Coffee Table Decorating Made Simple

A coffee table serves as many things: the centerpiece of your living room furniture, a place to set drinks and appetizers, a footrest, and a pretty focal point. Whether you’re working with an oval coffee table, a decorative chest, a coffee table with storage, or a square glass coffee table like me, styling a coffee table can be simple and easy.

To help you create a vignette that’s both eye-catching and functional, I’m sharing tips and ideas that all but guarantee a beautiful end result.


How to Decorate a Coffee Table

1. Form a Grid

Whether you’re dealing with a large square shaped table table like me or decorating an ottoman, rectangular table, or round table, dividing the surface into sections can be helpful to prevent clutter and maintain balance.

For our table, I formed a grid in my mind with four squares and decided how to style each section of the coffee table. If you have a rectangular coffee table, use the rule of thirds and divide the table into three sections. The grid approach works for any oversized coffee table.

As you decide what should go in each section, try to group like objects together and consider the composition of the coffee table as whole. For example, I like to start with a stack of books in most sections and layer with little accessories, like a simple white vase, a candle, or a bowl, keeping the entire table neutral. If you decide to incorporate a pop of color in one of your sections, make sure it flows with the rest of the grids by incorporating similar tones elsewhere on the coffee table.

2. Books and Trays

Books and trays are the backbone of coffee table styling because they’re stackable, come in a variety of sizes and heights, and look chic from every angle.

I love books for our glass top coffee table because they’re conversation starters and encourage activity (flipping through on a rainy day). I’ll stack them and layer a tray for miscellaneous items like fresh flowers,  candle and matches, and other accessories.

While I don’t have a tray on our table currently, they’re a nice option if you want a functional surface to place coasters, a book you’re currently reading, and remotes.


3. Layer Objects and Florals

Books and trays provide height variance, but coffee table accessories (decorative objects) create visual interest. When selecting accessories, make sure you think about the theme of the table overall. A random object that doesn’t have a connection can look off. For example, I wouldn’t incorporate a silver object because my coffee table’s composition is mainly gold, glass, and muted neutrals.

I also recommend thinking about functional decorative objects. For example, a small bowl can hold your  remote controls. There’s no black and white formula, so play with your favorite pieces until it feels good to you.

A few ideas for what to layer include candles, candle snuffers, matches, coasters, small dishes, unique objects (antique magnifying glass, wooden boxes, cloche, gold spheres) and of course, pretty vases filled with fresh blooms.

4. Vary the Height and Scale

If all your coffee table decorating items are the same height and size, the interest is lost. Height and size variation creates balance, so experiment.

I recommend paying attention to the size of your vases, coffee table books, and trays the most. Incorporating smaller decorative objects in just the right size that fill in the gaps will help make the setup aesthetically pleasing.

I also recommend avoiding oversized objects. A good rule of thumb with blooms and vases is to make sure you can see the other side of the room at eye level when sitting down in a chair.

Our Living Room Coffee Table Decor Sources

Glass Coffee Table (similar here, rectangular version here), Small Vase, Wooden Bowl, Large Glass Vase (Home Goods), Santal 26 Candle, Small Candle Tray, Gold Candle Snuffer, Brass Pocket Lighter, Woven Basket for Blankets (similar here)

More Coffee Table Decor Ideas: Pieces Under $100

Whenever I’m browsing Pinterest for family room ideas or taking inspiration from the mood board  and palette I put together for my house, I’m always reminded that the best coffee table decor is simple, carefully curated, and well-layered.

Large books, pretty candles, high and low vases, trays and bowls, and the occasional well-place object are every girl’s toolkit for styling a gorgeous coffee table. Here are my favorite coffee table pieces under $100 to get you started in your creative designing journey.

Coffee Table Decor Ideas: Books

Coffee Table Decor Ideas: Candles

Coffee Table Decor Ideas: Trays & Objects

Coffee Table Decor Ideas: Vases