Styling An Updated Looking Coffee Table In 5 Easy Steps

Use these 5 designer steps to help you style a modern, updated coffee table. Create a focal point for your living room or family room in minutes.

Decorating A Coffee Table- oval coffee table in a living room

One of the easiest and most effective ways to update the look of your room is to decorate your coffee table. Your coffee table is a showcase to create a vignette that adds beauty and visual interest to your room, as well as a place to show off your personality and panache.

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Many of us keep the same decor on our coffee tables month after month or even year after year. It’s easy to become decor blind to the decor in our home and be satisfied to keep things as they are. However, when you begin to change some simple things, like your coffee table, your creativity sparks the inspiration that begins the exciting and enjoyable decorating process. One curated coffee table display will change the look of the rest of the room, my friend!

Coffee table styling is easy using these 5 doable steps. These steps are part of the interior designer decorating toolbox for creating amazing, artistic coffee table designs.

The Coffee Table And Our Living Room

I’ve had a history, so to speak, with coffee tables in our open concept, smallish living room. I just could not seem to find the correct size and look for this room. The small oval coffee table with a shelf is the eighth coffee table in this room. I feel a little like Goldilocks. I did not want a coffee table that was too big or too small. I was looking for one that was just right! I think this is the just right coffee table… for now!

Decorating A Coffee Table- decor on a coffee table

My style is casual, comfortable, and a little bit upscale, and the color story in this room is warm neutrals with accents of gold and caramel.

I like to change the decor in this room often, and that also means changing and rearranging what is on the top of the coffee table. I styled today’s coffee table as an example and guide to show you just one simple coffee table design that works every time! Use the tips below to create the perfect coffee table for your home.

Choose A Color Palette

Decorating A Coffee Table- coffee table using neutral colors

Choosing a color palette is the most important first step to creating a cohesive coffee table design. We want the overall look of a coffee table to harmonize with the rest of our room and be interesting enough that it stands out as a mini focal point. This balancing act is achieved by choosing the perfect color palette.

Here are two guidelines to help you pick the right color story for your coffee table decor.

  1. Use the same family of colors that are in the room.
  2. Add one or two other complementary colors to your coffee table palette.

The first rule, using the same family of colors that are already present in the room, helps to establish harmony and visual continuity. By incorporating shades and tones that echo those found in the room’s decor, you create a sense of cohesion that ties the coffee table seamlessly into the space.

Decorating A Coffee Table- next to a sofa

Adding one or two complementary colors to your coffee table palette will coordinate the design and add visual interest. The complementary colors you choose should work with the existing color scheme while providing contrast and depth. Introducing a pop of color through decorative accents or accessories can infuse personality and character into the coffee table design, making it a standout feature within the room.

Selecting a color palette simplifies the process of identifying the perfect decorative pieces for your coffee table design.

I mirrored the neutral color story of our living room and introduced touches of green with the foliage in the urn and the cover of a book.

Should I Use A Basket Or Decorative Tray?

Many times, a basket or decorative tray is an important part of creating an interesting coffee table centerpiece or vignette. A basket adds abundant texture to the design and keeps decorative items neatly gathered together

For this updated coffee table, a basket is not needed because the goal is to fill our coffee table with decor that creates a more modern look.

No matter your style, you can design fresh-looking coffee table decor without using a basket.

One Large Decorative Object

Decorating A Coffee Table- large urn with greens

The first decorative item to choose when starting to build a beautiful, integrated coffee table design is a large decorative object. Choose one item that catches the eye and makes a statement.

It could be a unique, larger sculptural object or a planter with greenery. Even a pair of tall, chunky candlesticks with interesting candles will work. Choosing something large will add heft and depth to your design and naturally draw the eye up. The varying heights of objects on a coffee table play an important part in the attractiveness of the overall look of a coffee table.

When it comes to picking out a large decorative piece for your coffee table, think of it as your chance to make a statement! Look for something that commands notice and fits in with the style of your space. It’s all about creating a balanced and inviting look that reflects your style and makes your space feel truly special.

Decorating A Coffee Table- small ginger jar

I used an urn with faux greens as the large object on my coffee table display. The urn is heavy and is definitely a statement piece. The greens have a graceful appeal that softens the texture of the urn. Using at least one natural element on a coffee table is a good idea, even if they are faux.

Coffee Table Books

books on a coffee table

Books aren’t just for reading – they’re fantastic decor pieces for your coffee table! Whether you’re an avid reader or simply love the look of a well-curated stack of books, incorporating books into your coffee table decor can bring style and substance to your living space.

One of the simplest ways to use books on your coffee table is by stacking them. This creates visual interest and adds dimension to your tabletop display. Try experimenting with different sizes and colors to achieve the perfect balance. I added two stacks of books to one end of the coffee table. Books are an easy way to add symmetry to your overall design.

Consider adding additional decorative layers to your stack of books. Try topping books with a small vase of fresh flowers, an attractive bowl, or a set of coasters.

