Whether you are selling your home and working with a professional stager, buying a new home, or simply redecorating, design choices can be overwhelming. The “right” piece is often more than dimension and style. Often homeowners know when something ‘doesn’t look right’ but they don’t know why. This also means that they don’t know how to fix it. Exasperation, along with multiple trips to furniture stores, makes something that should be fun into an daunting experience.
Understanding the Visual Weight of Materials
There are so many options for materials in today’s home stores. For the purpose of this post, I’ll break it down into three primary elements.
Wooden Coffee Tables: Stains may range from blonde to ebony, but generally speaking have high visual weight. The darker the stain, the more visual weight the table will have.
Glass Coffee Tables: Because glass is generally clear, it contains virtually no visual weight. If the glass is smoked or frosted, then visual weight increases with the darkness of color.
Fabric Ottomans: Technically ottomans aren’t coffee tables, but today they are frequently used in lieu of tables, so I am including them. Just as with wood and glass, the darker the color, the more visual weight they will score.
So, what exactly does it mean to have ‘more visual weight’? When looking at the space available for furnishings and traffic flow, scale becomes very important. Not only does the designer need to consider how much floor spaces is available, but they must determine how much ‘visual space’ is available before the room looks cluttered or over loaded with furniture.
The larger the visual weight number, the more prominent that piece will appear in a room. For example, a dark stained wooden coffee table will appear much larger than the same size glass coffee table.
For this reason, wooden coffee tables are frequently used in spaces that are larger, or have more open area. The heavy visual weight helps to bridge furniture pieces that are far apart, or may help balance large pieces placed away from each other.
On the flip side, glass is frequently used in smaller spaces, where floor space either appears minimal, or actually is minimal. Glass has the effect of being non-existent in a room. You have all of the convenience and function of a table without visually taking up the room in your design. This can make a small space seem much larger.
Fabric ottomans typically work about the same way as wooden coffee tables, but they have the advantage of being able to be broken apart into multiple pieces, and of being left alone, without accessorizing.
Once you have selected the right material for your coffee table, next, you’ll want to determine the correct shape. We’ll discuss that in Part 2 of Which Coffee Table is Right for My Home?