When you have guests over and they are sitting comfortably on your cozy sofa and armchair what is the one thing that is right in front of them – your coffee table! That’s right. Your coffee table gets the most eyeballs among all your other furniture. We recently styled our new/vintage coffee table on Instagram and received a lot of questions about it. Thought we would share those tips here to help you with your table styling. These are a few design tricks to achieving that collected look without breaking the bank.
1. BREAKING IT UP
The best place to start is to break up your table into grids or sections. So for example a square coffee table will be broken up into 4 sections. A round table is best broken in to three sections. And an oval or rectangular table can be broken into 2 or 3 sections depending on the length of the table. This makes it easy for you to decorate when you have to fill up sections as opposed to the whole table.
2. LAY YOUR FOUNDATION
The best coffee tables have a great foundation and the easiest way to do that is with books. Large hardback coffee table books with graphic covers in complimentary colors can be used as the base layer. Look for books that have colors that go with the other colors in your room, nothing jarring or too graphic. The piled up books give you the option to create vignettes on top of them while adding different heights to the table. If you have a square table then create four piles of books in the four corners of the table. For a round or oval table go for one pile of books placed either to the left or right side of the table. Layering 2-3 books on top of each either in the same size or graduating sizes will look very appealing.
A cheap and affordable source for beautiful coffee table books is your local thrift store. You will be amazed at what people throw out. Other sources for well priced books are your local home decor stores or libraries that are selling their older collections.
Books are also a great conversation starter. It gives people an insight into your interests and if nothing else it makes you look very intelligent. Feel free to pile up books under your coffee table as well if your table allows it. (Secret - the more the books you have, the smarter you look!)
3. CREATE INTEREST WITH ACCESSORIES
The next step is to layer smaller items on top of these books for interest. Let the objects tell a story about your passions and memories. These items can be anything from your marble collection, fresh flowers from your garden or something that shows off your hobby like a vintage camera if you are a photographer.
Look for something with a bit of shine like brass, marble or silver. Or look for something natural like a piece of sea coral or over sized wooden beads. Anything vintage works well too like a worn out wooden shoe mold or rusted locks. The older the better. Bring a playful aspect to the display by adding a vintage board game, deck of cards or dominoes to add a bit of whimsy to your space. Since we are going for an eclectic layered look go for something interesting rather than something pretty.
4. BALANCING THE MIX
Varying the height of your objects will always make for a more pleasing display than if everything was at the same height. Different shapes will also make for a dramatic display for example add something round or with curves to balance the straight lines of the books. Also mixing the sizes up will create interest, if everything is small it will end up looking cluttered so go for a mix of one large items paired with 2 smaller items. If everything is the same height or shape, your vignette will look a little ‘flat’ to the eye.
5. GROUP ITEMS TOGETHER
Trays and bowls are another nice layer to add to your vignettes. Larger trays could be used to corral smaller items and create groupings of similar accessories. Smaller trays could hold something personal - we like to save the matches of hotels we visit or you may want to save the cork of those vintage wines. You want people to get a glimpse of your personality when they glance at your well styled coffee table.
We like to think of unusual ways to display our most prized possessions like using a vintage dough bowl to hold our favorite photographs or geode collection. If you have a lot of square objects on your table then contrasting that with an oval or round tray will soften some of those edges and make your vignette look more balanced.
And finally group items in sets of threes as that is more pleasing to the eye. And don`t forget to ensure there is sufficient room for your friends and family to set down a cup or plate on the table surface.
6. BE PRACTICAL
Don’t have a coffee table, don’t fret. Use an ottoman or pouf as your coffee table. Since it is a soft surface it will make it hard to put a glass down on this but consider using a tray here for that practical aspect. Go with a tray that is in proportion to the size of your ottoman. Small trays on a large ottoman will look like a postage stamp. So consider a large tray for a large ottoman and vice versa for a small pouf. Or break up the surface with a smaller tray and adding some books on the other side to balance the effect.
7. KEEP IT FRESH
A vase of fresh flowers, fake plant or succulents will bring that organic feel to the display. If you are not a green thumb then consider succulents as they very easy to take care of. Worse case is going for a faux plant as today they are making them look very realistic down to a fake dew drop on the petal.
Another trick used by designers is going out into your garden (or your neighbor`s garden), cutting branches off trees and sticking them in a clear vase for a pretty dramatic effect. The taller the better!
8. LIGHT IT UP
And lastly a bit of light with a small scented candle or a grouping of candles that brings an ambient glow to your table as well as a sweet aroma to the room. We love the Jo Malone range or the Olivia Blake candles that come in a variety of subtle scents. Look for candles that come in a pretty container as that will also make a statement on your table.
9. HIDE THEM, QUICK!
One of the ugliest things on our coffee tables are the TV remotes and a great way to hide those is to keep a decorative box on one of piles of books. The box can be a coordinating color or print to your room decor and all the remotes can be quickly hidden in them when you are expecting guests, while still being an arms reach away.
I think I just created a new word there! Seasonalize! Lol...anyway what I am trying to say is rotate things on your table based on the season or holiday. Nothing says spring like a vase of fresh tulips. In Fall bring in branches of your maple leaves that have turned red. And Christmas........ahhh my favorite time of the year – you can go to town here. Pile up your Christmas ornaments in a bowl on the table. Bring out those tiny fairy lights and wrap them around fresh pine cones. Group all your candles on your table and light em up, seriously no one will stop you at Christmas time....coz its the most wonderful time of the year!
Hope this was helpful to you! At the end of the day it is your home and you should have fun doing this. Move things around, bring things out of hiding, swap things around rooms, play around with your stuff!
Interested in seeing our latest Instagram tutorial on our coffee table, then head over to our account and click on the `STYLING TIPS` highlights to see what we put together.
If you are still scratching your head and stuck with an odd sized table that is confusing the heck out of you, give us a shout and we can figure this out together. With our `Professional Styling` service we will find out your interests, source the items to match your design tastes and style the table just in time for that big party you have lined up.
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Good luck friends! Enjoy your home!