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We love the look of a styled coffee table to give your living room a pulled-together feel. When you think of your coffee table as more than just a surface for setting drinks and a book or two, you can create a stylish addition to your decor. When styling your coffee table, you’ll want to keep functionality in mind. A beautiful display of books and accessories is wonderful, but be sure you leave room for the essentials (like coasters and space for snacks and drinks). Once you have assessed how you actually use your coffee table, get inspired by these clever styling ideas from top interior designers:
Coffee Table Styling Made Simple
Jill Hoskings-Cartland of Hoskings Interiors finds several opportunities to transform a simple coffee table into a focal point. Using her tips, styling a coffee table that is both attractive and functional is easy.
- Glass instantly adds sophistication to a vignette. A glass cloche, or a collection of this traditional bell-shaped jar in varying heights, can feature everything from greens and florals to sculptures and collectibles. Display them on a tray to present them as a curated grouping.
- Coffee tables should be functional, so as you plan out your centerpiece or vignette, incorporate enough room for your guests to put down a drink when you’re entertaining. Use 1/3 of the overall length/diameter of the table as the approximate space you’ll need to style a centerpiece.
- It’s the successful mix of color, texture and various heights that take a coffee table centerpiece to the next level. Books, vases, greens and metal elements carefully styled in one cohesive arrangement can create a perfectly balanced, magazine-worthy vignette.
- Repeat your wall color, couch color or a color in nearby artwork on your coffee table. This makes that all-important aesthetic connection and creates a repetition of color.
- Change your coffee table vignette seasonally. It will keep you from getting bored and help you celebrate the season without having to wait for the December holidays. Since fall is approaching, think silver pumpkins and a fall floral arrangement in a silver vase as an alternative to the standard “basket of pinecones.”
Be Open to New Ideas
Mark Cutler is a dynamic LA-based interior designer. Mark’s approach is to rethink the traditional idea of what a coffee table can be. Customizing the configuration of your furniture and accessories can create a totally unique look when styling your coffee table.
Mark asks, “Why just one table? Depending on the situation, a cluster of small tables may be the best solution. In the featured photo, it was a large room so a cluster of tables allowed the grouping to expand and contract as needed, whether you need a place to put a cocktail or somewhere to put your feet up. Also, since it was a beach house, we were trying to tell a story about location and I thought that the group told a cool story about flotsam and jetsam that may wash up on the beach.”
“I like to use a variety of objects on a table. Boxes are great for holding a collection of remotes, books add a bit of flavor and tell the story of your interests and even a few pieces of art glass or sculpture add some variety of color and scale that can capture the eye. My general rule of thumb is to use collections in odd numbers so you will often see in my work groupings of 3, 5 or 7. This always seems more harmonious.”
Keep Your Coffee Table Style Simple
Alice Chiu of Miss Alice Designs shares her inspiration for creating a relaxing and organized coffee table design. “I like to keep the coffee table very simple without a lot of clutter, so I usually just style with one or two books (in different sizes and stacked) and flowers, or a pile of design magazines and small decorative objects on top. I also like to vary the scale of each item to add visual interest to the table. Organizing a few items in a larger tray keeps the coffee table simple and tidy.”
Style Your Coffee Table With Meaning
Interior designer Chad James shared his favorite (and simple) tips for styling your coffee table with special items you may already have at home. “I love to arrange items as if they’re in a museum. Consider them as collected special items.” Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Choose a beautiful, unique box to hold items that aren’t so pretty, like remotes, matches or lighters for candles, a set of coasters, etc.
- Choose eight to ten of your all-time favorite, most beautiful largescale hardback coffee table books.
- Add your favorite scented candle in a glass hurricane vase.
- Display something that’s alive, like simple flowers or a hearty spot of green foliage.
- When arranging these items on the table, make sure to consider size and scale. For example, stack the largest books on the bottom towering to the smallest on top.
“Finally, make sure to add something that tells your story. Something that’s collected or something that holds great meaning to you… like a bowl of rocks that you and your grandfather collected on walks in the country or a small pewter cup that has feathers that you’ve found on your outdoor journey.”
Think Outside the Box When Styling Your Coffee Table
Mother and daughter Catherine & Justine Macfee are the creative force behind Catherine Macfee Interior Design. Their collaboration gives them a unique perspective on creating beautiful and fresh interior spaces.
Creative Director Justine Macfee suggests making your coffee table just as unique as your accessories. “As the centerpiece for any living room or entertainment space, the coffee table can always be a special anchor to set the tone for the environment. We like to use coffee tables that are unique and represent the strength of the entire home. We have created custom tables using steel, wood or glass to create these versatile and usable tables. In addition to the traditional ‘coffee table book,’ we always try to bring in something unique.”
To bring a natural style to your coffee table, Justine brings inspiration from the outside. ”One of my favorite things to do is bring a piece from the outdoors,” she says. “For example, for a beach house, we like to bring in polished driftwood and set it on a small stand. For a city home, we like to bring a piece of modern sculpture in miniature. In a casual mountain retreat or a home in a wine region, we always try to find that unique piece of art that is representative of its outdoor surroundings and culture.”
These tips should make styling your coffee table much less of a mystery. Let us know how you style yours in the comments!