Coffee Table Styling

By Kate Riley January 28, 2015

We don’t have a coffee table in our family room anymore, we took it out a few months ago because I was tired of it, but I’m looking at others with different proportions. I’m taking my time finding the perfect one, but I do so love a beautifully styled coffee table with an organized collection of considered elements. Coffee tables offer us a place to gather and display our favorite things.

Can we look at some pretty ones today? Yes, let’s. Here’s a great go-to grouping that works well: stacked books + vase of flowers + decorative object or two.

books and lilys

jennifer worts

flowers books on coffee table jillian harris

 jillian harris

side by side gold coffee tables

at home in arkansas

coffee table books flowers

apd architects

coffee table studio mcgee

  studio mcgee

amanda carol coffee table

amanda carrol interiors

Another useful trick is to include a tray in the mix to corral a small collection of items so they feel controlled, also consider candles for ambiance and scent.

jessie miller coffee table styling

jessie d. miller

coffee table books flowers tray

susan glick interiors

coffee table jute

jute home

tray with boxes and flowers bhg

better homes and gardens

styled coffee table ann lowengart

ann lowengart

coffee table styling

foley & cox

coffee table styling with tray

the everygirl


  1. These are all beautiful, but we really use our coffee table–often eating dinner in the living room in front of the 7:00 p.m. news, using it as an ottoman at times to put our feet on (not at the same time as we’re eating and have food on the table, of course). It’s a large table, and I’d like to do some simple styling that can easily be removed when we’re using it.
    Am I the only one with this issue?

    • No Ursula, we’re in that boat too! Feet up a lot in the family room (when we had one). I think it’s probably that way for most families in the family/TV room, practicality outweighs pretty!

  2. I love all of these tables. They are such a great way to add some personal touches and style. But like Ursula, I have significant issues with my table because of how its used! I have five little ones and no matter how hard I try, our coffee table always ends up a dumping ground! I have added a pretty gold leather tray to stow magazines and remotes as well as pretty baskets underneath for their toys etc. I keep trying to style our table, but I keep having the issue of whatever I put out, because a “take and travel with” object for my two youngest (1 and 2). Help! How can I add style to this area! I need non breakables and child proofed items!

  3. No coffee table here. We have a recliner couch. I feel like it is just something else to keep clean anyway. Plus I don’t have space for the pretties, it needs to be functional.

  4. Ursula, you stole my thunder! Yes, my coffee table inevitably features a kitchen towel draped over an edge acting as placemat. But if that weren’t true . . . I’d have Susan Glick Interiors on my team. Love that purple and green.

  5. We have a giant coffee table also and 3 young children. They use it to play board games, do homework, and my 1 yr. old climbs on it daily. I’ve styled it and it gets “unstyled” very quickly. I look at all these beautiful pictures and get inspiration for the future. When my kids are older I will try again. Right now our coffee table will be enjoyed in different ways. I can’t wait to see what you chose for a new coffee table!

  6. These are all beautiful table arrangements, but all of these look like ‘unlived’ places to me. Who has all these design books still? In the age of Pinterest? Really? Who can live with a coffee table like that? Especially with kids that is just not a functional or viable option in my humble opinion….. A vase with flowers would not survive the evening in my house! But your examples give great inspiration about ‘the little coffee table that could’…..

  7. I gave up on coffee tables a long time ago. It was always in disarray and just something I was always fussing with. Now I have two of the IKEA round wicker ottomans in front of my couch. They take up less room and never get cluttered with stuff but I can still put my feet up.

  8. I don’t get it , why must they be so cluttered? I am far from a minimalist but every space must be filled with *stuff*

  9. Count me with the feet-up crowd. I got rid of the family room coffee table last June, bought a $20 ottoman at Goodwill and recovered it. Gave in to the practice of putting feet up at the end of the day. Gave in to eating in front of the TV. Faced the reality of a husband who has little tolerance for artful arrangements with no practical purpose, and find the room works a lot better. Eye candy like this is great for dreaming but has little to do with everyday living.

  10. This post is perfect timing for me! I recently decided to style our boring round wooden coffee table. This brings me to a question, I have been looking for a tray to use for styling it, but have only had luck finding rectangular trays which I thought would look strange on a round table. I noticed the last picture is a rectangular tray on a round table, but somehow it seems to work since its an acrylic tray that blends in. Do you have any thoughts on this? My coffee table is a midcentury style low wooden table.

    • Hi Alex, I love the idea of a rectangular tray on a round or oval table, or vice versa, great idea to mix shapes for interest.

  11. As a mom of 2 boys, ages 5 and 4, this post made me laugh. Everybody knows that coffee tables are for Legos. :) (But maybe when they move out…)

  12. My coffee table usually is empty or has kids stuff on it. I would so love to style it but like Robin said earlier my kids “restyle” it often!

  13. I agree with many here. These are very pretty but, not very practical. I have a round glass topped coffee table with a second shelf underneath. It is a constant fight to keep it uncluttered but, I specifically bought it in glass so that I couldn’t hide the clutter and it forces me to tidy up right away. We also often eat in the livingroom so, any spills are easily wiped off the glass top.

  14. I love all these beautifully styled tables, they are so inspiring! I do agree with other readers that it is hard to maintain a decorated table with kids or significant others. I agree that a tray would do wonders to help corral clutter while still being decorative.

  15. I love the idea of a styled coffee table. :) Mine typically is covered in books and Legos. I’m thinking there is a season for everything and until my kids are just gone…. I won’t be in the season for a styled coffee table. LOL

    My oldest broke a glass coffee table at my mom’s house. Square corners did in the back of my middle son’s head and my third… yeah… give him a hammer and the world is his nail…. give him a tinker toy and he BUILDS a hammer…and everything is a nail.

  16. These are wonderful images for inspiration, but my bigger issue is what KIND of coffee table I should choose for my living room. Would you be willing to put together a future post on some rules of thumb for coffee table choices? I have dark couches and a dark entertainment system and would really like to avoid a brown coffee table, but is white too weird? Is glass a better choice? When should you choose circular or oval tables? I’ve needed a coffee table for over a year now and am no further along in my hunt! I’m in desperate need of your advice!!

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)