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How to Style A Coffee Table Like A Pro

How to Style A Coffee Table Like A Pro

Coffee table décor gives a chance to house the final element of your style. Coffee table is the item in the living room that helps all the décor come to place. To identify what is best for you, first choose to buy the perfect coffee table for your loving room and then style it.

In this post, I will give you 6 factors to consider before buying a coffee table, 14 ways to style your coffee table, and 12 coffee table décor arrangements.

How To Choose The Perfect Coffee Table

To choose your perfect center table for the living room, consider a few factors.

1. Scale and Space:

When you are space planning, a good rule of thumb is that you want a coffee table two third the size of the sofa. Average table height is around 18-20 inches. There should be ample space all around to walk. Keep it the same distance of around 18 inches to the sofa. Place your table around 30 inches from the fireplace.

If you have a sectional sofa, then a round coffee table would serve better for easy navigation as compared to rectangular or square. (refer to the image below)

2. Function:

Think utility when deciding what kind of table to buy, the purpose it would serve. Do you need more storage for hiding clothes or toys, or you want a plain surface to serve coffee and snacks, or you want to place magazines and keep it active. If you have kids you'd think of rounder edges. Probably ottoman for a footstool that might also serve as additional seating. Decide the purpose, and then buy.

3. Shape:

Rectangle is among the popular shapes. Round is a personal choice by many. It is great for sectional and curved sofas and also for kids. Sectional sofa serves for placing books and additional daily essentials on the lower rack. Different tiered tables and sculptural tables allow for a more statement look.

4. Material:

When deciding on material, think how it would complement or enhance your living room. Look for natural materials as they are more expensive, but also look better. Think wood, iron, glass, and marble. Check online websites and avail discounts wherever possible. Another is ottoman that offers a textile choice. It is a multifunctional table that offers storage, footstool, and additional seating. If the space is confined you might want for go for clear glass because it would give a illusion of airy space.

5. Finishes:

Your coffee table and side end tables don’t have to be a match. It is better if it doesn’t match. However, look for a common element between them. For instance, a grainy finish, coffee or walnut stain. Know the type of surfaces you’d be working with. Is the table all glass, marble, glass and metal, solid wood, is the surface wood and lower section metal.

6. Style:

Style of coffee table should complement the design of your living room. If you already have one, understand if it’s traditional, contemporary, or transitional. This would help you during the décor. I would suggest you not to buy large and heavy coffee table sets as that are an outdated option and would not fit your current space and needs. Versatility is the current trend. Combine different styles, scale, and sizes of your choice with some uniformity. You can combine organic with clean lines. Also, combining different materials together such as wood, marble, concrete, and metal also work well.

Lets see some of the way of styling your coffee table. A heads up, I am not pro glass table and candles. So my post would not focus that much on the two. But if you like them, décor it as you love to. My personal coffee table favorites are solid wood, and marble. I like the grounded coziness from wood, and visual float of marble. I also love sculptural or plaster textured tables.

Also, I can’t show you all designs in this post as that would make the post bulky. I’ll Pin all the reference images on my Pinterest, so keep an eye out on my Pinterest board for that.

How to Style A Coffee Table Like A Pro

How To Style A Coffee Table

Elevate your living room space with your coffee table. Once you know the material, functionality, kind, and surface, you can then visualize how to decorate it. It also depends on your style statement e.g. minimalist, maximalist, or a mix. The way you'd décor it, would ground the style of your living room. Do not have an empty coffee table. Start with a blank canvas, move and shift objects till you’re satisfied with the execution. I would be discussing a few coffee table arrangements below. This would include coffee table décor ideas, also a few coffee table style ideas that I hope you can visualize.

1. The Rule of 3s:

Use the age old rule of threes 1, 3, 5, 7 and so on. The rule applies for every interior décor because it looks good this way. No matter how many table levels, have elements stacked or layered in odds.

