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.
If you found this helpful then subscribe to our website for more quick and easy styling tips HERE.
Good luck friends! Enjoy your home!
Just bought a new bookshelf and stumped for ideas on how to decorate it? Or you have a bookshelf that you have been trying to style for a couple of months now and it’s still a hot mess. We got you covered! Here we will break down the styling process for you so you can completely blow your friends minds when they find out that it was you who did the styling!
The principles of styling a bookshelf are pretty similar to styling your coffee table except with bookshelves you are styling it vertically whereas with a table you are styling it horizontally. Before you start putting anything on the shelf think about the backs of your bookcase. If the room lacks a point of interest and you feel it needs a pop of color then consider painting the backs of your case.
You might even want to consider wallpapering the back – today you can get 'peel & stick' options that are easy to install. We love Ikea Billy bookcases as the backs come apart and that makes wallpapering easier.
Alrighty then, you have your background sorted and we can start the fun part!
BOOKS ARE YOUR FRIEND
While bookshelves are for books, row upon row of only books on your shelves can look repetitive and uninteresting. The idea is to break up the visual by layering the books in with pretty objects, interesting finds or eclectic collections. But before we get to that step you will need to spread out the books on all your shelves. Have some of them standing vertically with their spines outward, and some horizontally in short stacks.
If you are the kind of person who does not like too much color you can stand them with the spines inward - that will give you a monochromatic look. Some artsy kinds even choose to group them by color going for a rainbow look.
And others like to group them in a single color for that Harvard library look. Consider laying some of the books horizontally in graduating stacks as that will give you the option to position a decorative object on top of them.
ART IS COLOR
Use art to layer the backs of your shelves for that graphic look and to add large expanses of color in certain shelves. Look for art with simple frames that do not fight with the bookshelves and objects. Feel free to place smaller items in front of the art for that layered look.
MIX UP THE SHAPES
With all the books and frames in place you will end up with a lot of lines visually. So breaking them up with sculptural items that have curves like a round vase, bowl or curvy wood carving with bring a softness to your display.
ADD SOME GREENS
Adding some greenery to your shelves will bring that organic feel and today you can some pretty ‘real’ looking faux plants that require no maintenance at all. We prefer to add creeping vines that hang off the shelves or plants with pretty leaves like the crispy wave to the mix. Make sure the pot it comes in is also something pretty and with color. Here is a great way to add a metallic touch by choosing pots in silver or gold color.
LAY ON THE DECORATIVE OBJECTS
Once you have got the larger items in place it is time to have fun with your smaller decor accessories. Use them as bookends or place them over a stack of your books to give it focus. Try spreading them out on your shelves by interspersing them in and around the books and art. If your items are too small in size then try grouping them in odd numbers, or corralling them in a small tray or bowl to give them substance.
SHOW OFF YOUR COLLECTIONS
Collect vintage cameras, show them off here. A wine drinker that collects corks of your favorite wines – toss them in a jar and display them for all to see. Don't forget the rule of odd numbers when grouping them.
STORE IT OUT OF SIGHT
Sometimes we don’t want to display everything as they might be functional and not so pretty and that is where you add a few boxes or baskets on your shelves. Repetition is key and adding a trio of matching boxes on one shelf to store your smaller items is a smart way to hide those receipts or bills. Large baskets on the bottom shelves balance it out and they can used to store extra cushions and throws.
EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
This is where you stand back and look at your shelves as a whole. You might notice that two adjacent shelves are book heavy and you might want to move the books to an alternative shelf. Or you might see that one shelf is too empty and you might want to add a plant or a case there. This is probably where I spend the most amount of time.....editing....stepping back and looking at the whole picture.
And that concludes our lesson on Bookshelf styling. We hope you will attempt to restyle your shelves and share the pics with us via Facebook or Instagram. Let me know if you found this helpful, we welcome any and all feedback.
If you find yourself stuck on a particular shelf give us a shout and we can figure this out together. Enjoy your styling guys!
Dhiraj & Lynda