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What’s the Difference Between a Cocktail Table and a Coffee Table?

You’ve heard us talking about how a sofa is not a couch and a couch is not a sofa. Please forgive our OCD, but we still stand by those rules. However, when it comes to cocktail tables and coffee tables we use those terms interchangeably. These days the terms are used to describe all low tables placed in front of a sofa. But if you want to seem “in the know” there is a difference to the hardcore furniture enthusiasts, and it’s very simple to remember.

The Cocktail Table which became popular in the roaring 20’s is a low rectangular or square table used to serve cocktails, hold books, accessories and ash trays (back in the day).


The Coffee Table originally used in Victorian times is round or oval and probably started off being higher but over time became lower to sit in front of 20th century sofas.


Here are some Coffee & Cocktail Tables. Can you identify each one?

WPL-Interior-Design-Philadelphia-Coffee-cocktail-table_0165 WPL-Interior-Design-Philadelphia-Coffee-cocktail-table_0166WPL-Interior-Design-Philadelphia-Coffee-cocktail-table_0168

Bonus points. What is a Tea Table? A tea table is a small table for holding a tea service. It is higher than a coffee or cocktail table and sits in front of a sofa or settee. While not very popular in America, they are seen in historic homes and English homes.

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