A coffee table is an essential piece of furniture for any living room. It brings people together for every occasion and offers the perfect surface for your morning coffee and paper. Since the coffee table often sits at the centre of the room, it automatically draws attention, so it’s important your table always looks its best. Not sure where to start? Our handy styling tips will answer any questions you have on how to style a coffee table. Create the scene of your dreams with ease thanks to Artiss.
How to Style a Coffee Table - General Tips
Reflect the living room theme
It makes sense that the coffee table, a key feature of a living room, should match the existing themes in your living room. So when you start to plan out your coffee table styling, keep in mind existing decor you have in your space. If you have a boho-style living space, a rattan coffee table with some local handmade coffee tablecloths or fabric coasters will make a splash. For a Hamptons style, you might want to use decorative objects like fresh flowers, seashells or sisal placemats. For a Scandinavian styled home, consider using minimalist coffee tables that simplistic in style. As long as your decoration is consistent, you can’t go wrong.
Use multiple textures
Don’t be afraid to mix textures when choosing a coffee table. A glass tabletop with glass ornaments is certainly thematic, but all those cold and hard materials might make the space feel cold and hard too. Mix industrial textures like metal, glass and plastic with natural textures like wood or woven fabrics. If you have a wood table, you might pair it with a glass or ceramic vase. Marble candles could work well with a chrome trinket tray. The more textures you can contribute, the more visual interest your coffee table will have.
Keep the balance
If your decor is out of balance the room may seem confused, claustrophobic or cluttered. The easiest way to achieve balance is with symmetry: making one side of the coffee table a mirror image of the other. If you don’t want everything to look exactly the same, you can use some creative asymmetry instead - instead of an exact mirror image, swap out one or two elements for things of similar size and shape, like a small vase and a table lamp.
You’ll want to make sure your belongings are dispersed evenly. Try not to group everything in one spot or to one side. It may make the coffee table look heavy or disorganised. Try dividing your coffee table into four equal quadrants and decorating each according to these principles. It will make it easier to keep everything in balance and identify where your current decor may need fixing.
Consider different heights with coffee table styling
If all your decorations on your coffee table are the same height, you might find your space a little two-dimensional. Using decor with varying heights will take your guests on a visual journey and break up any potential monotony. A great way to execute this is to use different sized table decorations, such as book stacks, vases and candles, for a great visual impact. You could pair a small stack of magazines or a small trinket tray with different sized candle holders or a pot plant. Experiment with different decor as you see fit, though interior design experts recommend using at least one tall object on the coffee table.
You should also consider the height of your coffee table against the height of your sofa. You want a coffee table that is comfortable to use, whether you enjoy putting down your cup of coffee or putting up your feet. Standard coffee tables vary between 36-40cm tall, though you'll probably want one that is no higher than your sofa seat cushions, making it easy to reach drinks, books, and devices. If you prefer higher tables, you may want to consider a lift-top coffee table that can be converted into a higher desk or dining space at your leisure.
Choose the right coffee table books
It’s all in the name! If you’re not sure where to start, a good coffee table book is the perfect addition to your living room. A coffee table book is a large, typically hardcover book that is made to be displayed. They can be a key functional piece whilst still contributing to the overall scheme. While these books are designed to be looked at and could be considered ‘decorative’, a good coffee table book is a conversation piece that reflects your own interests and personality.
There are tons of benefits to having a good coffee table book. You can find them in a wide range of sizes, shapes and topics, from specific artists to specific genres like the history of design, home decor inspiration, or spiritual growth. Consider a stand alone book or group together a curated book stack. They are great collectables that won’t take up too much space. Finally, they are the perfect icebreaker to discuss with guests or just read and enjoy on your own.
Use a rug
You don’t just need to think of the top of the table, under the table also needs your attention! If it looks like your furniture is floating in the living room, consider putting down a rug. Rugs not only put your coffee table at the centre of your living room, but if you're considering floor cushions they act as an extra barrier from the floor. If you don’t want a full-area rug, an accent rug under your coffee table is a great compromise that grounds your furniture and attracts attention. The rug should be the same size or slightly larger than your coffee table, and all legs should be resting on top. For more advice on choosing a rug for your living room, check out our blog Choosing the Right Rug for your Living Room.
Look from every angle
Don’t forget that your coffee table can be seen from every part of the living room, so choose your decor accordingly! Try to decorate in a way that gives you and your guests something interesting to look at no matter where they are standing.
Don’t forget practicality
What do you use your coffee table for? Do you entertain often, or do you prefer the occasional family movie night? Is the table always covered in coffee cups, or do you like to keep it clean and clear? If you use your coffee table often, you might want to use less decoration. If you want an elaborate coffee table display but also want to be able to host game night on the weekend, get a coffee table with unobtrusive built-in storage.
Show off your personality
Most importantly, your coffee table should reflect your personality. If you’re a fan of reading, get coffee table books on your favourite topics. If you love plants, use your favourites as a centrepiece. If you want to use candles, choose your favourite scents and colours. When your shows off your favourite things, you’ll never want to sit anywhere else.
Rectangular Coffee Table Styling
While our top tips work well for all kinds of coffee tables, there are some additional design rules that apply depending on your coffee table shape.
For square or a rectangle coffee table, you can anchor the decor by using a long, large tray or plate to display your pieces. For something more interesting, you can use round objects to break up the straight lines and create contrast and visual interest.
Trinket trays are also useful on larger rectangle coffee tables since they can be used to corral the random stuff that ends up on your table - remotes, jewellery, phones and other knick knacks. No matter what finds its way onto your table, it will have a place to go that won’t get in the way.
Break up your decor into two or three small groups. For example, you can have a stack of books topped with a candle on one side, and a collection of pot plants on the other. This will keep the table in balance for the perfect living room setting.
How to Style a Round Coffee Table
Unlike a square coffee table, which typically gives you a lot of space to work with, a round coffee table might leave you puzzled. Even though it looks like they have less space, round tables are actually very flexible. They are less visually heavy, more flexible in terms of placement, very elegant, and safer when it comes to bumps and scrapes. You can easily converse around a round coffee table, as everyone is an equal distance apart. If you practice feng shui, round tables are great for directing the flow of energy through the home. Their shape also makes them easier to fit in small spaces, making them ideal for your small living room or tiny home.
Unlike a square table, you want to avoid trinket trays. If you must have a tray, make it circular, as a square tray can look a little strange. The same goes for other - the rounder the better.
The best way to display your best pieces on a round table is to sit them in the centre, creating a visual focal point. Of course, if you love a little asymmetry, you can make things interesting by placing your decor a little off-centre.
Styling a coffee table has never been easier with Artiss. We have coffee tables to suit every sort of style, from nesting tables to lift-top pieces with generous storage. We use durable materials such as tempered glass, powder-coated steel and quality plywood to create amazing pieces that are built to last. Check out our range of coffee tables today, or check out our homewares section for more decorating ideas.