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Looking for an alternative to the coffee table in the living room? You can find one for space-saving or decor purposes. We have 23 great options. Read on!
The coffee table seems like a must-have in the living room. But a room can be furnished without one, and it will still seem complete. Indeed, I have lived in houses and apartments without a coffee table, and I’ve always found an alternative.
It’s not a design flaw either. A good alternative can be the better option. It can save space and offer more functions. Once you go through this list, you will see that the coffee table is the basic go-to option, and there’s always a better way to furnish your living room, large or small.
This list includes options that range from improved tables to clever storage solutions and repurposed items. The cost varies too, but you can find a cheaper alternative (but you can splurge too.)
It is also handy to have a go-to list of items if you find yourself in a situation where you need a makeshift serving table, and you need options. Whenever there are more guests than you can accommodate, grab any of these for an extra table surface.
We’ve made this list actionable, so you will find shopping links (our site earns a commission) for no extra cost and all the convenience. There’s aren’t just vague ideas — you can get them for your home.
So without further ado, let’s dig into it.
Ottoman Coffee Table
Ottomans have been a common substitute for coffee tables in the past. However, they are frequently thought of as being less practical than their coffee table counterparts. However, people seem to find them more desirable because there is more room for extra seating without continuously flowing in the living space. A person’s opinion of whether or not an ottoman would be a good substitute for a coffee table often depends on what they are looking for.
Some people choose garden stools as coffee table alternatives because they are trendy, versatile, and offer less surface area than other types of coffee tables. When considering this type of accessory for a coffee table alternative, use two garden stools instead of one to have a symmetrical design and enough surface space.
To have more functionality and versatility, some people choose to buy a tray table (also known as a TV table or snack table) instead of purchasing a typical coffee table. This type of furniture is generally only used as a tabletop while still anchoring a space. If you entertain regularly or need something small enough that’s easy to move, then tray tables are an excellent option.
Storage benches can be used as a surface or extra seating. There are both long single pieces and smaller matching pieces. Look for the ones with hinged or fully removable tops. It’s such a great piece for lots of extra storage space in the living room.
Multiple poufs may provide an alternative for those who need more area to spread out in. For those with children, they are easy to move and have a chic appearance. They give space coffee tables a run for their money. If you want a sturdier surface, add on a serving tray for better-supported items.
Multiple Side Tables
Hulking, bulky coffee tables are great for large spaces but otherwise, they seem to get in the way. Smaller tables work better in small spaces and look lighter/less obtrusive.
Consider forgoing a bulky coffee table when smaller side tables can do the job. Side tables are versatile and easy to move around. And of course, end tables have alternatives too.
There are many ways to use baskets, from serving as a coffee table to putting stuff on them. If you want a larger surface area, it is best to group several of them to form one large surface for you.
A trunk from a vintage store can be an alternative if you don’t want a common looking coffee table. They usually have more storage and will pair nicely with most items in your house because they are somewhat unique. This is just an idea that may match up well for your home.You can use various kinds of tables as alternatives to a conventional coffee table, including trunks, which are popular in vintage stores. Selling points are their style and the storage space they provide.
It works as a nightstand alternative and it can function as a coffee table too. Converting several tree stumps into an intriguing living room centerpiece is one of those ideas. For anyone who lives in areas where access to the previously mentioned, wanting to try this out could start at lumber yards, furniture manufacturers and a salvage yard.
A standard drum may not be as interesting as a drum from a marching band. Drums are often large and can’t easily be bought at your local Target. Garage sales, thrift stores, and online vintage retailer websites may have drums available for good prices. A round table made of a drum might function just like any other — you can put things on top of it!
A salvaged door gets a new lease on life as a rustic coffee table. New paint and carpentry skills will do wonders for retro furniture pieces like this one. An item that would normally be destined to be scrap wood can be made into something.
A kennel cage becomes a coffee table alternative. You can make it so that the top slides open for access to books and magazines stored inside. Or you can let it serve its purpose as a home for your pet. It’s totally quirky but a statement piece with tons of character.
For a nautical and coastal decor accent get a lobster trap coffee table. It lends itself as a quirky table and offers some storage space where the lobsters would go.
Like regular pallets, you can use them to stack things, but you can also use them as furniture with this version. Add wheels to make it movable. It’s one of the most popular DIY coffee table projects.
Reclaimed Wire Spool
Electric wire spools can be used as tables. Place a dark walnut stain on the table to polish it off.
Wine Barrels can be used as a base for coffee tables too. This brings them into the room and adds atmosphere.
Nesting tables are excellent in small spaces because they are so functional. Put them together and they use minimal space. Spread them out only when you have to.
Alternatively, if you have kids at home and don’t want them to mess with your upholstery or other furniture—or when they’re not in use as coffee tables—you can store them away to the side until they’re needed again.
Like matching side tables, nesting tables are an excellent option for tiny homes since their function is multifaceted: when used as a TV stand alternative, bookshelves, or living room decor pieces.
If you are limited on space and need to use your small living room then a C-Table is the best alternative. They are easy for moving, especially when needed and their shape allows them to move closer to the sofa or desk without taking up too much space.
Stool Plant Stand
A great small space coffee table alternative is a plant stand stool. This can be used with lower profile sofas, or in the event you don’t want to have an extra seat. It is also more affordable and can be moved elsewhere if bought with a larger coffee table in the future.
A bar cart can make an awesome alternative to a coffee table. It makes it easy to serve guests, and when you need more space, you can just wheel it out of the way. Plus, many bar carts are beautiful and add to your living room’s decor while being multi-purposeful. They can also be handy if hosting Christmas or other special dinners. A bar cart is a viable alternative to a coffee table if there is plenty of open space in your living room.
A toy box or bin can be used as a coffee table, which will also make it easier for cleaning up the kids’ toys when there are guests.
Milk crates can be a great alternative to tables. They are lightweight, easy to stack or move, come in so many colors and patterns, and they flip open to create instant tables when flipped on its side.
A stack of suitcases can be used as a coffee table to replace a traditional one.
Yes, you can use a bench as a coffee table. A small bench will give you a table surface and storage room in the living room. A bench ottoman is an upgraded option with more decor appeal.
You need to weigh your options when choosing a coffee table vs. an ottoman. A coffee table is better for serving, but an ottoman is better for storage and seating. You can also get an ottoman coffee table that makes the best of both worlds.
A coffee table is not necessary for a living room. You have many options to choose from that may suit your requirements and needs.
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