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The Ultimate Guide


15 Pretty Ways to Decorate and Style a Coffee Table

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    The Art of Coffee Table Styling

    Coffee table styling is a bit of an art. Since coffee tables usually have prominent places in living spaces, they should function and look neat at the same time. Simple displays, like this one from artist Sarah Greenman, are attractive without disrupting the eye. She keeps things tidy with a clear acrylic tray and keeps the focus on books and flowers. Keep these other easy guidelines in mind when decorating your table.

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  • 02 of 15

    Keep It Balanced

    Close up of an elegantly styled coffee table
    Amanda Carol Interiors, photo by Laurie Perez Photography

    Balance is an important component of any coffee table display. One of the easiest ways to achieve visual harmony is with symmetry. On the table styled by Amanda Carol Interiors, three is the magic number. The middle object grounds the display. The smaller piles of books are similar in size to balance the entire display. Three sets of table legs and three sections on display make this table, and as a result the entire room, appear united and orderly.

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  • 03 of 15

    Composition Is Key

    Simple and elegant coffee table display
    Massimo Interiors

    Composing a coffee table display means that you're creating a vignette. The key to a perfect vignette is working with items that tie together as a whole. Items can connect through similar color, style, shape, or theme. A vignette will read as one unit, even if the items differ. In this display by Massimo Interiors, the threads between the objects are subtle. Three objects share rounded shapes while other objects are rectangular. 

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  • 04 of 15

    Use a Tray

    Coffee Table Styling
    Vanessa Francis Design, Photo by K West Images

    There's a simple Pintrest-worthy trick that stylists and decorators, like Vanessa Francis Interior Design, use to make items work together in a display. The right tray can corral items on a table into one elegant and unified presentation. On this table, the tray and most of the vignette is white to keep the look minimal.

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  • 05 of 15

    Size Matters

    Elegant farmhouse coffee table styling
    Park and Oak Interior Design

    When it comes to coffee table styling, items will look best when they're the right size. The items should be large enough so they don't disappear on the table. But, they shouldn't overwhelm the display, or get in the way of function, either. In this display from Park & Oak Interior Design, there's still plenty of room between displays to put down a drink, book, or a remote control.

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  • 06 of 15

    Work With the Room

    Simple coffee table styling in a transitional living room
    Cortney Bishop Design, photo by Andrew Cebulka

    Integrate your coffee table and the items in your display with the rest of your space. In this transitional living room designed by Cortney Bishop Design, the coffee table styling keeps with the rustic tone of the space. The raw wood coffee table is visually as heavy as the wood mantel. The wood bowl and box integrate well with the room.

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  • 07 of 15

    Keep Items Low

    Calming blue living room
    Digs Design Company, photo by Nat Rae

    When creating a coffee table display, avoid tall, heavy objects that obstruct the view of people sitting on either side of the table. Here's a creative way to use pieces of different heights on a coffee table. The display from Digs Design Company incorporates visually light branches to create an airy, see-through effect. It's especially effective with the simple white vase that seems to melt into the white table.

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  • 08 of 15

    Overcrowd With Purpose

    A formal living room is one place where it's appropriate to fill up a coffee table with treasured items. In this formal living room from Alexander James Interiors, multiple tables are used for display items only. Likely this room isn't used for entertaining, but more as a space for museum-quality artwork. 

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  • 09 of 15

    Stay With the Classics

    Elegant coffee table styling
    Jennifer Reynolds Interiors

    If you're unsure what items to place on your coffee table, take your cue from this display by Jennifer Reynolds Interiors. Classic items can include a stack of small, elegant books. Add a pretty floral arrangement. A decorative object or two, such as the antique magnifying glass, cloche, gold spheres, and the wooden box, all provide conversation pieces.

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  • 10 of 15

    Consider Every Angle

    Neutral living room with styled coffee table
    Alexander James Interiors

    Consider how the styling of your coffee table will look from every angle of your living room. The table is often placed in a central area of a room, so people can see it from all angles. This room from Alexander James Interiors includes a bold wood coffee table with two delicate cloches that make an airy display that you can see through from every angle. 

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  • 11 of 15

    Add a Focal Point

    Modern styling on a rustic coffee table
    Urrutia Design, photo by Matt Sartain

    Use one standout piece as a focal point of your coffee table display. The item doesn't have to be large or overwhelming. It can have an unusual shape or color to spark conversation. Or, it could be a bright piece, such as the green flowers featured on the table in this room by Urrutia Design. The eye is immediately drawn to the simple, bright, and fresh color of the flowers. 

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  • 12 of 15

    Add Color With Florals

    Coffee table display
    Jennifer Reynolds Interiors

    A coffee table display will benefit from a floral arrangement of any size. The white hydrangeas used on this table by Jennifer Reynolds Interiors adds a burst of freshness that brings life to the room. Many decorators place a small and sturdy vase of flowers on top of a short pile of books to elevate the beauty of the blossoms. Flowers allow you to experiment with color combinations throughout the seasons.

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  • 13 of 15

    Spark Conversation

    Modern eclectic living room
    Tucker & Marks

    A large coffee table like this one can handle many items. In this eclectic interior by Tucker & Marks, the equally unusual arrangement on the table includes numerous conversation pieces that stay true to the style of the room.

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  • 14 of 15

    Style Top and Bottom

    Sophisticated coffee table styling
    Gabriella Palumbo/Flat 15

    A two-tiered coffee table requires special attention. The bottom shelf of a coffee table can be simpler than the display on the top of the table. But the lower tier still needs balance, composition, and scale. Keep the style of both surfaces similar, but not duplicated, such as this table created by interior designer Gabriella Khalil. Here she placed books, decorative boxes, and other simple objects on the lower shelf, and added a few more decorative items up top.

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  • 15 of 15

    Combine Shapes and Textures

    Pretty coffee table styling
    One King's Lane

    Create visual interest in a coffee table display by mixing shapes and textures. Pair curved items with straight, shiny with dull, textured with smooth, and hard with soft. While most of the items in this display from One King's Lane are square or rectangular, the burst of shapes that comes from the floral arrangement adds contrasting textures.