wood studio. It takes its cues from Carlo Scarpa’s Brion Cemetery, rich with repetitive symmetries and forms which ‘mirror each other and descend or ascend in depth.’
The Most Unique Stone Coffee Tables
Given the propensity to knock one’s knees on a coffee table, it’s easy to question a stone or marble coffee tables’ appeal. Yet demonstrated here in the modern groovy sunlit living room are stone coffee tables with smooth rounded legs and sanded tabletop grouped like a modern-day Stonehenge or, as we like to say, “coffee-table henge.”
Editor’s Picks: Stone Coffee Tables
Another favorite from the not-even-open-yet 180 House in London is this Fantasy Brown marble coffee table that resists scratches and marks with its extra hard surface. Accordingly, the curved lines help avoid any nicks possible from a run-in with this guy.
Definitely intense in stature and hue thanks to black Marquina marble, this stone coffee table is inspired by turret-like rooftop terraces of Renaissance Age dwellings.
Created by Mermelada Estudio, the round coffee table is literally, a block of cement. However, it just happens to be a darn good-looking geometric-shaped slab of rock, simple yet commanding attention.
Coffee Table Accessories
Of course, even the most minimal of minimalists need or chooses to use their coffee table to display household treasures. Books have always lent themselves to a coffee table. Hence there is a whole category of books named for that use specifically, aka coffee table books.
But why stop there? It’s also a center stage to display special objets d’art. Or a soothing scented candle to infuse the room. Decorative boxes can hide remotes and chargers, while vases for flowers and trays as a vide-poche are must-haves.
Whether to keep it in a neutral color scheme or play with color to complement the rest of the room’s hues, let a unique coffee table be the stage for your living room tableau.