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Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Truth About Coffee

Something customers often ask for are "antique coffee tables" and although we now have a dedicated section on our website for them, there is technically no such thing! Tables sold as antique coffee tables are generally tables reduced in height to be used as coffee tables or oriental low tables, which have the appearance of a modern coffee table.

In Europe, the first tables specifically designed as and called coffee tables, appear to have been made in Britain during the late Victorian era, although the coffee table didn't really become a prominent furnishing until the late 19th century and the earliest examples are most commonly an oriental low table style, such as the one below.

Coffee tables are so popular now that we've written this post to give some interior design inspiration to the humble coffee table!

The first, and our personal favourite furnishing to use as a practical and stylish coffee table are chests or trunks. These are not only excellent for providing extra storage, they look great and make very sturdy and stylish coffee tables. Take the trunk below for example, this is an early 19th century leather bound camphor trunk. Both well built and a perfect height (41cm), this trunk would give personality to a modern house or add to the overall style of an older house.

For an even more unusual and quirky choice, the drum below would really be a coffee table with history and a story behind it. Something as simple as a this Scottish Rifles bass drum with a glass top can create a beautiful feature for a room and inject standalone character without needing other antique furniture around it to make it work. (This drum has had a lot of European interest since it's arrival last month so get in contact quickly if you're interested before it leaves Britain for good!)

Our final idea and the most popular over the past few years is a butlers tray and stand, reduced in height to provide an ideal coffee table. These classic traditional trays with the modern convenience of a height reduction are both popular and practical. Butlers used to serve drinks standing and so originally these antique trays would have been around waist high, and although we occasionally stock full height items, by far the most popular use is as a coffee table.
Oak Butlers Tray Coffee Table (Circa 1850)

Our insight draws to a close, although our website never closes so take a look through our current stock for further inspiration or pop into our Newcastle shop to see every item in person. We are often asked to look for an item similar to an item a customer may have seen that is now sold, so do get in touch to make particular requests. 0044(0)191 281 5065 /

Thank you for reading the Graham Smith Antiques blog

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