Table Triage

Dear Billy: How do you choose the perfect coffee/cocktail table?

First, consider your space: You need 18 inches between a coffee table and your seating pieces for accessibility. Coffee tables range from 15- to 22-inches in height. Table height relates to the seat height of your upholstered furniture, and the style of the room. High tables are associated with traditional furniture; low, sleek tables generally feel more contemporary.

Also consider function and practicality. If you’ve got young children, granite, limestone, or a man-made product such as Cambria may best suit your needs. All of these products are pretty much kid-proof. Seal any natural stone to protect it against spills or a leaky plant. Be sure that the tabletop is fabricated with eased or radiused corners—better for avoiding trips to the emergency room. If you prefer a wood table, go with a finish that is already distressed. Distressing hides daily wear and tear, and can be touched up easily. A glass top is another choice—especially effective if there is an interesting rug below. Glass-top tables take up less space visually, creating an open and airy feeling. If you don’t want to grab the glass cleaner every time someone touches the table, consider an opaque or textured glass. For safety’s sake, keep glass thickness at least ½-inch, preferably ¾-inch. Cocktail and coffee tables are one of the easiest things for a designer to create for the perfect solution for your room.

— Billy Beson