If I scrolled too fast, I might have missed it. The first time I laid eyes on this particular clear coffee table, it was sitting in writer Haley Nahman’s Brooklyn living room, perched atop a Cold Picnic rug. It was littered with books, a zen garden, and other comforting ephemera that, on account of its glass makeup, all effectively appeared to be floating. I loved the unadorned, simple look of the coffee table and coincidentally happened to be redecorating my place for the umpteenth time since lockdown. I made a mental note to look for a similar style — and so did Instagram’s algorithm, apparently.
Not long after, I scrolled upon another version, again on a Cold Picnic rug, except this one was just a single shiny slab of acrylic. In the ensuing weeks, it seemed like all my feed consisted of were images of the table, in various iterations of glass and acrylic, sitting in the plant-strewn dwellings of other writers, artists, and cool influential-types on Instagram, including a stacked acrylic side table in best-selling author Samantha Irby’s living room. (Though Irby’s floor was bare, most of the people who own these tables also seem to harbor a penchant for Cold Picnic.)
It would make sense to blame the minimalist trend for the current ubiquity of this understated coffee table, which has been around in one form or another for years. But my Instagram skulking also revealed that maximalism played a part in its popularity. Many people have reacted to the somber mood of this past year by tabling their AirSpace goals, fending off their sadness with cozy clutter, loud hues, chaotic patterns and enough plants to rival the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. And what better way to temper it all than with a table that is less of a shout, more of a whisper? By virtue of its see-through design, the clear coffee table essentially acts as a blank canvas, deferring to the decorative whims of its owner.
With that in mind, we reached out to eight stylish people who own (and have enthusiastically Instagrammed) these tables, in various shapes, vintage and new, to find out where and why they purchased theirs.
Jazmine Rogers, @thatcurlytop
After months of hunting for a clear coffee table that would take up less space in her colorful California home, Jazmine Rogers, the sustainable fashion influencer known as @thatcurlytop, found an acrylic one, identical to this Safavieh table, from OfferUp. “I prefer to buy my furniture secondhand because it’s cheaper and better for the environment,” says Roger. Pleased with how seamlessly the table fit in her space, she bought an acrylic side table to match. “They’re both my pride and joy.”
Haley Nahman, writer
“My glass coffee table was one of the first things I bought when I moved into my apartment. The furniture I already had was super warm—woodsy and velvety—and I wanted something that would offset that a bit,” Nahman tells me. When she saw this one from Studio Classon on Houzz, she loved its rounded corners and greenish tint. “It reminded me of a ‘70s pool house (a feeling I can’t really substantiate via Google search). It’s still one of my favorite pieces of furniture. We keep magazines and art supplies on its shelf, and it’s nice that we can see all of it without having to bend down.”
Ilya and Eve, @Brownstone_Voyeur
What the couple behind Brownstones of Instagram found most appealing about their glass waterfall table was that it added a modern touch to their historic brownstone while keeping the focus on the room’s original details, “like [the] bay windows, stained glass and crown moldings.” “An added bonus,” says the duo, “is that it is substantially sized without feeling like it takes up all the space in the room — airy in the best possible way!”
Hannah Baxter, writer and editor
Hannah Baxter, senior beauty editor at Coveteur, went for a “more sculptural” version, settling on this one from All Modern. “I have a lot of color and texture throughout the rest of my apartment, so I enjoy the contrast of both a different material and the lack of color, which allows my Cold Picnic rug to take center stage in the living room,” says Baxter. “The only downside so far is that it shows kitty paw prints, and he’s run into the bottom panels a few times since there’s no outer framework to mark the edges. That bit of comedy is entirely worth the price tag.”
Becky Simpson, illustrator
For those working with limited space, there are smaller versions of the coffee table too. Illustrator Becky Simpson found hers at Home Depot. “I wanted something small and understated, hence why I went acrylic to keep the focal point on the colorful Moroccan rug. Apparently, you can also stand this coffee table on its side and it makes for a handy end table as well.”
Alyssa M. Julian, sustainability expert
Alyssa M. Julian, community lead at The Good Trade, also bought an acrylic table to give her Cold Picnic rug the floor, if you will. “But I also love the versatility,” she says. “It blends so seamlessly into the other decor, but I know that we could completely change the look by layering it with a pouf or square side table underneath.” Julian’s table, alas, is also vintage, but this one from Fox Hill Trading is very similar.
Emma Currie, artist and illustrator
Melbourne artist Emma Currie also got her table — which bears an uncanny resemblance to this one from CB2 — used, and intended to only keep it as a placeholder. But she quickly grew fond of how easily it blended with the soft, neutral colors of her space. “It sits unobtrusively in the room and can be as minimal as you’d like, depending on what you feel like placing on it,” she says.
Miki Carter, @plot.twist.interiors
Miki Carter’s specter-like acrylic side table may not exactly count as a coffee table, but it was too interesting not to include. “I’ve never seen acrylic look like cloth before,” says Carter, the interior design enthusiast behind @plot.twist.interiors. “I live in an 120 year old haunted building, so I also like that it resembles a little ghost friend.”
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