should coffee table be higher or lower than sofa

Coffee Tables: High or Low?

When decorating a living space, it is important to consider the height of one’s coffee table in relation to your seating. The placement of these pieces of furniture relative to one another has an effect on the overall look and feel of the room.

Height Considerations

Ideally, a coffee table should be slightly lower than the seat of your sofa or chairs. This makes it easier to reach over to set down or pick up a glass or other item. A typical proportion is a 3-4 inch gap between the seat and the top of the table, or about 18-19 inches in height.

Interior Design

In addition to practicality, there are aesthetic considerations as well. It creates harmony and balance to have the same level of furniture around the room. Another way to think about it is that from the perspective of someone seated on the sofa, the visual weight of the furniture is equal. It is desirable to have a “cohesive level” around the room for a unified look.


Fortunately, many coffee tables offer height adjustability. Some have a selection of glass, wooden, stone, or marble tops of differing heights. If this is an option, unique arrangements are possible.

Options with Style

If your seating is very low, there are some interesting, modern design options:

  • Ottoman Coffee Table: This popular choice offers flexible seating and storage. It is really two pieces of furniture in one and looks elegant too!
  • Multi-tiers: This unique design consists of two (or more) tables of different heights that appear to stack and flow. This can be a visually interesting element and also allows for more clearance.
  • Oversized Tray: If you have a super low seating, an oversized tray can be used instead of a coffee table. It can be perched atop a large piece of wall art or some other item to make a stylish addition to your room.


Whether you choose to go high or low, the key is to find something that works for both your design aesthetic and practical needs. It’s okay to be ambitious, so go ahead and play around with different options until you find what works best for you.

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