Does your coffee table look like this?
Do you swoon over the pretty coffee table styling pics in home decor magazines and then think that’s not practical? I mean, how do you stack up your coffee table with books, candles and pretty curios AND have space on it to serve a drink? Nah, not possible. Coffee table styling is only for magazines. I totally get you.
BUT, I’m not completely with you. I think getting a gorgeous coffee table and then leaving it bare is like dressing up in a beautiful sari or gown and then not putting on any jewelry or make up. It’s incomplete, and doesn’t do justice to your table or your room.
So here are some practical tips on coffee table styling. A few things to remember so that you can put that coffee table to good use AND make it pretty.
Coffee Table Styling:
(1) Your table styling is not permanent:
When you place the furniture in your room you make sure the layout is practical and convenient because you’re not going to change your furniture around every day. You decide what is most user friendly and pleasing to the eye, and then assign these ‘permanent’ places to your furniture.
It’s not the same with your coffee table. You can put all those candles, books and curios on your table today and then just remove them or scale them down when you want to use the table for something else. So go with what you feel like today, and don’t worry about how you will use it tomorrow. You can easily change it.
(2) You don’t have to fill up your table:
On most magazines and Pinterest boards, coffee table styling means the table is filled end to end with all sorts of beautiful artifacts. This usually happens for 2 reasons. One being our point number (1)… coffee table styling is not permanent. So you can pile up your coffee table for a good photo shoot, or when you’re not really using your table. Then you can remove some of it when you do want to make space on the table for other stuff.
The second being that a lot of those pics are close ups, styled to show you part of the table. Like the pic above. If you saw the full table, this is what you’d see…
The table is just styled in one corner, with enough free space for everything else.
So how do you start?
(3) Make yourself a ‘fixed’ styling set:
This is how I usually style my coffee tables. I have made myself a little ‘set’.. like the one in these pics… which is what I usually place on the table.
As you can see, it’s not too big and doesn’t fill up the table. So the table is easily usable on a daily basis. A simple guideline to remember here is to decorate in odd numbers. This is repeated so often that you’ve probably already read it somewhere. But in case you haven’t, the rule of threes says that when things are arranged in odd numbers, they are found to be more appealing. So while making your ‘set’, use 3 or 5 things, instead of 2 or 4.
But what about the times you have people over and need to use the full table?
(4) Style with your serveware:
That’s when I use my serveware for styling. I’ve pulled up a few examples here to show you what I mean. Say you’ve got a friend over for tea. I begin with my blue kettle. Then I start to collect other serveware that will look pretty with it. My tea cups are either yellow or these glass and steel ones. I chose these coz they obviously go better with the blue. Then I found a blue serving platter to go with it all.
There is ALWAYS place for a little something more… a candle, a plant.. a little something which makes your effort look styled instead of just served. The wooden tray is earthy and goes well with the plant and the blue pottery. So this is how I decide to serve my tea.
(5) Bring together elements of similar colour tones but different textures and patterns:
Let’s style our serveware for a couple of beer mugs. I pulled out that gold beaded mat which has the same earthy tones as the beer mugs but adds a little sparkle. The 2 candles are both gold, but one has rough striped grooves on the wax itself while the other is smooth golden glass holder. We need to add 1 more thing to them to follow our rule of 3. This time I picked a plant in a brown pot. The wooden giraffe bowl is again in earthy tones, but with a bold pattern that breaks the monotony. The yellow paper napkins go really well with the gold and the earthen mug and add a dash of colour.
Put it all together and you have a styled coffee table.
Here we used a mat to ground our 3 things together. You could also place them on a tray or a book.
(6) Feel free to innovate:
Now let’s bring together a look for some crystal glasses. I thought a silvery white look would work the best with crystal.
So I brought together everything silver I had. The tray, the coasters, the candles and the candle-stands. The white snack bowls are trimmed with silver flowers so they fit in well with our look. The white paper napkins have gold polka dots on them, not silver, but are still going well with our scheme. After all, it’s not about perfection. It’s about curating a selection from what you have, innovating where required and putting together a good vignette.
The only problem was the big candle stand. I had silver candles for the long candle stands, but only a red pillar candle for the big one. I didn’t want red in this vignette. Again, a plant to my rescue for thing number 3. So I used the large candle stand as a plant stand instead. I didn’t have a small glass vase to fit on it. So I took another crystal glass, filled it with water and put a few stems of money plant into it.
Here we have our 3 things put together on a tray and our table is styled.
(7) Use a plant:
As you have seen in all the vignettes, a plant always looks great. That’s a rule I made up for myself.. a personal choice.. which I always follow. It never goes wrong, so I would strongly recommend it to you too.
Fresh flowers look great too, instead of a plant. But unless you have some growing in your garden, that requires a bit of planning, to go and get some fresh flowers beforehand. Which is why I always have my little plants handy. If you really don’t like any kind of plants (is that even possible?!) then use fake flowers. You can get good, real looking, fake flowers at most home stores. It’s a good, long term investment for your home decor.
(8) Stock some pretty things:
Coming back to our sari example.. just like you plan and get yourself some jewelry to go with a great outfit, it’s a great idea to keep some decor at hand which is easy to use and versatile. The first we’ve already talked about, is plants and flowers.
Candles always look great in any vignette and don’t occupy much table space. They are also easily available in lots of different colours. Depending on your room and serveware colours, it’s a good idea to keep a few candles of different sizes and colours in stock.
Another element we usually ignore are the napkins. Whether cloth or paper napkins, don’t just pick up any colour or pattern. Think about what will go well with your decor or theme, and pick up a few different colours and prints accordingly.
Having these extras in hand will give you the flexibility mix and match and try new looks every time.
(9) Have fun!
At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Try different stuff. You will love some of your looks. You won’t be thrilled about some of them. But it’s only with trial and error that you’ll figure out how you like your coffee table styling. And you’ll get bolder with each attempt.
And then you won’t stop… Trust me, it’s addictive!
So it’s time to up your coffee table styling game, dress up those empty tables, and glam up your room..
Until next time,