Design Inspo

How To Decorate a Coffee Table: Tips To Styling Your Coffee Table

Who says you can't have a coffee table that is both stylish and practical? Here are some decorating tips for styling the hub of your living room. 

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Home decor doesn’t end with walls and furniture. Sometimes your living space isn’t really complete until you've put your stylist hat on and have zhuzhed up your coffee table in a functional way that also represents your style. Chances are the living area of your home is where you will do most of your lounging, so sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s talk decorating tips for the perfect coffee table moment!

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Decide on the Coffee Table Itself

When comes to sourcing your dream coffee table, it's really a "choose your own adventure" approach. You can go for a traditional coffee table that is around two-thirds the length of the couch (more on the rule of thirds later) or choose a piece of furniture with a more distinct shape, like a triangular or even an asymmetric coffee table. The good news is there’s no rule governing what your coffee table looks like or is made of.

Create Space With a Glass Coffee Table

Living room designed in Spoak by Jade Mudau.

If you're working with a small space, try selecting a glass-topped table—it will show more floor space, which makes a living room look even larger. Both tempered glass and lucite are highly reflective surfaces that can be dressed down by the collection of objects you place on them. 

Designers typically opt for tempered glass, which is about four times stronger than traditional or “annealed” glass. Your home already likely features this material—tempered glass makes appearances in shower doors, skylights, microwaves, and more. 

Group Multiple Tables

Sometimes, a coffee table isn’t a coffee table at all but instead is two end tables pushed close together for maximum versatility. Multiple tables allow you to play with height aspect ratios and minimalism, especially in the case of nesting tables. 

Make a Statement

Bring the outside in with a tree trunk coffee table. Topping a base of driftwood or a metal drum with glass is another unique take on the traditional table. Dynamic, unusual pieces are so eye-catching they may need minimal decor. (But we're not going to stop you from adding in all of your favorite things!)

Get Creative With Coffee Table Decor

Your coffee table is often the focal point of your living room decor. Putting a little thought into what you set on top of it can amplify your style in this small area and make it a real showstopper (instead of a cluttered mess). For specific decor ideas, check out Spoak’s product discovery feed for inspiration and to see what other designers are doing.

Decorate a Round Coffee Table

Decorating round coffee tables isn’t that different from their rectangular counterparts if you make sure the groupings of objects offset the table’s curve. Try placing objects in a square or triangular pattern on the tabletop.

Round tables, ottomans, or even poufs are also great choices in tight spaces, as it is easier for guests to scoot around them—plus, they are kid-friendly, as toddlers are less likely to bang their heads onto the sharp corners.

Top these upholstered pieces with decorative trays that can easily be removed when you want to put your feet up after a long day. Then, let the rectangular shape of the tray offset the curves of a soft pouf or rounded ottoman when your R&R session is complete. 

Curate Your Coffee Table Books

Guests love sitting down near a neat stack of books they can leisurely flip through. Coffee table books are beautifully designed and serve as daily inspiration, but they also tell your guest a lot about you. Oversized books that feature your favorite movies, designers, locations, and more are instant conversation starters—and they look good too. 

You can have just one or multiple stacks of varying heights that serve as a base for another sculptural object. Choose books with vintage covers that support your room's color scheme, or brighten it with unexpected pops of color. 

Finding Decorative Objects to Enhance the Space

These little odds and ends that you decorate your coffee table with will create a vignette that draws you in, reminds you of good times, and tell others the story of your home. 

Choose a Centerpiece

Begin decorating your coffee table with the centerpiece: It will be the focal point of the arrangement. Make it something special, possibly sentimental, that sets your mood as soon as you sit down (this could be a photo album or collection of mementos, for instance). If any piece demands to be on the bolder side of your color palette, make it this one. 

Balance Shape and Texture

Use materials that balance out the overall design scheme of the room. If your boho space could use a sleek stone sculpture to steady all the rattan and natural fiber, add it in. Or, if your curvaceous decor needs the balance of a rectilinear piece, use a metal tray to gather decorative items. 

