23 Best Coffee Table Alternatives For Small Living Room

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

There are quite a handful of reasons as to why one would consider a coffee table alternative but perhaps, the most common would be lack of space in the living room or you just want to have a unique, unpredictable choice when it comes to this furniture.

Coffee tables are essential not only because they are decorative but are also functional in keeping the living room tidy thanks to added storage. 

If you are looking for coffee table alternatives, this post gives you a rundown of some of the best choices out there so read on. 

Related: 57+ Different Types Of Tables: Materials, Shapes, and Styles (Buying Guide)

best coffee table alternatives

Why should you consider alternatives to coffee tables?

Considering coffee table alternatives is very subjective. There can be different reasons as to why most people would prefer other items to be the focal point of the living room than a coffee table. But since we are squaring this up, here would be some of the most common reasons why you should consider alternatives to coffee table: 

  • You need more storage. 
  • The surface coverage is not enough. 
  • It is too bulky for your living room. 
  • They are not that moveable. 
  • They can be quite expensive. 

23 Coffee Table Alternatives 

Whatever the reason is for wanting to find options other than coffee tables in the living room, there is a good option available. Without much ado, let us look at some of the best coffee table alternatives that you can choose from. 

1. Pair of side tables

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Having two small tables side by side has its own perks: one, you can push them close to each other for more coverage or push them apart for more space.

And since side tables come with storage too, you can always store different items at once inside them. Other than that, they also come in different sizes, shapes, and designs to match your interior. 

2. Vintage trunk

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Speaking of storage, having a trunk instead of a coffee table is also efficient because it offers bigger space for storing items such as toys, books, blankets, and pillows.

More than that, as a solid piece of wood, you can have a bold focal point in your living room. However, they are heavy and may not be lifting-friendly should you need to change its position. Nonetheless, its vintage appeal is still something to pine over. 

3. Ottoman

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Tufted or not, ottomans are some of the go-to alternatives to coffee tables. Aside from offering a solid surface for magazines, books, and other stuff, you can also use it for extra seating.

Most ottomans now also have detachable seats featuring an underneath storage too. They are also very viable space-savers and decorative at best so you are hitting a lot of birds with just one ottoman. 

4. Tray table

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This one is essentially lighter than coffee tables making it a good choice if you want a more moveable alternative to coffee tables. Choosing one with a rim also means that you would not have to worry about items falling off.

And if you need it for another room, one can easily transfer it. However, because of this lightweight nature, it could easily be knocked off by active kids and pets so it is not advisable for high traffic living rooms. 

5. Garden stools

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When it comes to variety and an outdoorsy appeal, garden stools can be repurposed and be taken inside to become an alternative to coffee table.

They offer a flat surface for you to put your items in, stacks of small books and other coffee table essentials. 

Plus, they are specifically made for the outdoors so you would not have to worry if water is spilt on it. Their compactness is also one of its strong suits because this makes them more portable and at the same time space-saving for the living room. 

6. Nesting tables

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This is one of the best choices for space saving tables. Nesting tables are overlapping tables which you can expand out for more coverage or just as compact as side tables if you just need it for holding out small items.

And since they are built for portability, you can move them anywhere in the living room if need be. They come in many sizes and styles. Some even have a third table in them for greater coverage. 

7. Storage bench

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This is like the ottoman but it is rectangular in shape and has an elongated surface. If storage, seating space, and ample surface area for books and other living roof stuff is what is in mind, this is the best choice for you.

Of course, in the long run, you might have problems with upholstery. Also, when they are heavy, they have a tendency to have some surfaces sink. They can also be harder to move compared to ottomans. 

8. Drink carts

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First of all, they are on casters so when it comes to portability, this is a very fine alternative for coffee tables. Aside from that, they also have handles for greater movement.

If you want something more unexpected to spruce up your living room, this is something you can try. One of its other upsides is that it can match any interior. They are fairly low maintenance too, so this is everything you need for a coffee table alternative. 

Related: 45+ Best Coffee Bar Ideas and Designs

9. Refurbished suitcases

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This is another coffee table alternative that would give you all the vintage vibes. Both decorative and functional, you can have those old suitcases of yours refurbished into a coffee table.

You can easily store items inside it and they are also very moveable too. Perhaps, the only downside to using this would be its vulnerability to heat, and water spills. Hence, this is not the best idea for active living rooms

10. Poufs

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This one is the kid version of the ottoman but it never disappoints when it comes to its design versatility. A pair of poufs can make up for a coffee table.

Aside from being very lightweight, they can also function as foot rest and for extra seating. And if you happen to need an extra side table, it has a surface that is solid enough to stack items on when needed. 

11. Wooden bench

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If you crave for that simple, farmhouse or rustic appeal, maybe it is time to stain those old wooden benches and take them out to be the centerpiece in your living room instead of the usual coffee table. 

The unobstructed space beneath the wooden bench is good for storage. You can have it customized for that storage space if you want it to be more stylish. You can also have it upholstered for a cushioned appeal by the sitting area. 

