HOW TO // EASY TIPS TO STYLE A COFFEE TABLE

Whip your coffee table into shape with my design formula!

Is your coffee table the hub of your living room?  I know ours definitely is! It serves so many functions - a footrest, occasional eating surface, and corraller of objects (yes, I know that's not a word).  I realized I hadn’t changed my coffee table vignette in over a year (gasp!) and as I was gathering items and making a hot mess of the living room, I thought, hey maybe my people would like to know the method to my madness.  You're welcome ;-)  Much like my styling guide for console tables, there are elements to include and arrangements to follow that make it easy to create a functional and pretty coffee table vignette.

Let’s start with the the basic elements first, shall we?  If you are feeling impatient just skip to the bottom where I show you how to bring it all together!

 

 IMAGE VIA  S  TYLE ME PRETTY

IMAGE VIA STYLE ME PRETTY

Coffee Table Styling Element #1: Tray

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, trays are a decorator’s best friend.  They are super versatile, can be used all around the house and are a definite must on any coffee table.  You can give objects a purpose by corralling an otherwise random assortment of items and placing them in a tray.  I am always drawn toward rectangular or square trays because I like to stack books on them, but don’t rule out a round or oval shape - especially if you have a lot of hard edges in your design.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE TRAYS:

Styling Element #2: 
Greenery

I always add a natural element to any vignette I’m creating.  It could be fresh flowers in a simple vase, a faux succulent (I can never keep those damn things alive) or a small potted plant.  If you have a rotten green thumb and don’t like the idea of faux plants just try adding an organic element like carved wood, a piece of quartz or even a sprig of fresh rosemary to the mix!  Don’t fret over having a formal bouquet, simple works just fine here.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE PLANTS:

 

Styling Element #3: 
Candles

Including a candle to your coffee table arrangement is a good way to fill space and add a nice atmosphere to the room when nighttime sets in.  Instant ambiance and a yummy scent? Win-win in my book. Put down those generic Yankee candles and reach for something a bit more unique!

 

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE CANDLES:

 
 
 
 IMAGE VIA SARAH SHERMAN SAMUEL

IMAGE VIA SARAH SHERMAN SAMUEL

Coffee Table Styling Element #4: Decorative Accessories

This is where you really get to have some fun and can add some personality to your coffee table.  This could be a quirky vase, piece of driftwood, chess set, magnifying glass, geometric shape, picture frame...really whatever speaks to you!

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE ACCESSORIES:

 

Coffee Table Styling Element #5: Books

If trays are a decorator’s best friend then books are like your kidney, you really can’t decorate (or live) without them.  I always have a stash at the ready for when an object needs a little height or when I need to fill a gap. In this case I totally give you permission to judge a book by its cover because that is what is going to be on display.  I love rummaging through the book bins at antique and thrift stores….just let them air out for a few days lest you bring that funky musk inside.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE COFFEE TABLE BOOKS:

 IMAGE VIA  D OMINO

IMAGE VIA DOMINO

 

BRING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now comes the fun part - creating the arrangements!  Gather all of your elements and lay them out so they are easy to grab.  Don't be afraid to experiment with placement and groupings because you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome!  Here are the top 5 guidelines I follow for styling my coffee table (or any surface for that matter).

#1:  Create Levels

This image perfectly captures all of the elements of a coffee table vignette:

 IMAGE VIA  ARTFULLY WALLS

IMAGE VIA ARTFULLY WALLS

Vary heights to create balance within your coffee table vignette.  Try to include a high, medium and low point.  Use your books to give a lift to your objects and add sprigs of greenery to add height in a vase.  

#2:  Group Objects In Odd Numbers

A tried and true styling tip!  Keeping an item solo (like a large vase with flowers) or grouping items in odd numbers (usually 3 or 5) is one of the most important styling rules out there.  It is just naturally visually appealing which leads to a more balanced vignette.

#3:  Add Personality

Bring in those cool tchotchkes you found on vacation or that unique vase that no one else seems to like but you.  It's your home and should reflect your personality so don't be afraid to show it off!

#4:  Add Functionality

I always try to sneak in a piece that is dual purpose - pretty and functional- so this is where a tray, bowl or box comes into play.  I stash my remotes on a tray and my hand lotion and lip balm in a cute little box I picked up in Bali - not only does it hide my clutter but it also reminds me of fond memories from our vacay.

#5:  Mix Materials

I always try to include at least 2-3 finishes/materials when styling a coffee table.  As much as you may love brass, you definitely don't want to overdo it with lots of shiny objects! Try to balance out metal finishes with wood, mother-of-pearl or other natural materials.

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HERE IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A COFFEE TABLE VIGNETTE THAT INCLUDES 4 OUT OF 5 OF THE BASIC STYLING ELEMENTS.  EVEN THOUGH IT IS IN A MINIMAL COLOR PALETTE I MADE SURE TO INCLUDE A VARIETY OF MATERIALS TO KEEP THINGS FROM BEING TOO MONOTONOUS.

TABLE  //  TALL VASE  //  SHORT VASE  //  BOOKENDS  //  GLASS KNOT  //  TRAY

 

 
 

 

If you are still stuck pulling your coffee table styling together, don't worry I have you covered! Check out my styling packages and let's get to work!

 
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