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  • Console Table vs Coffee Table: 6 Differentiating Factors

    You’re in the process of designing or redesigning your living room, and it suddenly hits you that there are many types of tables… well, 6, to be exact. However, your specific requirements boiled this down to two table types - Console table and Coffee table.

    And these two aren’t the kind of tables that you could swap with each other for multipurpose desires. So, it would be best if you made the right choice now when you still can.

    Anyway, for a quick answer -

    A Console table is a tall & slim table placed against a wall primarily for decorative purposes. In contrast, a Coffee table is a short table that you place at the centre of your sofa set, where you typically put all the snacks & drinks for your guests.

    Both tables come in various sizes and designs. And the console table can even be used for many different purposes.

    So, let’s get to the nitty gritty to set your expectations right.

    Origin of Console Table’s and Coffee Table’s Name

    Although the term ‘Console’ means to comfort someone during grief or disappointment, it has nothing to do with the Console table’s name.

    Instead, the term Console table is believed to come from an abbreviation of the French word ‘consolide’, which in turn comes from the Latin word ‘consolidare’, meaning ‘to strengthen.’ This name then likely entered common vocabulary due to the table’s unique design.

    And there’s a good chance you may already have a console table in your home. But you just didn’t know its name.

    On the other hand,

    Coffee tables are believed to exist since the 17th century, but they got their name in 1938, probably due to the rise of coffee’s popularity.

    Design Overview

    Both tables now come in different shapes and structures. So, the main differentiator will always be their size and purpose.

    Once you have figured out which of the two you actually need to buy for your living room, give a good look at the place where you want to put it. Then see what shapes from our available catalogue of console tables and coffee tables would best complement your space.

    By the way, both the table types come with the options of - built-in storage, no storage, and semi-storage (just one little drawer or cabinet, for example).

    You have to pick one that will work best for you, depending on what other purposes you want your table to serve.

    Size Difference Between Console Table and Coffee Table

    Console tables typically come in a height range of 71 cm - 86 cm and a depth range of 25 cm - 45 cm. However, their width is variable, and you should pick the width depending on where you want to place this table.

    Coffee tables have a height range of 40 cm - 50cm. And here are the horizontal dimension ranges for the 3 typical table shapes that you’ll most likely come across -

    • Rectangular coffee tables come in 122 cm - 137 cm in length and 61 cm - 76 cm in depth.
    • Oval coffee tables, on average, come in 137 cm in length and 56 cm in depth.
    • Round coffee tables come in 76 cm - 122 cm in diameter or width.

    Besides this, coffee tables are also expected to be 2.5 cm - 5 cm lower than your couch’s seating level for both - comfort and attractiveness.

    Purpose of Getting Either of These Tables

    Originally, the console tables, fitted with a mirror, were made to be placed in entryways against both walls purely for decorative purposes.

    But nowadays, people are increasingly inclined towards making the best out of space.

    Don't get us wrong, though. People still place console tables in their entryways.

    But now, these tables have also become the perfect place to put your keys, umbrella, shoes, bags, etc., near your home's entry door without looking unattractive.

    Furthermore, you don't just have to be restricted to placing console tables only in your entryway anymore. You can now put them wherever and however you want to use them. In other words, forget the word 'console' and think 'multipurpose'.

    The term 'console' just tells you the typical size & proportions of the table, but you have to decide where and how you want to use it.

    To jog your mind through examples, you can also use a console table as -

    • your makeshift workstation
    • an extra counter in or near your kitchen
    • a showpiece stand in your living room
    • a buffet table in your dining room
    • a makeup station in your bedroom
    • an accent table to complement a wall picture
    • an extra or extended vanity in your bathroom
    • a sofa table to liven up the dead space behind your exposed sofa back

    On the contrary, a coffee table has just one purpose - to be placed at the centre of your sofa set where you would put snacks and drinks for your guests, which they could access without leaving their comfortable sitting position.

    Know that:

    Coffee table's design became popular when coffee was trending more than tea and other consumables. Now despite the time being changed and you can put any consumables on this table for your guests, it is still called a coffee table.

    Placement Decision

    A console table is basically a large but slim decorative table that you should place against a wall or, if needed, behind your sofa. And then you can even decorate this decorative table with accessories if you wish to.

    Or you can just put your daily need items as long as they don't look ugly sitting on this table.

    For any other use mentioned in our last section above, you can decide on this table's placement according to your desired purpose. But you must ensure that your multipurpose console table doesn't start looking ugly, which would be against its primary purpose - because of your placement or use choices.

    A coffee table should only be placed in front of your sofa... or in the centre of your sofa set.

    For small spaces, you must maintain at least a 14" gap between your sofa and table for comfortable leg movement. But if you have a bigger room, do what you feel more comfortable with.

    Price Range

    Besides the size, shape, and design, the wood used in the table plays a vital role in its pricing. However, our console tables range from - $150 AUD - $2200 AUD and our coffee tables range from $200 AUD - $1500 AUD.

    Conclusion: Basing Your Buying Decision

    Each table type is made for a different reason. So ideally, your choice of the table should be based on its purpose.

    But if you're low on budget or space and also want a multipurpose use, then pick the table based on your primary intended use. It may be a little uncomfortable for other use cases since that's not what it was made for, but it'd still get the job done for you.


    For the coffee table, it doesn't matter if you place this table in the centre of the chairs or the sofa set or stools. As long as this table serves its primary purpose of - being a place to put coffee and other consumables while comfortably sitting around this space during a small gathering, then you'll use, or must we say, buy a coffee table.