Coffee Tables · Interiors · Styling · Tips

Tips for Styling a Coffee Table

I enjoy styling and rearranging the tops of our coffee tables. Through trial and error, I have identified the following key elements to a successful coffee table styling:

1. A plant or a vase of flowers.  Having something living adds vitality and beauty to the space. I like to use orchids, succulents, ferns, tropical green plants, a seasonal flowering plant (like tulips in the spring, a Christmas cactus at the holidays, or a hydrangea in the summer), or a vase of cut flowers.

2. Books. A small stack (or two if your table is large) of beatiful hardcover books can work well on a coffee table. I have a lot of art books, so I tend to use those, but whatever subject you are interested in will suffice—fashion, travel, photography, history and design all make interesting displays. The one thing that I don’t ever put on my coffee table are magazines—I think they end up making the table look too much like one in a doctor’s waiting room.

3. Something tall.  It is visually appealing to have objects of varying heights on the table. I often use candlesticks for height. On larger tables, hurricane lamps look nice. Tall sculptures or a vase can work well, too.

4.An interesting, quirky object that is sculptural.  I like to use large seashells, small gold sculptures, and interesting magnifying glasses. Such objects can be placed on top of the stack of books.

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Our Music Room Coffee Table


Other optional elements:

Tray. Trays are great for corralling a group of smaller objects and making them look cohesive. If your coffee table is an ottoman, a tray is a must, giving you a flat, even surface on which to place objects.

Box/Bowl.  If you have to keep your TV remotes on the coffee table, then I would suggest hiding them in a decorative box or placing them in a pretty ceramic bowl.

When decorating a coffee table, you will likely have to try various combinations and arrangements of the four key elements and optional elements described above until you find a set-up that you like. Sometimes, I find that it helps to take photos along the way so you can compare them later and see which arrangement you like best.

Here is a view of the tops of my coffee tables:


In the music room, above, I have glass candlesticks and the pagoda for height on the coffee table. I have a Christmas cactus plant for my living object. I have an oversized art book (the colors on the cover match the room color scheme). My sculptural pieces include the pedestal bowl of seashells, the gold leaf dishes, glass apple paperweight, and blue agate coasters.


In the family room (above), where I am using a tufted ottoman as a coffee table, I have added a wood tray for my display. It is a small space to work with, but I am able to fit all the essential elements. I have the glass cloche for height containing a succulent plant. I have a short stack of antique poetry books, and a magnifying glass and sea star for my sculptural objects.


In the living room, above, I also am using an ottoman for a coffee table. I added a wicker tray that holds a tropical plant in a blue and white ceramic planter for height and greenery, a small stack of books about ancient history, and a round gold dish and magnifying glass for my sculptural items.

Because you can’t put a drinking glass or coffee mug on the soft ottoman, and there is very little room left on the tray, when I have company, I move ceramic garden stools nearby as resting places for drinks and snacks.

Here are some images of nicely-styled coffee tables:

The Every Girl
The Pink Dream
Simple Details
coffee table styling - blue white and pink - styling tips - Simple Details.jpg
Simple Details
Emily A Clark
Emily A Clark
Dimples and Tangles via BHG

See you tomorrow for another Tuesday Tour!

Oh, and by the way… Yesterday, I made it to 100 blog followers!! Thank you so much to everyone who has followed me, liked my posts, and commented. I appreciate all the support! ❤️❤️❤️ 

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Lamp from Circa Lighting // Pillows from McGee and Co.

12 thoughts on “Tips for Styling a Coffee Table

    1. Glad you like the tips! Such a good point about little kids…we had a toy parking garage on our coffee table for many years!! 😂 😁 Children’s books would definitely work, you could maybe add seashells (not too small so they don’t choke), if you found a bird’s nest somewhere that would be pretty, and an unbreakable bowl (such as a wooden one). My most important tip might be to actually use the kids’ toys as decor. Sometimes, natural wooden toys can be pretty to have there (we used to have a wooden lumber truck on the table–it was actually kind of cute), you could put a bowl of little wooden animals that the kids could play with, or those colorful stacking toys on top of the books. I also think that wooden blocks in a bowl or artfully stacked would look good, as well as dominos. Hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

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