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Nesting Coffee Tables: A Stylish Solution For Small Space Living

When you’re decorating a small living room, it seems obvious that you should choose furniture that’s on the small side and have less of it. But while it’s important to scale your furniture to the size of the room, sometimes having more individual pieces can actually help save space. Nesting coffee tables are a great example. These stylish, trendy tables give you the surface space of a very large coffee table, but take up a minimal amount of space in your living room.

What Is A Nesting Coffee Table?

An image of a traditional living room. The nesting table in the center is a bit small for the space pushed together, but can accommodate two zones of seating when pulled apart.
Nesting coffee tables consist of two stackable coffee tables that can be moved and re-oriented to fit the changing needs of your small living room (by Homes by Tradition)

So first up: what exactly is a nesting coffee table, anyway? I’ve talked a bit in the past about regular nesting tables, which are a personal favorite accent piece regardless of the size of your home. Simply put, rather than buying a single accent table, you’re getting a set of two or three, each one slightly smaller than the last and made to fit (or nest) together into a perfect stack. Nesting coffee tables are just a slight twist on this idea. They usually feature two larger, rounded tables that you can use separately, stow together, or arrange in an interlocking pattern.

Adjusting Your Table Spacing

An image of a chic modern living room. The nesting tables in the center are pulled only slightly apart.
Keeping your nesting coffee tables almost-all-the-way-stacked saves space, but looks more casually elegant than stowed away (by The Designory)

The big benefit here is flexibility. Coffee tables are an essential part of your living room set. But if your living room is on the small side, a one-size-fits-all solution might not actually be a good fit. A nesting coffee table lets you modify both how much surface space you have and how much space your coffee table takes up. If you’re spreading out a lot of snacks for movie night, you can adjust the tables to maximize room for chips and dip. And when the guests leave and you want more leg room? You can push the tables back together to clear up the center of your living room.

Save Space Without Skimping On The Basics

An image of a small contemporary living room, with a set of nesting coffee tables in the center of the room
It can be tempting to start cutting out extra furniture to save space, but coffee tables are one piece that can actually be better double-stacked (by Tunde Decor)

If you don’t have much square footage to work with, the big fear is that you’ll end up overcrowding your living room just trying to fit all the basics. After all, you can’t really skimp too much on the sofa in a space you’ll use regularly. That can quickly turn into axing slightly-less-essentials (like side chairs, end tables, or even your coffee table) which will save space, but leave your living room less functional. Even opting for a smallish coffee table can come back and bite you; it might keep your living room from feeling crowded, but can feel undersized, and almost certainly will leave you feeling short on surface space.

Save Space By Cutting Corners (Literally)

An image of a casual scandanavian style living room. Two conventional nesting tables are paired with an upholstered round ottoman to create a three-tiered coffee table
Smaller nesting tables intermixed with storage ottomans will give you added storage, more flexibility of seating, and an invitingly casual look that will keep your living room feeling homey (by Interiorbex)

Nesting coffee tables can help split the difference. Traditional coffee tables are square or rectangular and often quite hefty. Interlocking rounded tables occupy the same area, but the clipped corners make them easier to move around. That means clearing up your walkways without giving up all your actual table space. And keep in mind that you have a good amount of wiggle room when aligning the tables. You’ll rarely have them either fully separated or fully nested, but can arrange them anywhere in between to improve the flow of your space and accommodate your furniture (or guests!).

Using White Space To Upsize Your Living Room

An image of a small but upscale traditional living room. The nesting coffee tables in the center are mirrored and gold, enhancing the glamorous feel of the space
Glass or mirrored coffee tables can do double duty in terms of creating (or reflecting) white space, and are great for adding a little glam to a smaller space (by Jo Cowen Architects)

By design, nesting tables have to be leggy and open so one table can fit beneath the other. That means you won’t get much added storage, but they’ll have less visual impact than your traditional coffee table. A good dose of white space that can really help open up a small living room. Even arranged so the tables are mostly separated, the interlocking curves and tiers have a lean, elegant appearance that feels like a centerpiece for your room, but takes up a whole lot less space than a traditional coffee table.

Saving Space With Style

An image of a living room enclosed by a sectional sofa in the foreground and a dining table on the right. In the middle are two rounded coffee tables, un-nested to create a subtly tiered apperance
The tiered appearance of nesting tables gives them a distinctly designer look and feel, despite being smaller and simpler than your average coffee table (by Jefferson Street Designs)

For me, the best part is that nesting coffee tables don’t look like a space saving solution once you actually have them set up. Now, I certainly don’t have anything against multi-function furniture or storage-packed multi-taskers. But sometimes the best way to make a small living room feel big, open, and elegant is to focus on the style rather than just the functionality. A fanned-out set of nesting coffee tables is a great pedestal for small decorative objects. Even if the tables themselves are relatively simple, the cascading design is a great way to add interest and motion to your space…all while getting two tables for the price of one.

It might seem counterintuitive to buy multiple coffee tables when you aren’t sure you have the space for one. But nesting coffee tables are one of the few cases where more is actually less. Being able to adapt your furniture to your needs is one of the best ways to ensure a small living room always feels fresh and usable. Bonus points for looking great doing it!