Cocktail table vs coffee table: 10 Best and which one is right for your living room.

History of cocktail tables and coffee tables

Honestly, today these are interchangeable terms. You are very unlikely to see a debate on TV or social media titled ‘cocktail table vs coffee table’. But for the true living room connoisseur, there is a difference. And it is keeping an eye out for such details that sets stunning living rooms apart from good living rooms. To decide what should you choose between a cocktail table and a coffee table, it might be helpful to be aware of each of their origin. Knowing the history can often be key to making the right choice decisions for most things, and living room furniture is no different. Plus, having done good research, you get to share lesser known facts with your friends and family and become the go-to person for all things furniture. Who doesn’t like to be an expert?!

Cocktail table

Cocktail table
This actually has seats for people to use while sipping cocktails. This is NOT a coffee table

A 100+ years ago, there were no coffee tables. Only cocktail tables. Actually most people lived their lives without any caffeine ingestion but that’s a separate discussion! And as the name suggests, cocktail tables were used to hold cocktail drinks and ash trays.

That, combined with mankind’s love for symmetry meant such tables were usually round in shape (given cocktail glasses and ash trays almost always had a circular base). Additionally, they were used to show class and elegance and they weren’t meant to hold much weight. This meant the more popular and desirable table tops were made of glass or other delicate materials. These tables were high-ish, for the sake of convenience and ease of access while sitting.

Note: We’re not discussing the taller circular standing tables covered in cloth, commonly seen at events and receptions. People have drinks on them too but they’re technically not cocktail tables.

Coffee table

Traditional coffee table

Coffee tables are a recent phenomenon, relatively speaking. They started gaining popularity in the american household at the turn of the 20th century. In 1938, E.W Godwin, a renowned architect and furniture designer referred to one of his creations as a coffee table and since then, it stuck.

Interestingly, the most widely believed theory is that the name derived from the books people read while having their coffee. They needed a table to place them on and store them. As a result, these tables were mostly rectangular (remember mankind’s love for symmetry? Books are rectangular) and quite sturdy as most books were heavy (non-Kindle and non-paperback!). These table needn’t be too high as when in use, they weren’t meant to be accessed several times an hour like the cocktail tables were.

Fast forward 70-80 years and the discussion cocktail table vs coffee table has all but disappeared. Manufacturing technology has advanced so much that we have a highly varied option list when it comes to such tables. Modern furniture themes are all the rage, less is more, minimalism is what is maximum. However, principally you can keep the original intentions of both these types of tables in mind as you go about your next purchase.

How to decide which to buy for your living room?

We know you can’t go wrong buying either one today, what with the lines between them being so blurred etc. But it is possible that one choice is better than the other, even if none of the choices are incorrect. Here are some questions that could help you pick the better choice:

  1. Do you often eat and snack on your couch? A coffee table with its durability might be the way to go
  2. Do you entertain guests often in the evenings and on weekends? A cocktail table‘s elegance may make sense
  3. Do you like to keep fashion, art, food, travel etc. magazines on display? Definitely a coffee table
  4. Is your living room most often used as a media/binge room? Coffee table makes more sense
  5. Do you take advantage of couch end tables that can partly fill in for coffee table tasks? You can consider an elegant cocktail table as your center piece
  6. Do you have a large living room and a small-to-medium ottoman next to your couch or sectional? You could add in a cocktail table and complete your pack!

We’ve put together a list+reviews of top-notch choices of cocktail vs coffee tables for you to bring home today. Browse through them and pick your favorite!
Please note, all products we bring to you come with free delivery within USA!

Top 5 cocktail tables reviews

The WOW:

  • Modern design, artsy metal frame
  • Complete set, great matching looks for the entire living room
  • Also, complete set, so great value for money!
  • Color theme is such that will go well in most living rooms
  • Seller offers multiple, equally tempting designs

The MEH:

  • Assembly of the metal frame might be easier with 2 people

LRT score: 9/10

The WOW:

  • Innovative design, incredible utility provided by the stools
  • Solid rich looking wood used. Stools are very comfortable
  • Seller offers 2 other colors (click on the image to browse)
  • Easy assembly

The MEH:

  • Needs a spacious living room so stools can be pulled out when needed

LRT score: 9/10

The WOW:

  • Talk about a standout design. Your party already has a talking point!
  • Seller has 2 more elephant designs to choose from
  • Hand cast from real stone and resin. Hand-painted!
  • Expectedly easy to assemble!
  • Some brick and mortar stores sell similar tables for 4-5 times more

The MEH:

  • Not for everyone. You need to have a bolder taste to buy this

LRT score: 9/10

The WOW:

  • Easily the best cocktail table in our collection. Perfect LRT score
  • Round smoked glass for exclusive appearance
  • Powder coated steel frame
  • Adjustable feet, so will stay stable on any floor, ever or uneven

The MEH:

  • None. This is textbook best

LRT score: 10/10

The WOW:

  • Classic timeless design.
  • Intricate metal work helps it stand out from the masses
  • Added advantage of a storage shelf, despite cocktail theme

The MEH:

  • Takes some assembly, but manageable.

LRT score: 8/10

Top 5 coffee tables reviews

The WOW:

  • Extremely high end with original retail price of $900
  • MDF wood top with taupe finish
  • Liquids and stain proof, washable top
  • Solid high quality wood frame
  • Very easy to assemble

The MEH:

  • Not for people who strongly prefer rectangular coffee tables

LRT score: 9/10

The WOW:

  • Handcrafted and finished solid wood
  • High utility self and two drawers with brass knobs
  • Multiple color choices from the seller in the same design
  • Great value for money, looks many times worth its price

The MEH:

  • Drawers add to assembly effort, expectedly so

LRT score: 9/10

The WOW:

  • A rare breath-taking piece with a perfect LRT score
  • Solid high quality mango wood and metal used. As upscale as it gets
  • A wide selection of colors and sizes offered by the seller
  • Be ready to receive frequent compliments from guests 

The MEH:

  • Absolutely none.

LRT score: 10/10

The WOW:

  • Solid and sturdy, built with quality parts and wood
  • Massive, very usable storage adds to the utility
  • Rustic farmhouse look, would look great in most living rooms
  • Seller offers a few other color combinations as well. Click image to browse
  • Far easier to assemble than it looks

The MEH:

  •  We’re nitpicking here but lack of open shelf for display books?

LRT score: 9/10

The WOW:

  • A rare perfect LRT score product. Not to be missed
  • Handcrafted. Real cast iron and mango wood used
  • Tons of storage, lots of utility
  • Great color theme, would go well in most living rooms

The MEH:

  • None, we promise. Just look at it!

LRT score: 10/10

As always, we strive to get you the most relevant, detailed information about everything living room. We hope you enjoyed the story behind cocktail table vs coffee table and were able to find a product you loved for your home. Please reach out to us if we can be of more help and we’ll be happy to.

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