Coffee Table Decor Ideas + Best Styling Tips

A list of coffee table decor ideas and styling tips that you can use to get your own signature look, and to inject a breath of fresh air into your space!

dough bowl with greenery on coffee table in neutral living room

Coffee tables come in all sizes and many shapes. Whether it’s a hard surface, or something soft like a large ottoman, styling your coffee table should be fun, and it should reflect your own personal taste. A coffee table placed in front of a sofa is the centerpiece of any living room or family room, so it’s the perfect place to set a cup of coffee. It’s also a great place to display your favorite things and decorative items. Find below a list of suggestions to get your creative juices flowing, and then some easy ways to incorporate your ideas into your home’s decor.

greenery in dough bowl on round coffee table basket of throw blankets on bottom tier

Before we go any further, I want to remind you that what follows is simply a collection of ideas. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to style your coffee table. One of the most important things to remember is to follow your instincts. Showcase decorative accents that speak to you, items that reflect your family’s interests, and most importantly, treasures that reflect your own personal style. Create visual balance with small vignettes, and achieve your ideal coffee table look. 

coffee table decor lantern books small pitcher

I love neutral decor, so that’s what I generally use on our round coffee table…with, of course, touches of blue. If you have a bright and bold color scheme, definitely incorporate that into your coffee table decor. What you are going for is this: when someone walks into your living space, they should be able to figure out your style and color palette just by looking at your coffee table!

Tip 

If you are shopping for a new coffee table, consider getting one with two tiers. That lower level doubles your surface space and can be used as storage, or to display more of your treasures. A two-tiered coffee table has a clean look, and double flat surfaces is always a good idea!

How can I decorate a coffee table?

Any of these items, or a combination of, can be used in your coffee table styling. Think outside the box and use them in different ways. 

  • Bouquet of fresh flowers
  • Baskets
  • A large tray
  • Bowls
  • Pots & urns
  • Lanterns
  • Taper candles + Candleholders
  • Faux flowers or greenery
  • Stacks of books
  • Decorative boxes (to hide clutter like coasters, remote controls, etc.)
  • Cake plate with pedestal
  • Sculptures
  • Small statues
  • Planters with real or faux plants
  • Dough bowl
  • Wood bead garland
lantern books and pitcher on tray coffee table decor

Create A Layered Look with Trays

The versatility of trays is amazing, and they are such an easy way to style a coffee table. There is no hard and fast rule in regards to what size or shape should be used. It’s fine to use a round tray on a round table…and it’s equally OK to use a square or rectangular tray. Trays are your most important layering tool. It’s a good idea to begin by placing a tray on your coffee table. Whatever you add next will take on a cohesive and stylish vibe because the tray gathers everything together. Add various textures with a wood or woven tray. Stack items on top of one another and use different heights to create a stunning coffee table arrangement. 

white wood tray with pitcher of flowers and stack of books on round coffee table

Beautiful Coffee Table Books

Coffee tables and books go hand-in-hand. There have been a few times in my life when I bought a book simply because I liked the cover. Books with beautiful covers bring personality and uniqueness to a coffee table…so gather your prettiest or favorite books, or ones that have a special meaning, and start stacking. Gardening books, decor books, or books about flowers, are perfect for this! Here are some more things to consider:

  • Mix sizes and shapes: Incorporate a variety of book sizes and shapes to create visual interest. Stacking books of different heights adds dimension to your coffee table display.
  • Consider themes: Arrange your books around a specific theme or topic, such as travel, art, fashion, decor, or photography. This can create a cohesive and curated look for your coffee table display.
  • Add personal touches: Include books that reflect your interests, hobbies, or personality. This not only adds a personal touch to your decor but also serves as a conversation starter for guests.
  • Rotate your selection: Keep your coffee table decor fresh by rotating the selection of books regularly. This allows you to showcase different titles and keeps the look of your coffee table fresh.
  • Organize creatively: Experiment with different ways to organize your books, such as arranging them by color, size, or stacking them diagonally for a more interesting look. 
coffee table decor tray with lantern books

Lovely Lanterns

Think outside the box when it comes to lanterns. Of course candles are wonderful, but a candle isn’t the only thing that looks good in a lantern. Simple things like a small nest filled with eggs, a pot with fresh or faux greenery, moss balls in varied sizes, scented potpourri, pine cones, or yarn balls are just a few suggestions for ways to add interest to a lantern. See how to make the cute Mod Podge terra cotta pot {HERE.}

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pitcher and bowl coffee table decor

Bowls + Baskets

Bowls and baskets can be used for layering, just like trays, but they add an interesting shape and texture. A large bowl in a neutral color can be used literally anywhere in your decor, but it’s an exceptional tool for styling a coffee table. Fill it with greenery, or place a pitcher in it for a classic Farmhouse look. I’ve had the bowl pictured above for at least 20 years, maybe longer. It was a birthday gift from a friend, and it’s one of my most treasured decor accessories. It moves around our home, but more often than not, it resides on our coffee table.

round basket with pitcher of flowers on two-tiered coffee table

When it comes to layering, baskets do the same thing as bowls, but their super power is adding texture. If you have a dark coffee table, consider using a light colored basket for contrast. Layer unexpected things, and try to include something tall.

liberty blue pitcher with flowers on books with tray tips for a simpler life

Fresh + Faux Natural Elements

The best way to take your coffee table decor to the next level is to include any kind of fresh or faux natural elements in a lovely vessel. My first choice is always fresh flowers, but I also love to use faux flowers and greenery or a combination of both. Something green, whether fresh or faux, adds life to your coffee table decor that can’t be obtained in any other way.

coffee table decor lantern books mod podge pot

Natural elements are also a great way to bring in something seasonal. Apple blossoms in the spring, peonies in the summer, sunflowers in the fall, pine cones or fresh pine for Christmas. The image below shows the coffee table at our house on Sutton Place, when my peonies were in full bloom. It was very simple to do, and of all the pictures I have taken over the years, this is one of my favorites.

pitcher of peonies on coffee table

Use Odd Numbers + Vary Heights

Here is where the Rule of 3 comes in handy. (Although I whole-heartedly believe in the Rule of 3, I don’t always follow it!) Using odd numbers adds interest, and allows your decorative objects to stand out without looking matched. Varying the height of your items does the same thing. A taller item will balance out the lower items, resulting in a cohesive coffee table vignette.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coffee table height should range from 16 to 18 inches, or slightly lower (no more than an inch or two) than your sofa cushions.

Your coffee table should be approximately 18 inches from your sofa. You should be able to easily reach items on the coffee table while sitting on the sofa.

This question is hotly debated online. An easy starting point is to find a coffee table that is 2/3 the size of your sofa. In other words, take the width of your sofa and divide by three. Take that number and multiply by 2. With this measurement, your coffee table should sit nicely in front of your sofa with ample room on each end.

coffee table vignette with books and pitcher of pink tulips with seeded eucalyptus

Now that you are equipped with ideas and inspiration, have fun styling your coffee table! If it’s not exactly what you had in mind the first time around, be patient. When I feel the need for a coffee table change, it often takes several days to get the right combination. Just keep editing, adding, and arranging. Be brave and try something new, and have faith. You will get there!

A COLLECTION OF
DECORATING TIPS + TRICKS

Basic advice and guidance to help you create a comfortable and functional home for your family. Includes budget-friendly ideas that everyone can use!

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2 Comments

  1. Could you relink your coffee table please? The link takes me to the lantern.

    1. Hi Debbie…yes, I fixed the link. I have been having trouble with links not sticking, so thanks for the heads-up!