Purpose of Coffee Tables

While the purpose of a coffee table may seem obvious, there are a variety of uses for it. A coffee table can be used for formal or informal occasions. It can withstand the weight of a pair of feet or something as delicate as a tea cup. A coffee table is used by children and adults alike for different reasons. In Britain, the first wooden coffee tables were made in the late Victorian era.

Basic Function in the Past

In the past, a coffee table was located in the living room or den. It was used for serving afternoon coffee or tea with snacks during social or business conversations. These settings often included the finest china, linens and silver tea service on a marble table top.

Basic Function in the Present

Today the wooden coffee table may also be used in a more informal setting. Refreshments during a movie or sporting event in a family room or living room are common.

Decorative Accent

Coffee tables in more formal settings are used for decorative accents. These tables may be made of wood, glass, wicker, marble or stone. They often display a floral arrangement, books or knick-knacks.


Some families choose to use a coffee table to store books, magazines, newspapers or puzzles. Others may use it as storage for a homework center and for organizational space for families.


Children may have fun spreading out their puzzles or games on a coffee table. Displayed models or puzzles can be shown off in a family room. A simple game of cards or checkers can be enjoyed by parent and child on a coffee table.