Coffee table styling is one of my favorite home topics to discuss. Whether I’m thinking about an upcoming change of seasons or have a sudden urge to get creative, it’s an easy space to refresh at a moment’s notice. Not to mention, a well-designed coffee table can have huge returns with regard to how cohesive and welcoming your space feels for very little effort—something we can all get on board with!
There are countless ways to style a coffee table centerpiece, whether you’re working with a square glass table like me or a decorative chest, oval tabletop, or circular piece. It would be nearly impossible to cover all the ways to style a coffee table, so I’m sharing one go-to decorating formula that you can try right away in your own home.
Follow the 7 steps to style your coffee table in a way that is eye-catching yet functional. At the bottom of the post, I include a list of my favorite coffee table decor essentials under $100 (books, trays, objects, etc.) in case you realize you need to fill in a gap as you work through the DIY steps below.
How to Decorate a Coffee Table
1. Form a Grid and Choose a Palette
Selecting a layout for your coffee table decor is the first order of business. This will help keep the table visually interesting, balanced, and uncluttered.
For square and rectangular coffee tables, I recommend treating the table like a grid with 3 to 6 sections. If you’re dealing with an oval or round coffee table, you will have three decor groupings that are laid out in a triangle shape.
Once you have your grid in mind, decide on a color palette. You’ll want to keep coffee table arrangement pieces cohesive with the color scheme of the room. A pop of color can look beautiful, but make sure it flows with the rest of the objects by incorporating similar tones elsewhere in your groupings.
2. Set the Foundation with a Focal Point
Select a large piece or two that will stand out. This could be a vase, jar, large tray, or sculptural object. You’ll be styling the rest of the coffee table decor around this piece.
My top two focal point recommendations are large trays and vases. If you choose a vase or jar as your focal point, you’ll have the added benefit of filling it regularly with fresh greenery, faux succulents, or fresh flowers (hydrangeas are my favorite). This is my favorite option as a floral arrangement brings a space to life!
Keep in mind, you can have both a beautiful vase and a tray on your table, but only one should be large and eye-catching—it’s the standout piece that the rest of the table’s decor is built around.
3. Add Stacks of Books
Coffee table books are an essential because they’re stackable, come in a variety of sizes and heights, and look chic from every angle. They’re also great conversation starters, fun to flip through on a rainy day, and an easy landing space for remotes, coasters, candle holders, and other decorative items.
A stack of books should become one of the groupings in your grid (for square and rectangle tables) or your triangle (oval and round tables). If you have a round or oval table, the addition of books is especially important. It will prevent you from repeating the round shape too much, which can take away from the overall aesthetic.
4. Incorporate Levels
It’s always a good idea to have varying heights to bring visual interest. This doesn’t have to mean a floral arrangement in a tall breakable vase that you can barely see over. Things like candles, stacked boxes, bowls, and mid-size sculptural objects are easy ways to play with height.
Decorative boxes are some of my favorite ways to add levels because they make great storage catchall for the random things that seem to end up in the living room or on the mantel (remote controls, coasters, deck of cards, etc.). A good rule of thumb when adding in levels is to make sure you can see someone on the other side of the room when seated.
5. Place Decorative Objects and Candles
Incorporating smaller decorative objects in just the right size that fill in the gaps will help make the setup aesthetically pleasing. 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 glass top coffee table’s composition is mainly gold and muted neutrals. Whether your style is boho, glam, luxe, or beachy, stick with that vibe.
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 coasters, small dishes, family heirlooms, and unique objects (antique magnifying glass, wooden boxes, cloche, gold spheres). I always include a candle, candle snuffer, and box of matches: lighting a candle will make your living room cozier in two seconds.
6. Add a Foundation, if Necessary
Many coffee tables have an open bottom tier, which provides another styling opportunity. This isn’t a place to throw random belongings! Pick two large, substantial items that work well on their own. Large baskets, large wood bowls, and large boxes are a few good places to start.
6. Take a Walk
Last but not least, step back and take a walk. If you have an open floor plan, step into the kitchen, dining room, entryway or whatever else is connected to make sure you’re feeling good from all angles. Shift things around until they feel balanced no matter where you’re standing.
Coffee Table Decor Ideas: Shopping Guide Under $100
I browse Pinterest a lot for home decor, decorating ideas, and inspiration for our home’s mood board, and one thing I’ve noticed that all beautiful family rooms have in common is that their coffee tables are simple, carefully curated, and layered.
In my quest for coffee table design ideas I always find myself asking “Where did they get that?”, and honestly, it can take hours to find just one unique knick-knack, natural element, and or book that you absolutely love.
To help get you started, I curated a list of some of my favorite coffee table books, focal points (vases, trays, and bowls), candles, and decorative objects from Amazon, Etsy, and other accessible shopping spots. All the pieces are under $100—I hope they give you a head start in your coffee table styling journey!
Coffee Table Books
My top picks from Wayfair, Pottery Barn, and more.
Shop My Living Room Coffee Table Decor
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)
If you have any questions about how to decorate a coffee table after reading this, be sure to leave a comment or DM me on Instagram! I’m always happy to help.