The 6 Commandments of Styling a Coffee Table, According to Home Stagers

published Sep 21, 2019
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Credit: Alexis Buryk

Even in the best of times, your coffee table can be the scene of the home decor crime. We’re talking cluttered piles of magazines, a Jenga-like stack of remote controls, and a bowl of peanuts that may have been taking up precious real estate for one too many days. An easy way to remedy this? Take a cue from professional home stagers, who probably know how to style a coffee table better than anyone. Even if you’re not putting your home on the market anytime soon, we promise these six tips will help you never have a blah coffee table again:

Credit: Liz Calka

Tap into the art of layering

“To do this, start with a large coffee table book, then add a vintage book with beautiful binding and place a fun object d’art on top. I like to layer in vintage items like brass and glass paperweights to make the layering feel collected and warm.”—Samira Tapia, an Los Angeles-based Realtor and home stager with Compass

It’s all about the tray

“My stagers and I find that trays are a great decorative piece to work with. They can hold only so much but are big enough to allow you to create a vignette look that looks unified. Trays also keep the coffee table organized, but are easy to move out of the way or push to one side to allow for a drink or to set up a board game.”—Krisztina Bell, the founder of No Vacancy Home Staging in Atlanta

Pick the right books

“Styling a coffee table is all about creating an aspirational lifestyle. I choose books for both their content and jacket design. Right now I’m loving books about record cover art (‘1000 Record Covers’ by Michael Ochs), slow living (Kinfolk magazine is both graphically gorgeous and hints at a cool lifestyle) and vintage design (‘Herman Miller: A Way of Living‘.)”—Chess Valenti, the owner of Get Staged in Geneva, Illinois

Credit: Chloe Berk

Opt for fresh—or green

“I like to think of a coffee table as an opportunity to create a mini art installation with a pop of color. Besides selecting a few books that you want to show off, add a vase with some greenery. Remember that something fresh or green always gives the room life.”—Barri Branker, co-owner of Beyond the Box Interiors in Washington, D.C.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Keep it minimal

“It’s true: Less is definitely more on your coffee table. I always tell clients that if you’re uncertain of what to put on your coffee table, just keep your grouping to three items, including a decorative box to tuck your remotes—and have fun with it!”—Branker

Credit: Viv Yapp

Mix surfaces and textures

“For example, on a wood coffee table, a wood or fiber tray looks good with a candle in a tin jar and a glazed ceramic pot. On a mirrored or glass coffee table, I like a lucite tray and a glass candle.”—Valenti

Want to incorporate the principles of staging in other rooms in your home? Here, 6 things to do before anyone enters your bathroom.

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