Choosing a coffee table for your home

Nothing is quite as stylish, classy or sophisticated as a beautiful, ornate coffee table. Whatever your style, here’s some tips.

1. Be cautious when purchasing furniture. Solid wood may mean particleboard and medium density fibre-board (MDF). These will not last under heavy use so always ask specifically what kind of wood was used. Solid oak, cherry or ash are great choices.

2. To finish an unfinished coffee table, the toughest seal is a polyurethane varnish. This contains alkyd resins, polyurethane plastics and additives to help it dry and create a bulletproof plastic barrier.

Tip: Water-based polyurethane has several advantages over oil based: it has less dry time, it is self-levelling (to create a smooth surface), it is nearly odourless and easy to clean up.

3. The following solutions will help remedy water damage on wood: Soak a piece of cheesecloth with hot water and three drops of ammonia. Rub the wood and then go over the entire area with a soft oiled cloth. Or use an organic stripper and stripping pad. Wash and apply wood bleach. Apply a solvent-based urethane stain to refinish. Or simply sand and refinish.

4. To get rid of water spots on wood, lay a thick blotter over the spot and press with a warm iron until the stain is gone or rub mayonnaise and fireplace ashes onto the spot. Leave for an hour and remove excess. Or wipe the area with lemon oil or petroleum jelly.

5. Reduce the appearance of scratches on a coffee table by wiping with mineral oil. Remove excess.

6. To remove dark rings on a wooden coffee table, sand and then mix oxalic acid with water until crystals will no longer dissolve. Apply with synthetic brush until wet. Leave to dry. Rinse with water, sand and finish. Do this outdoors and wear a mask.

7. If the drawers on your wooden coffee table are sticky, rub on clear Briwax or other paste wax. This will make a huge difference unless the drawer is in need of repair.

8. To determine the appropriate coffee table size, allow a minimum of 15 inches between the edge of the couch and coffee table.

9. The standard height of a coffee table is 16 inches — if eating at it, 25 inches and modern coffee tables can be as low as 11 inches. Typically coffee tables should be the same height as the other seats in the room.

10. If you cannot locate the perfect coffee table, consider having one custom built by a skilled craftsperson. That way you won’t have to settle.

11.Currently, the most popular coffee table is a chrome-glass combo. This can serve as a multi-purpose unit in any room.

12. Add uniqueness to your living space by investing in a multi-function coffee table. New on the market are acrylic-seal fish tank tables. These come with a complete lighting kit and filters. Adjustable height tables, removable-tray tables and tables that double as chess game surfaces are also popular.

13. Glass tops can protect wooden tables but moisture may get trapped between glass and wood. Use rubber bumpers (available at most glass shops) to create air space thus allowing wood to breathe.

14. Before purchasing a coffee table ask yourself; what function will the coffee table serve? What style will best combine with your existing style? What is your budget? What are your space requirements?

Tip: Shop around; antique shops are worth a visit.

15. Select a decorative object (or collection) for the tabletop i. e. a vase of flowers, blown-glass bowl, candle grouping or a collection of coffee table books.

Tip: Leave at least enough space for a coffee cup.

Important Information: If you screamed continuously for eight years, seven months and six days you would produce enough energy to heat coffee (to put onto your coffee table). See how it all comes back to the coffee table?

Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and the soon-to-be-released book Household Solutions 3 the Green Edition available online and in stores across Canada. She graduated as a home economist from the University of Manitoba and speaks professionally on the subject of fixing life’s messes by using products behind everyone’s cupboard doors. As well as being a columnist, Reena can be heard on radio and TV programs across Canada and the U. S.

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