Coffee Table Styles and Materials Guide

Your coffee table can have many uses—a place to piece together a puzzle, a spot for a cocktail, or the centre of a conversation area. We take a look at the 8 most common styles of coffee tables and their defining characteristics, from contemporary to mid-century modern. You're sure to find the one that fits your home! We also break down the benefits and drawbacks of different tabletop materials.

1. Traditional

Traditional furniture can also be thought of as formal furniture. Traditional coffee tables tend to have ornate detailing, such as curved legs, carvings, or inlaid tops, and be made of rich woods.

2. Transitional

Transitional furniture falls between traditional and contemporary/modern furniture. It has a more casual, functional feel. Transitional coffee tables will suit most decor styles.

3. Contemporary

Though contemporary and modern may seem interchangeable, contemporary style refers to what is currently popular. Contemporary designs often feature stark interiors with bold, bright accents. Glass tops and metal bases are common features of contemporary coffee tables.

4. Cottage/Country

Both cottage and country styles feature feminine lines and detailing, such as turned legs. Painted and distressed finishes are common features of country and cottage coffee tables.

5. Industrial

The defining materials of industrial style furniture are weathered wood, stainless steel, and concrete. Furniture that looks as if it has been salvaged or made from a pre-existing piece will fit in this style. 

6. Rustic

Coffee tables in a rustic style are predominantly made of weathered or distressed wood with exposed metal accents, like nail heads. Though similar to industrial, rustic coffee tables place an emphasis on the natural wood, rather than metal. Rustic pieces can have a mountain or country feel to them.

7. Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern refers to the interior design style that was popular between the 1950s and 1960s. Mid-century modern coffee tables are characterised by clean, simple lines and bent wood or molded plastic construction. Most of the time, wood furniture has a simple finish to show off its natural beauty.

Common Tabletop Materials


A popular pick, metal coffee tables are made out of durable iron, steel aluminium, or other alloys. Often, this easy-to-clean coffee table is complemented with a glass top or a combination of wood and glass.


By far the most common coffee table surface, wood is susceptible to water rings, so most people use trivets and coasters to protect it.


Another popular top material is glass. One thing to keep in mind when buying a glass-topped table is that water rings and spills will be more visible on glass, and it will need to be cleaned regularly.


For a traditional, stately look choose a slate-, stone-, or marble-topped table. The upkeep of a stone top will depend upon the type of stone.