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Image / Living / Interiors

Ever wondered how to artfully style a coffee table? We asked an expert


by Megan Burns
26th Aug 2021

HAY

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If you find yourself fretting over striking the balance between an elegant arrangement and something that looks overly fussy, read on…

Coffee tables are a popular choice for living spaces. They create a focal point for your space and offer up the opportunity to create a display that will complement the rest of your room.

However, there’s undoubtedly a knack to making them look good, and less is quite often more, especially if you’re not confident in your styling skills. After all, you want somewhere to be able to rest a cup of tea, too!

Thankfully, there are some rules you can follow to get you started. We asked Sarah Perry from EZ Living Furniture for her top styling tips for your coffee table.

Books are a good starting point

how to style a coffee table
Ferm Living

A stack of books makes a great base for your arrangement, and is also an opportunity to add colour and personality. Rather than just place them in the middle, Sarah recommends placing them to one side.

“Divide your coffee table into two, and on one side place a stack of your favourite books. Start with the largest book on the bottom for stability, then add another one to two books on top. Keep in mind that an odd number tends to attract more attention.”

When it comes to the books themselves, choose ones that fit in with the style of your room, but Sarah also points out that “each book is an opportunity to represent a small piece of your character, personality, or interests to visiting guests.”

So a travel book about your favourite location could be a great conversation starter, or the colours of a beautiful recipe book might complement your sofa.

Add a bowl 

style a coffee table
EZ Living Furniture

Sarah advises that “most coffee table décor should be relatively low in height,” so a shallow bowl is a great option to add interest. Choose one with an interesting glaze or uneven texture to add tactility, and you can also add some small objects inside it that will make your eye linger for longer. 

Try a tray

On a coffee table, small items can look a bit lost, so Sarah recommends grouping them on a tray. If you’ve stacked books on one side of the table, place the tray on the other side to balance it.

So what to put on your tray? “Think candles, vases, and coasters,” says Sarah. Decor pieces sporting a range of materials have the ability to add colour and vibrancy to the overall design of your coffee table. The right tray can keep smaller pieces together and display them in an elegant and unified presentation.”

Impact piece

style a coffee table
H&M

Although it’s best to mostly stick to low-level items for your coffee table, Sarah advises that having one taller item adds variety and interest. An eye-catching candleholder is a good choice, or a vase or potted plant also gives the opportunity to add in more textures.

“A large textured vase is a simple way to incorporate contrasting finishes into the design. Use a flower arrangement within the vase to bring nature, life, and softness to the scene. A plant will offer similar benefits and break up the monotony of harder items.”

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