6 Things You Don’t Actually Need on Your Coffee Table, According to Home Stagers

published Sep 27, 2020
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The beauty of coffee tables is that they aren’t just for coffee. They’re multi-purpose living room staples, serving beauty, function, and comfort. They’re also a piece of furniture that always manages to accumulate piles of stuff.

Start the new season on the right foot with a coffee table makeover. From food and drinks to office supplies and beauty products, here are the things home stagers say you should eliminate from your surface ahead of a sale—or on decluttering day.


You may be a Demi Lovato superfan, but do you really need to keep her Cosmopolitan cover issue on your table months after you’ve read it? According to Donna Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, old magazines should be the first to go. “They just look sloppy,” she says. “If they’re thumbed through and have bent covers, it’s time to find a magazine rack if you intend on keeping them.” 

Food and drinks

This one’s simple. Having an old protein bar wrapper or mug from this morning’s coffee on the surface just looks messy. Not to mention, Dazzo says your drink could stain the coffee table and create a ring.

“If you have someone over for drinks or wine, it’s okay to keep some snacks or appetizers on the table with some coasters for drinks,” she says. But when it comes to daily use, don’t leave your lunch leftovers around in your living space.

Loose paper and mail

According to Janelle Hughes, co-owner of KJ Design & Mortar Styling, your home should be your oasis. It shouldn’t be the place constantly reminding you of the stresses of life. To make your home your sanctuary, start by making this rule: no bills or mail on your coffee table. 

“When you’re at home, you shouldn’t constantly be thinking about bills, thinking about all those things that you need to do,” Hughes says. “In terms of removing clutter, it’s going to create more of a stress-free lifestyle.”

Credit: Liz Calka

Office supplies

Can’t seem to find a surface in your home without a notepad and pens on it? It’s not the end of the world. But in order to separate your relaxing living space from your work life, it’s crucial to remove any office supplies from your coffee table. “Office supplies shouldn’t be placed on a coffee table in a living room because you shouldn’t be working in a living room,” Hughes says. It’s a tough rule to abide by nowadays, but it’s worth clearing off the table after the work-from-home-day is done.

Beauty products

Hughes is a firm believer in creating a dedicated space and place for everything. Your living room isn’t the room for primping, either. “If you have a mohair rug in the living room, and you have cream-based beauty supplies, that’s a disaster waiting to happen,” she says. Get rid of the hand lotion on your coffee table in order to mitigate damage, keeping in mind cosmetics like nail polish can ruin the finish of your surfaces, too. (And if you have a “skincare bowl” on your table like AT’s Lifestyle Director, Taryn Williford, you can move it to the bathroom when it’s time for an open house.)

Children’s toys

When you have kids, it’s hard to find a place in the house that’s not covered in toys. If there’s one space to avoid it, let it be the coffee table. Dazzo says it’s easy for Legos or doll clothing to be cluttered about on the table because it’s at children’s eye level. Scooping up these tiny toy pieces can go a long way and make your living room feel refreshed and peaceful.