The coffee table is the centerpiece of your living room, so invest in one that suits your style and space. Keeping in mind some common coffee table dos and don’ts, you also want to make sure it’s functional for your daily lifestyle. If you have little kids, a storage table that corrals clutter can be a lifesaver, or if you love to entertain, a tiered table with an extra shelf can be a great choice.
Beyond function, though, a stylishly arranged coffee table can help set the tone in your space. It can be as simple as a few stacks of books topped with objects or one that’s organized with trays of objects. No matter your coffee table styling approach, it should feel personal and be visually appealing to you.
To inspire you, here’s a roundup of coffee table ideas with our best tips for styling it into an eye-catching visual display.
Pretty & Practical
A simple arrangement of elegant everyday items can go a long way as decorative finishing touches on your coffee table. Curate accents and objects that tie back to the color scheme of your room. This grouping of coffee table books, a feather tray, and a lantern candle holder make for a minimalist display that reiterates the room’s calming, neutral vibe.
Styling Tip: Your room’s palette is a great jumping-off point if you’re not sure where to start with your coffee table decor. This approach guarantees your final display will blend seamlessly with the other pieces in your space.
A good mantra for coffee table styling is to stick to the rule of three—three different kinds of objects in varying heights and shapes. Here, a decorative wood box is mixed with a tall planter that adds texture, color, and height along with a stack of vintage-style books. There’s not shortage of intrigue and balance here.
Styling Tip: An eclectic coffee table works best with an eclectic mix of objects. The wooden trunk table here offers both storage space and an unexpected look. If your style leans more quirky, consider coffee table alternatives that have the same edgy look as the items you plan to put on top of it.
Simple & Understated
When it comes to cool and functional living room design ideas, you can’t go wrong with a pair of matching coffee tables—or bunching tables pushed together! With a pair of coffee tables, you already have a visually bold setup, so keep the surfaces simple. A book and a small cactus does the trick here, adding a pop of color and texture.
Styling Tip: If you go with a pair of tables or one that has a bold sculptural design, they’re already ornamental in and of themselves, so keep the surface minimally decorated. Think a small tray, a tiny plant or a scaled-down vase.
Speaking of minimal styling in the living room, a simple wood coffee table design is the best surface for styling up or down as you like. You can layer statement decor on top or keep it tightly curated with just a few accents, like one or two gorgeous vases to compliment your room decor, like the blue-and-white combo here.
Styling Tip: Sometimes it’s all about aesthetics with your coffee table display. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it ties back to the overall look of the rest of your room. This is perfect for those of you who don’t use your coffee table every day.
Family-Friendly & Functional
Coffee tables with built-in functionalities, like a hidden drawer or a tray top, are perfect multitaskers for family homes in our book. They’re made for corralling objects and styled up displays that bring focus to smaller decorative items, such as plants, candles, small trays, books, and even decorative boxes. Don’t dismiss these tables!
Styling Tip: Round tables are perfect for homes with little kids since they don’t have sharp corners. They’re also perfect for books and other more angular objects, which provide visual contrast to the table’s rounded form. It’s always a good idea to contrast shapes in this way!
If your living room is more focused on quiet reading time than TV watching, choose a practical wood coffee table that gives you a clean surface to pile books, magazines, and other reading materials on top of. You can also stack coffee table books for a more polished look, but the idea is that this is a working surface that has everything you’re currently reading or flipping through.
Styling Tip: This is perfect for those who enjoy reading on their living room sofa. Just make sure your coffee table has a spacious surface for you to spread your reading out. One with a tiered design can give you extra storage for more books and magazines.
Levels Of Use
A two-tiered coffee table is always a great choice for a living room that has furnishings in a range of styles. A tiered design also makes for fun coffee table styling since it gives you double the surface to showcase objects and accents. Or you can even turn one shelf into a full storage space for books, baskets, and even blankets.
Styling Tip: With double the surface area, it helps to designate what goes on top and what goes on the bottom. A tray on top is great for cups, plates, remotes and other loose everyday items, while the bottom shelf is always a good place for things you might need in a pinch, like a candle, a throw or even a board game.
For those after a clean-lined contemporary living room, your coffee table doesn’t have to stay bare to keep that aesthetic alive. Make sure to first choose a streamlined table that goes with your style and top it with similarly pared-down items, like a stack of magazines or a small modern votive, box, or vase.
Styling Tip: Think playful but polished when it comes to coffee table accents. And less is definitely more here, so go for the sleek and unique tray or small modern sculpture piece to give your coffee table display just the right amount of oomph.
You’ve seen us mention trays a few times. That’s because it’s one of the easiest and most stylish coffee table ideas to work into any space. Plus, they’re endlessly functional since they’re easy to move around and can be used to hold anything from flowers and candles to tea sets.
Styling Tip: Consider styling a tray with a teapot, candle, and plant so that it’s always ready for entertaining guests and family. Our favorite is turning a coffee table tray into a breakfast tray for serving a delicious morning meal in the living room. Once you’re done, just carry the tray to the kitchen and unload everything. It’s simple and it’s stylish!
If your coffee table has elements of white or a marble top, consider layering it with other white accents and objects for a look that packs a punch. Whether it’s a book or a candle holder or a vase, a white on white on white look is always chic.
Styling Tip: With this coffee table styling approach, it’s less about color and all about shapes and textures. You want to group together white objects that have varying textures and details, like perforations and weathered wood or a smooth white book cover. It’s all in the contrasts.
Two smaller trays paired together on a large wood coffee table gives you double the function and endless styling possibilities. This allows for plenty of open space still on the table surface while giving you areas to corral and curate objects.
Styling Tip: Don’t be afraid to go all out with a style or theme! Here, the trays are filled with nautical decor and accents that reflect the room’s overall coastal aesthetic. When in doubt, always look to the rest of your room’s decor for styling inspiration.
Sleek & Spare
For city dwellers living in sleek condos with modern furniture, coffee table styling is all about paring things down. If this is your style, consider a concrete-and-glass coffee table that comes off as a sculptural piece in and of itself, allowing you to keep it bare or style it up with a few clean-lined accents.
Styling Tip: With modern industrial coffee tables, like this one, they don’t need much styling. But if you do decide to layer on accents, keep to simple low-profile objects that don’t steal away from the table’s bold form. Think tiny vases, white-cover books, and a paper-thin tray.
One of our favorite coffee table decorating tricks is to curate an array of sculptural decor in varying shapes, sizes, and styles. That can range from anything like a decorative coral piece to a seashell to a porcelain bust or a super curvy vessel. Be sure to pick pieces with varying heights, which will make the display more captivating.
Styling Tip: When grouping together pieces that have varying sculptural shapes, be sure to pick pieces with different heights, which will make the display more captivating. You want to style it in a way that invites people to move in and examine each object more closely.
Ready for a room refresh?