“To Coffee Table, or Not to Coffee Table, That Is the Question:”

Sometimes, I get a little antsy with our home so I end up moving crap around just to get a feeling of fresh design without spending any money.  I’ll take one chair and switch it with one in another room; I’ll move plants around to different spots;  or I’ll just spray paint random shit gold for a quick design high.

But I’ve been feeling stuck on making a decision about our living room – I’m just not sure which way to go this time.  I usually make design decisions in less than a day, especially when I give myself 3 options.  But this constant debate has been rambling around my cavernous brain for quite some time now:  coffee table – yay or nay?


I’m pretty sure Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” can’t help me solve my perplexing design dilemma, but I’m hoping you can.

We’ve had the coffee table (shown in the photo above) for at least 7 years now. We had a large Arhaus slipcovered sectional in our previous home (a precious little beach cottage), and we needed an equally massive coffee table at a non-massive price, so I turned to the magical design source that is Etsy.

That sectional was way too big to fit in our current living room so off to consignment it went.  But I kept the table because it’s so unique and charming and it pairs up perfectly with our IKEA sofa and armchair and they all look so cute together.

So why the hell am I even debating this issue, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you. I find myself constantly propping my feet up on the coffee table whenever I’m watching TV or reading a book and it’s so fricking uncomfortable.

That annoying feeling is the main reason I’ve been contemplating selling the coffee table and either buying or making a large cocktail ottoman instead.  Yet, I have been very slow to pull the trigger, even though I frequently dream of propping my feet up on something soft.

But then Reality makes an appearance and to Reality’s credit, there are some valid points to be made in favor of the cocktail ottoman:

  • “But, Reality, wherever will we be able to set our dinner plates on the nights we decide to plop ourselves in front of the TV to eat?” Reality’s answer: Your dining room, duh. It wouldn’t kill you guys to eat like civilized human beings once in a while.
  • “But, Reality, wherever will I be able to keep my piping hot mug of tea while reading a book?” Reality’s answer: Um – the side table juuust a few inches to the right. Are you really that lazy??
  • “But, Reality, wherever will I be able to keep the stuff I don’t really need to display, which also happens to attract tons of dust and pet hair in a matter of days?”  Reality’s answer: Seriously? Do I even need to answer that? I’m out.

I hate to admit it, but Reality may be right.  But my brain needs some visual valid points as well, so off we go for some inspiration!

Now I know you can’t see much of the cocktail ottoman in the first photo, but you get the idea.

And I have a similar white tray so I guess I could still use that to hold my dust-and-pet-fur-covered tchotchkes and mug of hot tea, so YAY! Suck it, Reality.

Image Source:  Studio McGee


Image Source:

How much fun are the next two??

Leave it up to Anthropologie to come up with something so funky and unique!

Image source:  Anthropologie


Image source: Anthropologie (no longer available)

And just a few more inspo pics to help make the case in favor of getting rid of our current coffee table.

Image source:  Serena & Lily


Image source:  House of Jade Interiors | Photography: Becky Kimball

Ok, so this is where you come in …

Let me know if you’ve ever used an ottoman instead of a coffee table and what your experience (positive, negative, or both!) was like living with it.  Hopefully, Reality was nudging me in the right direction and not just messing with my confused little pea brain.

Thank you so much for following my blog and for letting me help you create your own lived-in, loved-in spaces!


  • Kinsey aka Peaches from @bellanest7
    May 30, 2019 at 2:46 AM

    I actually just switched from an ottoman to a coffee table because my son now gets the choice of eating in kitchen or living room for lunch ha so now it’s easier to enable him to eat in there…to watch TV ??& if I left the cozy ottoman it would look like burnt toast. I was going to pick an ottoman with an oversized tray for you before I even read the rest of your dilemma ? It’s versatile yet soft & stylish-I bet you will love it! Great post!!

    • Michelle
      May 30, 2019 at 12:54 PM

      Thanks so much, Peaches! As much as I love our coffee table, I really just want to be comfortable when I throw my feet up. Glad to know someone who had a positive experience with an ottoman instead of a coffee table. I totally get it why you switched to a coffee table for your son. You’re right – that ottoman would look like toast! Haha! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave me your lovely message!

  • Vickie
    July 12, 2020 at 8:21 AM

    I ditched my coffee table a few years ago and have never looked back. For us, it simply was a dust magnet and place to drop our trivial junkie items. We still eat in the LR at times without issue. Rarely do we pop out a TV tray but it’s an option. Not having a coffee table keeps our home less cluttered, and gives us more space to easily move around. No more bumped knees. No more moving it to vacuum. Appropriate end tables and small, lightweight ottoman or pouf makes life easier and very comfortable. Adding a large ottoman may be more comfortable than a coffee table but both are space busters.

    • Michelle
      July 12, 2020 at 12:22 PM

      Hi Vickie!

      Thank you so much for telling me about your experience without a coffee table – I really appreciate you taking the time to do that!

      Those are definitely all the issues I’ve been running into – a place to toss decorating magazines and random dog toys. And it’s a pain in the butt to move to vacuum too!

