Coffee table tops chart of tricky furniture buys - Grand Designs Magazine
mid-century modern coffee table

Brits spend 38 days researching furniture buys

Survey reveals the top 10 home furnishings that cause 'purchase paralysis'

By Victoria Purcell |

Research has found that British people spend, on average, 38 days researching furniture buys for their home. This ‘purchase paralysis’ is caused by numerous factors, from too much choice to couples with differing tastes.

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After surveying 2,000 adults, furnishings website found that almost four in 10 (38%) feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of products available, while 31% struggle to commit because they think they will see something better at a later date.

Almost a third (31%) blame indecision on a lack of confidence in their interior design capabilities, and a fifth (21%) worry that others will judge their choices (this was particularly true for 18-34-year olds).

A further 36% find furniture shopping a challenge, unable to find pieces that align with their vision, and a difference of opinion among couples can also delay the process, with almost a quarter (24%) admitting they struggle to reach an agreement.

Yet despite the lengthy search process, Brits still forked out £25.5 billion last year alone on furniture and furnishings, according to

purchase paralysis

Photo: Drobot Dean / Adobe Stock

Lengthy research

The trickiest piece of furniture to buy seems to be the coffee table, with shoppers spending 128 hours on online research and trips to the shops before committing to a purchase.

Coming in second in the purchase paralysis stakes is the dining table and chair set, racking up 85 hours of research. This is closely followed by lighting, such as chandeliers and table lamps, requiring 81 hours of contemplation. And it’s not just big-ticket items causing consternation – even the perfect cushions can take up to 39 hours to find.

Top 10 tricky furniture buys

According to, the 10 most time-consuming furniture buys, in terms of hours spent searching for them, are as follows:

  1. Coffee table – 128 hours
  2. Dining table and chairs – 85 hours
  3. Lighting – 81 hours
  4. TV unit – 61 hours
  5. Sideboard – 56 hours
  6. Chest of drawers – 55 hours
  7. Sofa – 52 hours
  8. Outdoor furniture – 50 hours
  9. Bedside tables – 45 hours
  10. Wardrobes – 43 hours

Conversely, the five fastest furniture buys, in terms of hours spent searching for them, are as follows:

  1. Throws for beds and sofas – 8 hours
  2. Living room rug – 18 hours
  3. Bookshelf – 27 hours
  4. Armchair – 31 hours
  5. Cushions – 39 hours

5 trending coffee table styles

Need a little help with your own buying decision? Take a look at these popular designs on

1. Rattan

Strong, durable and low maintenance, natural rattan works with many different decor styles. The Pretzel rattan coffee table from Desser at John Lewis & Partners is a contemporary design pairing curved cane detailing with a toughened glass top. Rattan grows much faster than wood alternatives, making it a sustainable choice for home furnishings. Plus, every part of the vine is used – the solid core is steamed and manipulated into beautiful shapes, while the outer rattan cane is used for weaving.

glass topped rattan table from John Lewis

Pretzel coffee table from Desser at John Lewis & Partners

2. Marble

A highly searched-for material, marble is a timeless staple of high-end interior design. When it comes to marble coffee tables, you can opt for a stone table top at the more reasonable end of the price spectrum, or invest in a fully marble statement piece. The faux-marble coffee table from Homary offers Penthouse looks at a mid-range price, with four storage drawers to keep clutter at bay, stylish gold trim and clean-cut lines for a contemporary look.

faux marble living room storage with gold trim and drawers from Homary

Faux-marble coffee table from Homary

3. Coffee tables with storage

Storage is always useful, especially around lounge areas where newspapers, remote controls and post can pile up. The Aldwin coffee table has six drawers – three on each side – and can be paired with a matching Aldwin TV stand. Crafted in natural solid light oak and veneer, it channels a Mid-century modern vibe with clean lines, angled, tapered legs and a combination of black and oak drawers.

coffee table with storage in mid-century modern style

Aldwin coffee table from Robin Interiors

4. Extendable coffee table

Multi-functional furniture is ideal for smaller spaces. Just as extendable dining tables are a great way to accommodate extra guests, a coffee table that morphs into a desk or dining table is a great way to adapt your space when working from home or entertaining. The marble-effect Barbican convertible coffee-to-dining table by Pepper Sq expands from 120cm x 170cm to 120cm x 220cm via two internal extension pieces and a gas lifting device. Alternative finishes are also available.

convertible coffee table that transforms into a dining table

Barbican convertible coffee-to-dining table by Pepper Sq

5. Glass coffee tables

A glass-topped piece offers an elegant addition that won’t overwhelm the space or detract from your decor scheme. The Art Deco-style Fultz round coffee table by Canora Grey from Wayfair has a clear tempered glass top and a rose gold stainless steel frame in a geometric hourglass design for a sleek, contemporary look that channels the Roaring 20s.

glass-topped coffee table in art deco style

Fultz round coffee table by Canora Grey from Wayfair