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how to style your coffee table

How to style your coffee table

The coffee table is central to your living room making it the best surface to style and inject your own personality to your space. But often I find people using it as a dumping ground filled with clutter, knick-knacks and chaos. This is a big no-no if you want your home to look designed and welcoming! If you are the kind of person to clutter your coffee table, you should consider a table with drawers or add some decorative baskets to house your ‘stuff’ underneath. Your coffee table provides an opportunity to display your memoirs and prized possessions in an organised way, helping you add your own personality to your home. 

Coffee table styling with wooden beads

Think of your coffee table as a mini version of your design scheme, where you can pull your look together in one place. While it is important to decorate your coffee table beautifully, it is also important that you allow it to function for your own needs. Is this where you eat dinner in the evenings while watching the block? Or perhaps it’s where you place a cheese board and wine on the weekends? If so, style your table with space in mind for these activities.

In this blog, I want to help you decorate your table for YOU. The art of Coffee table styling is very easy to master with the following tips. 

Composition – The shape of your table dictates the layout

Is your table a round, square or rectangle? The shape will determine how you organise your decorative items on top.  Some shapes suite a central vignette, while others prefer offset or even multiple clusters. Let’s consider the best way to layout your styling first based on the shape of your table! 



  • Position your items in the centre or slightly off centre on the table. 
  • Style within one section only 
  • I prefer to style round tables without a tray to provide more room for seperate vignettes or ‘moments’ within a central section. ( see below images. Their styling is central however there are a number of moments within).
  • If you want to use a tray, go for round and keep all styling items inside. 
  • The rule of three works great here : Always have 1 tall, 1 medium and 1 low item. 
how to style a round coffee table
Image Source : (Left) Pinterest (Right) Caitlin Marie Design


  • My favourite approach is to divide it up into 4 x even sections 
  • Use a round or square tray for one section only, to break it up visually. 
  • Style each section differently. 
  • Even height styling works well on a square table with multiple styled sections. 
  • If you want more practical, usable space, consider one central section for styling. 
square coffee table styling
Image Source: Pinterest


  • Style along the length of the table, not just one section.  
  • Chose something tall to catch your eye, and the rest can be more flat to allow the eye to move over everything with ease. 
  • Incorporate a round or square tray to break up your styling and mix up the shapes. 
How to style a rectangle coffee table
Image Source : Pinterest

Design Style – be consistent with your theme

Having a consistent style and colour palette is key. The items on your coffee table should match each other and complement the overall look and feel of your room. Your styling should work with your design scheme, not against it. For example, a Hamptons theme would look beautiful with some sea urchins, shells and coastal books while a Hollywood Glam theme would look beautiful with some gold accents, flowers and a designer book.

Once you know your interior style, look for suitable items such as books, vases, trinkets or ornaments that will help your room tell its story. Try to use different shapes, sizes and textures for visual interest. 

Style a coffee table for hamptons home
Image Source: (Left) Hamptons Style (Right) Curated Interior

Layer your styling – chose different height items.


Grounding/flat item

The key to a perfectly styled coffee table is to work with items of similar colour, style, and theme to the rest of your room. To begin your styling, 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 (as per my example below). 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. 

How to style your coffee table

Tall item

The next item to add to your tray/book should be your tallest item. This can be a tall flower, a plant or a decorative vase. Make sure you choose the height appropriately from a sitting perspective, as we don’t want to block “Masterchef” on the TV! This item will be the hero piece to your styling and will attract attention to the other pieces. 

I usually like to use a plant or a vase of flowers here to contrast against the styling within the room. You can never go wrong with a beautiful green plant! 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). 

Coffee table styling tips

Medium height item

Now that you have your taller item in place stealing all the glory, let’s attract the eye downwards gradually by adding more interest at a slightly lower level. You could consider using picture frames, stacked books or a beautiful trinket box. I love to use trinket boxes to hide everyday items like the remote control, matches for the candles or loose change! Chose a box that adds an extra layer of detail to your styling. Smaller ornamental objects can be placed on top of the box to give them more significance.

How to style your coffee table

Smaller Items

We have your tall plant with your stacked books, so now we just need to add a smaller item! Consider beautiful stones/gems, bits of coral, wooden beads or chains (see image below) candles etc. Candles are a must on a coffee table whether you light it or not (see what I did there)! 

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.

Layering your coffee table styling

Finish with your personal touch

Over the years, you may collect small trinkets and memorabilia’s. These can get lost on shelving units within your home. Your coffee table is the perfect place to show them off. Once you have completed your tiered look (tall, medium, small), you can layer in some personal items to tie it all together. Back in the day (before twisty caps) I used to collect the corks from wine bottles which were opened on special occasions. I’d write the date and a short note about the occasion and add them to a wooden bowl on my coffee table. They looked interesting, were meaningful and added an extra layer of texture to my table! 

Tips to style your coffee table


For those of you who read this and thought, “okay this is great, but where do I put my dinner plate every evening?”, please consider getting yourself another option for dining purposes. This could be a taller side table that overlaps the coffee table and used when needed, or maybe you could get some stackable side tables, or even a foldable tray table that slides under the sofa when not in use! This blog, is to help you style your coffee table to enhance your space.


I hope you found this blog useful and that you learned a thing or two about coffee table styling! Send me some pictures of how you’ve styled your own coffee table! I am always looking for new styling inspo! If you need any help or advice, don’t be afraid to ask me. Have a look at my other blogs here

Thanks for reading!


Tracey Bright

Tracey Bright

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