April 6, 2017

It always bugged me, but was starting to really bug me that we had extremely limited table surfaces in our living room. People are nice and did not mind when we had social events. And most of the time we ate in the kitchen and then moved to the living room to socialize. But we all know a living room well, needs flat surfaces. Even forgetting hospitality, your girl just likes to have a place to set her icy drink. So okay, yes, basically I am just affirming that coffee tables do indeed serve a function and people do not get them just for show.

In our home I am trying not to do purchases that are temporary. That is very apartment living and newlywed and I am trying to end that phase. I wanted to find a coffee table that was just what I wanted and still not spend a lot.

Here were my shopping guidelines I was aiming for. Circle or square, preferring square, though. About 36 inches diameter. Low contrast, so a white or subtle patterns in a stone or light wood. Our living room has a lot of dark to light contrast from the walls and beams and mirror over the fireplace, so here on out I want more monochromatic things in my blues and greens color palette. High contrast spaces are fun, but in my own home that I look at everyday, I find I like low contrast, tonal decorating. It makes things seem more spacious and calming, but can still be interesting stylistically with lots of texture. And in this room, the coffee table is not going to be the “star.” I want to still like it, but for this room it is mostly just a place for the eye to rest.


And lastly modern. We are mostly traditional decor people, but I think every traditional look still needs one really modern piece to keep it fresh.

I half-shopped at all my go-to sources for like, a year. And then one night I was like THAT’S IT I AM DOING IT. And sat down at my computer and was like, I am shopping at every retailer I can possibly think of until I find a coffee table. That included West Elm, Pottery Barn, Target, World Market, CB2, Crate & Barrel, Urban Outfitters, Wayfair, Overstock, Hayneedle, All Modern, Ikea, Pier One, and Amazon.

The weird place I didn’t first think to check, but where I found my winner was Wal-Mart! Our new table is a little more rectangle than square, but it has everything else I wanted. Plus, it is only $137! (I have noticed since buying the price fluctuates a little and it has gone even lower.)

To answer your immediate question, yes it is a MDF wood situation. Reasons I don’t mind that: 1) Coffee tables are one of the items in the house that get the most wear and tear, especially with toddlers, so to me the options were to spend $1,000+ for a beautiful stone ordeal that would not take much wear. Or go for a very inexpensive option that getting beat up is no big deal. 2) For some reason, I think modern silhouettes are more forgiving for being cheaply made than a traditional one. Thinking of a particle board coffee table that is more ornate would be pretty nasty. But a clean lined one feels fine.

(I have realized the only other furniture piece I have ever bought from Wal-Mart is a hard plastic mod desk chair I still have! It has held up really well. I believe I bought it in 2008 so it is going on 10 years and works perfectly and weirdly I even get compliments on it.)

When the table arrived, we made one modification. It is actually set up to have a drawer. Well, the whole thing kind of is a drawer, the size of the whole table. It is a cool feature, and would be handy, but I instantly saw a montage of 15 ways my 2 year old would terrorize my 1 year old with it and decided to permanently seal the drawer. The tweak was easy because of course this table required assembly already.

REALLY pleased to have surfaces to rests drinks on. REALLY pleased with the price tag. And nicely enough also even pleased with the look. It is 13 and 1/2 inches high which is a modern look so on the lower side. That fits well too with my goal for it not being too visually obstructive. Something taller would have broken up the room more.

I am a traditional design lover at heart probs forever, but having two modern pieces in here (light fixture and now coffee table) strike a balance I am super loving. Something for a piece of decor on the table is what I am thinking through next, but it has to be basically unbreakable to work for our real everyday life.

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  • Chris

    I love that the table is so plain – really goes well in the space. But I do understand about placing anything decorative on it —probably should be made out of nerf, huh? Small ones do certainly like to bounce things around, don’t they! This room looks so comfortable now.

    • Rachel Schultz

      Thanks Chris. Love it

  • Courtney R.

    what a great find! we have struggled with the coffee table issue having a little one who drives cars on everything… so we have had the same $8 garage sale table for 9 years now.It’s so beat up but I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet with wear and tear so I’m afraid to replace. I also so desperately want to decorate it with something on top, but just can’t figure out something that looks cool and isn’t going to get destroyed by my son! haha. so i’m interested to see if you find something that works for yours! love your blog Rachel!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Hm. Yeah I’m thinking maybe I will have a object that kind of has two stations. Like it goes on the mantle for everyday stuff or can move to the coffee table if we are entertaining or babies aren’t around. Thank you Courtney!

  • Rita

    Looks good! I have an ottoman that I sealed up because I saw it as one more thing my kids could a.) open up take everything out and make a mess or b.) hide in it or put each other in it.

    • Rachel Schultz

      I was so intrigued by that idea but then thought where would I put drinks? What do you guys do?

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