If coffee tables had a tagline, it would something like: “So much more than the place to put the remote." Think of coffee tables as a tiny little rotating gallery of sorts, and an opportunity to showcase a mini decorating moment that you can swap out when you get bored of looking at it. It’s also a pretty quick and painless way to make a change by “shopping” the rest of your home and pulling together disparate objects that form the final layer of your room.
1. Vary Heights
Books are particularly helpful for this. Add a few, take a few away, and you can play with levels on the surface and fiddle until you have a configuration you like. I like to picture a cascading effect, with at least three steps down to the table surface.
2. Corral the Chaos
Adding a tray gives a little bit of structure to all the stuff, so it doesn’t appear random and ridiculous. FYI: It’s also a flat surface for you unconventional coffee table people out there. (I’m looking at you tufted ottoman lovers.)
3. Go For Strict Structure
I am by no means a minimalist, but perfectly spaced piles make my decorating heart flutter and before long I’ve proposed to the coffee table. For some reason, this especially works with a really large, expansive table.
4. Add Something Sculptural
This is where ornate candlesticks come in, or a vase of flowers or another organic. Hello Orchid. This is your time to shine and add interesting shape and movement to the rest of the square objects that are hanging around.
5. Pick Something Personal
This is a great place to keep your travel mementos, or other special tchotchkes that give you joy to look at. It’s what makes your space yours, and not like every other book-and-vase-clad table out there in the world.
6. Choose Contrast
All that rectangular goodness against a smooth round table. Delicious. I’m humming right now. Have a rustic wood coffee table? Use a smooth porcelain vase or book. Likewise, break up those clean modernist tendencies with something rough and unruly.
7. Try a Textile
There’s nothing that says you can’t use fabric on your coffee table. Why let dining rooms have all the fun and softness that tablecloths bring?