Should a Sofa Table Be on the Rug?

Sofa Table Rug

Furnishing and designing the interior of your home is exciting and challenging, all at the same time. There are so many do’s and don’ts to follow. It can be hard to keep track. For example, should a sofa table be on top of a rug, or does that only apply to coffee tables?

A sofa table can technically be on top of a rug; however, it looks somewhat awkward and does not create the room’s desired division. It is better instead to place a sofa table beside the back of a couch, where there is no rug. This will create sharper lines around the sofa and living space.

Many people often mistake coffee tables for sofa tables, and vice versa, which adds to the confusion of whether to or not to place a rug beneath a sofa table. In this article, we’ll break down the reasons your sofa table should exist sans rug, so you feel more confident in your personal design choices.

The Difference Between a Sofa Table and a Coffee Table

Before you can make an executive decision about whether to place a rug under your sofa table, it is rather imperative you know the difference between a sofa table and a coffee table, so there is no confusion. 

A sofa table and a coffee table are two different things entirely. Both things are tables or furniture pieces that exist around a couch, true, but their size, placement, and purpose are distinctly different.

Sofa Table

Sofa Table

A sofa table is a piece of furniture that typically rests along the backside of a couch. They are used most commonly in open living spaces where the living area has no separation between other rooms intersecting in the home.

A sofa table helps to create a feel of division between open living spaces, the same way a room divider does. Sofa tables function by being a physical barrier between the couch and another part of the room. Sofa tables typically measure higher than coffee tables, which sit lower to the ground. Sofa tables are meant to sit as high as the back of the couch. 

Sofa tables are also usually long and narrow and are sometimes referred to as runners or consoles. Because sofa tables sit beside the back of couches, they do not typically sit atop a rug.

Coffee Table

Coffee Table

A coffee table sits in front of a couch so that those sitting on the sofa might place their ‘coffee’ upon the table. Coffee tables can, in fact, be tables, many times, however people replace the traditional table with a softer furniture piece, like an ottoman. 

However, an ottoman sits as low as a normal coffee table is more of an upholstered seat or footrest. Some ottomans are merely fancy sittable boxes. Others have hinges and trunk doors that allow for things like blankets and throw pillows to be hidden inside.

Coffee tables are always lower than a couch or as high as the seat cushions. Coffee tables are never as high as the top of the couch (like sofa tables are.) Coffee tables often sit atop rugs as the area in front of the sofa is usually covered by a rug or runner of some sort.

Why a Sofa Table Shouldn’t Be on a Rug

When designing your home, you want to embrace visual symmetry, separation, and an overall flow. The placement of an area rug is important because it is a focal point and ties a space together. Thus, it is important to make sure that in a living area where there are a couch and coffee table, the rug covers all items in this space.

Since rugs are not meant to extend beyond the backside of a couch, however, an area rug is not meant to extend past a sofa table or runner. Since these types of furniture pieces are used to accentuate or hide a couch, as well as help divide a larger living area, it is best to leave the floor beneath this piece uncovered to cue one’s eye to acknowledge the start of a new space.

When a sofa table rests on the backside of a sofa in a living space that is both a family room and a dining room, the sofa table is one of the features that establish a division between the two combined living spaces. While it may seem the area rug encompassing the family room furniture (like the couch and coffee table) should therefore envelop the sofa table, this is not always the case.

However, a sofa table can sit atop a rug if the rug is exceptionally large. In this instance, the rug covers a much larger expanse than just the couch and coffee table. This type of area rug might even house large sofa chairs opposite the sofa table, or perhaps even a dining area. When a sofa table exists in this type of space, yes, a couch runner can sit on top of a rug without feeling award or out of place.

What Size Should Your Sofa Table Be

Sofa tables should not be much taller than the couch itself (not more than an inch or two). They also should not be longer than the couch. They can equal the couch in length or be shorter in length, but never longer than the sofa.

How do you Decorate a Sofa Table?

The way you decorate your sofa table depends on the layout of the room in question and the sofa table’s location.

A Sofa Table that Divides & Displays

When decorating a sofa table that is a more prominent statement piece in a room, look for decorative items that serve as focal points or pieces of art. Any of the following items are excellent décor to place on your sofa table:

  • Lamps
  • Coffee table type books
  • Magazines
  • Vases with flowers
  • Plants (succulents, ivy, pampas grass)
  • Bowls with potpourri or other decorative items (seashells, pine cones, crystals)
  • Salt lamps
  • Small sculptures
  • Picture frames
  • Decorative storage bins
  • Candles or lanterns

A Sofa Table that Sits on a Back Wall

A sofa table that rests behind a couch and against a back wall can serve as a more functional furniture piece. These types of table runners can be utilized like an additional coffee table, meaning that they can hold drinks or essential items.

Sofa tables or table runners like this can house any number of the following items while still looking like intentional décor:

  • Lamps
  • Plants
  • Small storage box for TV remotes
  • Speakers (surround sound for TV or home audio speakers like Sonos)
  • Tissue boxes
  • Drink coasters
  • Jar of favorite movie snacks
  • Vases
  • Candles
  • Picture frames
  • Photo albums
  • Books
  • Room diffusers 

The Key Take Away

A sofa table can serve as a highly functional piece of furniture for your living space. Know how best to serve your space without creating awkward angles can be challenging. However, now that you know the function of your sofa table, you’ll be better able to discern whether to place a rug beneath one.

Always consider the room size, room function, and the placement of the sofa table. If a sofa table sits on a back wall, there is certainly no need for a rug to rest beneath it. If, however, an area rug expands far beyond the sofa and includes other furniture like an additional sofa chair or dining sets, then in that instance, a sofa table may sit on a rug.


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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