Both design and functionality are crucial in finding the coffee table that works best for a space, according to designer Aimee Walker. Home built by Brian Aucoin of Meridian Homes. Architectural design by Dwayne Carruth of The Front Door Design Studio. Photos courtesy Aimee Walker.

What to look for when choosing a coffee table

In the midst of decorating, it’s easy to spend hours staring at floor plans wondering what artwork to put on the wall and how big the rug should be. But what about where you prop up your feet? Where you place your bowl of movie-night popcorn, or the newest best-seller you can’t wait to read? That is the realm of the coffee table, an object so universal and practical, yet often overlooked on the scale of importance.

“This is an area where you can have fun or take a chance without committing entirely to a trend that you may not like,” says designer Aimee Walker of Aimee Walker Interiors. “There are even beautiful coffee tables that can be considered works of art.”

If you’ve ever wanted to try a bold color or fun design, for example, a coffee table can become a canvas, whether in gold resins, wood sculptural roots, glass and marble tops, or intricately carved legs.

“For a sculptural feel,” says Walker, “go for a live-edge wood table with metal legs. I’ve even used an old bass drum for a pop of fun in a family room. I had a glass top made for it and, voila, you’ve got a new table! In a large area, even an old breakfast table can be cut down to work as a coffee table.”

This rooted coffee table sits in Walker’s own living room.

Not only can the simple accessory be a piece of art that shows off your personality, but it can also be incredibly practical in terms of storage. Enter the two-tiered coffee table, or the cushy ottoman with hidden storage inside.

“Ottomans are also available with storage options, and wheels make them even more versatile in your space,” says Walker, noting that mobility lets you easily push it aside for vacuuming or for making more floor space for a party.

Remember, though, to think outside of the box—not everything that acts as a coffee table needs to be labeled that way.

“It’s a great way to reuse Grandmother’s old table that may be too small to function as a table for seating,” says Walker. “A low-height wood-and-iron cart with wheels is also a perfect touch in a farmhouse or transitional-style home, and a large fabric or leather ottoman is great to prop your feet up on.”

For more information on Walker, follow @aimeewalkerinteriors, and follow @inregister for more interior design tidbits.