How do I style my coffee table?

Image of a coffee table with a collection of vases

I’ve been working with a few clients recently on their living rooms and I’ve been asked the same question a number of times. How do you style a coffee table and what should I have on it?

So, I decided to gather a few of my top tips together and share them here! Now bear in mind that this post may not be strictly relevant for those with small ones at home. All those busy little hands are sure to play havoc with the most organised of coffee table displays! However, I’m hoping that the following is still useful and that you can glean an idea or two for whatever stage of life you are currently in.

Tip #1

Don’t go out and purchase new items…yet

Photo by cottonbro studio on

It’s very easy to feel as if we need to purchase a new set of objects in order to style a space, or in this case a coffee table. But that’s not the case. I’d argue that the best place to start is to look around you and source inspiration from your own home.

Go around your home and collect some items that are special to you, or that you just like. It doesn’t matter what they are so don’t feel held back if you find yourself reaching for your favourite wooden spoon or a pair of antique scissors. These items are not all going to end up on the coffee table! I usually start with books that have a cover I particularly like for example.

Tip #2

Group items into similar sizes

Image Claire Parkin

Once you’ve done that, group the items into sizes. We are then going to select an item or two from each group that we would like to have on the coffee table. Remember that this isn’t set in stone and you can change your mind. One of the best parts of home styling is changing things around as the seasons move on, or just as you feel like it!

Objects you could use include:

A tray (to corral items). If you don’t have a suitable tray then note it down for when you are next in a charity shop and look for one there. Charity shops are marvellous places for finding items with character and that are more unique.

A small plant (string of pearl plants or a succulent would work well)

A candle

A book, or even a small collection of books (aim to have 3. Odd numbers work the best)

Everyday household objects that look pretty – such as a candle snuff, a coloured glass tumbler, a set of matches in a glass jar.

Tip #3

Select at least one object from each group and start styling!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Once you have your groups of items, select 3 objects that you can place together in a small vignette. I recommend something like a large coffee table book, or recipe book and then 2 other items that you can put on top of them. Or, if you have a tray from the kitchen, you could use that to place 3 items on top. Another top tip is to make sure one of the items is a living item – such as a small plant. A faux one will do although I personally prefer the real thing.

Ready to try coffee table styling?

Do you feel ready to give it a go for yourself? Even if you’re still unsure, I recommend giving it a try. Styling is a bit like flexing a muscle – the more you do it, the more refined your style becomes. Plus it’s fun! Don’t get caught up in following any ‘rules’ or trends. Do what feels creative and right for you. Everyone has different tastes and likes/preferences. It’s one of the things that makes interior design so much fun!

If you’re looking for some other tips, make sure you follow me on social media for updates on new blog posts and images of my design work. Also watch this space as I’m excited to announce that my website is having a re-design in December this year. I have lots of new design projects to share with you!


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