Although coffee tables can be both practical and attractive additions to a living room or family room, they are not the only option. Coffee tables may not be practical in a family room where small children play — either because of glass, sharp edges or the chance of having good wood ruined by markers or spills. Large or even standard-sized coffee tables may be overwhelming in a small room. Some of the many alternatives to coffee tables include a side table, several smaller tables, an aquarium, a covered pet bed with a tray on top or a small tray table.
A tray table is a tray on a stand that looks like a table until the detachable tray is removed. It's usually quite compact and good for rooms to which you regularly carry food and/or drinks. If you have pets, you can use the tray table as an inspiration and get a covered pet bed with a hard upper surface to hold a tray on top. These types of tray tables can make great alternatives to coffee tables and a tray is also easy to keep clean by just giving it a wipe.
Even something like an old, but large aquarium can be cleaned up and used as a simplistic modern-looking glass coffee table in a pinch. Just turn it upside down and put a few decorative pieces on top such as a plant and one other object. You could also use the aquarium as a glass base for a larger glass top.
A grouping of small end tables can work in many different rooms and you can separate the tables to hold drinks and food for guests when you're entertaining. Four square or rectangular tables can be pushed together to form a larger table or two triangular tables can be arranged in many different ways. The key to using alternatives to coffee tables is to keep them in tune with the style of the room they're in and to use your imagination.
Don't be afraid to try smaller pieces of furniture such as side, or end tables as alternatives to coffee tables. For example, a small table in front of a sofa can give an interesting, uncluttered look to a living space. Just stick to one bold accessory on the table such as a tall plant or vase of branches and maybe a good-sized throw pillow on one side of the sofa and an afghan draped on the other end. Give some thought to the colors and textures you use here and you may give new life to your old décor!