COFFEE TABLE STYLING 101


Literally one of my favorite areas to style is a coffee table. It’s usually the centerpiece of the room and in the direct line of sight to anyone in the room. So, I thought I would break down my basic overview on how I like to style coffee tables. Disclaimer—this is just how I like to style coffee tables as I know there are hundreds of different ways to style!


To be honest, I use the same “formula” for all different coffee table shapes/sizes. It just works for me! And I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel. The basic rule I follow is creating 3 groups of pieces. My go-to pieces are (or at least 9 times out of 10) coffee table books, a vase, a bowl/dish, and a few decorative objects. Let’s not forget adding some greenery!


Design: Heidi Caillier Design / Photo: Haris Kenjar

For most normal sized coffee tables, I’ll put everything into a triangle. Please note, this triangle is in my head and not a physical triangle like I’m racking a pool table. For example, I’ll put a vase in the back, a stack of coffee table books next to that, and then maybe have a candle or small dish in the front of them.


Now, I know not all tables can necessarily accommodate this “rule” because maybe it’s a thinner table (like my current one) or you’re using two tables next to each other instead of one table. Here’s a little diagram to show how I’d do implement on different table styles for you:

My starting point is typically the vase/vessel that I want to use because the proportions of that will tell me what else I’m able to use. I also think of what type of greenery I want to use, if any, since some branches/stems just fit better in certain vessels. I will say, nothing beats a good vintage crock, but I know everyone doesn’t want a crock (I’ll get over it) so here’s some of my current vessel obsessions:

(Double Click on Image for Product Link)

Next, I’ll add the coffee table books. I know, mind-blowing. My rule of thumb is to make sure your coffee table book stack is never higher than halfway up the vessel you chose. This is usually no more than two books.

Finally, I’ll layer on top of those books to create a little more depth and interest. I usually will place some decorative object and/or candle. If there’s room, I’ll also try to add a tray or smaller dish too. The tray/dishes are great for organizing your smaller remotes, candle supplies, or anything really.


Design: Studio McGee

And there you go! A fully styled coffee table without having to do too much. You're welcome :)


- Kevin