How To

How to Style Your Coffee Table Like a Designer

Flipping through the pages of your favourite interiors magazine, you’ll probably notice that every coffee table on display (and every surface alike) is immaculately styled. Though most of us have a coffee table, there’s an art to establishing the right mood, and to balancing beautiful decor items, functional pieces, and negative space for a cohesive look.

So, how do the experts make it seem so easy? There are quite a few tips and tricks for coffee table styling that’ll help anyone – whether you’re a newbie home stylist or have transformed your abode into a designer’s paradise – tackle this task with ease. Here are 12 must-know pieces of advice for styling your coffee table, straight from the pros.

1. Start with shape

The shape of the coffee table itself can have a huge bearing on its aesthetic. Where a round coffee table is warm, whimsical and inclusive, a square or rectangular coffee table takes a modern, sleek and bold point of view. Of course, practicality will factor into the equation, but don’t underestimate the impact shape can have on your coffee table’s style.


2. Pick the right material

Another factor that’s really central to establishing your style, whatever furniture piece you’re considering, is material. There’s a huge difference in feel between wood, glass and marble. A glass coffee table is airy and pristine, while wood is more rustic, and a marble coffee table is very modern. If you’re struggling with which material to pick, take a look at your favourite room or section of your home and see what you tend to gravitate towards.

Perfect balance: Although the materials, size and height are different here they are balanced perfectly with the same form on our Memphis Coffee Table Set.
Perfect balance: Although the materials, size and height are different here they are balanced perfectly with the same form on our Memphis Coffee Table Set.

3. Prioritise balance

Perfect balance: Although the materials, size and height are different here they are balanced perfectly with the same form on our Memphis Coffee Table Set.
Perfect balance: Although the materials, size and height are different here they are balanced perfectly with the same form on our Memphis Coffee Table Set.

Now that you’ve got a few tips for selecting the right coffee table under your belt, let’s dive right into styling. One of the most crucial things to keep in mind throughout this process is balance. While we’ve been told it’s a myth in our personal lives, in the design world, striving for balance should be central to everything you do. For instance, if you’ve got a cool concrete coffee table, strike a juxtaposition with different materials, shapes and forms. The last thing you’ll want is for your coffee table to feel one-note.

4. Map out the area

With that in mind, let’s begin the process of styling the perfect coffee table! Decor can have such a huge impact, so be sure to give yourself a clean slate and think about your design decisions with a critical eye. Depending on the shape and size of your coffee table, you might like to make a plan for how you’ll use the space.

Styling a square coffee table might look a little different to round coffee table styling – if you’re working with a structured square or rectangular space, things will flow better if they are placed along a central axis (starting from the horizontal and vertical centre point of the table) whereas a round coffee table has a little more freedom.


5. Address your non-negotiables

A good starting point when beginning to place objects is to cover off those things that simply have to be on your coffee table – think TV remotes, coasters, a table lamp, or anything else you consider central to your daily life and use of the surface. There may be creative, chic ways that you can disguise or accommodate those non-negotiable household items, such as small baskets, pots and trays. Then, you can mix up these more functional items by adding in the beautiful, aesthetic pieces as you go.

6. Select your favourite decor pieces

Your coffee table might be a small surface, but it’s no less capable of making a statement, so be sure you’re putting your best foot forward when it comes to decor. Give your favourite pieces pride of place on the coffee table so that you really enjoy using it – whether you’re settling in for a movie marathon, sipping your favourite drink, or simply reclining for a good, old fashioned nap. A beloved vase in your go-to colours, a scented candle that evokes a memory, or a book you love to flip through in your downtime are great places to start.


7. Play with highs and lows

When you’re beginning to move items around, a good rule of thumb is to use a variety of heights to create life and dimension. You might like to have one flat item, like a book, paired with a tall item such as a candle holder, and something that sits in between, like a vase or potted plant. Clustering these three items together creates a small scene of its own within the landscape of your coffee table, adding depth and visual interest.

Visual perfection: neutral table accents mixing height, shape and function on our Finn Coffee Table
Visual perfection: neutral table accents mixing height, shape and function on our Finn Coffee Table
Visual perfection: neutral table accents mixing height, shape and function on our Finn Coffee Table
Visual perfection: neutral table accents mixing height, shape and function on our Finn Coffee Table

8. Stack ‘em up

Another styling tip straight from the experts’ mouths is to get stacking! If you’ve got quite a few objects that you want to incorporate into your coffee table, layering them up – and creating levels in the process – is the best way to do it. Grab a couple of luxe coffee table books and use these as the base for your other objects. Then, on the top of that new surface, arrange a tall item like a taper candle or a vase, and some lower pieces like trinket trays, mini plants, tealights and your favourite sentimental bits. They’ll all live comfortably on top of the book stack, keeping clutter out of the way and establishing a sweet little space.


9. Use negative space

Somewhere people often go wrong when it comes to coffee table decor is the volume of items crowding up the surface. Less is more, as the saying goes, and negative space will be your best friend. Be sure to carve out small sections of the coffee table and leave them blissfully blank – not only will this aid the functionality of your surface, but it’ll also give your carefully selected items room to breathe.


10. Include a little greenery

Nothing brings life to a coffee table more than some lush greenery. Plants are always a great addition, especially if they’re in cute, striking pots that fit your aesthetic, or if they’re unique varieties that trail or hang over your other decor pieces. String of pearls, devil’s ivy and other medium-sized trailing plants have been a go-to for many people when styling their ideal coffee table. They’re suitable in any home, and will add a bit of brightness to the space, no matter your style and colour palette.

The Aldo Coffee Table's column-esque detailing and cement-look finish adds texture and decided cool factor to any space.
The Aldo Coffee Table's column-esque detailing and cement-look finish adds texture and decided cool factor to any space.

11. Mix up textures

The Aldo Coffee Table's column-esque detailing and cement-look finish adds texture and decided cool factor to any space.
The Aldo Coffee Table's column-esque detailing and cement-look finish adds texture and decided cool factor to any space.

To juxtapose the material your coffee table is made out of, try to play with texture a little. The more rich variety of texture, colour and material, the more eye-catching your coffee table area will be! Offset a wood coffee table with different textures, such as metal, glass, marble or resin. If your piece is metal, on the other hand, softer materials will help you to achieve that sought-after balance.

12. Storage is queen

Finally, because a coffee table is inevitably a functional piece, look for homeware items that provide you with small doses of storage. Whether it’s a coffee table tray, basket, pot or catchall dish, these little storage mechanisms will give you somewhere to stash those unsightly non-negotiable items, or simply to clean up a bit if things are feeling a bit messy and overwhelmed. You’ll thank past you for incorporating storage when your coffee table looks like a bomb hit it and you can neatly tuck everything away!

Whether your coffee table is big or small, round or rectangular, marble or metal, styling it is an art – but ultimately, it’s your project, and what you say goes. Be sure to inject lots of your personality, consider the layout carefully, and leave room for everyday life – whether that’s space for the TV remotes or a coaster waiting to host a glass of wine. To keep exploring coffee table styling, discover our range of homewares and decor, and browse hundreds of beautiful furniture styles, including our expertly-crafted coffee tables.