End Table Vs. Coffee Table: What’s The Difference?

Coffee vs End Table

Have you ever wondered about those tables in your living room? We all know about the end table, the side table, the coffee table, and the console table. It is hard to know what you need for your living room or den to be complete. But here, we will focus on the coffee table versus the end table. Do you need one, or do you need both, and are they different? 

There is a difference between end tables and coffee tables. Coffee tables are larger and lower than end tables. An end table sits at either end of the couch, at about the same height as the couch arms. A coffee table sits in front of the couch, at the same height as the couch seat.

In this article, we will talk about the differences between an end table and a coffee table. This article will cover different styles of end tables and coffee tables. Additionally, we will show you different sets you can choose from and ways to mix and match if you choose to take that route.

A Comparison of End Tables & Coffee Tables

End tables and coffee tables can serve very different purposes. However, both are great for holding drinks! But you definitely don’t want to go over to a house without an end table or coffee table in the living room. 

Choosing the right option and knowing the differences between an end table and a coffee table are important to creating a beautiful and functional living space. 

The following table shows a comparison of common features of both end tables and coffee tables:

Characteristics & FeaturesEnd TableCoffee Table
Location in Living RoomPlaced at the ends of the couch Can also be placed beside chairs or a loveseatPlaced in front of the couch
Height As high or higher than the couch arms Sometimes lower than the couch arms, but this is not as functional As high as the seat of the couch 
Surface AreaSmall, but great for adding a lamp or setting down a glass of water.Large enough to accommodate board games or even a cheese tray. Perfect for all of your coffee cups.
Common DimensionsLength: 22 to 28 inches
Width: 14 to 26 inches
Height: 20 to 25 inches
Length: 36 to 48 inches
Width: 18 to 24 inches
Height: 16 to 21 inches

In addition to the differences highlighted above, there are many similarities between coffee tables and end tables. These similarities fall into three categories style, shape, and material. We’ll discuss more about these categories below. 

Some other features to consider when you are purchasing a coffee table or end table include:

  • Access to drawers
  • Ease of mobility
  • Inclusion of a rising tabletop (usually only on a coffee table)
  • Presence of shelves

Coffee Table and End Table Style

Style is an important factor when choosing a coffee table or end table for your living space. You want to pick a table style that matches the rest of the furniture well and does not clash. 

Some common styles you can find in which coffee and end tables are:

  • Asian
  • Coastal
  • Contemporary
  • Craftsman
  • Eclectic 
  • Farmhouse
  • Industrial
  • Mid-Century Modern
  • Minimalist
  • Modern
  • Southwestern
  • Traditional
  • Tropical
  • Victorian

Coffee Table and End Table Shape

The shape of your coffee table or end table is also an important factor when shopping for accent tables. You want to select a shape and size that will fit into the space available. Generally, any shape that will match your existing furniture.

The main consideration to make with shape is if the shape you choose will physically fit into the space next to or in front of your couch. 

There are different styles of coffee tables and end tables, but they also vary by shape:

  • Cube
  • Freeform
  • Hexagon
  • Kidney
  • Novelty
  • Octagon
  • Oval
  • Rectangle
  • Round
  • Square
  • Triangle
  • Wedge

Coffee Table and End Table Materials

The material of your coffee table or end table is the most important factor. The material out of which your accent table is crafted will influence the room’s cost and overall feel. 

A dark wood coffee table in the center of the space will act as a focal point, whereas a glass-topped table will not draw your eye in the same way. 

Finally, many different types of material can be used to manufacture a coffee or end table:

  • Concrete
  • Fabric
  • Faux leather
  • Faux marble
  • Glass
  • Laminate
  • Leather
  • Manufactured wood
  • Marble
  • Metal
  • Mirror
  • Plastic
  • Stone
  • Tile or mosaic
  • Wicker and rattan
  • Wood

Keep in mind that real leather, marble, stone, and wood will cost more than your composite and faux materials. It is also often difficult for the average guest to decipher between the true material and a faux version. It matters when it comes to resale value, though.

Once you know what style, shape, and material you are looking for, it will be much easier to narrow down your options and find the right coffee or end tables. Keep reading to see some examples of these different shapes and styles!

Different Styles of End Table

As we have covered, there are many different styles of an end table on the market. Finding the right end table or set of end tables for your space may take time. But it will be worth it when your living space is comfortable and the design is complete.

