Coffee table styling

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Most people have a coffee table nestled between the furniture in their living space, and most of us would admit that this fairly functional piece of furniture doesn’t get a lot of love and attention.

It’s often the dumping ground for remote controls, and it bears the brunt of our coffee mug circles. But it doesn’t have to be this way! 

So why bother to style this little space in your home? Well, styling your coffee table makes your home look finished. It’s the difference between having a home which looks complete, and one which looks merely functional. They don’t call them the finishing touches for nothing.

The great thing about styling different areas of your home is that it doesn’t have to be expensive (you can use items you already have or even grab a few stems from the garden) and you can swap out your display as and when the mood takes you.

People get really caught up in worrying that their styling has to be perfect, but that’s really not the case. There are a few key ingredients that you need to have in place to create a decent vignette, but beyond that, it’s about experimenting and playing. Even the best stylists I know play around with different combinations of items until they are happy with what they achieve. Your coffee table gives you the perfect, low-risk place to practise a bit of styling.

So are you up for a challenge? Don’t worry, it’s low-risk.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to take a photo of your coffee table right now. Just snap it on your phone. Done? Right, next have a read of the ingredients below, and then finally, I want you to play around with the objects you can find in your home and create a coffee table vignette.

I give you permission to play, to experiment and to not get it right first time! When you’re done, come and share your ‘after’ photo in the Facebook group.

Are you up for it?

OK, let’s read on! 


 Image from   www.ABeachCottage.com   via   Pinterest   Image from www.ABeachCottage.com via Pinterest

A good table display (in fact any display) is made up of layers. We start with a foundation layer and then add in other items. This is what makes the decor look ‘dressed’. The first layer that you can use on your coffee table is a table runner. This sets the foundation for the vignette and grounds the display, connecting your decor with the table it is sitting on. Now this doesn’t have to be anything fancy; any piece of fabric that you have around, which matches your decor will be fine. Position along the middle of the table and leave enough to hang down about half way towards the floor. 


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The place to start when dressing your coffee table is to corral all of your accessories together. I highly recommend that you use a tray to gather your decor together. This has two purposes: firstly it makes all of your decor look intentional, and secondly it means that if you need more usable space on the coffee table, it is easy to just whip the tray off and place it elsewhere, without having to disturb your decor. 

Which tray to use? Consider the shape of the table. Coffee tables generally come in three shapes: Circular (or oval), rectangular or square, and your tray should match the shape of the table. Match either the room’s colour scheme, or the wood or metallic finishes in your room.

A tray also gives you a place to hide the more unsightly objects such as remote controls. I use a small decorative box on my coffee table tray, which hides the TV remotes and those awful X-Box controls that the boys in my household insist on having. 


Coffee table books- yes, they even have a name. A small stack of books gives you a horizontal element to layer on your tray, or next to it. The trick with coffee table books is to use hardback books only. Paperbacks just don’t have the same luxe appeal. Be sure to take off the slip covers as these can look tatty. Stack two or three of them as a vignette in their own right, or use them as a plinth to raise up a smaller decorative object.

And yes, I do buy books just to match the colour scheme in my room, and I see nothing wrong with that! Charity shops are a great place to pick up books in the right colour, and you can often pick up a handful of books for just a few pounds. Just make sure to check the colour of the book underneath the slip cover before buying.


Now that you have your flat layers in place, you need to think about how to bring height into the display. A candlestick, finial, ornament or even a tall plant, like an orchid would fit the bill. Bring together a tall item at the peak of your display, include smaller items on the tray and then bridge the gap with some medium height items (like the smaller candle and the knitted holder in this image on the right). 

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Remember that your display will be seen from all sides so it needs to have dimension from every angle. A decorative object is an easy way to bring in this 3D aspect, and if you can include objects which are rounded or look the same from all sides, then so much the better. There are endless items that you can use to bring depth and variety to your display. In the images above, an animal ornament, a zinc letter, rattan balls and a glass terrarium have been used very effectively to create both interest and dimension.

So now it’s over to you. Go and collect a few objects from around your home, and have a little play around to see how many different vignettes you can create. I give you permission to play, permission to experiment, and permission to change as many times as you like. 

When you’re done, come and share your best vignette with us in the Facebook group. I can’t wait to see them. 

Until next time x

Main Image Source: via www.Ideal Home.co.uk, with permission

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