How to Decorate & Style Your Coffee Table: The Do's & Don'ts


Every home should have one. They come in different shapes and sizes, can be formal or informal, and are made from numerous materials. This furnishing is a statement piece and is generally the center of attention in gatherings; second only to the TV. This important furnishing is your coffee table.

While the choices are endless for selecting a coffee table that coordinates with your personal style; the options for decorating and styling one are the opposite. Let's face it, there are a limited number of accessories to choose from when styling your coffee table (books, flowers, and trays will forever reign). Even with this being the case, there are still ways to make those tried and true selections stand out and reflect your personality. Let's discuss the do's and don'ts of decorating and styling your coffee table.

Decorate Your Coffee Table: Do's

  • Use the Rule of Three as a Guideline

Now I usually roll my eyes at "rules" when it comes to decorating but this is one I actually agree with. The concept is simple; the rule focuses on the notion that grouping items in odd numbers create more visual depth and appeal than even numbered groupings. Three is also the smallest figure that allows our brains to form a pattern and remember things. This principle holds weight in interior design, graphic design, and photography. There must be some truth to it cause how else do you explain popular "number stories" like, The 3 Little Pigs, 3 Blind Mice, Goldilocks & the 3 Bears; hell, even Three's Company! Although 3 seems to be the magic number, groupings of 5, 7, and 9 can also work.

  • Vary the Height of Your Accessories

There is nothing more visually unappealing than seeing objects styled at the same height. It's important to create interest and contrast; differing heights also allows the eyes to move around the objects instead of glossing over them.

  • Add Color

Pick objects with a pop of color that complement the scheme of the room. For example, select flowers to put in a vase that is a similar color to the walls or accent pillows in the room. Candles and greenery are additional ways to bring in color. Finally, art books are a way to both provide pops of color and spark a conversation with its images.

Decorate Your Coffee Table: Don'ts

  • Clutter the Space

Depending on the size of your coffee table; there seems to be an urge for some folks to occupy every. square. inch. Please my stylish friends, don't be one of those folks. The general rule of thumb is to leave space for drinks and coasters when entertaining. A non-cluttered table also minimizes accidents or things being broken if little ones are in the home.

  • Mix Themes

When it comes to shopping for accessories, resist the urge to splurge (hey that rhymes) on all your favorite knick-knacks. It’s important that the items you purchase are deliberate and match the style of the interior space. For example, if the room style is traditional, it would not make sense to purchase crystals and vintage inspired pieces (bohemian vibe). Mixing themes makes a room feel "chaotic" instead of coordinated.

  • Pick Sides

Depending on the size of your coffee table, some decor tips suggest that you should choose a side to decorate and leave the other side empty. I personally think this looks weird and unfinished. In addition to the size, the styling arrangement will depend on the number of objects selected. Obviously if it’s one or two items, mentally dividing the table in half would work with each object being evenly spaced apart. If its three or more, its best to create an imaginary quadrant of the table and place an object within each quadrant.

With these basic tips, anyone can decorate and style a coffee table with confidence. The process should be easy and personable. Once you become a pro, the hardest part to decorating your coffee table will be staying within your budget! From glam to farmhouse chic, the choice is yours-just be sure to have fun in the process. If you need more inspiration and tips, be sure to download my FREE e-book "The Vignette Style Guide: 5 Designer Tips for Decorating Coffee Tables & Bookshelves" here.