Your coffee table serves an undoubtedly useful function in your home. But whether you have an ornate marble top table, a rustic oak design or a sleek, minimalist glass top piece, your coffee table can end up looking lacklustre if it’s not styled properly.
It’s time to see this essential item of furniture for what it is - a canvas that can be used to project your style and personality. With a little effort, you can say goodbye to bland and create a conversation starter in your living room. Whether you’re an earth lover who’s drawn to the natural look, a quirky collector of knick-knacks or a stylish devotee of clean lines and monochromatic design, you can make your coffee table work for you.
In this article, we show you how to add some oomph to this part of your home with some clever tricks and tips.
How to dress a coffee table
Whatever your style preferences, following a few golden rules should help you to achieve a chic coffee table look.
Rule 1: Less is more
It doesn’t matter if you own the biggest collection of art books known to man or you’ve managed to amass every candle that Jo Malone has ever released, when it comes to your coffee table, less is more. Having a few statement pieces helps to maintain a simple, uncluttered look and creates focus in your home. And remember, you can rotate items over time. So while you may go for Gauguin and gardenia one month, you might swap to Warhol and wood sage the next.
Rule 2: Variety is key
Create contrast and interest by using a range of textures and colours. It helps to vary the height and size of items on your table too. For example, you could pair a delicate white orchid with a heavy metallic sculpture. Or you could put two tall gold candle holders next to an asymmetrical ceramic bowl.
Rule 3: Create harmony with colour
Bold pops of colour can work well against neutral design schemes but try to keep colours complementary. For example, if you have a pastel theme running through your living room, brash primary colours may look out of place. Similarly if you have a lot of vibrant hues in your space, you might find that more subtle shades can cause your coffee table pieces to fade into the background.
What to put on a coffee table
As we’ve already said, your coffee table presents an opportunity to showcase who you are. So there’s a whole range of items you could choose to put on it, from vintage fashion magazines, to antique trinkets, to natural artifacts, to contemporary decorative figurines. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Whether you love 80s sci-fi cover art, you want to show off your intellectual credentials with a Nietsche hardback or you’d like to start conversations with a display of guilty pleasures, you can’t go wrong when it comes to books. We find that big often works best but there are no hard and fast rules. If you have a small table, for example, a classic Jane Austen paperback may work beautifully.
A bouquet of flowers can act as the perfect coffee table centrepiece. You could create an arrangement of peonies in a low glass vase for a subtle, fresh look. Or for a more dramatic effect, why not add some roses and baby’s breath to a wine bottle?
From bold geometric sculptures, to decorative mother and child resin statues, to kitschy rubber duck-lookalikes, displaying art on your coffee table can add flair and interest. It can also tell visitors a bit about you.
How to accessorise a coffee table
Whether you’re looking to upgrade a well-loved coffee table or add a personal touch to a new addition, we have accessory ideas to get you thinking.
A simple runner can transform the look of a table. The textures, patterns and colours can create visual interest and make your table look truly at home in your space.
Spice up your table with some interesting coasters. From handmade pieces made from recycled newspaper, to rustic olive wood designs, to coasters made to look like your favourite vinyl records, there are a host of great options out there when it comes to finding something to put your drink on.
Whether you choose a fancy decorative box, a raffia basket or a simple wooden tray, a storage solution can help to keep remote controls, matches, phones and other odds and ends from making your table look unsightly.
How to arrange books on a coffee table
Show off those spines by arranging a small stack of books by colour or size. Top the arrangement with a succulent for a really chic look. Alternatively, create balance by placing two books face-up at either side of a centrepiece. If you have a two tier table, you might choose to create a few stacks of books at even height on the lower tier for a neat, sophisticated appearance.
What to put on a glass coffee table
Glass is derived from the natural world so natural objects can work really well on this kind of surface. Coral, crystals, natural beads, seashells and greenery can all compliment a glass coffee table exquisitely.
If you have a mirrored tabletop, you could play around with perception by placing a chandelier on the ceiling above it. Candlelight also looks fantastic on a reflective surface so why not add some tea lights or
votives (glass candles) to your table?