Hi! This is Kristin Thompson from Postbox Designs, and I’m thrilled to be back this month offering an exclusive Mood Board just for the Remodelaholic readers! As an interior designer, one of the questions I get asked the most is how to style a coffee table or open shelves. I get it! It is hard to achieve the balance between a perfectly curated collection and clutter. And no one wants to waste money on knick knacks just to fill up an empty space. I will tell you: I like the “less in more” approach. I don’t know about you, but I live in the real world with small kids and a big fluffy pup, so these intricate coffee table magazine stylings I see won’t work for me. But this step-by-step tutorial will give a decorated look that isn’t too cluttered AND is practical.
So today I want to show you How To Style the Perfect Coffee Table (with just 6 elements!). Think of styling a coffee table as a formula. You can repeat this formula over and over again with different objects and different styles, with success. For my example I'm re-creating this fun, slightly boho look found on Target.com:
Love something you see? Just click on the link below to buy (includes affiilate links; learn more here):
When styling a coffee table, try to stick with a palette of 3-5 colors to keep it from looking too busy. In this vignette, I kept it very neutral using white, green, gold, brown, and black. Your colors can reflect your style and room décor-adding a small pop of color can go a long way!
Start with your coffee table as a base. When you choose items for your table, stick with a style that matches either your table or your overall room décor: modern, cottage, farmhouse, eclectic, etc. Then I would recommend using these six elements to style your table:
Element #1: A Tray
image source: KK
I love using a tray on a coffee table as both a décor item, but it is also super practical. I have three kids, so I don’t always want decorations on my table, especially when they are using it to build their Lego creations! If you use a tray like this to corral your items, you can literally pick up your vignette, move it out of the way, and put back when company comes over! Super practical.
I would suggest choosing a tray that takes up no more than a third of your table. Typically sticking with the same shape (a round tray on a round table) works well, but if you can switch it up!
Read more: 10 Places To Use Trays In Your Home Decor
Element #2: A stack of books
image source: HomeViaLaura
The trick to great styling is varying the height of objects. Books are a perfect and inexpensive way (use what you already have!) to do this. Use hardback or cloth bound books that look pretty without the dust cover. You can go neutral or go for a pop of color with your books. Typically a stack of 2-3 books works well, and you can place some of your smaller items on the stack so they don’t get lost in your vignette.
Read more: How to Quickly and Easily Cover Books
Element #3: A sculptural vase
image source: Hadley Court
Keep it empty or add some foliage or a candle, but this is a classic piece of a coffee table styling. It adds needed height to your grouping, plus it adds visual interest. This is a great place to change up your vignette with the season: fill your vase with different seasonal objects that you can rotate. It gives you a new look with minimal work.
Read more: 20 DIY Modern Vases
Element #4: Greenery
image source: Elle Decor
Adding a natural element is a vital component to a vignette! Whether fresh flowers, a sprig of greenery, or faux plants, it adds warmth to your grouping. I have a brown thumb, so I love using faux plants. In both the above table and in the table styling I re-created for you, these modern (faux) succulents add a great pop of color. In my Mood Board (see sources above) I used these small, modern pots for the base. I would pop one in the tray and one of the stack of books to vary the heights.
Read more: 20 Creative DIY Plant Pots
Element #5: A small dish or tray
image source: My Domaine
In the Mood Board I created, I love the geometric patterned rectangle dish because it adds some extra texture and pattern to the grouping. Keep it empty, or use it to corral items. You could also use a small bowl or dish for the same effect. A swap on this element would be a stack of cute coasters.
Read more: Easy DIY Custom Jewelry Dishes
Element #6: Something whimsical
image source: Lucy Williams Interiors
Every space should have some fun and creativity to it! Whether a piece makes you smile, or it has some sentimental meaning, find something charming for your space. In my Mood Board, the sculptural gold elephant fits the bill, plus I loved how the gold figure pulled in the gold from my books and vase to create a flow.
So there you go….easy, right? Don’t waste money by trying to fill your table with no plan. If you focus on just these six elements, you can style the perfect coffee table!
Need help styling a console table or buffet? I also created a step-by-step guide to style this type of table…this will also work on open shelves or bookcases! Click HERE to find the details:
In the meantime, if need help designing your perfect room, let me help you over at Postbox Designs, or find me on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM where I share design freebies, give you behind-the-scenes looks into real projects, and give free advice. Or find me on PINTEREST and load up on inspiration for your home.
A big ole thank-you to Remodeaholic for letting me hang with you all today. See you again next month!