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How To Decorate a Coffee Table

The coffee table is the center of your family room or living room. It is a vocal point where your personal style can come to life. Let the objects on your coffee table tell a story about your passions and memories. A large glass dish of sea shells collected from memorable vacations, books on varied subjects reflecting your interests, or an interesting vase that you cherish, are all great ways to give your living room's decor a personal twist.


Use Varied Sizes

A large collection of small knick-knacks makes for a cluttered surface. Mix the height and size of your items to be displayed. Use larger items such as a stack of large books, decorative boxes, a round vase, or a heavy piece of quartz. If you have small children or a curious pet in the home, a large book collection (with the covers removed) will be more durable than a small porcelain figurine. Lie a heavy piece of quartz on top of the stack of books to keep small hands from moving items.


Reflect The Current Season

My favorite time of the year is Spring when my flower gardens are blooming. I place vases with freshly cut flowers throughout the house. In the summer I change my coffee table display out with a glass dish of seashells and a large piece of coral I have collected from memorable vacations. In the fall I bring out decorative pumpkins and switch out throw pillows to match the seasonal colors. Each holiday or season gives you the opportunity to refresh your table décor and throw pillows according to the current color hues.



To create a more eye-catching vignette, vary the height and number of objects on your coffee table. When all items are at the same eye level, nothing gets noticed. Remember you do not want an item so high that it interferes with your view of a quest seated across the room.



Always display items in odd numbers. Have three books in one stack, five books in the next stack. When looking at your overall coffee table display, have three grids decorated on the table instead of four. Leave some open space for your family and guests if you need to add a decorative coaster, or a dessert plate.



Choose decor that matches the color scheme of your room. Also, choose colors according to the color of your coffee table. If your table is a dark wood finish, lighter colors in your décor will show better. If your coffee table is a light color or glass with metal edges any color décor will work. A collection of white books or sculptures adds an elegant flair to any room. For more durability, you may want to remove the cover on books that are displayed. Collect coffee table books according to the size (12" to 14' x 10"), color of the hard back, not the paper cover. It is easy to purchase a book thinking it is white due to the cover. But when the cover is removed, the hard back is green which may not match the décor.


Tray Vignette

Trays are very stylish on their own and add a practical display to your coffee table. I use a large decorative tray with a felt bottom on my fabric coffee table in my family room. I use the tray for a display vignette and it can be easily removed to clear the space then used for serving when guests arrive.

Ethan Allen coffee table with boxes

The Finishing Touch

After decorating your coffee table step back and view your design from every angle in your room. Make sure all of your decorative pieces are appealing from every side. For example, Mother of pearl inlay boxes look nice from every side and can be used to give another item height. However, picture frames have a front and a back and would be better used in a cabinet where only the front is seen.

Shop My Coffee Tables and Decor


Table Top Books: Books are a wonderful decorating medium. They are great conversational starters for guests. When displayed on a coffee table, choose books that are 12"-14" x 10". Photos of art, travel destinations, interior design, flowers, architecture are so enchanting in a hardcover book. Smaller books can be used to raise or lower other items you are displaying on side tables or mantles. Remember the rule of heights applies to other tables and surfaces also. Click on each photo to shop the item. Or, Shop Accessories here for all recommended items.



Other Large Display items: White goes with any decor and transitions well with other colored seasonal items you may display. Click on each photo to shop the item. Or, Shop Accessories here for all suggested items.

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