My Top 5 Tips For Styling A Coffee Table

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Heyyy guys! Today I’d like to share with you my top five tips for styling a coffee table like a pro, so that you can turn it into a beautiful focal point in your living room. I know that it is a long awaited post for some of you, but for some reason I just couldn’t find the right timing. Therefore, I decided that it might as well be now. Hence, allow me to briefly outline my styling tips so that you may give your coffee table that love and attention it deserves.

Sneak view of a minimal Scandi looking sitting set in a bright white room. I just love both armchairs with their textured feel and the black round coffee table in front of them. Image by Debenhams.
Image by Debenhams.

A coffee table is one of the most engaging pieces of furniture, usually at the very center of the living room. It can take on many different functions and therefore, it matters what goes on top of it. So when it comes to styling a coffee table, it’s important to create an attractive, personal synthesis without creating a visual clutter or lose its practicality altogether.

Partial view of a minimal contemporary sitting room. I love the black floor lamp leaning over the gray sofa. The rectangular coffee table is styled with candelsticks at various heights. I also love the contrast between the minimal sofa against the white decorated wall behind it. Image by Cuckooland.
Image by Cuckooland.

One of the first things to consider is the coffee table decor at hand. Balance is of key importance. Opt for decor that has a visual weight, looks proportional (scale-wise) to your setting and has an “entertaining” quality, like an interesting book to read. It always helps to have an eccentric piece that might serve as a conversation starter when guests over. Thus, I’ve listed below the most common decor items:

  • Vases
  • Books
  • Candelabras, candlesticks, candles
  • Trays
  • Sculptures
  • Planters
  • Decorative objects – knickknacks
A close detail of a yellow glass vase with a flower arrangement on a tray styled beautifully on a coffee table. Image by DFS Furniture.
Image by DFS Furniture.
Love the two metallic and glass sculptures sitting atop a stack of books on a styled coffee table. Image by Dunelm.
Image by Dunelm. Now these swirl glass ornaments are very much to my liking.

Adding organic elements tends to create a more bohemian feel and adds that vibe of a well-traveled person. Metallic accents add sophistication. Groupings in trays make everything look more tidy, but have a very “collected” connotation. Personally, I use them sparingly, because I prefer a more relaxed impression. They are a great fit and quite necessary for that matter, for ottoman poufs though. And let me mention that one of my all-time favorite decor items is a mini chess board made out of marble. It adds texture in a very classy way. 😉

A round coffee table with a green marble top and a brass truss stand with three decorative vases. A brown sofa in the background and a grey area rug on the floor complete the sitting area. Image by Cuckooland.
Image by Cuckooland.

Create highs and lows

I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. No matter how minimal your arrangement is, creating highs and lows generates visual interest. If for example you were to lay a single book on a coffee table then it will look flat – really flat and boring. If though you were to place a stack of three books, then that will immediately create a high point that will pop. Similarly, if you were to place a tall vase with some greenery in it, then you’ll get an even higher point. A note to remember is that the highest point should never obstruct visual (eye-to-eye) contact among the people who’ll be sitting around the coffee table.

Plan of action: Determine your tallest and lowest decor. The obvious thing to do is to place the tallest piece in the center. If though, you choose to place it off-center then you need to create a visual balance on the other side. In that case, I recommend placing an accent piece such as a metallic sculpture.


A chic but warm and inviting sitting room with a nice beige sectional sofa and a coffee table with a brass stand and a black glass top. Image by DFS Furniture.
Image by DFS Furniture.
Close up of a black coffee table with a cube glass vase and white flowers in it and a stack of three books besides it. Image by Kelly Hoppen.
Image by Kelly Hoppen.

The power of threes

This old classic rule of the threesome applies to coffee table styling just like anywhere else. Use a single decorative object and it looks too bare; more than three and it looks too crowded. Thus, when you create groups, i.e. a stack of books, the odd number of three is your jackpot.

Tip: if all you have is three vases at varying heights, then you could group them together and turn them into a single statement piece. 😉


A stylish contemporary living room with that airy grey sectional sofa in the middle and an elegant styled coffee table. Table lamps and floor lamps will create a nice ambiance at night. Image by DFS Furniture.
Image by DFS Furniture.

Go green

Needless to say, that adding greenery and blooms can liven up everything and change your mood instantly. Obviously, potted plants are a more permanent solution to fresh flowers in a vase. Therefore, consider a few plant alternatives such as a small olive tree that won’t grow too fast as a great option or a cluster of potted succulents.


I love this gray minimal sectional sofa with a white marble coffee table in a high ceiling room with wall murals and a white decorative double door. Image by Houseology.
Image by Houseology. Love how this Bolia Piero coffee table styling is kept monochrome and understated. It’s doesn’t feel bare because the rest of room is quite overpowering.

Examine every angle

When creating an arrangement it’s important to examine it from every angle. People will be looking at your coffee table from every angle according to their seating. It has to be balanced, otherwise it will create an uneasy feel, like there’s something wrong but you’re not entirely sure what. If you get that feeling, then you should consider re-examining your coffee table decor arrangement again. Take note of the room around. If the rest of the room has heavy decorating, then it might be best to play down your coffee table decorating with understated styling. No need to frame your coffee table with your decor. No need to overcrowd it either. Hence, I recommend you start with less and build up on that over time.


There is a strong sense of serenity in this off white sitting room with a large sectional sofa, a square coffee table in front styled to perfection and a bookcase behind the sofa that plays off beautifully the rest of the setting. Image by DFS Furniture.
Image by DFS Furniture. Note how that orange glass vase pops against the neutral palette of this beautiful sitting room. That contrast made with a earthly color is the perfect accent.


Creating contrasts using colors and/or textures can play off the table’s color and material respectively. Sometimes all it takes is a pop of color. Other times, adding a big white stone on a stack of books will do the trick (just like in the image above). But once again, consider the entire room’s design theme. When I refer to contrast I don’t mean necessarily the decor against the coffee table. For instance, if the room feels “loaded” then, it might be a good idea to go monochromatic and use decor with the same hue as that of the coffee table. Thus, an overall contrast will result in terms of the whole room design which is much more effective and has a greater design impact. The coffee table with its decor becomes one wholesome unit within an overall design scheme. Cool, huh?!


Love the simple understated styling of this marble coffee table - just a stack of books with a table lamp on them and a vase with a flower arrangement. Nothing too pretentious. Image by
Image by Love the simple understated styling of this marble coffee table.  The Menu Phare LED table lamp transforms from a stationary lamp to a lighting companion that illuminates your home.
What a lovely grey sofa. I love its curvy shape paired with an oval shaped wooden coffee table in a contemporary minimal sitting room with a Scandi vibe to it. A black pendant light is hanging behind the sofa from this room's high ceiling. Image by DFS Furniture.
Image by DFS Furniture.

Using a single statement piece like a big bowl or a portable lighting source are the best alternatives for those of you who don’t like a lot of stuff on your coffee table. Another option to consider is placing an open coffee table book as decor, next to a stack of other coffee tables. That way it won’t look bare, but it certainly won’t look stuffy either.

So are you ready to tackle your coffee table styling project? Be sure to share any thoughts and concerns…

Love, xo

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