Antique Coffee Tables


Chinese Altar Table

Antique Coffee Tables

Designed to provide a useful place for that all-important cup of coffee and magazine, coffee tables have earned their place in all well-dressed living rooms. An antique coffee table is perfect for creating a unique look whilst adding a charming touch of history to your home. Here at Shimu, we offer a wide range of beautiful coffee tables in a wide range of sizes and designs, including antique Chinese coffee tables, which we think you’ll find are elegant and practical pieces of furniture.

The history of the coffee table

The coffee table, a staple in many homes today, has an intriguing yet relatively short history. Its origins can be traced back to England, where it emerged during the late Victorian era. This period saw a surge in coffee's popularity, leading to a demand for a specific kind of table where people could conveniently place their cups (often for tea, but occasionally for coffee) while lounging on sofas.

Initially known as "tea tables" due to tea's dominance over coffee, these tables were first placed centrally in rooms but gradually found their place in front of sofas. The first wooden tables, which were specifically designed as coffee tables, were made during the late Victorian era in Britain, particularly in the year 1868 when a table designed by E W Godwin was listed as a 'coffee table'.

By the early 20th century, they had become a common feature in coffee houses and cafes.

Originally, these tables were modest in size and often round, supported by a single leg in the centre. Crafted from various materials, including wood and marble, they were both functional and decorative. As their popularity soared, the design of coffee tables evolved, becoming larger and more intricate, featuring multiple legs, drawers, and shelves.

The design of coffee tables underwent significant changes in the early 1900s, influenced by major design movements. The Art Deco movement introduced sleek, geometric designs, while the Arts and Crafts movement focused on simple, handcrafted furniture. The mid-century modern era further evolved the design, with coffee tables often made of wood and metal, characterised by clean lines and simple forms.

In recent years, there has been a shift towards more minimalist and streamlined designs, reflecting contemporary trends in interior design and living space utilisation. From their simple beginnings to their current status as a central piece of home decor, coffee tables have evolved to offer both functionality and style, adapting to the changing needs and tastes of society.

Antique Coffee Tables in the UK: A Market Overview

The UK has seen a burgeoning interest in antique coffee tables. This trend, while rooted in nostalgia, is also a reflection of modern homeowners' desire for unique pieces that stand out and tell a story.

Several factors have propelled the popularity of antique coffee tables in the UK:

  • Nostalgia and Sentimentality: There's an undeniable charm in owning a piece of history. Antique coffee tables, with their tales of bygone eras, offer homeowners a slice of the past, making them cherished additions to any living space.
  • Sustainability: In an age where sustainability is paramount, antiques are a nod to eco-friendly living. Instead of purchasing new, mass-produced furniture, many are turning to antiques, reducing the demand for new resources and championing the ethos of reuse and recycle.
  • Unique Design and Craftsmanship: Modern mass-produced furniture, while functional, often lacks the character and uniqueness of antiques. The intricate carvings, craftsmanship, and attention to detail found in antique coffee tables are unparalleled, making them sought-after pieces.
  • Investment Potential: Beyond their aesthetic and functional appeal, antiques, especially well-preserved pieces from renowned periods or makers, can be sound investments. Their value often appreciates over time, making them assets in every sense of the word.

Shimu, with its curated collection of oriental antiques, has tapped into this growing demand, offering UK homeowners a range of exquisite coffee tables that are both functional and steeped in history. Their pieces, sourced with care and authenticity in mind, have become benchmarks in the antique coffee table UK market, marrying the allure of the East with the design sensibilities of the West.

The Allure of Antique Dark Wood Coffee Tables

A Blend of Tradition and Modernity
Our antiques collection usually includes a selection of beautiful antique dark wood coffee tables which always prove popular with design-conscious customers. A testament to the timeless allure of traditional craftsmanship blended with modern aesthetics, these pieces, often crafted from sturdy woods like elm, embody a robustness that is both practical and visually appealing. A darker wood finish also adds a touch of sophistication and ensures that these tables can withstand the test of time, both in terms of durability and style.

Versatility in Design
One of the most striking features of these coffee tables is their versatility. Whether you have a contemporary setting or a more traditional decor, these tables seamlessly integrate into your living spaces. Their designs range from intricately carved pieces, reflecting the rich heritage of Chinese artisanship, to more minimalist styles that suit modern tastes.

Coffee tables to suit all homes and interiors

At Shimu you’ll find that our collections of new and antique furniture include tables to suit all homes and interiors. From antique coffee tables and reproduction pieces to side tables and dining tables in contemporary designs, we have something for everyone.


Our ever-changing collection of original Chinese antique furniture is carefully selected by us before being sympathetically restored and shipped to the UK. Our range normally includes imposing wooden trunks, carved coffers, kang tables, day beds and traditional low tables; all perfect for use as coffee tables in modern interior settings. All of our antique coffee tables and furniture items are available to order from our website for convenient direct delivery to your home. Alternatively, why not visit our light and airy showroom which is located in Albion Mills, Greengates, West Yorkshire?

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