Books also can act as a riser for objects on your coffee table that need a bit of height or more presence.

But beyond their decorative appeal, books offer a myriad of benefits for your coffee table decor. They add a personal touch to your space, reflecting your interests and personality, and add a sense of coziness and warmth to your living area. There’s something inviting about the presence of books in a room.

Decorative Accents

brown and white ginger jar on a coffee table

Decorative objects play an essential role in transforming a coffee table into an inviting focal point of a living space. You can infuse personality, style, and character into your home decor by carefully selecting and strategically placing decorative items. Accents serve as visual anchors, adding depth, texture, and visual interest to an otherwise functional piece of furniture.

Decorating A Coffee Table- overhead view

These accents on a coffee table provide an opportunity to show off your personal style and interests. Whether you prefer a minimalist, modern look or a more eclectic, bohemian vibe, the choice of decorative items allows you to express your unique taste and personality. It cannot be overstated that accent decor on a coffee table will not only get noticed but also act as an undercover conversation starter!

Decorating A Coffee Table- a turtle bowl and a candle on two stacks of books

A little bronze turtle bowl tops off one stack of the books, and a coffee-scented candle and matches in a little crock are added to the other.

I love turtles, and our company often asks about this quirky little bowl.

Decorate The Bottom Shelf

Decorating A Coffee Table- bottom shelf on a coffee table with decorating books

If your coffee table has a bottom shelf, decorating it is an excellent opportunity to add more depth and dimension to your living space. It is a wonderful place to use larger decorative items such as baskets, trays, or decorative boxes. These pieces not only fill the space effectively but also add a practical storage solution for items like remote controls, magazines, or coasters. Baskets will add an extra layer of texture.

Besides storage solutions, don’t hesitate to add decorative accents that complement the overall theme or color story of your space. On the bottom shelf of our coffee table, I stacked more of my favorite decorating books. On top of one book, I added a round tortoiseshell vase to compliment the turtle bowl on top of the coffee table and add a little asymmetry to the overall design.

If you have a glass-topped coffee table, keep the bottom shelf decor minimal. One large lidded basket would be a great choice.

Decorating A Coffee Table- close up of a candle and little container of matches on a stack of books

Other Things To Remember

Here are other things to keep in mind that are easy to do and will help you create beautiful and interesting coffee table decor.

  • Start decorating the center of the table and work out from both sides.
  • Create a focal point.
  • Use items of varying heights and shapes for an interesting look.
  • Use a mix of textures.
  • Incorporate natural elements into your coffee table design.
  • Think about functionality. Leave space to put down a drink, a remote, or a stack of magazines.
  • Use sentimental items; they infuse your personality into your coffee table arrangement.
  • Leave some empty space on your coffee table. Negative space is a good design practice.
  • Refresh your coffee table decor often.

Use these 5 steps as a guide to create a beautiful coffee table that reflects your room’s color story, your style, and your personality! Experiment with different combinations of decorative items until you style a coffee table that is perfect your your home.

FAQs About Decorating A Coffee Table

When decorating a coffee table, simplicity is best. Use one large vase of flowers for height, and add books and accent decor like candles, figurines, coasters, small boxes, baskets, or organic items. Experiment with the items until you get a configuration that is pleasing to you.

The best number of items on a coffee table depends on a couple of things, like the size and shape of your coffee table and the look you want to create. A good rule of thumb is to use between 3 and 5 things or groups of things on a coffee table.

To give your coffee table a curated look or a look collected over time, carefully consider everything you put on it. Choose the most beautiful, the best of the things you collect, things from your travels, books that are interesting, and plants and flowers that are lush and healthy. Keep your coffee table style simple, neat, and uncluttered.

Shopping And Sources

pin for decorating a coffee table

Happy Decorating, Friend!

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  1. Can you tell me what the faux greens are called in the gorgeous urn? Also the little lidded brown and white vase, can you tell me where to find these things too?
    Thank you! Since I’ve been following you I have had so many compliments on all of my decor.
    I have a very small house and your ideas and design have made a huge impact on me!
    Thanks again

    1. I so thrilled to hear that, Vicki! Thank you for letting me know. The greens are from a local shop. And the ginger jar is out of stock. So sorry.

  2. I change my coffee table styling up with the seasons and holidays so it never gets stale. I like to vary heights but always keeping in mind we don’t want anything too high blocking the view from sofa to chairs.
    Is this another new coffee table, replacing the bench?


    Ph! Yvonne! I just laughed when you talked about your “just right” coffee table! I really like your new coffee table with the bottom shelf. I am still looking for our “just right” coffee table.
    The pottery vase is beautiful. It looks so pretty with the green branches in it. I also like to decorate our coffee table with books. Our company always comments on them.
    Thanks for all your ideas. You are such a help and I really appreciate you, Yvonne!

  4. Enoch Hascup says:

    Wow! Thank you! I permanently needed to write on my website something like that. Can I include a part of your post to my site?

    1. Please email me. I need to know your sites name. You cannot use my images or content without permission as everything is copyrighted.