Arrangement One: Coffee table traditional style décor allows you to have more statement objects. So if you have a square glass coffee table, you can make either a vase or an ash tray the statement element, and stack one to three books. If you put both vase and an ash tray, you have a formalized composition.

2. Make a Grid:

Divide four sections for square and rectangle tables, and three sections for a round coffee table. Decorate accordingly. Only decorate grids in odd count, and leave the remaining.

Coffee Table Styling

                                                        Photo by Nathan Oakley on Unsplash

3. Balance Scale:

Use décor objects in varying sizes and heights to maintain a visual balance. Balance scale of the coffee table with the room. Layered tables make great options especially in small living rooms because they can be overlapped and extended according to the requirements. These are versatile and serve good mobility as its pieces can be moved around the house. Create layers with mixing shapes and sizes. Use both linear and circular shapes. Consider high and low heights, and also small and large items. But when you create layers and stacks, do small objects and shorter length.

Arrangement Two: So if you have a trio nesting round coffee table with three levels and heights. Try to keep it as simple as possible, because the table is enough drama to add more. On the smaller tables, place either a little bud vase, a ceramic pottery bowl or a wooden bowl, or a sculptural piece. Leave the biggest table empty. To further play with highs and lows, use tall plants for an illusion of height, and short florals to draw eyes towards the ground.

Arrangement Three: For a twin nesting table decor, either place a decorative vase on the smaller table and leave the taller one empty. Or a contrasting textured sculptural piece on the taller table, and put boxes or bowls with lids of different heights on the shorter table.

Arrangement Four: If you have a double layered transitional rectangle coffee table, it is the perfect way to treat it like a trolley. A contrasting textured sculptural object on top of two stacked styling coffee table books, making a group of three items. Ground it with a small vase with short florals because the scale of the table would already look visually large. Or put a tray to stack some of these to leave more room for entertainment.

Arrangement Five: If you have a simple transitional coffee table with a plain surface such as wood grain, up the look with high and low elements. Use a contrasting textured vase and place tall twigs, or a small bowl with short colored florals. Place a small artsy item on top of two books for a more lived in and well put appearance. Play with the look for your satisfaction and put one of each item to make the odds.

4. Contrast Colors and Textures:

Think about décor object that play off colors and textures of your coffee table. For neutral colored table, go with a bold color palette. Mellow the white starkness with nature inspired décor colored objects. If the table top is a high gloss finish, showcase matte texture and bold colors to cast away eyes off the gloss. Likewise, put shiny objects on a matte table. For a black coffee table or dark wood, contrast with light elements. A clear transparent glass is a versatile option for any look and color.

Arrangement Six: So if you have a high glossy table top in traditional or transitional style, first bring to it a pop of bold color to push back the glossiness. Think primary color décor objects and florals. Secondly, play with textures. Contrast glossiness with matte texture. Place a matte textured sculptural piece or ash tray.

Arrangement Seven: For a contemporary textured statement coffee table such as rough wooden logs either vertical or horizontal, play against the statement by using contrasting textures. Contrast roughness with clear glass vase, tall florals, and textured sculptural item. This is a great example of a modern coffee table décor.

5. Add a Decorative Tray:

Use that tray to give the décor a collective look. I mentioned tray up a few times. It is a practical approach to round out the collection on your table, and make your table less busy. It gives structure and symmetry to the coffee table, and ground all the elements in place to not make them occupy free space you would need for yourself. You can easily remove the tray and empty the table top during entertainment. I will give you a few ways to coffee table tray décor.

My personal favorites are a wooden tray, woven wicker texture tray, ceramic tray, and gold accent tray. These could be a few of coffee table tray ideas for you and then some. Wicker is also trending.

Arrangement Eight: On a wicker tray, ground together unique shaped objects of contrasting texture in your color palette. You can also put coffee table accessories like coasters, or stack books of different sizes, making a visual pyramid. If the tray is big, you even put a vase, or one to three glasses. Or keep it simple, take a decorative wooden tray and level object heights. Put a pair of identical small artsy pieces in similar texture, and one contrasting little glass bud bowl. You'd get the style, keep the remaining table blank.

