How to style a coffee table

When I was a kid our coffee table was basically a make-shift dining table.  I remember eating my fair share of snacks (and sometimes meals) on our coffee table in front of the TV.  Back in the day we didn’t have open floor plans so if you wanted to watch TV while eating you had to be right in front of it.  

Fast forward to today and coffee tables have taken on a whole new life and they’ve actually become a BIG focal point in most living and family rooms. It makes sense, right?  They’re usually in the center of the room like a big bullseye, and they’re a great place to showcase your style.  One hundred years ago you’d actually have a coffee table to put your coffee (or tea) on, but now, the look of your coffee table almost seems more important than the function.  But the question is:  How do you style your coffee table?  

There are really so many ways you can style your coffee table.  Read on to see some tips so you can style your coffee table like a pro.

Coffee table accessories

Add a tray or something large
to anchor your accessories

With any coffee table you’ll want something large as a foundation for your decor.  It’s your anchor piece.  I like to use a tray or a few large stacked books.  Depending on the size of your coffee table, a tray might be the best solution since you can get them in larger sizes.  

A tray or stack of books create a base for your accessory groups.  Trays come in squares, circles, ovals and rectangles so choose a shape that works best with your coffee table.  A round coffee table looks best with a square or rectangular tray.  A circular tray works well on a rectangular or square coffee table.  A circular tray and a circular coffee table are too many circles (in my honest opinion) so try to mix it up. 

Once you have your tray (or stack of large books down) it’s time to add some accessories.

Coffee table style tips

Add accessories (the Rule of Three)

Next, you want to add some decorative accessories.  As I mentioned in my previous post about the “Rule of Three,” groupings of three are more interesting to look at.  Remember to have items of different heights to create a visual triangle so your eyes have different places to look.  For more accessory inspiration, be sure to check out my Pinterest page.  

Create a visual triangle with accessories when styling your home

Add something extra on the side for balance and visual interest

Depending on the size of your coffee table, it’s good to add something to the side of your tray or anchor piece.  Place a pair of vases, accessories or a plant beside the tray to add visual interest.

If you’re using an ottoman add a throw since you can’t place other accessories on a soft surface.

Coffee table styling ideas

Designer trick to
create larger coffee tables

I’m not sure if you realized that you can actually create a larger coffee table by pushing a pair or a group of smaller coffee tables together. It’s a super helpful trick since finding large coffee tables you like isn’t always an option.  If you’re on a tighter budget this trick can help since smaller coffee tables or cubes are inexpensive.  Check out these examples below of larger coffee tables created by smaller ones. 

Use four cubes to create a large coffee table
Push two coffee tables together to create one large coffee table
Final thoughts...

So, that’s a wrap on blog post number two of my four-part series on “how to” style.  How are you feeling about coffee table styling?  Did you learn anything that surprised you?  Remember to share in the comments below.  Also, make sure to pin any of the examples above that can help or inspire you as you decorate your home.

Note: Most of these style tips work for ottomans as well.  With young kids I personally like to use ottomans because of their softness and you’ll reduce the chance of your kiddo hitting their head on a sharp corner.

BTW-I created a new freebie with my best “how to” style guides and cheat sheets. It teaches you how to style a coffee table, end table, console table and ottoman. Have you downloaded it yet?  Be sure to check it out here. You don’t want to miss it!

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Sally Soricelli