      I’m so torn though because my coffee table was custom made by an Etsy seller about 5 years ago and it’s really quite beautiful and unique.

      I just told The Hubs yesterday I’m thinking of taking the top part off and replacing it with plywood and high-density foam and then covering it with fabric that can take a beating. Of course, he said it’s fine just the way it is (little does he know I’m not going to listen to him … ha!).

      But I also really love the funky, minimalistic look and feel of the Anthropologie cocktail ottomans too! Maybe I’ll start with converting ours into one and if it’s still too bulky, I’ll build one like one of those. ?

      Stay tuned!

    • dvd
      July 23, 2020 at 10:30 AM

      By now you have made your decision (2019!), but I have never seen the need for a coffee table. They limit the floor space and make the living room feel cluttered – I prefer walking space rather than walking around space. 🙂 I don’t find ottomans very comfortable either – so for me, I have end tables for the sofa for things and putting my feet up on the sofa (just socks on) while watching TV or reading a book. So very comfy!

      • Michelle
        July 23, 2020 at 12:31 PM


        Believe it or not, I STILL haven’t made my decision but I think I’m getting *THIS* much closer to figuring it out.

        My dilemma is the coffee table is just so dang pretty (an Etsy seller made it for me about 6 years ago) and it’s really quite unique. I don’t have anywhere to store it (I live in southwest Florida and it’s way too hot to store anything in the attic) and I don’t want to get rid of it.

        But I agree that coffee tables take up a bunch of space and can make a room feel cluttered (and I despise clutter!).

        I appreciate you taking the time to tell me about your experience and it sounds like you have the perfect setup in your space! ❤️

  • Nancy Todd
    September 3, 2020 at 12:55 AM

    Girl I am right there with you! I have been batting this same question around in my head for days. In my 30+ years of being grown enough to choose my own furniture I have only had a coffee table a handful of times, and if i haven’t forgotten something then I think i have only ever purchased one of said coffee tables. I too love my ct its perfect…. but not. I think if it were about 4 inches smaller (it’s oval) I would just live with it. I want more room and less bulk, I am currently looking at round or square storage ottomans…. Go for the ottoman lol

    • Michelle
      September 3, 2020 at 12:55 PM

      Hi Nancy! OMG – I’m SO glad I’m not the only one whose brain has been waging this battle! HA! What’s making it SO difficult for me to make this dang decision (I typically make decorating decisions in a snap!) is the fact that our coffee table is so freaking pretty. It was custom-made by an Etsy seller about 5 years ago and it’s just so unique. If I had somewhere to store it, I would just so I could keep it for future use. But I’m also thinking about how lovely a live-edge coffee table would look in our family room and maybe it’s time to sell the coffee table … Maybe my goofy brain will FINALLY make up its mind soon. Stay tuned!

  • Lisa Paponetti
    October 11, 2020 at 1:34 PM

    Hi Michelle! You certainly are not alone! I too, am obsessing about my living room as I have just purchased new upholstery for the space. I have a beautiful coffee table, but I want the comfort of propping up my feet and so does my husband. Now the coffee table will go into our den where I just placed our old sofas. I have two ottomans; one is rectangular (from Grandin Road) and one is round (from Lee). So I will need to measure and see which one fits best in my space. The rectangular ottoman is level so I could also place a center tray for some decor if I want. The round ottoman has no way of placing a pretty tray on it as the top surface is curved so it would serve as a comfortable place to prop one’s feet up and also as additional seating (it’s quite large). But for me, the ottoman is my choice. It is so much more practical. Besides, we have several end tables in the space to hold drinks, tv remotes and even a small bit of decor. Oh, and I just placed a sofa table behind our new sofa that I can style with some pretty decor! So that is the solution for me. I hope this helps in some way. Happy Decorating! 🙂

    • Michelle
      October 11, 2020 at 9:32 PM

      Hi Lisa!

      Thank you SO much for taking the time to comment on this post! Thank you for sharing your experience – sounds like you figured out the perfect solution for your space. That’s so awesome!

      As I’m writing this, my feet are (uncomfortably) propped up on my hard coffee table and IT. SUCKS. I’m THIS close to putting this coffee table up for sale and getting or making an ottoman!!

      But then I see all those gorgeous live edge coffee tables and the cycle continues … GAH! I think I’m pretty close to finally figuring it out though!

      I’m SO glad to know that I’m not the only one that obsesses over this issue – the struggle is real! Haha!

      Let me know if you end up using the round or the rectangular ottoman and how it works out for you. ?

  • Carol
    January 18, 2021 at 7:15 PM

    I live in a two bedroom apartment. Just got leather couch. I don’t think I’m getting coffee table. Just 2 nice end table. The couch reclines on each side.
    Anyway don’t drink coffee??

    • Michelle
      January 19, 2021 at 9:15 AM

      Hi Carol!

      Your couch sounds comfy! That makes sense that you’re not going to get a coffee table.

      I FINALLY came up with a solution for my family room over the holidays and I’ll be blogging about it in the next few weeks.

      And I’m right there with ya – I’m not a coffee drinker either. I’m Team Tea!

      Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment.

      Have a beautiful day!


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