Arrangement Nine: Ottoman coffee table is the perfect option for putting a tray to level the surface. Décor with organic materials but more so, contrast the texture.

6. Hand Pick a Side to Décor:

After forming the grid, avoid decorating all the sections. If the table is large, decorate one side and leave the rest blank. Avoid busying your table.

Arrangement Ten: A simple approach to decorating a transitional coffee table is that you place a ceramic planter on one corner of the table with an indoor plant. Leave the remaining table blank. (as styled in the image above)

7. Go Minimal: 

This is for the minimalists. Also, a chance for you to splurge on one statement item and showcase it on the table. Likewise, get a statement coffee table and go minimal with the look.

Arrangement Eleven: For instance, a contemporary tree root coffee table that is in itself, a sculptural art statement. Do not put another sculptural piece on it. Instead, get a contrasting textured bowl or a glass vase, and put a green plant in it. The vase would contrast and the greens would complement the table. By splurging on one object is the perfect way to go minimal.

Arrangement Twelve: If you buy a transitional double layered wood and gold accent coffee table that would already be a statement item in itself. If the top surface is solid wood with gold accents for edges, put the contrasting gold accent planter or vase with a low maintenance plant. Leave the rest of the table empty. On its lower level, you may stack books or any essentials.

8. Indoor Lush:

Green plants drive more nature into your space than does the florals. Think low maintenance plants and put them in small jar or vase on the coffee table.

9. Do Seasonal Versatility:

Your center coffee table offers a great medium for seasonal décor. Fresh blooms for spring, sea shells for the summer beachy vibe, place pumpkin items for Fall coffee table decor, and light a candle to make your winter cozy.

10. Show your Personality:

Put an item of your passions or memories on the table such as seashells, or artsy figurines made by you.

11. Add Entertainment:

Put your tv remote in the tray. If you like playing games, have a deck of cards in the tray. If you have a sectional table, put your favorite board game on the lower section.

12. Focus Clean and Function:

If your living room is an active place, then put bowls or baskets with lids on to house everyday functional essentials on the table to clear clutter. These could be stationary, papers, tv remote, cup coasters.

13. Keep it Activity Oriented:

Put your current favorite items on the table as encouragement to use, such as coffee table books or magazines. Don't forget to focus on the cover and its colors.

14. Do a 360 Degree Check:

When you think of coffee table décor, look for objects that give the same visual from all angles i.e. they should same from all the four sides of the table. Do not put those objects on table that only offer one view. A photo frame for instance is not for coffee table but for wall cabinetry, mantle, or book shelf.


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Related post:

Interior Design Trends 2021


  1. We totally went for the rule of 3 when buying our coffeetable, or should I say coffeetables, because there are 3. They vary in size and height, so perfect for us :)

    1. aww that's great. thanks for reading Renata. much love <3

  2. Mixing shapes and textures to create some visual interest is a cool tip!

  3. I don't have a coffee table but I have an area in my sitting room that I could style this way as I love the vibes of this. Thanks for this inspiration!

  4. I'm so not good at home decortication and décor. These are great. I'm going to try them for my three tables in my living room! Great post.

  5. I love your styling tips and the pictures your descriptions create in my head. I enjoy classy, minimalist, simple, but eye-catching decorations and, since a coffee table is meant to be used, plenty of space on the actual table. I am a fan of the rectangular tables, but the round ones do have their own unique edge (pun intended!).
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. haha! Actually i love a rectangle and square too. More classy. and thanks for the lovely review. <3

  6. These are great styling tips! I don't own a coffee table but I like the way these look.

  7. we have a coffee table but we don't put anything on it. we use it primarily for drinks or food.

