Coffee Tables · Design · Inspiration · Interiors · Living Room · Styling · Tips

How to Style a Coffee Table if You Have Young Children

As you might remember, a few weeks ago, I did a post on tips for styling a coffee table. Afterwards, a blogging friend who had read the post asked if I had any tips for styling a coffee table that would be child friendly. Somehow, I had forgotten to address that aspect of coffee table decor, and I thought that it was deserving of its own post.

As I told the reader, we had years where the vintage trunk that we used as a coffee table was home to a wooden play parking garage and a basket of small toy construction trucks. Although it wasn’t particularly pretty, that coffee table arrangement was functional and got tremendous use by our son!

I think it is possible to create a coffee table that is not only safe and functional for children, but also looks pretty. I would apply some of the same tips that I provided in the earlier coffee-table post–just tweaking things a bit for a house with young kids.

Coastal Living

These are some suggested child-friendly modifications to the basic tips (found here) I provided before:

  • You can still use books to style the table—I would just use a stack of pretty children’s books.
  • Instead of a sculptural object that is breakable, I would use a wooden or metal toy that is interesting.
  • I wouldn’t use a vase of flowers, but it may work to include a plant in a non-breakable pot or container like a basket.
  • A wooden bowl or basket with wooden blocks, legos, matchbox cars, dominoes, puzzle pieces, wooden animals, or anything else that your child is interested in would look appealing.
  • A non-breakable natural object can be a nice touch—a found bird’s nest, a large sea shell, or a piece of interesting driftwood, for instance.

My biggest piece of advice would be to use your most beautiful and interesting toys. If they can appeal to all ages, all the better!

Here are some examples of child-centered coffee table styling:

Country Living

The enamel bowl of crayons (a little risky in my opinion!), a small game that is open like this small backgammon set, a plant in a wooden crate, and some wooden balls make this coffee table attractive and family friendly.


The wooden airplane, sea stars, driftwood, books, and wooden bowling pins and bar bells all work to make this a safe and functional family coffee table.


The colorful blocks and the stacks of children’s books look great in this Brooklyn loft. I can imagine the adults enjoying those gorgeous blocks as much as the kids do!

Bless’er House

A globe adds some nice height to a coffee table display and is interesting for everybody.

With two teenagers in the house we don’t have many kids’ toys left, but I tried to create a couple of different child-friendly set ups using our family room coffee table.

DSC02590 (1)

The ivy in the basket adds some greenery, the dominoes are in an unbreakable pewter dish and can be played with, the bird’s nest contains unbreakable wooden eggs, and The Hobbit book has nice illustrations.

DSC02597 copy (1).jpg

The Kapla blocks in a wooden bowl provide something for young and old alike to do! Jenga blocks would work equally well.

I haven’t met a child who doesn’t enjoy listening for the ocean in a conch shell, like the one below.

DSC02607 (1).jpg

I hope this has provided some ideas for those living with small children. There are so many beautiful toys–it is nice to showcase a few of those prominently on your coffee table.

Do you have any ideas to share?

header image from Better Homes and Gardens


7 thoughts on “How to Style a Coffee Table if You Have Young Children

    1. Hi Robin, Thanks for your question. More times than not, I remove the dust jackets from the books before I display them on a coffee table or bookshelf. The covers tend to be too bright, shiny, and busy for me and I often prefer the more muted, simple,and monochromatic hard covers underneath for display purposes. Best, Elizabeth


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