Related: 20+ Beautiful Farmhouse Coffee Table Ideas and Designs

12. C table

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As the name suggests, this one has a C-shape and is known as one of the most space-saving table types out there. They are lightweight so you can move them anywhere it is needed.

They can be pulled close to the sofa if you are working on something or you just need a solid surface where you can put your food and drinks on a movie night. It also does not take a lot of floor space so you can really maximize.  

13. Small stool

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If you have a very compact space, and a low-profile sofa set, this one is the best choice out there. Like the others, this is not just stylish but also multifunctional.

You can always have an extra seat available with this one. It can also be made into a foot rest anytime and have enough coverage to hold in magazines and other stuff. It is also very budget friendly and very movable. 

14. Book stacks

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Yes, you read that right. If you have a lot of hardbound books just sitting by the storage, perhaps, it is time to repurpose them as a coffee table alternative. Just stack them up to provide good surface coverage or use strong adhesives for stability. 

You can form them up in different heights. Of course, the downside is that it is very vulnerable to spilling and being pestered by insects. If these are not problems in your home, we suggest that you go for this. 

15. Skirted table

If you do not want a plain coffee table in the living room, you can always opt for a skirted table. This exudes the classic and traditional look so it would be a good addition if you are working on a farmhouse, shabby chic or classic colonial interior.

There are a lot of fabrics to choose from and you can always give your DIY take on this one. This makes it one of the most affordable coffee table alternatives out there. 

16. Geometric stools

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Trendy and functional, it is always a good choice to explore other stool shapes and designs to make up for a coffee table. Geometric or cube stools are perfect in giving a visual edge to your living room.

They can be used as coffee table alternatives, extra seating, foot rest, and could even be customized for added storage. 

17. Slim console table

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This one works for a larger living room that does not have an eye for a coffee table. It is perfect for living rooms with two separate sitting spaces.

Positioning them in between sofas could give your space a more cohesive and continuous look. And since they are slim and long, you can have rows of space for decorations, candlesticks, and many more. 

18. Storage basket

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For coastal, tropical, and minimalist interiors, a wicker storage basket is another fine choice for a coffee table alternative. You can put in board games, toys, and other light items.

Do not worry about the soft surface since you can always incorporate a solid tray to make it more stable. Hence, you can still put in floral vases there and books to give it a true coffee table look. 

19. Chess board

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If you have an old, large, chess board in the storage, you may refurbish it to become the solid surface or desk that makes a coffee table.

You can just use it as it is and lay them on top of an ottoman or bench or have it customized so that it truly becomes a solid centerpiece table in the living room. 

20. Crate

Speaking of refurbished items as a coffee table alternative, old barn crates are also good choices for that. It is already solid enough because they are made of wood plus their square surface is ample enough for different items.

As simple as it is, you can never go wrong with crates as an alternative to a coffee table. 

21. Small pedestal table

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If you feel like the usual coffee table is too bulky, try the more low-key pedestal table. It is low-lying so it is basically for small books and for holding drinks and food items only and cannot be made into an impromptu working desk like the C-table.

Nonetheless, it is still a good space saving replacement for coffee tables and they are very vintage and classy looking so they could match up any interior design. 

22. Tree stumps

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Yes, they can be very decorative if you know how to make the most out of them. If you are into earthy and organic designs, or even for eclectic spaces, a stained tree stump can make a compelling focal point in your living room.

Since they come in many sizes, you can choose the best coverage for your living room items. They can be as low or as high, height wise, as they can be. Perhaps, the only downside is its weight. 

23. Old drum

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Have an old marching band drum in the storage? Bring that out and turn it into an eye-catching coffee table alternative. It is large and sturdy enough to hold different items at once. You can also incorporate a lid so that you can make the most out of its storage.

Just a few tweaks and simple staining and you can already make it stylish. If you do not have an old drum but this idea lighted you up, you can score one from thrift stores and antique shops. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a coffee table in the living room? 

Coffee tables are made for comfort, aesthetic appeal, and functionality. You can put a lot of items at once and you can also customize it for storage. Plus, it just does not feel right when a living room does not have a coffee table. It has become the default furniture in the living room. 

Does the coffee table need to be always positioned at the center? 

Not necessarily although it has always been the default way of positioning the coffee table. If you have problems with space, coffee tables can be positioned in the side or even at the back of the sofa. Sometimes, you also have to consider your living room layout to get the most out of the decorative value of coffee tables. 

How many books should be on a coffee table? 

This is a very valid question when it comes to the decorative function of coffee tables. As per rule of thumb, two to four stacks of books should be on a coffee table. 


While coffee tables seem to be indispensable in the living room, there is no strict rule which tells us that we should stick to its traditional form. There are a lot of ways to spruce up the living room without giving up functionality.

One of the best ways to do this is still repurposing old items as they are always up for customization. Others are already go-to options already and all you have to do is explore and choose the best one for you. 

The point is, there is no limit to what you can choose when it comes to coffee table alternatives. You just have to think outside the box.