Vary Height

Source pieces of varying height like tall bonsai or taper candlestick holders. Mid-sized pieces like baskets or stacks of magazines can be complemented by smaller knick knacks like a smoked glass mid-century ashtray for holding matches or pens. Pieces that drape out over the edge of the tray, like the trailing vine of a potted plant, also add dimension.

Follow the Rule of Threes

The much-quoted rule of threes design concept is a great starting point for building tabletop decor. It applies to the levels of height and groupings of objects. There’s something about groups of three that says a scene is complete. Work this guideline in with three stacked pillows, three wall sconces along the back wall, or three antique saucers ready for tea time. 

Include Natural Elements

Too often, we don’t consider adding a little nature to our coffee table display. Use a bamboo or rattan tray to gather your paperbacks. A vintage wooden dough bowl can hold a trio of candles or those tchotchkes you brought home from vacation. 

Let a vase of fresh flowers or greenery produce feelings of calm while doing its part to improve air quality. Leafy plants and floral arrangements do this wonderfully, but succulents are a clever low-maintenance choice that packs a lot of color variety into one small planter. Although, you may want to skip this one if you have busy kids or nosy pets (it could get messy!).

If you have a larger coffee table, consider letting a piece of driftwood serve as both a focal point and an organic sculptural piece. Hand-turned pedestal candle holders give artisan flair to natural material. Look outside for natural inspiration and let your designer mind run wild!

Be Practical With Your Design Choices

... but not too practical that you're not taking any risks. It's all about finding a balance. With all of this artful arranging, you don’t want your living room to feel like a museum. It is a living space, so make sure your coffee table is functional and accessible. The last thing you want is to create a space that feels uninviting or too precious.

You can use little trinkets to add a pop of color and intrigue to your living room, but adhering to a minimalist look might be wise. Excessive items on a coffee table or side table can make the furniture look chaotic and render it unusable—which is the opposite of what you want.

Use Coasters With Class

Leave coffee table books open and your coasters out for ease of use—just make sure both are beautiful to you. Coasters made of granite slices or agate are a sharp alternative to waterlogged veneer. If you know your family and friends and expect spills, opt for a tabletop that won’t be damaged by liquids, like glass.

Hide the Tech 

All the various remotes for TVs, apps, chargers, and game system controllers are not what you had in mind for coffee table decor. Sequester these in a carved wooden box or wicker baskets on the bottom tier of the coffee table. 

Try These Unusual Coffee Table Decor Ideas

Styled coffee table designed in Spoak by Haven Elise.

Well-styled coffee tables make the best conversation starters. They create visual interest and tell visitors a little about who you are. Let's brainstorm a few interesting decor items that may inspire you when organizing your own belongings.

Collect Oddities

Collections of small multi-colored items are jumbled clutter until you pour them into a beautiful bowl or urn. Seashells from your summer trips to the coast, pinecones from your daily hike, or even buttons from a thrifting adventure look more art than ordinary in a one-of-a-kind horn bowl.

Celebrate Your Hobbies

What are your hobbies? Is there a way to incorporate your everyday items into your coffee table display?

Maybe a collection of vintage postcards or your well-loved Rolleiflex camera would be the perfect finale for this decorative stage. Even a glass cylinder vase full of movie stubs connects you to your space in a fun way.

Time To Style Your Coffee Table

It’s time to put your new styling skills to the test and style a coffee table! Remember, these ideas aren’t only for coffee tables. End tables and dining tables can benefit from some of these treatments too.

Feel free to pick and choose from the rules of design or completely toss them to do your own thing; the point is to have fun and express yourself. 

Photo Credit: (Left) Sense of Spencer


Common houseplants can improve air quality indoors | Phys.Org

A Trove of Truly Tacky Treasure | The Washington Post

Rule of three – 10 ways interior designers use this magic number in their schemes | Homes and Gardens

Lucite | chemical compound | Britannica

How is tempered glass made? | Scientific American

Start planning out your coffee table decor with Spoak’s design tools.

Date Posted
February 25, 2023



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