How to Style a Coffee Table

5 Steps to Making Your Table a Perfect Vignette

By Megan Johansson

A coffee table is more than just a footrest while you watch a movie. It’s an opportunity to get creative and showcase your personal style. And while tables come in all shapes and sizes – from modern lucite beauties to gorgeous vintage trunks – the way you style them can completely change the look of a room.

The trick to styling your table is to layer a variety of items in different shapes, textures, and heights to give the surface a curated vibe. You want everything to pop on its own, but still work together as a collective piece of art.

It can be tough to get the right balance, though, so we’ve put together a guide to help you style your coffee table just the way you like it. If you follow these steps, you’ll have a perfectly positioned living room in no time.


Step #1 – Add a Tray or Bowl

The quickest way to make your coffee table feel collected and neat is to add a tray or large bowl to the mix. It allows you to group together those smaller items (think coasters or candles) that might otherwise make the surface look cluttered or random.


Step #2 – Store Remotes Incognito

There’s nothing worse than losing a remote (especially today when it seems we all have 3-4 per TV). Rather than letting them float around the top of your table (and possibly get lost in the cushions), dedicate a specific incognito zone for them so you always know where they are and they don’t take up valuable styling space. Drawers are perfect for this, but if that’s not an option, try popping them in a box or bowl on the lower shelf or grouping them together inside your tray.


Step #3 – Stack Books or Magazines

Depending on the size of your table, you can either stack books inside your tray or next to it. Either way, adding a few coordinating books or magazines gives your table a visual anchor point and it gives you a chance to showcase your personality. Are you an art lover? Comedy guru? Political junkie? Invest in a few books about your favorite topics and they’ll be instant conversation starters.


Step #4 – Top It with A Tchotchke

Add an eclectic touch to your coffee table vignette by adding a tchotchke or other personal item. Perhaps it’s a small frame of your family on vacation or a vintage cigar box you found at your favorite flea market – whatever your favorite item is, your coffee table is the perfect spot to display it. Just make sure it fits size-wise and that it works with the rest of your items; you don’t want the tchotchke to take center stage, but rather work as the cherry on top of the overall styled surface.


Step #5 – Add Flowers for Height

Once you’ve got everything in place, you’ll want to consider adding a vase with fresh flowers or a potted plant to the mix. As long as you choose a vase or pot that fits the size of your table, flowers and plants can brighten up the space while giving vertical height to the otherwise horizontal vignette.


Your coffee table might be small, but when it’s styled well, it packs a punch and makes a major statement. And the best part? You can always change it up as your tastes and styles shift – just follow this guide and you’ll be sure to find the right combination that suites you.