  8. I’m loving your stylist tips. I have round tables and it takes a good few readjustments until I’m happy with the final look. I’ll use these tips next time and see how it goes. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Loved reading this and seeing how people organise their coffee tables. I really do think the organisation of the table makes the room x

  10. Great ideas, we love to change the style based on the season. We have Halloween style these days.

  11. Great ideas,I’m loving your stylist tips.

  12. Wow this is packed with so many helpful tips! I'm actually looking for buying some new coffee tables soon so I'm excited to look back on these tips especially with adding décor items, I never knew it should be with odd numbers! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Oh wow! This was really eye opening and so detailed! Thank you. I definitely think my coffee table doesn't work on the scale and size factor and its such a good way to check if it adds up. I need to figure it out but this post was just really useful.

  14. Great tips! I am too not a massive fan of glass tables, mainly because I know I would drop something on it and smash it haha!
    Also great tip with the odd numbers styling, always go by this when styling anything! Fab post, thanks for sharing your tips!
    Aimsy xoxo
    Aimsy’s Antics

  15. Such a great little guide to style a coffee table, Isa, I like a very simple one, not cluttered by everything else. Possibly a plant, or a pot of flowers and nothing else! Thank you for sharing this x

  16. These are great tips! I'm always partial to having 3 simple items stacked neatly on a coffee table.

  17. These are all such great tips! I have a degree in interior design, but haven't worked in that field in ages. This brings me back to all of those valuable lessons I learned. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Ruth| Ruthiee loves Glamour11 October 2021 at 14:51

    I do not have a coffee table but I have a centre table that could use some styling. I love the tips about showing your personality and adding entertainment.

  19. Some fantastic tips! I love coffee tables, they can reaaally make a living room look so much better. I also didn't know about the rule of 3, that's something to keep in mind!

  20. Wow, who knew there was a whole science behind the art and care of coffee table arrangements! Very detailed post, thank you for sharing so many possible arrangements. We have a beautiful wooden mid-century modern coffee table that I picked up for a song on Craigslist. Besides seasonal flowers, we'll rotate big art books from the library, so our coffee table styling stays fresh.

  21. Some amazing advice for styling coffee tables! I think adding those extra touches is key and can really make the room stand out! x

    Lucy |

  22. Oh my! This is so perfect! I work in the real estate industry and this is amazing advice for home staging x thank you!

  23. Wonderful post! I'm a big fan of stacking coffee tables I think it looks super sleek!

  24. Loved reading all these tips on how to decide and style your coffee table! Will sue them for sure in the future when i will remodel our house back home x

  25. I've never designed a coffee table yet but these are some solid tips! Hopefully there are pics to help us visualize them. You've included some art principles in here which make it better. Thanks for sharing!

  26. This is such a detailed post on how to style a coffee table. It is exactly what I need. I have been trying to style our "coffee table" which is a covered folded up bed for years. I think it's important to get the aesthetics in a house down because it can affect your mood and productivity. I'm glad to know after reading your article that my latest styling seems to follow your advice!

  27. I love your tips. I HATE my coffee table, I'd get rid of it if I could.


  28. Lovely ideas! I am making some autumn decorations and could use your tips as I go on. Thank you for sharing!

  29. Great styling tips! I'm definitely more of a minimalist when it comes to styling my coffee table. I usually just have one statement item on show :)

  30. This is such a helpful style guide and will be helpful for people who are looking to decorate or add some furniture to an already decorated room. Thank you for sharing.


  31. Great styling tips, I just started decorating my home and I picked up a thing or two from your post. I never know how to style my coffee table now I have an idea to :) Thank you.

  32. Girl, you rock at this. I'm terrible at decorating. I appreciate people who can turn spaces into an atmosphere of its own. You can tell a lot by someone's coffee table, haha. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    1. haha, i hope it helps. If you want more visual reference, have a look at my Pinterest decor board. Or else, just google them to your liking. Thanks a lot for reading. I appreciate it. :)


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