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Barcelona coffee table—any thoughts?

highplains

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Has anyone owned or lived with a Barcelona coffee table? Would you buy it again? I'm trying to decide between the Barcelona table, or the Knoll rectangular coffee table. I like the glass top because we've got an old Persian rug in the living room, and it's nice to be able to see the full medallion and design through the table. And, I'm hoping the glass top will make the space feel lighter and more open. This table would replace a 36" round walnut table, which feels too small.

With the Barcelona table, I'd go with the stainless steel base—17" inch high vs. the 18.5" inch standard chrome base—with the upgraded Starphire glass. Here's what I'm thinking:

  • The table would sit in front of a Florence Knoll sofa in a dark brown fabric. Aesthetically, either would work.
  • I like that the Barcelona table is larger, at 40" x 40". It seems practical to me. You can easily reach the table from the sofa, from different chairs, and actually use it to eat off of, quickly put drinks down, lean over your laptop on a meeting, etc. I don't like coffee tables that sit unused in the middle of a living room.
  • I'm somewhat concerned by the corners on the Barcelona—I've seen some comments about bloody shins. We don't have kids, so no concerns about little humans getting injured.
  • A big square table isn't as easy to walk around, so you've got to mind the corners. I don't know if a rectangular table is any easier, though it has a smaller footprint.
  • With the Starphire glass, I'm wondering if the extra clarity might make the space feel "too nice", if that makes sense. I like the Starphire because it doesn't have the darker blue green tint of standard clear glass, and I thought the brilliant blue edges might add just a bit of contrast.
  • I really love the rectangular Knoll coffee table, but I keep thinking it belongs in an office, not a living room.
If you've ever owned either of these pieces, or if you have strong opinions on coffee tables and materials, I'd be grateful for any thoughts or insights! I'll grab some photos of our space when I'm back home.

Here are a few photos of both tables that I've found around the web, just for reference:

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Gus

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We ordered the Barcelona table and are awaiting delivery. We chose it because of the thick glass, it's size & square shape (both perfect for our living room layout/floor plan) and it's height which is an ideal match for our LR sofas and chairs.
 

Oswald Cornelius

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Sorry I missed your query, but you made the right decision; that is, the one I would have made. The Barcelona table is the most elegant coffee table made, IMHO. It can swing from a modern interior to something much more traditional and works in both. Yes, you'll bang a shin or two, but I've never bled from it.

One word of caution: the top is very heavy, and it's impossible to move without two people; preferably three--two for the top and one to position the base. If you only have two people, you have to put the top down somewhere and move the base into position. With three, two can hold the glass while the base is moved--- you get it, I hope.

Then, when the base is in the correct place, getting the top set in the proper place is more challenging than you'd think. I've taken to using a tape measure and a grease pencil to mark the center with an "X" 4 to 6" large to align with the cross members. It's actually a real PIA, but you won't move it very often because... it's too heavy and a PIA. Okay, that's more than one word. Enjoy.
 

RSS

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After graduating from architecture school and setting up house, a Barcelona table was the first item I purchased. That was more than 40 years ago. I have never had a regret.
 

Gus

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Ordered the Barcelona table a couple of months ago. Local dealer called last week to set up delivery. The day of delivery they called to say, "The base had arrived but not the glass".

Where am I supposed to put my coffee?
 

Oswald Cornelius

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It's occurred to me that the really cool thing about the Barcelona table is it 'transcends' the space (****** word, I know.) What I mean it, it's almost invisible*, and whatever you decide to put on top of it carries the day--candles, books, trays, whatever.) It's simply a genius design that's stood the test of time.

* but if you decide to look at the table itself, it's gorgeous.
 
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Gus

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We had an attractive wood framed glass top table that we had purchased 18 years ago to go in our former home, however, we like the more unobstructed view of the hand knotted rug offered by this glass top and its more MCM contemporary style. It also blends well with our neutral decor.
 

highplains

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Looks really great in your space, Gus!

Update on my end: I did buy the Barcelona table, and now it's sitting wrapped up in the basement. I'll probably hang on to it for use in another room in another house. Couple of thoughts:

  • The table wobbled quite a bit. Any time the dog bumped in to the table (she's a big girl) the frame wobbled and it was enough to spill a topped off mug of coffee. For such a heavy glass top, I was surprised how much movement there was in the frame.
  • There was too much glare. Our living room gets a lot of sun throughout the day. Initially, I liked the reflections coming off the top—it made the space feel much brighter. But the glare was so bright with the shades open that it was blinding from multiple angles throughout the day. It felt like someone was sitting in the living room and reflecting light off a mirror right in to your eyes. I work from home and I found it quite annoying. I went with the extra clear Starphire glass, which probably contributed to the more intense light transmission.
  • It was difficult to keep clean. With the dog hair and the dust, and with all of the light coming in, even the thinnest layer of dust was visible. I was always wiping it down. Never mind the finger prints, the nose prints, and the scratches that show up from every day usage. With the glass, you see all of the dirt, all of the time.
  • I didn't like the sound of the glass. I didn't like how loud it was any time you'd put anything down on the table—a glass of water, a plate, someone drops a phone, etc. It was a noisy piece of furniture.
  • I didn't like having to "baby" it. Coming from a solid wood table, I was used to using the table without having to really think about it. While rushing between meetings during the day, if I accidentally plopped my computer down on the wood top with a bit of force, it was no problem. If my eight year old niece was visiting and wanted to sit on the rug and play Jenga on the coffee table, it was totally fine. If someone dragged a ceramic dinner plate across the top, all good. But with the glass table, all of those actions mostly came to a halt. Don't get me wrong, the glass top on the Barcelona is certainly durable, but you're still "putting things on glass" day-to-day, and we didn't like having to be so gentle all the time.
As for what's next, I'm going back to a wood coffee table: I spent the money and purchased a new Minguren table from the Nakashima folks.

Lastly, the lesson I learned throughout this experience was that I don't actually like glass furniture all that much. It's loud, sharp, bright, and industrial feeling, at least in my opinion. I've always been drawn to dark, warm colors, and we have a lot of wood side tables, bookshelves, credenzas, and so on. I really love the warmth, sound, and durability of solid wood furniture. I also love that the character and color of the wood changes over time: my cherry side tables have darkened to a beautiful whiskey color, and my walnut furniture has lightened and taken on a golden honey color. With the Barcelona table, it felt like I had a piece of a skyscraper in my living room—I just didn't like the vibe.
 
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Gus

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We've had ours since February and love it. It was the ideal choice for looks, style, size. If I had toddlers I might have waited a couple years to get one.
 

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