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How to Style a Coffee Table… Discover Many Stylish Options

This is a close look at a living room with a fireplace and a stylish wooden coffee table.

Wondering how to style a coffee table?

Well, a couple of months ago, I was wondering the very same thing.

When revamping my living room, the coffee table was the last piece of furniture I bought (it took me a while to figure what type of coffee table to buy). However, despite being at the bottom of my priority list, I realized that my coffee table would be the center of attention in my living room. At that moment, I started wondering how I was going to style my coffee table.  

Once I had lined up all my new furniture and set up everything else, I was left with styling my coffee table to add a finishing touch to my living room. While I needed to create a coffee table that looked great, it was also equally important to have it function effectively.

The goal is to style a coffee table that looks aesthetically pleasing without disrupting the function and flow of the rest of the space.

So, now that I’m done styling my coffee table, I’m more than pleased to walk you through some great tips and guidelines to help you master the art of styling a coffee table.

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Important Facets of Styling a Coffee Table

This is a close look at a simple styled coffee table with a minimalist flair.

This might sound a little bookish, but after searching for lots of interior designing tips, I came across these three basic principles to structure your coffee table’s styling around.


Striking a balance using symmetry is one of the best ways to arrange a wonderful coffee table display. This principle is especially applicable to rectangular or square coffee tables; however, it is not quite alien to round tables.

You can establish a design balance by taping off your table in a four-square grid, which will allow you to compartmentalize your styling sections, helping you achieve symmetry. Once you’ve divided up your table’s surface into different quadrants, it’s time to display an arrangement of different items in each quadrant. For instance, you can set up a tray, a plant, a stack of books, and a collection of books in each to make your grid feel dynamic and organized.

Generally, it is ideal to have a dominant central object in one quadrant, such as a sculpture, a plan, or a stack of books that grounds your display, with several small displays positioned around it. These smaller surrounding objects don’t have to be identical but must balance out each other in terms of size and tone.

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Establishing the perfect composition can be a daunting element of styling a coffee table. The aim is to think about how all the items you’ve chosen will work cohesively on top of your table.

Connecting various pieces through style, shape, color, theme, or maybe a mixture of all these factors is an excellent way to establish cohesion and consistency. Once you’re done, your coffee table display will read as one, with every item fitting perfectly together in creating a unique stylistic story.

A simple way to ensure that all items work well together within a display is to corral them in a tray. Not only does it look amazing, but it is also a great and easy way to group items together to appear more unified. Don’t worry too much about achieving perfection in this regard; it takes a lot of practice to get the composition right, so just keep playing around until the placement feels perfect.

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When guests visit your home, they’re likely to gather around your living room coffee table, so you’ll want to curate your table in a way that tells a story about your memories and passions.

Whether it’s a shell you collected on the beach when you were 12 or a souvenir you bought on your holiday to Paris, there are endless ways to showcase your experiences via your coffee table styling, making this piece of furniture uniquely yourself.

The only major pitfall to beware of is over cluttering your coffee table. Sure, you want to tell your story, but you also want to make sure that it remains a functional piece of furniture. It may be tempting to put up everything you love on display, but a better way to go about this is to seasonally rotate pieces to keep your table looking fresh and up-to-date.

This is a coffee table that has various shaped decors on it.

Items to Decorate a Coffee Table

Wondering what items you can set up on your coffee table? Here are some ideas:


Every space can benefit from a little bit of greenery, even your coffee table. Deck up your coffee table with an attractive plant or another type of greenery arrangement to give it a more natural and organic feel. Small planters are a great option to make a small coffee table look less staged, while larger sculptural succulents or branches are excellent for anchoring larger coffee tables.

This is a close look at a small white coffee table with a stack of books.

Tray or Box

Trays and boxes are a great way to organize all your coffee table essentials, including remotes, candles, coasters, lighters, and other small objects. These items are important and handy on your coffee table but might also seem out of place, which is why setting them up in a tray or box is the appropriate solution. Besides being great for organizing objects, a tray is a fantastic way to focus the styling of your coffee table centrally or at one end, boosting its overall impact.


Whether it’s bowls, busts, tiny statues, antique boxes, or copper candle holders, every individual has a collection of an item they love. Turn your coffee table into a display for some of your most prized collections. Use repetition to your benefit by displaying multiple versions of a similar item in large numbers to grab attention.

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Unexpected Objects

Your living room is an integral part of your home, so it makes sense to want to display your family memories and souvenirs. Although many people try to save up these objects for console tables and bookcases, these interesting pieces can have more of an impact on a coffee table, the ultimate place where people congregate. So, don’t be shy of throwing in some unexpected items on your coffee table, especially those with fascinating back-stories.

Book Stacks

Book stacks are one of the most popular contemporary coffee table decoration tips. It allows for a no-fuss, minimalist appeal that looks neat and organized. Display a collection of your favorite coffee table books in stacks of two or four for a clean look. Your book display can have an especially impactful appearance if you have a colorful coffee table or your books belong to a specific theme.

