This interior designer shares a common coffee table mistake lots of us are making in our living rooms – avoid this for a cozy and welcoming space

Follow this expert designer's advice for the ideal coffee table size to ensure a functional yet cozy space

living room with steel framed windows and fireplace with square coffee table with wooden beams
(Image credit: Julie Soefer)

Designing a living room is all about balancing functionality with style. Not only does this room need to be a practical space for socializing and relaxing, but you will also want it to reflect the overall interior style of your home. 

While many decor elements will ensure a balanced and visually pleasing space, the choice of furniture can be one of the most crucial. For interior designer Ines Kelly Mazzotta, Principal Designer at Kelly Hopter Interiors, it's the choice of coffee table that can have a dramatic effect on how good the room looks, whilst also being one of the most common interior design mistakes

Discussing her expertise in designing a visually pleasing and functional living room, Ines explains in the video above: 'Tip number one is to make sure that your coffee table is sufficiently large. I’m focusing specifically on the coffee table because that’s one living room design mistake that I see happen very often.'

'Homeowners choose fully, properly sized sofa and chairs, and then we have this small coffee table that’s really quite far removed from all the seating. I'm a big fan of creating welcoming, intimate seating areas,' she continues.

Choosing the wrong size of coffee table doesn't just negatively impact the room's practicality, but it can also prevent the space from feeling inviting, as Ines continues to explain: 'When you have a coffee table that is too small, not only is it difficult to put down your drink, but perhaps even more importantly, you have a lot of empty space in front of where you sit and psychologically that prevents us from feeling cozy and intimate.'

Neutral living room with pale brown sofa and dark marble fireplace

(Image credit: Tim Lenz)

To combat this common design mistake and avoid having an excessive amount of space in front of the sofa, as a general rule, Ines advises choosing a coffee table that is 'two-thirds of the length of your sofa.' By doing so, the overall feel will be much more intimate, resulting in a cozy living room. Once you've decided on a well-sized coffee table, this should then be positioned 'about 18 to 20 inches away from the edge of your seat.'

'That distance, 18 to 20 inches, allows you to comfortably get in and out but will again eliminate that dead space, that empty space when you sit down' concludes Ines.

Below, we've rounded up some of our favorite coffee tables for you to shop that will act as a stylish yet practical focal point in your living room – depending on the look you want to create. 

For more design help in the living room, we've rounded up some super simple ways to make your living room more beautiful, whether you're looking to make some larger changes in 2024 or rather embrace some subtle decor additions for a refreshed feel. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.