Coffee Table Styling Tips

A lot more than cappuccino goes on today’s coffee tables. Decorating them has expanded to new and diverse heights, with the coffee table becoming a palette to express creativity and style. Given its central location in the room, the coffee table has both the position to capture attention and the space to stage any number of treasures. Here are some tips to make the most of your coffee tablescape and create an attractive, inspiring space. 

Be Interesting

Coffee tables are great places to put conversation pieces. These can range from classic décor like vases and books, to the plain quirky and unexpected. Coral displays or urchine-inspired paperweights can add an unusual and fresh flair to an otherwise refined, traditional space. Incorporate pieces that reflect your personal background, aspirations, and interests. 

Be Bold

 gold decor coffee table

Photo by @boldandgolddecor

If there is anywhere you can afford to break with your room’s color scheme a bit, it’s the coffee table. Gold-accented ginger jars or bright and flamboyant floral arrangements really make for an eye-catching look. Bold doesn’t mean tacky or completely unhinged from the rest of the room. Boldness must be carefully managed with consideration to the next point. 

Be Restrained

 silver decor coffee table

Photo by @juliesimplylove 

This may sound like it contradicts "Be Bold," but it is important to master restraint if you don’t want your streak of boldness to spiral into a tabletop clown show. If your table looks like a hybrid between Einstein's study and a dentist's waiting room, you may want to consider consulting a designer who can help you clarify your style. Instagram and Pinterest are also great resources for getting inspiration from those who have mastered the art of restrained elegance.

Be Balanced


Photo by @farahjmehri

Our brains are hard wired to love spaces with a sense of order and purpose. While this does not mean you need to create a perfectly symmetrical table design, you should consider the display's balance. Besides Symmetrical arrangements, Asymmetrical and Radial balance are also options for achieving a visually pleasing effect. Asymmetrical balance is when objects on opposite sides of a display are different but have similar visual weight, as in the pictured coffee table. Radial balance is when a design radiates out from a common point, like the design on a sand dollar. The latter is less common in coffee table decor but could be incorporated by a creative designer. Symmetrical and asymmetrical design are the most common with plenty of existing examples to refer to in designing your table.   

Be Deliberate


Photo by @boldandgolddecor

A clear plan and theme for your coffee table will avoid the surface becoming a receptacle for old magazines and mismatched knick-knacks. Buy pieces that complement one another and correspond to the room’s broader décor. Have a mirrored surface? Consider other mirrored objects like trays or storage boxes. 

Be Practical

Photo by @farahjmehri

Consider using items that serve both a decorative and useful purpose. Agate coasters look great when arrayed for display but are also perfect for your tea or coffee. A stately ginger jar can double as storage. Decorative, food-safe bowls are a nice way to display snacks, candies, and light appetizers, or to play host to your seasonal decor items. The possibilities are endless!


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