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The Art of Styling Your Coffee Table

Mar 01, 2022

If you stop to think about it, a coffee table has an important job. It not only helps anchor your living room decor, but it needs to look good doing it. And when you find your ideal coffee table, this is where the fun starts; you now have a perfect blank slate to style any way you want.

We admit, the task at hand can also be somewhat (and deceptively) intimidating. You may have even already experimented with a few decorative pieces to the table, but you keep feeling like something’s either missing, out of place or it just doesn’t feel right. Coffee table styling requires a bit of balance, color scheming and intentionality to get it just so.

So before you start (or start over), follow along as we show you how to get that ideal coffee table look. Incorporating these tips will make it easy to apply what makes sense for your room’s unique aesthetic.

Freshen Up with Fresh Flowers

Who doesn’t love a beautiful floral arrangement as a coffee table centerpiece? Start with an artful vase — which is, of course, an eye-catching piece in and of itself that could stand alone if you wish. But if you want to infuse a little more life into your living room, add a fresh bouquet of flowers from the store or your garden. If you prefer longer-lasting floral options, pick up some fake flowers at your favorite craft store (you’ll be amazed at how lifelike they are made to look these days).

Mix It Up with Textures

Think of someone wearing a solid, all-gray wool suit, but they’ve added a deep pink, patterned silk tie or scarf. What does your eye immediately go to? The thing that pops out with a different color and texture is what makes the outfit interesting.

Now apply that same strategy when it comes to accessorizing your coffee table and add interest with different textures. Even if you really like wood, marble, glass or whatever material your table is made from, too much of anything can make a good thing seem boring and unimaginative.

So stray away from sameness and add variety through different materials that will stand out against your table top. If you have a wood coffee table, bring in a terra-cotta bowl. If your table is made of acrylic, try to bring in more earthy textures and stone materials to help strike the right balance. Creating this contrast will get your display noticed for all the right reasons.

Coffee Table Books Are a Must

This is kind of a no-brainer; decorating a coffee table is literally what these books are made for, after all. However, while it may seem like common sense to simply place a book on top of a coffee table and call it a day, there’s an actual art to it since style over substance is the name of the game here.

So go with the oversized coffee table book and flip it open to a favorite page. If this isn’t your preference or you don’t have as much decorative space to play with, create a stack of three or four smaller books. You can place a pot, paperweight, or other decorative piece on top to create a little flair and height difference.

Speaking of height ...

Play with Different Heights

One common design idea that people often overlook is not varying the height of their decor pieces. Just as with mixing textures, designers will tell you that height variation will also give your coffee table dimension and make it more pleasing to look at.

The good news is there are so many ways to accomplish this simple style strategy — and because you have a limited surface space and height to play with, only a few items are necessary to accomplish your goal. In addition to the example given in the previous tip, you could also choose to lay a coffee table book open in one corner, then add a vessel or two to go along with it. The height differences can strike a complementary style balance that’s virtually effortless to achieve.

Adding a Tray = Tres Chic

If your coffee table is actually an ottoman, this is a popular decor idea: Choose a tray that pops against your ottoman’s fabric. Think again about opposing textures and colors; for example, if the ottoman is made of beige fabric, your tray could be anything from traditional dark brown wood tray to a boldly colorful acrylic option.

From there, you can add decorative pieces to help fill the tray like candles, vases, pottery, chains and the like. Because an ottoman is usually larger and sturdy, you can feel confident stylizing in this way (especially in a family room) without it constantly being knocked off.

Surprise with Asymmetry

Sometimes symmetry can serve you well, like when you’re decorating a coffee table like a pro. But occasionally, symmetry can hinder your success. That’s why mixing heights and textures work — the “off” look it creates is more visually appealing. In the same vein, sticking to an odd number of pieces is also a good rule of thumb.

So instead of stressing over what pieces to add to your coffee table decor to achieve this asymmetry, focus instead on the number of pieces you use. As counterintuitive as it seems, grouping and setting things up in odd numbers — three of the same thing, five different items (you get the point) — can actually create a physical balance. The imperfection is what makes it stylistically perfect!

Above All, Keep It Simple

While each of the tips we’ve mentioned so far will help turn your coffee table from drab to fab, resist the urge to load your table with pretty things. Even if you have a large coffee table, it doesn’t mean every square inch of it needs to be covered. Instead, keep it simple, and go for design quality over quantity in your accessory choices.

Another reason why simplicity should be the general rule is to keep in mind that your coffee table is just one of many other furniture pieces and decor in the room. When that’s the case, it’s best to lightly accessorize your table to avoid a cluttered look. Just add a couple of books here, a piece of pottery there and a frame over there. Done!

Shop Acima Furniture Retailers

You might be thinking, “Well this is all good info, but there’s just one thing I’m missing … a coffee table!” Well of course, we have you covered there, too.

Whether you’re looking for one to complete your current living room or one to go with the new interior design vibe you’ve been inspired to create by this blog, we can help you get the perfect coffee table to elevate your space. Shop our name-brand furniture retailers using our alternative to financing — so you can make manageable lease renewal payments as you go without having to use credit* or upfront cash. Lease it until you own it or purchase early at a discount. Either way, it’s yours to keep. The sooner you do so, the more you’ll save. Of course, if you no longer want the merchandise, you can return it in good condition at any time without penalty. Lease-to-own* with Acima Leasing and take home the coffee table (and other pieces to complete your living room) you want today!