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Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Technology influences today's coffee table design

  • Technology uses, tastes in interior design transform the familiar coffee table.

    Allison Long / Kansas City Star

    Technology uses, tastes in interior design transform the familiar coffee table.

Coffee tables with two levels have been popular for a while. Because people want places to set their laptops, tablet computers and smartphones, you're starting to see coffee tables designed with three levels.
Home furnishings design forecaster Michelle Lamb is seeing a return to artistry in coffee tables, and more function than ever.
Wireless devices have influenced coffee table design. Some tables have built-in charging stations and, because we're working more from home, file cabinets. Furniture maker Aspen Home pioneered that design trend, Lamb says.
Technology also is playing a role in the number of coffee tables we're using. Furniture makers are introducing the concept of grouping three small tables. Global Views, a Dallas-based furniture maker, offers a trio of varying height marble-top tables with gold-finished iron bases. An iPad could be placed on one, a drink on another and reading materials on the third.
Measurements can determine coffee table choice and placement. To reach drinks easily, the table edge should be 18 inches from the sofa. But to allow a person to comfortably get up and walk is 24 inches.
Small ottomans with flip tops (one side is a tray, the other upholstered) function as tables, storage and extra seating.
Lamb is seeing furniture makers such as Norwalk make an ottoman/coffee table hybrid. The top is similar to an upholstered bench, but a lower wooden shelf serves as storage.
Tablescaping tips
• Stack -- rather than fan -- books and magazines. It feels less contrived.
• A candy dish can be sweet and stylish.
• Leave room for drinks. Have coasters and cocktail napkins on the surface so guests don't feel reluctant to put their drinks down.
Story tags » Interior decorating

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