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Personal Objects

Once you’ve layered up your favorite collection of books, don’t be afraid to add a few personal touches by adding decorative objects on top of them. Candleholders, small vases, other tiny decorative heirlooms, and maybe even a tasteful string of pearls can give your surface a more interesting and dynamic appearance. This will also help you add some height to your coffee table, which otherwise might feel a little flat.

Odd-Shaped Items

Another common mistake people make when styling a coffee table is including too many circular or square objects. Incorporating items of a specific shape can make a surface appear quite flat and boring. To remedy this, consider setting up bizarre object shapes, including branches, coral, crystals, and other intriguingly shaped items that don’t look clean but demand attention. Moreover, you should also consider playing around with various other geometric shapes, such as hexagons, for a more dynamic surface appearance.

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How to Style a Round Coffee Table

When styling a round coffee table, apply the Rule of Three. All you need is three different-height large objects to place on your table. Typically, a plant or a flower can be the tallest item on the table, followed by a candle and a book stack. You can throw in a couple of coasters on the books if needed. Although it is best to avoid trays on round tables, if you really need a tray, make sure to opt for a round one and not a square. Also, you should place all your objects in a cluster form in the middle of the table.

How to Style a Square Coffee Table

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Square coffee tables are particularly fun to style due to their symmetrical look. Due to the increased surface area, it is practical to divide the table into a few sections and use the items you choose to create a rough triangle shape on the tabletop.

You can start with a rectangular tray topped off with clustered items, such as a flower vase, coaster, and candle. Place a random large object, such as coral or a round bowl beside the tray. The last item on the table beside the tray and the other object can be a well-arranged stack of books.

How to Style a Rectangle Coffee Table

Given the additional area of a rectangle coffee table, it is wise to break up its length into three parts. However, don’t feel obligated to keep these three splits equal.

Start by creating a large moment, a little-off center on your table. To do this, you can set up a large crystal vase with some striking flowers. Once you’re done, create a collection of smaller elements, such as book stacks and trays, on either side of this moment.

Make sure to keep the depth of field in your mind when arranging these objects. This means that you should move some objects closer to the table front and some further back.

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How to Style an Oval Coffee Table

Oval coffee tables can go two ways; they can either mirror a round table or opt for a more formal option. Implementing the round table philosophy means displaying three moments of varying heights smack in the center of the table. Keep things casual with the round table style by setting up flowers, candles, and a coaster set clustered in the middle of the table.

On the other hand, you can adopt a more formal approach to styling your oval coffee table. The best way to do this is to create a major moment in the center of the table, followed by two smaller moments of similar heights on either side. To put it simply, you can place a plant or flower in the middle of the oval table with books stacks on either of its sides.

Additional Tips for Styling a Coffee Table

We would all have beautifully styled coffee tables with designer candles, stacks of fashion books, and a vase full of flowers in an ideal world. However, unfortunate enough for the real world, our coffee tables are decorated with remotes, kids’ toys, and other random objects. While style is important, so is function.

Here are a few tips for styling a coffee table that will help you strike the perfect balance between stylish and manageable.

Pare Back Coffee Table Styling

Embracing modern home design styles is all about minimalism. Applying the pare back coffee table styling may seem counterintuitive since this article is about coffee table style, but we need to be practical. Avoid your instinct to rack up too many objects on your coffee table. Even the most for-show living room needs to be somewhat functional. This doesn’t mean that you don’t try to style your coffee table in an impactful way; it rather suggests that you choose limited impactful and accent pieces while leaving plenty of your coffee table’s beautiful surface material on display.

Play Around with Shapes

Incorporating different shapes, sizes, and textures is critical when designing a room or a space. Square or rectangular coffee tables are easier to decorate than round coffee tables. So, if you’re trying to style a round coffee table, don’t be shy to play around with shapes. Generally, these tables look best with their items arranged in a triangular shape. For example, you can employ objects, such as a tray, a bowl, and a stack of books. The rule of thumb is to avoid using too many rectangular or square items on a round coffee table as it can make it feel a little off.

Scale Things Up or Down

A major mistake most people make when decorating their home is displaying too many objects of similar sizes. While this does bring some uniformity, it can make a place appear dull and boring. An excellent idea is to break up a surface by adding objects of varying shapes and sizes. For instance, decorating your coffee table with a comparatively large object, like a big glass flower vase, can do wonders for the overall appeal of your room.

Wrapping Up

Styling your coffee table is a matter of knowing the basic principles, the aesthetic direction you want to head in, and the items you can display. Once you have that sorted, you can throw around the items to find the perfect spots for them – in terms of aesthetics and functionality. The best tip I can give you on how to style a coffee table is to simply have fun! Don’t let the pressure of achieving perfection get to your hand; have a bit of fun playing around, and I’m sure you’ll create the best possible look for your coffee table.