15 Coffee Table Alternatives That Are Pretty and Practical

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If you live in a little home then you may well have a small living room, with no space for a traditional coffee table.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a place to put your drink, the TV remote, or a book and reading glasses.

The good news is, there are plenty of coffee table alternatives for small spaces. They’re ideal for everyday use, or when you’re hosting guests.

A lack of room doesn’t have to be a problem when you think a little more creatively.

Even better is the fact that some of these solutions may provide you with extra seating or storage too – perhaps both.

So read on to discover the ideal traditional coffee table alternative for your little house or condo!

15 Best Coffee Table Alternatives for Small Spaces

1. Decorative Garden Stools

An attractive garden stool makes a great coffee table alternative.

There are such lovely designs out there, and surely they’re far too pretty to sit outside collecting pollen, bird droppings and raindrops?

Bring a decorative garden stool inside your living room instead, and it will add a new decorative dimension to the room.

As well as providing a place to put your magazine, cell phone and drink.

There are lots of styles to choose from, including lovely glazed designs in warm orange, cool blue or neutral white. 

You can even use decorative garden stools indoors to provide extra seating when you’re entertaining or receive unexpected guests.

As well as outdoors, this can work if you do have a balcony or small backyard.

If this is the case, then you already have the ideal storage place. Simply wipe clean before indoor use!

2. A Set Of Nesting Tables

Nesting tables are a furniture classic – and with good reason. Sets generally comprise two or more tables in various sizes.

The smaller tables are stored beneath the largest one, thus taking up far less floor space than you’d think.

A set of two or three nesting tables is one of the best coffee table alternatives for small spaces, and there are lots of sizes and styles to choose from.

There are sets of two round, glass-topped tables, or you can opt for three with wood-effect tabletops and golden legs.

Rectangular nesting tables are also very popular, and can take up very little space in a room once stacked together and slid into a corner.

There are also triangular tables with rounded corners and smooth surfaces, so you don’t have to worry as much about bumping into them.

3. A Wooden Dining Bench

A dining bench with a wooden top can do double duty as seating and a coffee table.

The huge bonus of this is that it can be slid underneath a table when not in use, therefore perhaps taking up no extra floor space at all.

All sorts of finishes are available.

Upholstered dining benches aren’t ideal for this purpose as the less even surface isn’t ideal for your morning coffee or evening glass of wine – but there is a way round this.

Simply add a tray to create a level table top.

Other than that, the options are limitless. A one-off piece made using a plant of natural wood can be purchased, or go for a smooth, straight edged bench featuring acacia or painted wood.

Unfinished benches are also available, so you can customize it to suit your preferences.

4. Decorative Bar Carts

A stylish bar cart makes a cool addition to any lounge room.

As it’s so easy to move around, you can also have the option of using it only when required.

At other times, it can be stored in a closet – or any small gap elsewhere.

A typical decorative bar cart has two or three tiers. The frame is usually made from metal, while the shelves may be glass, metal or wood.

This is a very versatile piece of furniture with so many potential uses around the home – and considerable storage capacity. Cocktail, anyone?

5. End Tables

Next on the list of alternative coffee table ideas is the end table. Again these vary in terms of size and shape.

Some can be stored in a narrow gap at the side of the sofa. Selected models come with wheels or an integral magazine rack.

Another advantage of end tables is the fact that they often have an additional shelf as well as the table top.

Some even have two, giving you a longer term storage solution at the same time. You can also buy end tables in pairs. 

6. A Storage Ottoman

You can buy large or small storage ottomans in round, rectangular or square shapes.

The bonus is that they offer a lot of space for stashing stuff – as well as providing you with a useful surface.

In fact these are multi purpose items, as they can also be used as additional seating.

Whether you opt for a long, slim upholstered model, a square leather-look piece or a decorative round ottoman, this is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture you could ever own.

7. Cube Shelving

One of the clever tricks often used to maximize space in a small home is by utilizing wall space to its full advantage.

If you have wall space close to the seating area or sofa, then cube shelving can be a great solution.

As the shelves tend to be fairly deep and there are edges to the shelf, it’s a safer place to put items you need to grab than on a standard wall shelf.

