Choosing an Outdoor Coffee Table

15 Minute Read

Coffee tables probably aren’t the first type of table you’ll think of when we say outdoor furniture, but they are incredibly useful additions to gardens and outside spaces such as in conservatories, under pergolas and in summer houses. Not only are they useful, giving you a place to put your morning cup of tea, or a cool drink in the evening, but with the right styling, they can add to the atmosphere in the space. If a coffee table, or a little side table would be a good addition to your outdoor space, read on – we’re looking at how to choose, and style an outdoor coffee table in this post.

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Choosing Your Outdoor Coffee Table

Like when you’re buying any piece of furniture, when you know the spot that you want to put an outdoor coffee table, there’s a few things to think about before you start browsing.

The Size Of The Space

The size of the space, and where your outdoor coffee table will be situated is the first thing to consider. If it is to be central in the space, you’ll need be sure to leave enough room to walk around the outside. If the coffee table is to sit to one side, are there any obstructions to a certain shaped table fitting there? This will determine the size, and the shape of the coffee table that you can buy. 

How The Table Will Be Used

You’ll need to think about how the table will be used – is it purely going to be used for the odd drink, or does it need to be big enough for board games, or even informal grazing dinners? This will impact on the size of the outdoor coffee table that you choose, but it might also impact the material too.

The Material

You might already have the material in mind, but if not then think about what is already in the space. If there is existing furniture, what material is it made from – do you want to match it, or contrast with it? There are outdoor coffee tables made from a range of materials, including wood, glass, and even metals like iron, but not all these are the right option. Glass can be difficult to keep clean, and iron is heavy – which might not be ideal if the space is multi-use and you need to move the table out the way. Some materials, such as wicker, are perfect in spaces like conservatories, but risk being damaged if they are left outdoors, especially in more exposed areas.

In addition to choosing a table made from a material that you love, and that looks right in the space, you’ll need to think about maintenance. Will you need to treat the table with a new finish each year, or even more often? Will you need to move it indoors through the colder months, and if so, where will you store it? 

Inbuilt Storage

Depending on the space that you’re planning to have your outdoor coffee table in, you might need it to incorporate garden storage, for cushions, blankets, or toys. Exactly how exposed to the elements the table will be, and what you want to store in it will influence the type of table you choose.


We’re all about sustainability here at Ben Simpson Furniture, so it makes sense we’re going to mention it here! The material that the coffee table is made from, the environmental impact of the finish (especially if it is a wood finish), and the distance that it has to travel before it gets to you should all be on your mind. While some woods such as teak can be sustainably grown, they are generally grown in tropical climates, and so the carbon footprint of such furniture is much higher than for other woods. Alternatives such as locally grown pine that has been treated with a suitable finish can offer a similar look, without the environmental impact.

Styling Your Outdoor Coffee Table

When you’ve decided on the right outdoor coffee table for you, then comes styling it. You know we love a great #shelfie, and the same goes for other types of furniture too, so if you’re going to be entertaining guests around your outdoor coffee table, then you’ll be thinking about how to style it. The tips we’re going to share here can definitely be applied to indoor coffee tables and decorating shelves too.

Use The Rule Of Thirds

Think of the space you’re decorating as broken into thirds horizontally and vertically, so you have a nine box grid. When you’re styling your table, add accessories in different sections, to create balance. Your vase of flowers might look better to one side, rather than in the middle – especially if you’re bringing tea and cake out when guests arrive!

Layer Accessories

Adding colour and texture to your outdoor coffee table is easy when you layer accessories. A brightly coloured napkin, woven placemats, or a wooden tray are not essential, but they can help your table to look even better. 

Balance The Height Of Accessories

In addition to balancing the table space, you’ll also need to think about the height of any accessories you place on the table. Taller accessories such as chunky candles or tall vases can be offset by tea lights, trays, or decorative foliage placed directly on the table.

Choose Accessories Carefully 

Although you’ll be styling your outdoor coffee table when you have guests, you still want it to look great when you’re not using it – and the weather in the UK doesn’t allow for certain accessories to stay permanently outside. Finding a plant in a pretty pot that can be easily moved, a vase full of sea shells or pebbles, or a sturdy outdoor lantern will keep your outdoor coffee table looking great in between entertaining.

Less Can Be More

Despite the fact we’re telling you to accessorise, you shouldn’t feel you have to overthink decorating your outdoor coffee table. Less is more, and especially if the space is in regular use, having just one pot plant, or a single candle is absolutely fine, and will mean you don’t have to keep restyling it.

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