Looking for Cafe Tables – The New York Occasions

Shopping for Cafe Tables - The New York Times

If you're lucky enough to have some outdoor space – even a little – you might be in the market for a coffee table. Why? A coffee table can turn the smallest outdoor space into a destination for al fresco dining.

A coffee table is smaller than a dining table, but can hold at least two place settings. It's ideal for balconies, pint-sized patios, and intimate garden corners.

"Smaller cafe tables are great additions to adding to living space when you want to take the living room or dining room outdoors," said Samuel Jimenez, senior associate and studio director at J. Mendoza Gardens in New York.

If you live in a vertical city like New York, there is one caveat: it's important to think about wind, warned Jimenez, as light coffee tables "are a bit like sails."

To reduce the chance of your new table blowing away, he suggested choosing a table with a slatted or perforated top. You can also choose a folding model that can be stowed indoors when not in use, or a table with a weighted base.

If all else fails, you should put in a leash. "When we get to higher floors, we need to think about tying furniture to the parapet or a paver," Jimenez said. That way, "no things will be flying around on the rooftop."

  • Which materials are best? Lightweight aluminum is good for transportation, but powder-coated steel and wood are heavier, Jimenez said, which is good if you're worried about wind.

  • What is the optimal shape for the top? A square top gives more room to eat, but "a circle is usually better than a square for a narrow space," said Jimenez, because it's easier to squeeze past.

  • What if you have a big dinner party? If you have a couple of small tables outside, you can always push them together.

Table with acacia wood legs and polystone top

$ 399 at article: 888-746-3455 or article.com

Powder-coated steel table with terrazzo base

$ 495 at Design Within Reach: 800-944-2233 or dwr.com

Portable table with steel legs, linoleum top and leather details

$ 345 at West Elm: 888-922-4119 or westelm.com

28-inch square table made of powder-coated steel with an umbrella hole

$ 346 at Horne: 877-404-6763 or shophorne.com

Table with powder-coated steel base and bamboo slatted top

$ 575 at the Danish Design Store: 866-482-8722 or danishdesignstore.com

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