The following chart shows you some options for different style end tables in order to provide you with some highly-rated options for you to check out:

End Table StyleOption 1Option 2
TraditionalDecor Therapy Simplify Pedestal Accent Table
• 13 colors available
• Made from sturdy wood
• Round shape
Can be casual or formal depending on the space
Forever Eclectic Folio Rectangular Wood End Table
• Rectangular top
• Brown, gray and white colors
• Open shelf design for display and added storage
• Pinewood construction
Eclectic Haussmann Wood Natural Stool End Table
• Walnut toned wood
• Square top
• Polished matte finish
• Exposed wood grain
Safavieh American Homes Collection Milo Silver Leaf Trellis End Table
• Gold or silver leaf finish
• Square top
• Trellis design
CoastalSafavieh American Homes Collection Everly Distressed Side Table
• Comes in vintage white, black, cherry, gray, and distressed white
• Made of pine wood
• Includes woven basket drawers
Household Essentials Hourglass Water Hyacinth Wicker Table
• Round shape
• Wicker material
• Lightweight design
• Beachy vibe due to stylish light brown
MinimalistHaton Side Table
• Round shape
• White top and light wooden legs
• Modern and sleek design with no frills
• The lightweight model means it is easy to move
• The waterproof surface makes for easy cleaning
BAMEOS Side Table
• Round and white tabletop
• Legs of environmentally- friendly bamboo
• Versatile and portable table

These are only a selection of the end table styles available to you, but it does provide some nice examples of each style. 

Different Styles of Coffee Table

Since we already covered most coffee tables’ popular shapes and styles, let us dive right into looking at specific examples of a coffee table. Depending on your home or living space’s interior design, you may want to select a specific style coffee table. Just remember, it is hard to go wrong here.

Things to consider when purchasing a coffee table include:

  • Color palette
  • The overall aesthetic of the room
  • Price range
  • The styles you like or prefer 

It is worth noting that buying your coffee table and end tables as a set may actually save you some money, but you may be sacrificing style and luxury. Keep this in mind if you want to curate furniture that fits well into your home and makes a statement. 

The following chart shows you some options for different style coffee tables in order to provide you with some highly-rated options for you to browse:

Coffee Table StyleOption 1Option 2
TraditionalSignature Design by Ashley Traditional Glass Top Oval Coffee Table
• Oval shape
• Glass top with ornate metal design
• Dark brown wood finish
Amazon Brand – Ravenna Home Traditional Solid Pine Coffee Table
• Finish options include black, honey pine, and dark espresso
• Includes storage shelf
• Solid pine wood table
Eclectic Henn&Hart Modern Geometric-Inspired Glass Coffee Table
• Gold finishes
• Tempered glass top with glass shelf underneath
• Also available in black, silver or white finishes

Convenience Concepts Oslo Bean Shaped Coffee Table
• Bamboo leg finish
• Options for a white, seafoam, or gray tabletop
• Sleek design
• Bean shape stands out
• Fiberboard and rubberwood composite material
CoastalAlaterre Rustic Rectangular Coffee Table
• Antique white finish gives you a beach vibe
• Composite wood material
• Shelf for storage
• Small carved details give depth to the distressed look
FurniChoi Farmhouse Coffee Table
• Has a distressed wood top with white table legs and shelf
• The two wood tones will provide a coastal or farmhouse feel to any room
MinimalistIWELL Mid-Century Boho Coffee Table
• One drawer and storage shelf
• Options include dark oak, rustic brown, and rustic brown and black 
• Made of particleboard
• Simple and stylish design
Ameriwood Home Parsons Modern Coffee Table
• Colors include white, gray, espresso, brown, and black
• Water-resistant finish
• Clean lines and sleek design are perfect for your minimalist style
• Great price!

And now that you have looked over the different coffee table and end table options, what about the sets that are available to buy? Buying a coffee table and end table separately is great, but you may spend more money. When you buy a set, you can usually get a deal! Read on to see some coffee table and end table sets.

Should You Buy A Coffee Table & End Table Set?

Depending on your home aesthetic and your wants or needs, you may opt for a set of end tables and a matching coffee table. Having three matching pieces will surely tie your room together.

