Cocktail table

Cocktail Table vs. Coffee Table — Is There a Difference?

Have you noticed that we always use the term sofa instead of a couch? You may have just thought this was a fancy term. Perhaps you realized there is a difference between a sofa and a couch. Well, there’s another interior decor item that is often wrongly named: the cocktail table!

Is a coffee table the same as a cocktail table? According to Merriam-Webster, it is — but they’d be wrong. Wondering what sets a cocktail table apart from a coffee table?

You may have ventured to guess that a cocktail table is for cocktails and a coffee table is for coffee. That’s a good guess. However, if you don’t have a drink on the go or a cup of java to tip you off, how can you spot the difference?

Cocktail Table vs. Coffee Table


Source: FourHands

When we consider coffee tables and cocktail tables in interior design, there’s no avoiding the similarities. Typically, both are in living rooms or office spaces, shorter tables often placed in front of a sofa or chairs, and used more infrequently than your dining room table.

There is one glaring difference between the two.


Source: Bernhardt

The main commonly accepted difference between coffee tables and cocktail tables is their shape. Typically, coffee tables are round or oval, and cocktail tables are square or rectangular. That’s right; geometry comes up once again in interior design as a crucial component. 

Another key differentiating factor between coffee tables and cocktail tables is their history. Coffee tables are much older, having become popular in the Victorian era. On the other hand, cocktail tables are a little hipper, being a product of the roaring ’20s. 

Nothing is set in stone.

Now you know the difference between a coffee table and a cocktail table, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are still some cocktail tables that are round or use more ornate geometric shapes. These will usually be labelled as such—for example, the round cocktail table by Hooker Furniture. Confusing, we know. If you’re still a little at odds with what you need in your living room, a cocktail or a coffee table, our team can help.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as it works with your design style and meets your needs — although we’d prefer you call it a cocktail table if the shoe fits. Our team of design experts can help you find the perfect solution for your home. Get in touch with us today or look at our selection of cocktail tables online and start an inquiry list.