staged for upsell

There is a specific piece of furniture in every home that wears many different hats – the coffee table. It is a piece you gather around with family and friends. You may use it as a dining table from time to time, a foot rest, a work desk and sometimes even a place to play board or card games. Inevitably it is also common for a coffee table to end up as a catch all for things used on a daily basis that no one quite knows where to put away (like your TV’s three separate remotes and the latest novel you have on the go). Because of this it can be difficult to actually know what to put on your coffee table in terms of decor, so here are our tried and true tips to styling a coffee table.

1. Based on your coffee table’s size, figure out how many groupings to add. If you have a small table, one grouping in the centre of the table may be enough. If you have a long rectangular, or a large square table, section your table off into quadrants. In each quadrant you will create a grouping. Remember the odd numbers rule: groupings are more pleasing to the eye when you have an uneven number of items grouped together.

2. Ground your groupings. To ground specific groupings, we usually use large coffee table books, or shallow baskets and trays. It is important to add something to ground the smaller objects, otherwise you might end up with a coffee table that looks like it has a random assortment of accessories which are just “floating” there waiting to be put away. For extra functionality, use a decorative box to hide away your TV remotes, pens and notepads you might need within easy reach but don’t necessarily want to be looking at all the time.

3. After you have grounded your groupings, then you can start adding smaller accessories to fill in the blanks. At this stage you can get really creative with what you add to your coffee table. We like to mix it up with pretty decor accents and small practical things which you can use for every day life. Accessories such as small wicker baskets with lids (great for odds and ends) and pretty coasters are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Now that you know the process we go through when styling a coffee table, here are a few extra tips to help you achieve a magazine worthy display.

Your groupings and accessories need to be in proportion with your coffee table. For example, if you have a large coffee table, don’t use only tiny accessories, and vice versa. The size difference will become exaggerated and will be unpleasing to look at – even if you can’t really pinpoint why.

The accessories you choose to use should be of varying heights, sizes, colours, shapes, and textures. You can’t achieve a harmonious coffee table display if all of the decor looks the same. For example, if you are using a clear glass vase in one of your groupings, don’t place another clear glass accessory within that grouping. Instead add something with a totally different texture like a wicker decorative sphere.

ALWAYS use plants. Whether real or faux, we never style a coffee table without plants. You can use a vase with tall greenery, a small succulent, or dried grasses. Whatever type of plant you choose, it will give your display the additional colour and texture it needs to feel harmonious and complete.

Make sure the accessories feel balanced. If you have a tall vase with greenery on one side, and a single candle on the other, your arrangement will visually be “heavier” on the side with the greenery. Try adding some additional pieces to the side with the candle to give it some extra weight. When you have multiple groupings on a large table, distribute this visual weight evenly using a combination of heights, shapes, and textures (as discussed in point #2).

Finally, every coffee table needs at least one candle and various books (if you only have one grouping then one or two books is likely enough)! Try stacking large books as their own grouping. Then you can add the novel you have on the go to the top of the stack and it won’t look out of place.

Remember, there can be a fine line between a perfectly styled coffee table and a table that looks too cluttered. Make sure your accessories relate to each other and the overall feel of your home; if you ever look at it and think it’s too much, then it probably is. Take a couple of pieces away and redistribute the rest while keeping our other tips and tricks in mind.

Happy coffee table styling!



Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up now to receive our FREE “Styling a Coffee Table” e-book plus decorating news & tips.

Sign up for our newsletter

Receive our free “styling a coffee table” e-book plus decorating news and tips.

Thanks for subscribing.