8 Unique Alternative Coffee Table Ideas Under $300

Get the living room storage you need for less with these ingenious coffee table alternatives.

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June 07, 2021

Coffee tables can be surprisingly expensive. In the past, we've seen some of our favorite pieces go for anywhere from $400 to $1,000. (For reference, that's about half the cost of a new loveseat or sofa. Ouch.) Obviously, you need somewhere to put mugs, books, remotes and more, but how do you get it without spending a small fortune? You break the rules.

Here are eight coffee table alternatives that will give you the same style and functionality as a traditional coffee table, but will cost you less than $300.

C Side Tables

If you're short on space, a C table can be an excellent solution. In an instant, you can slide the table from the arm of your sofa to your lap and use the sturdy top to hold drinks, display books or send emails from your computer. And because a C table is more compact than a standard coffee table, you can often get a stylish one for a lot less.

Nesting Tables

Consider this one of our favorite design hacks. Instead of splurging on a full-sized coffee table, you can get the same surface area at a fraction of the cost with a set of nesting tables. Simply arrange them waterfall-style in the center of your space and slide them together whenever you need room to stretch out.

Storage Ottomans

When in doubt, put a storage ottoman to work in your living room. Their geometric silhouettes have the same presence as a coffee table, and you can add a serving tray to the top to corral remotes, game controllers and other loose items. Best of all? You can use your ottoman as a footrest at a moment's notice.

Tiered End Tables

Here's an easy way to step up your living room storage game: Opt for a tiered end table. These units typically have three to four shelves, and so give you a cheaper (but just as convenient) spot for mugs, remotes and more. If it were up to us, we'd arrange everything in order of importance, with drinks on top and books down at the bottom.

Vintage Trunks

If you love the carefully curated look, try using a vintage trunk in place of a coffee table. Their lids are the perfect flat surface for candles and other cute decor, while their large storage compartments can hold extra throw pillows, blankets, board games, toys and more. Plus, their latches and handles will easily add a sense of history and character to your living area.

Side Tables With Baskets

Side tables with baskets make great coffee table stand-ins. They're tall, so you can keep personal items within arm's reach, and they offer a flat surface for beverages, plus storage for books, magazines, blankets and more. Just remember that a fabric basket will help hide your odds and ends from view, while a wire basket will make them more conspicuous.

Garden Stools

Nothing says that you have to use garden stools outside. Give yourself an affordable perch for fresh flowers, books and more by repurposing one of these stools into a coffee table. What they lack in surface area, they more than make up for in style. Bonus: They'll help you maintain a clutter-free environment.

Practical Pairs

Create the illusion of a traditional coffee table (at a fraction of the cost) by putting two identical side tables or ottomans right next to each other. We love this solution because it also allows you to move and use the end tables independently, like in the event that you had company.

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