10 Tips for Styling Your Coffee Table

I like to think of coffee tables as tiny blank canvases. I mean, generally you’re dealing with a blank slate, ready to be styled. Maybe you agree with me…or maybe you think I’m crazy. Maybe your coffee table falls more into one of these categories:

  • a dumping ground for all things;
  • the site of a thousand failed decorating attempts;
  • one of the last areas of your home you’d considered paying attention to.

Any of those resonate with you? You’re not alone. I’ve styled my share of coffee tables over the past 14 years, which tells me it’s an area that many people struggle with. Below are my top tips for styling your surface with ease. Enjoy!

Create Balance

Balance is key in styling your coffee table. Too many small items will look cluttered, while a bunch of large pieces will appear heavy and cumbersome. Group like items together to create more impact.

Vary the Heights

Style Curator

Incorporate a variety of heights in your arrangements. When all of your pieces are similar in height and scale, nothing gets noticed.

Consider all Angles

Some pieces only look good from one angle (ie picture frames), and are better suited to a fireplace mantle or bookcase. Choose pieces that look good from all sides, including from above.

Create Contrast

Work with the colour of your coffee table. For white or neutral tones, choose bolder colours. Black or dark woods look best with accessories in creams and whites or metallic finishes. If you’ve got a clear glass or acrylic table, you can go bold or soft, but I generally take my cue from the area rug or flooring underneath.


Rule of Three

Dividing your table into three areas works especially well with long, rectangular-shaped tables. It also helps to narrow your focus to three small areas versus a single large, intimidating space.

Quarter It

Perfect for oversized, square-shaped coffee tables! Try taping off four quarters, then position your groupings within the squares.

Leave Some Breathing Room

If you’re concerned about your coffee table not having enough room for guests to set a plate, cup, or personal items, consider decorating only one end of your table. Also a great look if you’re drawn to a more casual, asymmetrical vibe.

Incorporate a Tray

A tray is a great way to anchor a variety of smaller items so they don’t feel as though they’re “floating”. It also provides you with another way to layer in your design style – think gold-toned metallic glam, rustic galvanized tin, or sleek black acrylic. Another huge bonus – trays make it easy to remove your groupings for cleaning or when you need a clear table surface.

Make it Seasonal

A coffee table is the perfect place to change with the seasons – often by changing up only an item or two. A vase of fresh tulips in the spring, a couple pieces of driftwood in the summer, a gourd or two in the fall, or a few pine boughs in the winter are great options.

Make it Personal

A Glass of Bovino

I’ve saved the best for last. Because as in all other areas of your home, your coffee table needs to be personal. Let your pieces tell a story. The conch shell from your last vacation. The silver candlesticks inherited from your grandmother. Choose pieces that not only reflect you, but make you feel good when you look at them.

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