The following chart shows some highly-rated coffee table and end table sets in 5 popular styles: 

Style of the Matching SetsOption 1Option 2
ContemporarySignature Design by Ashley – Denja Occasional Table Set
• Contemporary dark wood finish
• Sleek rectangular coffee table with square end tables
• Inserts on all table tops in black tempered glass for a high-end look and feel

Signature Design by Ashley – Tarica Occasional Coffee Table Set of 3
• Faux marble on the white gold option creates an upscale contemporary feel
• Options for White/Gold, Brown/Black, and Brown
• Oval and circle versus rectangle and square coffee and end table pairings
• Thin lines for the base will make a room look bigger and leave no room for extra clutter
FarmhouseSignature Design by Ashley – Cloudhurst 3-Piece Table Set
• Comes in white or black wood washes
• Contemporary farmhouse design
• Lamp available with purchase, too
• Slatted shelves bring farmhouse charm to life
Signature Design by Ashley – Bolanbrook Farmhouse Occasional Coffee Table – Set of 3 
• Brown wood top with antique white shelves and legs
• Slatted tabletop adds to the farmhouse aesthetic

IndustrialSignature Design by Ashley Wooden Table Set
• Dark, aged bronze accents
• Metal accents provide an air of industrial design
• Vintage-inspired
• Wooden tables with a medium brown finish
Walker Edison 3-Piece Rustic Wood and Metal Coffee Table Set
• Also available in 3 finishes: Rustic oak wood, gray wash, and white oak wood 
• Angle iron details on each corner
• Metal accents provide industrial charm
ModernHOMFA Living Room Coffee Table Set of 3
• The dark wood finish on the tables’ tops
• Metal frame
• Nesting coffee table set where both end tables fit under the coffee table
• The sleek, simple design will blend in most living spaces
Signature Design by Ashley Radilyn Occasional Table Set of 3 
• Can add locking casters to the coffee table for easy furniture arrangement and rearrangement
• Deep brown wood finish
• Faux marble tops
• Magazine racks on the end tables
• Shelf storage under the coffee table
TraditionalSignature Design by Ashley – Mattie Traditional 3-Piece Coffee Table Set
• Flared legs and beveled edges provide the traditional coffee table look
• Reddish-brown wood finish
Signature Design by Ashley – Carshaw 3-Piece Traditional Table Set
• Cherry wood finish
• Dark brown wood
• Round shape
• Scrolled metal legs

But what if matching is not your style? After all, most interior design magazines and shows do not have matching coffee and end tables. Well, you can look to pair your coffee and end tables in a tasteful but not tacky manner.

Should You Mix & Match Your Coffee & End Tables?

Ultimately choosing to mix and match coffee tables and end tables are up to you. In some cases, mixed and matched tables look really great and fit into a space well. Other times a set of mixed and matched tables can be a glaring design error. 

Yet there are ways to mix and match more subtly, and Crate & Barrel gives some great tips on the subject:

  • Use different varnishes or finishes – If you want wooden tables, try pairing cherry and oak or try the same type of wood in a different color variation; if you are using metals, pair bronze and silver or gold and copper. 
  • Pair different shapes together – If your coffee table is free-form, you might opt for round or square end tables. Or, another idea is to mix a round coffee table with square end tables.
  • Try different materials, too – A coffee table and end tables do not all need to be wood, stone, or metal. You can choose one material for your coffee table and a different material for your end table. 

Mixing and matching is an interior designer’s skill and comes with time. Mainly you should choose what you think looks good to you. If you need some inspiration, read on!

Some style pairings that might be beautiful in your living room are:

  • Asian and tropical
  • Coastal and farmhouse
  • Craftsman and traditional
  • Industrial and eclectic
  • Modern and minimalist
  • Victorian and contemporary

These style pairings are more practical but do not be afraid to think outside of the box. You can also pair different materials together and keep the same shapes. Or try different materials and different shapes. When you mix and match, the possibilities for these pairings could go on and on!

You may be wondering how do you know if the combination you choose will look pleasing together? If your coffee and end tables make the room feel disjointed, you can use other accents to tie the room together. 

Try placing vases of similar shapes on each. Or, you can match some of the finishes to other objects in the room!

In Summary: Coffee Tables and End Tables Are Different

Any living room or den needs at least one table nearby. This way, guests can set their glasses down on a nearby surface and not have to put them directly on the floor. That being said, not all living rooms need both a coffee table and an end table. You may be able to get away with one of these types of tables and still have a beautiful and functional living space. 

Coffee tables usually sit in front of a sofa, set of chairs, or loveseat, while an end table sits near the arms of a couch or chair. Both of these types of tables come in a variety of styles, shapes, and materials.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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