How To Choose A Lift-Top Coffee Table

The coffee table is a central, practical piece of furniture to enhance the form and function of your living room. An elegant coffee table that fits your home décor can pull a room together and offer a tabletop area and storage below.

Lift-top coffee tables have a unique hinge mechanism that lets a part of the table lift away from the base to expose an interior storage area. The raised surface allows you to keep essential items like your coffee cup, laptop, or remote within easy reach while letting you access the stored items inside. They also convert easily to a computer desk or compact dining table, making them the ideal multifunctional piece for small apartments.

By combining beauty with function, lift-top coffee tables are an ingenious way to pull a room together while saving space. Here are some tips when you're in the market for a new lift-top coffee table.

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What Shape Lift-Top Coffee Table Should I Buy?

Whether you're shopping online or in-person, the first consideration to make when you're buying a lift-top coffee table is how big it should be. The shape you decide on depends entirely on the size of your room and the size and amount of furniture in it.

Most coffee tables are rectangular, but not all of them. You can find square tables, and even round or triangular pieces. These shapes offer clean lines and a streamlined design that fits neatly in front of your sofa and are well-suited to contemporary homes. 

Another popular shape that is particularly useful in a lift-top design is the wedge shape. A spacious room with a large sectional couch and other seats can support a wedge coffee table because it supplies enough table area so that anyone sitting can reach it. It creates a cozy centerpiece and central talking point, and it's excellent for shared appetizers

A smaller room, like a library or study, would benefit from a more traditional rectangular coffee table that suits the room's dimensions, especially the sofa or seating. If the table sits before a small loveseat, then the table's size should be equally dainty.

Round Lift Top Coffee Table
Rectangular Lift Top Coffee Table
Square Lift Top Wheel Coffee Table
Oval Coffee Table with Storage
Geometric Lift Top Coffee Table
Hexagon Lift Top Coffee Table

How Do I Measure to Find the Right Size Lift-Top Coffee Table?

As lift-top coffee tablesare designed to be multipurpose and functional as well as stylish, you need to find the right size table that won't overwhelm your space while still being large enough to suit your storage needs.

To gauge what size your table should be, measure the length of the sofa in your seating area. The table should be almost as long as the seating area. Aim for a table that is approximately 3" inches shorter than your sofa on each side.

Since you're looking at a lift-top coffee table, it is essential to note the dimensions both when the table is folded in and also when it's opened up. You don't want any guests trapped by the table once it's opened up. Depending on the opening direction and whether it offers 360-degree swiveling features, you may need to allow at least 1' clearance between the open coffee table and the sofa. Take this into account when you are measuring the space in your living area.

What Material Should My Coffee Table Be?

Lift-top coffee tablescome in a wide variety of materials to suit your style needs. However, it is essential to remember the tabletop can't be too ungainly or heavy as the lift-top mechanism needs to support its weight. Some popular materials include:

  • Solid wood

Solid wood is an elegant material ideal for adding texture and class to your space. However, some types of hardwood can be heavy and unsuitable for a lift top. If the natural appeal of wood suits your space, choose a table that features a solid wood base and a lightweight tabletop.

  • MDF

MDF is a lightweight, inexpensive alternative to solid wood and well-suited to lift top tables. It comes is an extensive range of finishes and blends well with almost all décor styles.

Wood Lift Top Coffee Table
White Wooden Lift Top Coffee Table with Storage
Black Wood Lift Top Coffee Table with Storage
Wooden Lift Top Coffee Table
Solid Wood Lift Top Coffee Table
Light Brown Wood Lift Top Coffee Table
  • Metal

Metal coffee tables are a great addition to an urban or industrial living space.However, due to the density of most metals, you typically find lift-top coffee tables with metal frames or accents only.

  • Fabric

Fabric upholstered lift-top coffee tables are beautifully suited to modern Scandinavian, farmhouse or country style living areas. The fabric usually covers a metal or wood frame for added durability.

Golden Metal Lift Top Cross Legs Coffee Table
Metal and Glass Coffee Table
Wood and Metal Lift Top Coffee Table
Old Chest Styled Metal Lift Top Coffee Table
Dark Fabric Lift Top Coffee Table
Grey Fabric Lift Top Coffee Table
  • Faux Marble

Marble and other stone tabletops make a stunning statement in your living area, but the weight of authentic marble makes it unsuitable for a lift-top design. Faux marble gives you the on-trend visual appearance of marble without the weight.

Grey Faux Marble Coffee Table
Lift Top Coffee Table with Faux Marble
Lift Top Coffee Table with White Faux Marble
Dark Marble Lift Top Coffee Table
Faux Marble Lift Top Coffee Table
Natural Marble Coffee Table

What Type of Opening Mechanisms Are There?

There are a few directions that the tabletop can move as you open it. It can move straight up, to one side, and some very fancy tables have two moving parts that swivel away from one another.

  • Straight-up - The most traditional mechanism is also one that will support the most weight on top when it's opened up. It has double hinges that move in concert with one another to move the tabletop upwards a couple of inches, revealing a space for storage underneath.

  • Sideways - Many lift-top coffee tables have portions that lift out and to one side, an excellent idea if you would like the table to double as a quasi-desk, so you can work or eat off the top when it's opened up.
    This type will take up more space than the traditional, straight-up mechanism, so it is essential to measure how much space it takes when it's opened.

  • Modern Swivel - You'll find some of the unique mechanisms in contemporary or modern furniture design and the more unusual shapes.
    A lot of the triangular or free form tables only have a portion or one side that opens up. These tables are almost works of art in themselves, and what's great is that they are functional as well as beautiful.

How Can I Check the Quality of the Hinge Mechanism?

It is crucial to assess the quality of the hinges in a lift-top coffee table. You can find tables made of pure oak or durable MDF or many other quality materials, but the hinges should be of the best quality to give you a long-lasting piece.

The hinges should be made of high-quality metal, such as heavy-gauge steel, because you don't want them to wear out over time. You should also opt for powder-coated metal to avoid corrosion, which could cause the hinge mechanism to stick and lower its weight capacity.

The mechanism should open smoothly without shaking or sticking and feature a secure lock that clicks into place when the tabletop is fully extended. For a top made from a lightweight material, look for a tightly coiled spring at each hinge. Heavier tabletops should have a gas pneumatic or hydraulic lifts to support the weight of the tabletop and your coffee table essentials.

What Style Coffee Table Should I Get?

The beautiful thing aboutlift-top coffee tables is how versatile they are. You can find beachy, coastal lift-tops in light woods, or traditional, dark wood coffee tables for classically styled homes.

Lift-tops come in metal or glass, which works well for modern or contemporary homes, and you can also find unfinished ones so you can tailor them to your style.

Whatever style you choose, ensure the lift-up coffee table is cohesive with the room it's in and the furniture closest to it.