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But if this is one of those small things that bothers you not to know or if you're into trivia, you're in the right place. The differences are very little; their history and their height.
According to eHow.com, "before the 19th century, low-lying tables were referred to as cocktail tables..." and "...were used for placing drinks and books." They especially became popular during the Roaring 20's when many people were having cocktail parties.
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Some sources say that cocktail tables have no age, that the year of their creation is a mystery, while others say the 1800s or around that time. Few people can agree on when coffee tables were created too, but there is one thing that's true about them, they get their name from holding up "coffee-table books."
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Nancy Baldwin of Examiner.com tells it like this, "while coffee tables are usually 16-18" in height, cocktail tables have a history of being slightly taller at 20-22"." Coffee tables also need to be sturdy, sturdy enough to hold a large coffee-table book, while a cocktail table is usually daintier.
(Our very own Mission Coffee Table from our website, http://cityliquidators.com/detail.php?t=Home&Item_ID=T719-9, for only $399)
(Our Classic Proportions Cocktail Table for sale for only $349 at http://cityliquidators.com/detail.php?t=Home&Item_ID=T719-9)
There are also apparently a set of unspoken rules that come with them, according to Jennifer Taylor Design. The rules are as follows:
- Allow about 18" between the sofa and the table.
- The height of your table should be within 4" of the height of your sofa.
- The length of your table should be about 3/4 the length of your sofa.
There were also some sources that commented on shape, but in the end, they said completely opposite things; that one was square and/or rectangular while the other was more circular and/or oval. But so many sites clashed on this issue that we decided to skip it. If you find anything new out though, we'd love to hear it!
But at the end of the day, coffee or cocktail, both serve essentially the same services. Just choose the one that looks and feels the best in the space it is going in and you'll be just fine.
- Baldwin, Nancy. "Accent Tables: Coffee or Cocktail?" Examiner.com. AXS Digital Group LLC, 19 Aug. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.examiner.com/article/accent-tables-coffee-or-cocktail>.
- Eglan-Garton, Kate. "Coffee Table Vs. Cocktail Table." EHow. Demand Media, 26 Dec. 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.ehow.com/facts_5798851_coffee-table-vs_-cocktail-table.html>.
- Taylor, Jennifer. "Will It Be a Coffee or a Cocktail?" Jennifer Taylor Design. Blogger, 31 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://jennifertaylordesign.blogspot.com/2012/08/will-it-be-coffee-or-cocktail.html>.