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How to Style Your Coffee Table Like a Pro


The coffee table is one of the best surfaces to style your living room but it is often overlooked and forgotten about. It can be a display for your most prized possessions, helping you add your own personality to your home. It is central to the room, which can quickly attract attention or marry a scheme together. Think of your coffee table as a mini design scheme to the full room, where you get another opportunity to get your style across.

While it is important to decorate your coffee table appropriately, it is also important that you allow it to function for your own needs. We want to help you decorate your surface, without interfering with the functionality of the rest of the space. Lucky for you, coffee table styling is very easy to master IF you stick to our 7 guidelines below.

1. Assess the shape of your table first

The shape of your coffee table will be the deciding factor for how you tackle your styling. The shape and size of the table will determine how the styling items sit on top. We have outlined the best ways to style Round, Square and Rectangle tables below:

Round tables

  • Style your items together, slightly off-centre on the table
  • A Tray is not needed on these tables. If you prefer one, choose a round shape.
  • The rule of three is great here : 1 tall, 1 medium and 1 low item (like image below). You can layer more trinkets in between these key pieces.
MORC Interiors Project: West Side Place


Image Sources: Pinterest

Square tables

  • Divide it up into 4 x even segments
  • Use a round or square tray for one segment only
  • Style each segment differently. Consider a more even level of styling heights as the eye skims across everything.

Image Sources: Pinterest

Rectangle tables

  • Divide the length up into 3 x segments (they don’t need to be perfectly even).
  • Chose something tall for the centre and two similar height vignettes either side for balance.
  • A rectangle or oval tray would be nice here.

Source: Coco Republic (left) Pinterest (right)

2. Figure out your colour scheme

The items on your coffee table should be complementary to the overall look and feel of your room. You want to work with your design scheme, not against it. Once you know your colour scheme, look for suitable items such as books, vases, plants or ornaments in similar colours. Try to use different shapes, sizes and textures for visual interest. Creating the perfect composition can be daunting when it comes to styling a coffee table, but once it’s finished, your room will look complete!

Source: Pinterest

3. Start with a grounding item

The key to a perfect vignette is to work with items of similar colour, style, shape or theme to the rest of your room. To begin your styling vignette, let’s start from the bottom-up by selecting a flat item to sit beneath your styling items. Usually this is a tray of some kind, but a book can be used too. This material of this item should be contrasting to your coffee table to create a point of difference. If you have a wood table, go for a marble or glass tray. If you have a marble table, you could bring in a wooden tray and so on. The point of a tray or flat book is to keep your items organised and grouped which is more organised and effortless for our eye to look at.

Source: Pinterest. Style your coffee table with a tray to group your items

4. Add a tall item

The first item to add to your tray/book should be your tall item. This can be a tall flower, a plant, a decorative vase or an ornament but just make sure it doesn’t obstruct any views. Choose your height appropriately from a sitting perspective. This item will be the hero piece to your styling and attracts the most attention. We usually like to use a plant or flower here to contrast against the styling within the room. This will create enough difference to catch your attention allowing your eye to appreciate the rest of the styling. Without a tall item, your eye gets lost and can’t take everything in, in an orderly fashion (highest to lowest). The styling in the image below lacks height making it visually unappealing.

Quick Tip: Style in odd numbers, it is more interesting to look at!

Source: Pinterest. Add at least one tall item to your styling and work with odd numbers!

5. Add a medium item

Now that you have your taller item in place, let’s look for your next item at a lower height. You could use a picture frame or an ornamental box. We love to use decorative, fake designer books (boxes) to hide everyday items like the remote control! They are also a great platform for smaller ornamental objects just like in the picture below. Play around with different shaped items for a more visually stimulating setting and consider how your styling will look from every corner of your room as your table is central to the space.

MORC Interiors Project: Ivanhoe. Using fake designer book boxes to store nick nacks away.

6. Add the small decorative items

Okay, we have your tall plant or vase in place,  with your medium height picture frame or trinket box, so now we just need to add the smaller pieces with big personalities! For the smaller items, consider beautiful stones/gems, bits of coral, decorative beads (trending right now see image below) or candles! Candles are a must on a coffee table in our eyes so why not make it a decorative one that compliments your interior design scheme?

MORC Interiors Project: Craigieburn

Flat item: Marble tray

Tall item: Flower
Med item: Rope Ball
Small item: Beads

7. Layer in your personality

Very small items can get lost on shelving units within your home. They might mean something very special to you, but you just can’t figure out how to showcase them properly. Well, your coffee table is the perfect place for one or two of them. Once you have your flat, tall, medium and small items in place, you can layer in some smaller decorative items to tie it all together. For example, in the image below (left), we would add a personal touch to the brass bowl on the table such as pebbles, precious stones or shells! Or, drape in a layer of those gorgeous wooden beads from the image above!

Source: Pinterest


We hope you found this blog useful and that you learned a thing or two about coffee table styling! Send us some pictures of how you have styled your coffee table! We are always looking for new ways to decorate!

Check out this Virtual Tour of one of the properties we furnished and styled in Yarra One:

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