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Coffee Table Styling Do's and Don'ts

Andrea Doxey

Posted on July 24 2018

When done right, your coffee table can be the focal point of your living room. It’s a tremendous opportunity to flex your styling muscles without any commitment – no contractors or permanent decisions required! It’s the perfect place to highlight your love for a collection, your favourite books, travel mementos or a signature scent.  

As with anything in design there are no real “rules”, but rather guidelines to follow to get a magazine-worthy look. We’ve rounded up our favourite coffee table styling do’s and don’ts to help you amp things up!  


Coffee Table Styling Do's

1. Use Books

Choose your favourite coffee table books and layer them. Stacking your books at varying heights will add depth and dimension. We love the way objects (especially round) look on top of stacked books such as, a magnifying glass, decorative box, candles, etc.  


2.  Achieve Balance  

Remember the classic design guideline of decorating in 1, 3, or 5? The same guideline can be applied to your coffee table. You are looking to achieve balance, not symmetry. For example, if you use a large single item on one end of your rectangular coffee table, balance the opposite side with a smaller grouping of objects. Matchy-matchy is not the goal!  


3. Add a Personal Touch

Love collection decorative boxes? Ginger jars? Old match-books? Your coffee table is the perfect place to showcase some of your favourite personal items. You can always place smaller items on a tray or in a bowl to showcase them.  

We love the way wooden beads look draped across books and on glass bottles. Equally charming is the look of a unique magnifying glass sitting atop your favourite coffee table book. Unique items are a fun way to inject personality and personal style to your coffee table.  


4. Add a Tray  

Adding a tray to your coffee table instantly provides a backdrop for your items and creates an effortlessly collected look. Just remember, not all of your coffee table items have to be on the tray! You can absolutely place items outside of the tray too.  

PS - We love the way a woven tray softens a marble or glass table top and how a marble tray looks on a wood coffee table – it's all about mixing textures!  


5. Add Life  

No coffee table is complete without a candle, plant or fresh flowers. Adding one of these items brings life to the table top every time. It’s the finishing touch!  


Coffee Table Styling Don'ts

  1. Don't Use Too Many Small Items

Much like we described in our blog about #shelfie styling, using too many small items will not give you enough impact and will look cluttered rather than curated. Look for a mix of items and don’t be afraid to add in a large piece on top of your coffee table as a focal point to build upon.  

Below is a great example of the scale you are looking to achieve.


2. Don't Go Overboard

No one likes when they don’t have room to drop their mail, keys or put down their glass. Ensure there is enough space on the table top to live comfortably in the space. Love the way a full coffee table looks? Totally okay! Just remove items when you have guests coming over so they feel comfortable enough to relax, put their feet up and their drink down.  

The photo below demonstrates the perfect amount of restraint on the coffee table styling given the accents on the shelves behind.


3. Don't Use Too Many Items of a Similar Height

Using too many items that are the same height will not add in enough visual interest. Period. So choose items that have varying heights and remember that books are a great tool to help in this department.  

The photo below showcases how varying heights adds visual interest to the cofee table. We love it!

We recommend taking inspiration from some of the images above and building your own look! Add things, remove things, iterate until you feel that it looks uniquely you.  

If you try some of these ideas out show us on Instagram with the #rainsfordlove for a chance to be featured.  

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1 comment

  • DL: July 27, 2018

    Can we just once leave room for a coffee cup, glass of wine or bowl of nuts????

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