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How to Style a Coffee Table 101

Now that you have the perfect coffee table installed, don’t let it sit naked in the middle of the room where it will fall prey to a collection of remotes, magazines, and random odds and ends.

Take these six concepts into consideration when you plan how to style your coffee table and you won't feel the need to restyle it over and over endlessly searching for the right combination.


Whether you have a round, ellipse, cube, or classic rectangular coffee table shape, playing with the shapes on top of your coffee table is a must to bring harmony to your space.

Tap into the magic designer’s rule of three and group items in triplet. Three unique vases. Three vignettes, etc. If you have a larger coffee table you can do more items, just keep it to an odd number.

Employ different shapes like a stack of books for a rectangle, an elegant bowl for a circle, and a geometric tray. A well-placed knick knack or two adds some organic shape that can bring balance to the whole design.


Similar to the rule of three, sectioning off the horizontal space on your coffee table can help you arrange the surface like a pro designer. Square tables naturally split into quarters, circles into thirds. Rectangles or ovals are great for splitting in a non-symmetrical way that adds interest.

Trays and vessels (like bowls) on the coffee table are an excellent way to cordon off areas in both symmetrical and more organic arrangements. They take up real estate and create visually pleasing divisions. Get creative with the shapes to create unique sections.

Irregular shape wooden coffee table with books on top.


Make some drama by layering objects on your coffee table. It gives the surface more depth and adds interest to your entire space.

Add a vase with flowers on top of books, fruit inside a bowl, knick knacks on top of a tray, a plant on top of a decorative cube. Stack your decor tastefully and your coffee table will never fail to attract the right kind of attention.


Most coffee tables are lower to the ground, usually about the height of the seating in the room. Let your coffee table rise above by creating different heights with objects on top of it.

You can create levels easily if you employ layering (see above) or you can simply select items of differing heights. Flowers and greenery in a taller vase is an excellent way to achieve some height. Candles on candlesticks work too.

Round coffee table at the center of an urban living room.


Pick objects of different sizes to keep things interesting and balance your coffee table design. Mix larger books with smaller books, taller vases with shorter ones, and trays of varying dimensions.

Size can be made even more interesting when paired with other coffee table design concepts. For instance, different sized bowls nested together does double duty with size and layering. Scaling different sized trays in the quadrants of a square coffee table pulls sectioning and size together.


After all this dreaming about some new style for your coffee table, it’s worth taking a step back to remember what the coffee table is for. Yes, it’s a mega design feature, but it’s also a place to rest your coffee mug (thus the name) and you know that the remote will end up there despite your best efforts.

Look for a coffee table with a drawer to stow remotes. Or better yet, a false book is a great place to hide that remote away. Add a stack of coasters to your coffee table as a design feature that doubles as a functional feature.

Let your coffee table shine by styling it perfectly. Knowing how to style your coffee table isn’t difficult when you’re equipped with concepts that empower your inner designer.

Get more tips to inspire your spaces on our blog. 

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