You don’t have to stick to square shelving, either – other available designs include hexagonal or intersecting shapes.

8. A Wooden Toy Box

Steal an idea from families with lots of toys to store by repurposing a wooden toy box as a storage crate, coffee table and seating area in one.

The beauty of this idea is that most products don’t look like a toy box – all people will see is a simple lidded crate. 

Designs vary – some feature a natural wood finish, while others are painted in attractive neutral or pastel hues.

Certain toy boxes may also feature paneling, carving or some kind of pattern.

9. Console Tables

Normally intended for narrow spaces like entrance halls or entryways, console tables can provide storage or surface space anywhere in the home.

They tend to be long and narrow, so if you have such an area anywhere this is an ideal solution to the coffee table dilemma.

Some even have a number of drawers as well as a few shelves, so there’s a lot of storage potential.

It’s best to go for a lightweight product if you want something you can move around when required.

10. A Vintage Trunk

Give your living space real character while providing storage room and that much-needed surface at the same time.

How? By investing in a vintage style trunk. Make sure you opt for one with a flat top if you want to use it as a coffee table.

Some trunks come as sets of two or three, and you can stack these to create a pleasing visual effect as well as providing a place to put things.

Just make sure the piles up trunks are steady before putting your hot cup of coffee on the top! Again, you can add a tray to create a more level surface. 

If you intend to use a stack of trunks as a coffee table regularly, it’s probably best to glue or screw them together to provide long term stability.

11. TV Tray Tables

Furniture designers are well aware of the need for space saving pieces, and the TV tray table is a highly practical example.

Most are fully adjustable, so they can be used when sitting on the sofa or in bed. 

Some also feature a folding design, meaning they can simply be stored out of sight when not in use.

Even, perhaps, in the bedroom! While these tray tables tend to be more about functionality than good looks, some models do have patterned surfaces to add a little more interest.

12. A Sofa Arm Table

Take the previous suggestion to a whole new space-saving level by buying a sofa arm table.

There are two main types available. One resembles a miniature table, with ‘legs’ that clip onto the arm of the sofa. 

The other type is very flexible, so it ‘hugs’ to the arm of the sofa.

At the top there is a reasonably sized level surface, providing you with a place to put a drink or snack.

Some even have built-in cell phone slots, or are large enough to accommodate a tablet.

13. Round Stools 

One, or a series of, round stools is more than capable of doubling up as a coffee table.

You can go for a smooth surface such as wood to stay spill-free, or create a flat top by adding a large tray to an upholstered stool.

There are some really pretty designs that can give your home that elusive wow factor at the same time.

Various models can also be used as a footstool, or even for storage.

The products covered in velvet and featuring hairpin legs, for instance, will give any interior a touch of luxury.

Use a cluster of stackable stools so each guest can have their very own coffee table, right by where they’re sat. And – relax!

14. Wicker Storage Baskets

This one is a little like the vintage trunk idea, as you can either use one or several wicker storage baskets to create a makeshift or permanent coffee table.

If the surface is a little uneven, simply add an attractive tray once more to smooth things over.

Seagrass and bamboo are some of the other typical materials used to make wicker baskets.

Sometimes a set of two or three can be nested together in a similar way to nesting tables – or display them as a stack so you can use the storage space within each one. 

15. A Tree Stump

Whether made from real or faux wood, a tree stump stool or end table makes a small, solid yet compact coffee table.

Many designs feature a chunk of wood with a smoothed surface to use as a table, while others may have carved out legs. 

These make an interesting decorative feature and are sure to be a talking point.

As well as providing you and your guests with a stable surface to use for holding drinks, snacks, cell phones, wallets or keys. 

They come in all kinds of wood finishes too, from natural pine, cedar or teak to contemporary weathered gray or highly polished walnut oil.

Which coffee table alternatives for small spaces will be your solution?

From a storage basket or ottoman to a set of nesting or side tables – or even a weathered tree stump – there are lots of traditional coffee table alternatives to stretch the modest square footage of your small home.

If you need more seating or storage many of these suggestions can do that too, while others may dramatically improve the visual impact of your home. Small is beautiful!

Related: Can You Put a TV in Front of a Window?

About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.

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