Styling 101 | The Coffee Table

Accessorizing and styling is a tricky activity. There’s some rules to follow but there’s also some trained eye that you need to incorporate. Above all, practice makes perfect. Because, once you start playing around with styling, the more you do, the better you get. Before you read too much further, it’s important to understand that even designers have to test out certain items and combinations to see if they work out. We don’t always have the vision in our head that gets seamlessly transferred to reality; some of it is just plain ole trial and error, so don’t get discouraged.

A coffee table is a big empty space smack dab in the center of the room. It’s a functional piece, so it should not only be styled, but it should be useful. However, there’s a way to mix both. Today we’re going to give you some quick tips to follow when styling your coffee table. Hopefully these methods will simplify the styling process for you.


An easy go-to styling tool is to use groupings of 3. Odd numbers like this feel more fluid and natural when displayed where as sometimes even numbers can feel forced. Variety is important, so mix up the items you’re using. Select items with different shape and texture and always, always, ALWAYS select items with varying heights.


Just like a room needs a rug or large piece of furniture to ground it, a coffee table needs a base to ground the accessory display. A couple of our go-to grounding objects are trays and books. These flat items create a distinct cluster on top of the coffee table that adds a finished feel. Otherwise, items on a coffee table can feel like they’re just randomly placed there and floating. A stack of books beneath or a tray to group everything seems purposeful.


Use the shape of the coffee table as a basis for the objects you select to place on top of it. A big square or rectangular coffee table looks great with multiple stacks of books — mimicking the square/rectangular shape. A round coffee table lends itself more to round vases, curved sculptural objects, and soft edges. Don’t get us wrong, you can absolutely placed square books on a round coffee table and a round vase on a square coffee table, but be sure to take the shape into consideration when placing the items so that the shapes don’t seem to fight each other.


On tables with multiple levels, don’t ignore the bottom section. Address all flat surface are.


And finally, don’t over-crowd tabletops, though. Less larger items is better than a lot of smaller items —- a bunch of clutter is a quick way to make a coffee table look messy instead of accessorized.


There are a lot of great coffee tables out there and accessories are the jewelry that finish them off. Don’t neglect this surface just because it gets used frequently. Make the accessories work for you!