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The Evolution of Coffee Tables: From Functionality to Design Statements

Coffee tables had a humble beginning as it was mainly used as a piece of furniture to place snacks and drinks. But over time, it has evolved and has seen a significant evolution to become a focal or statement piece of furniture for a living room. It started as utilitarian furniture but is now more than that as it is functional as well as stylish. From traditional designs made from wood to modern metal coffee tables, it has become an integral part of any home decor. These are available in various materials, sizes and shapes and you can also buy coffee tables online effortlessly from popular online retailers like Wakefit. But how did this humble piece of furniture become a statement piece? To know, read below. 

Coffee table: Early History

The origin of the coffee table dates back to the Victorian Era. During that period, tea was one of the favourite beverages, and it was served on tables. It was small and made from costly materials with intricate designs. The coffee tables became popular in the 1920s, and the tea tables gradually gave way to the coffee tables. Initially, the coffee tables were utilitarian and simple made using wood and were made to hold snacks and coffee cups. It was rectangular in shape and was very low to the ground. However, it was not favoured as an important piece of furniture, and many people did not have it.

By the 20th century, that aspect changed, and as there was an evolution in design, it became more popular. It became more ornate, more enormous and functional. By the 1950s, it became an important modern living room decor element. 

The mid-century was a great time for modern furniture as there were many innovations in furniture design, and the coffee tables were not left behind. It was characterized by simple shapes, clean lines and highly functional. It had a low height and was made of wood which made it aesthetically pleasing and functional with unique shapes and built-in storage. Among the most critical designs for mid-century coffee tables was the Noguchi table. Designed in 1948 by Noguchi, it was made of wood and glass and had a curved shape which was unique for that time. It is still one of the most popular designs and is a classic modern coffee table. 

The coffee table has evolved in the recent past and has become a focal point of the living room and has become a statement piece. With people no longer choosing only style but also substance, the coffee table has become utilitarian and now reflects the homeowner’s personality and style. Because of that, the design is more eclectic and varies and comes in many shapes, materials and sizes. It ranges from traditional wood to tempered glass tops to marble top coffee tables and many more. Some coffee tables are a work of art made from unique materials that feature sculptural materials or intricate designs and are made from reclaimed wood or other unique materials. They are designed to add personality and style to the living room and are meant to be imposing. 

Latest trends in coffee tables

Distinctive shapes

The classic coffee table shape is rectangular, but even though it still retains its place, more variations to it suit even formal living rooms. A simple rounding of the corners while still having the basic rectangle is a subtle change in design that works wonders. Then, it goes on to a round or an oval table in front of the couch. If you have a large living room, instead of having a rectangular coffee table, you can choose a set of nesting tables to add allure to the space. Round coffee tables are a great choice if you have a contemporary design. You can also make variations to it with a kidney shape or any other unique shape to make it a statement piece. The other shapes that are trending are the geometrics. It comes in the form of hexagonal shapes or polygon or triangular tables with one or more edges or corners rounded. 

Creative colours

Light-coloured solid wood coffee tables are trending currently. The creamy tones and light colours match the earthy hues and are replacing the white on the base. Gray is also a popular colour and has been so for the past few years with the trend likely to continue. Then there are the dual-tone accent tables which are premium coffee tables that have dark wood legs and light coloured tabletop. The legs can be hefty or thin and stylized and the distinctive colour combination adds brightness to the living space. The tabletop can be creamy beige or white. The reverse with light legs and dark tabletops can also add a unique touch. 


If you want a traditional coffee table then it is perhaps with a glass top and is wooden. For a contemporary home, you can choose a metal coffee table. If you want a coffee table design that is more experimental, then choose a mix of materials like blending metal and wood. A wooden tabletop that is supported by a metal pedestal with crossbars. In such coffee tables, the base adds a more interesting design than the tabletop. Another choice is the marble coffee table that is supported on a metal or wooden base. A variation of the same is the sintered stone which is a natural stone made into hard slabs. It is easy to clean, scratch proof and water resistant. An inverted U-glass table is also a trending choice. 


The humble tea table has come a long way from being a simple table that holds snacks and drinks to today’s functional and stylish centrepiece in the living room. The coffee table design is varied from traditional wood designs to modern metal creations. It comes in so many styles, designs and sizes that it can suit all types of decor and living room style that reflects your personality while also being practical and functional

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