How to Style Your Coffee Table

pb coffee tablescape

Coffee table: Pottery Barn

Stumped about how to style the top of your coffee table?

I’ll be honest, mine is usually covered with assorted action heroes, video game controllers, a wad of gum and pb & j crusts. But IF we wanted to impress the neighbors, how would we do it? While a vase of fresh flowers or a stack of books always works, here are some tips for combining objects in fresh and fun ways:

  • Books, a plant & a decorative object on a coffee table make a great table-scape.
  • Create interest with items of all one color by using different shapes or textures.
  • Try opposites: pair smooth with rough, shiny with dull, old with new, round with square, organic with man-made.
  • Vary the heights so that each object is just a little bit shorter
    than the next tallest item. This keep items from feeling disjointed.
  • Make sure objects are not all too small. Choose at least one bolder item to be in focus.
  • Use books or pedestals to elevate items that seem too short.
  • Keep decorative items from blocking your view to people sitting on the
    other side of coffee table! If items are too tall it is difficult to
    have a conversation.

pb two coffee tables

Pottery Barn

    • Use a basket or tray filled with a collection of items: maybe
      books, fruit, artichokes, seashells, vintage toys, games or buttons.
    • Interesting conversation pieces are wonderful for coffee tables — when I am entertaining, I have carved wood instruments and attractive vintage game boards on mine.
    • Leave plenty of room on the table for actually using the surface
      for something other than display. If you don’t leave room for a coffee
      cup, the table will appear awkward and will not be useful to you. Make
      table tops pretty & useful!
    • Make sure your table-scape looks good from all angles.
    • You can use just one item on your table, such as a piece of pottery
      or a vase, but make sure it isn’t tiny! Wide and bold would be a better
      choice than tall and skinny.
    • When you look at magazines, zero in on coffee table table-scapes
      you like and duplicate what you see with your own items of similar size
      and shape!

pb rocks on coffee table

Now this one my son could do. Easy! Thanks Pottery Barn!

 

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About Melissa Michaels

Melissa Michaels is the creator of The Inspired Room.

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Comments

  1. 10
    Grace Kavei says:

    I love the idea of a coffee table, but I am not sure on how to match the color with that of the rug or carpet under it.

  2. 11

    I love this post, Melissa. I just knew it was yours the minute I started reading it. Table-scapes are so much fun and say a lot about the family living in the home. I like changing mine with the seasons and events going on at home. It is fun and important to fill that void above a coffee table with something with some height and interest. I am an accessory girl, they are the jewels of any room.

  3. 12

    I have to admit that I got SO tired of having my husband and children push all the “pretties” aside so that they could prop up their feet on the coffee table that I resorted to removing everything and leaving it bare. It was making me nuts. I decided I’d rather have it look undecorated than to have all the accessories sitting at the corners of the table in disarray.

    I’m thinking I should’ve gone for a big ottoman instead of a coffee table, but it’s too late now. *sigh*

    Looking forward to someday being able to do something pretty like that Pottery Barn table at the top of the post. Love that. I’ve had it marked in my “inspiration file” all summer. -Julia

  4. 13

    I have to admit that I got SO tired of having my husband and children push all the “pretties” aside so that they could prop up their feet on the coffee table that I resorted to removing everything and leaving it bare. It was making me nuts. I decided I’d rather have it look undecorated than to have all the accessories sitting at the corners of the table in disarray.

    I’m thinking I should’ve gone for a big square ottoman instead of a coffee table, but it’s too late now. *sigh*

    Looking forward to someday being able to do something pretty like that Pottery Barn table at the top of the post. Love that. I’ve had it marked in my “inspiration file” all summer. -Julia

  5. 14

    Beautiful!

    The #1 lesson it seems like I should take away from this is “Don’t clutter!” Every time I try to style something at home it never ends up looking quite like the inspirations I base my efforts on, and it seems like the main reason is always because I have more stuff up in the mix than I should.

  6. 15

    I had to laugh out loud about those rocks. If I did that I think people would scratch their heads. It really looks like something my son would do, without my blessing. LOL!

  7. 16

    LOL Fishmama, I was thinking the same thing with an 11 year old boy. I’d love to do more with my table (which is actually a wicker like trunk) but it has to be easy to remove the items cuz we store blankets in there.

    These tables are gorgeous and great inspiration!

  8. 17

    I shudder to think what my sons could do with those rocks. Different season, different time, I guess.

    Beautiful ideas, though.

  9. 18

    Ummm… I think my daughter’s got a few rocks lying around here somewhere. Maybe I’ll toss them on the coffee table and see what happens….