4 Essentials For How to Style a Coffee Table

When it comes to home decor, the most exciting and fun part is styling and decorating. More times than I can count, I’ve been asked how to dress a coffee table that will be both beautiful, and functional. Unlike a formal living room, a coffee table in a family room is the main hub of family gatherings. Friends and family alike typically kick off their shoes, prop their feet up on a coffee table, uncork a bottle of wine, and settle in for some TV time, movie nights with popcorn, play board games, maybe even catch up on some paperwork. A coffee table is bound to see some abuse. It just happens.

When it comes to coffee table decor, this is why I say…..

Function before beauty

I am all for aesthetically pleasing beautiful spaces, but with a giant dog and a happy tail flopping left to right, the coffee table becomes a batting range.Things are knocked over. Drinks get spilled. It’s not always the dogs fault. I spill. Guests spill. We all spill. Guest end up nervously apologizing while I’m calmly wiping spills. After I finish cleaning spills, the apologies keep coming.

That’s when the convo goes something like this….

Me: Seriously! Calm down. Do you see me panicking? It’s okay. Not mad over here. Do I look mad?
Them: No, but I feel bad. Are you sure it’s okay, though? Did I ruin something?

Me: (laughing)Please stop apologizing. If it makes you feel better I can give you a sippy cup.

Me: I accept gifts in the form of overpriced candles, gluten free cookies, and coffee.

Them: (confused look washes over their face. Suddenly a smirk emerges as they remember my humor is sarcastic and dry.)

Now you know why function over beauty is my own personal guideline when it comes to the coffee table area. The real question, though, is how in the heck does a person decorate a coffee table?! I have the answers below

My go to items for styling a coffee table are:

Books + Coasters + Natural Element + Decorative ItemGet the essential guide for how to style a French Country Coffee Table.. Tips and ideas for how to decorative coffee tables, which items to use, and where to buy them. Visit www.reinventedcollection.com

Stacked Books

Stacking interesting books can be purposeful decor and a great conversation starter. Odd numbered arrangements are the general rule of thumb to follow when styling any type of vignette. But hey, feel free to go against the grain. Be a rule breaker or rule bender. There are always exceptions to rules.


Coasters are a necessity. They are inexpensive and come in a wide range of styles to suit almost any decorative taste. Unless you think the cup rings will add to the patina of your table, I highly recommend using coasters to catch all condensation.

One of my little decorating tricks is using a stack of small vintage saucers in place of traditional coasters.

Natural Element

Use something from nature, whether it is fresh flowers, a small plant, or even dried flowers. A living element or any natural element can breathe a bit of life into your tablescape. If you have some beautiful silk arrangements, those work too. I’m no flower snob. Silk flowers can be every bit as beautiful as fresh flowers. Some would disagree with me, and that’s perfectly okay.

It’s all about what makes you happy in your home. If you like it…..go for it!

Decorative Items

Decorative items can encompass just about anything you like.

A small sculptural piece like a bust or the mini Dalmatian figurine works well. A larger piece can serve as a focal point. I currently have  vintage porcelain shoe stuffed with dried florals sitting atop a stack of books. A bowl with a collection of spherical shapes like moss balls adds visual interest and texture to a coffee table too. A few coordinating jars filled can be focal point as well. Some other decorative items you might consider using are candlesticks, basket, or lidded soup tureen. Containers work wonderfully for tucking remote controls out of sight. Decorative trays, like the filigree tray in the photo, helps corral items together and defines the surface space.

The question of what to put on a coffee table and also maintain it as a usable space has baffled many.  Height and scale of decorative objects are a few other considerations to keep in mind, but that topic is best saved for a different blog post. In the meantime, you can’t go wrong with the items I found on Chairish.

shop the look

Vintage Books | Dalmation | Brass Candlesticks | Antique Tureen

 Hollywood Regency  Filigree Tray  | Hollywood Regency Coasters

This post was inspired by Chairish. I took one look at their website and knew this was a vintage shopping resource  you would want to know about. Chairish is a treasure trove for  Francophiles, antique, and vintage lovers at heart. You will find furniture, decorative objects, art, rugs, linens, and so much more. You can either shop or sell items on Chairish!

Here’s what they have to say.

“We’re passionate about connecting design lovers with each other in the best, most practical and enjoyable way to buy and sell amazing, unique, high-quality furniture, and decor.”

I hope you enjoy this information and find it useful in your own home.


I’m joining these fabulous bloggers this week:

French Country Cottage | Katherines Corner


This post is not an affiliate link. I am not receiving monetary compensation if you make a purchase through the links I have provided for you. 


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3 Comments on "4 Essentials For How to Style a Coffee Table"

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Angelina @ Peonies & Orange Blossoms

Love these ideas!! I had to go check out that website.. full of goodies!!


Your new web design is beautiful just like your decorating style!