who invented the coffee table

Who Invented the Coffee Table?

Coffee tables are everyday household items, but do you know who invented them? Let’s take a look at the history and evolution of the coffee table to shed some light on who invented them.

The Origins Of The Coffee Table

The history of the coffee table dates back to the late 19th century in Europe. It was during the emerging “high society” era that furniture makers began to create pieces specifically for coffee service. At that time, coffee tables were known as tea tables, and were mainly used for formal tea and coffee service.

These tea tables were rectangular in shape and contained drawers or shelves underneath. The low height of the tables allowed guests to rest their drinks and food while they conversed or read magazines.

The Evolution Of The Coffee Table

The tea table evolved over the years. For instance, French furniture maker, André-Charles Boulle, designed a tea table in the 17th century specifically for the French King Louis XIV. This version was made out of marquetry and contained intricate inlays, ornaments, and sculpted designs.

Continuing its evolution, tea tables also gradually began to transition into large tables specifically built for recreational activities, such as playing parlor games.

Who Invented The Coffee Table?

No one person is definitively credited for inventing the coffee table. However, there are several figures who played a part in the evolution and history of the coffee table.

These includes:

  • André-Charles Boulle (17th century French furniture maker)
  • William Wordsworth Donisthorpe (19th century English inventor)
  • Thomas Grandgent (19th century American furniture maker)
  • Charles Destrée (20th century Belgian furniture designer)

Each of these individuals have provided different elements to the design and purpose of the conventional coffee table that we have today.


Throughout its otherwise complicated history, the coffee table has become an integral part of modern life. From its origins as a tea table to its current usage as an everyday household item, the invention of the coffee table has evolved over time and become solidified in our everyday lives.

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