Glass coffee tables first started being made in the early part of the 20th century, when artisans were experimenting with new materials, but they really came into fashion in the 1960′s when a new clean modernistic approach to interior design was taking off. Glass had all the attributes that heavy old-fashioned wooden coffee tables didn’t. Instead of fussy carving which caught a lot of dust, it had smooth clean lines whether the glass was shaped in a squares or cubes, or into an oval or rounded look. Glass went particularly well with the other element of modern design, chrome, which was often used as table legs.
The modernistic look has never really gone out of fashion. In the 1980′s glass tables took off again, and in the 21st century, new methods of casting the glass into interesting ergonomic shapes has meant that glass coffee tables are back in fashion.
The other advantage of glass is that it is very easy to keep pristine because the surface is smooth enough to be wiped clean with no nooks and crannies for dust to get into.
What to look for when you are buying glass coffee tables
There are two types of glass used to make these tables – tempered glass and annealed glass. Tempered glass is much stronger. It is produced by heating it to just below melting point and is then blasted with cold air to cool it very quickly. This toughens it and makes it scratch proof, and also changes it’s properties. When tempered glass breaks, it shatters into small rounded pieces that have no edge. Annealed glass is slow-cooled, and produces a very tough glass, but one that breaks into sharp pieces when shattered.
Given that glass coffee tables will be in family homes, choose a tempered glass table as it is safer in the event of an accident (sometimes the type of glass is labelled, but often it is not – press the salesman to find out for you before you purchase). If you can, choose a table with a slight tint to the glass so that it is visible at all times. Tables with rounded edges rather than square edges are safer, especially if you have a house full of children running around bumping into all the furniture.
Think about what you will be using the table for before you buy it. Will it have to hold your remote control and all your magazines as well as coffee cups? Then choose a heavy table with a second layer underneath where you can store things. The general rule of thumb is that the more you intend to put on the table, the heavier it’s construction should be.
The other important thing is the height of the table. Take into account the height of your sofas – your coffee table should be either the same height or slightly lower. If it is higher than the sofas, the proportions of the room will look wrong.
Chosen carefully, glass coffee tables can add a touch of sophistication and modernity to the look of your living room.