I was pretty uneducated design-wise about what to expect after having a baby. In our living room we had an exceptionally light, brindle cowhide, a lucite French commode that was easily scratched (and cost us well over $1,300), some vintage blanc de chine chinoiserie sculptures, and other things that were certainly not appropriate for a teetering tot. In fact, we didn’t start baby-proofing until Camille was already walking 🙈.
Amongst some of my favorite pieces was a beautiful antique table that a friend gifted to us years ago. It had an ornate brass base with scrolling floral details and an oval glass top. It was stunning. After giving birth, I learned very quickly that we needed to make major design shifts. One of the first, most challenging, and yet best decisions that we made was to re-home our lovely coffee table.
Let me be the first to say that it was a hard decision. Aside, from its utilitarian function, coffee tables can make quite a design statement. As a design-obsessed woman, at the time the idea of a coffee-table-less living room seemed simply half-baked. Utterly incomplete.
I started to brainstorm someone the reasons why we should consider getting rid of the “staple” piece and here’s what I discovered …
Living spaces are for LIVING … duh
It sounds so simple, but it seemed exceptionally complicated in my mind. The way that homes function are deeply personal and are fluid. I had to arrive at the realization that the organization of space looks different for each family, including mine.
When I started to lay-out what our family flow was, I had to be honest with myself and name that on most days we do not entertaining, however, on most days Camille most certainly runs around like a mad woman. She doesn’t go to daycare so it’s really important for her to be able to move freely in our Brooklyn-based apartment.
Also, being married to a personal trainer means lots of exercise happening. Like all the time, guys (not on my end though 😜). If you know anything about New York apartments you most likely know that they are BIZARRELY TINY and every micrometer matters. Jo was constantly moving the coffee table out of the room so that he could freely exercise and practice his martial arts. As much as I loved our coffee table, it didn’t take much convincing that it wasn’t the best design decision for our growing fam, so we chucked it (actually we lovingly re-homed it after finding the right couple to sell it to).
One of the first things that I immediately noticed sans coffee table was that there was no landing pad for clutter… that was an unexpected plus. It should go without saying, but Jo and Camille were noticeably happier with more space to do their own thing in. It’s been almost two years without a coffee table and I am surprisingly very satisfied.
You’ve scrapped the coffee table … now what??
If you’ve committed to getting rid of your coffee table … congrats! It’s a liberating feeling I promise you! Your toddler(s) and/or fit spouse will be enthused. I you are not completely satisfied with the open space you may be considering what alternatives are available. There are certainly a few options here, but they all are related to the rationale behind why you decided to get rid of your coffee table.
Almost all coffee tables have hard surfaces, pointed edges, and some glass element. If you are looking for a toddler-safe alternative consider getting a soft pouf or an ottoman. Poufs and ottomans are basically toddler-proof and may even resemble the shape of a coffee table. With some poufs you can totally stack books or trays on the them, just as you would a coffee table.
If you are looking for an alternative that is easily moved when needed, C-Tables are perfect. My hubs is one of those people who enjoys a drink or a light snack while watching TV and C-Tables are the perfect height for that. Most can be moved very quickly and easily if need be.
I personally prefer just the open space with a nice rug that is appropriately sized. Whatever you choose, remember that you are not compelled to adhere to any design “rules.” Rules are meant to be broken, and like I tell my clients, it’s really up to you to determine what needs to stay or go in order to make you happiest in your space. Trust your intuition. Also, remember that no design decision is permanent, you can always change your mind!