Coffee Table Styling and Decorating in 4 Easy Steps

Your coffee table sets the tone for your whole living space… After all, it pretty much sits right in the middle of the room, right? So it’s worth your attention. Instead of just using it as a place to toss a couple of magazines and the kids backpacks, how about decorating your coffee table with things you love and want to show off? Styling a coffee table doesn’t have to be intimidating, but there are a few key steps you can use to get it right. This is our foolproof formula for arranging coffee table decor!




How to Decorate a Coffee Table

STEP ONE – Use something square. This grounds your arrangement. I love to use a stack of books. Use an odd number, and try to choose books with attractive jackets, or cover them with pretty paper for an organic feel. These two examples are from ‘The Every Girl‘.

Coffee Table Styling and Decorating in 4 Easy Steps


STEP TWO – Use something tall(ish). Give your coffee table arrangement some height, but not so much height that it’s difficult seeing across the room, or that it looks out of scale with the size of the table. Candlesticks? A pretty vase? ‘The Pink Dream‘ uses the books, and a tall vase of flowers to add another level for the eye to look at.


STEP THREE – Use something alive, or from nature. Nothing is more interesting close up than items from nature. Use fresh flowers, a potted fern, or a pretty shell from last summer’s trip to the beach. This houseplant softens the lines of this coffee table. Photo by ‘12th & White‘.

Coffee Table Styling and Decorating in 4 Easy Steps


STEP FOUR – Use something with a different shape. Something round, or irregular in shape grabs the attention and offers contrast. (AKA, interest!) Moss spheres, a collectible, just something with personality. ‘The Every Girl‘ featured a styled coffee table with perfect use of this element! I love how they brought out the rooms’ color scheme with the items they chose.


Coffee Table Decor Ideas & Examples

Here is another example of using different shapes and textures to add contrast from ‘Apartment Therapy‘ Photo by ‘Pippa Drummond’.

Coffee Table Styling and Decorating in 4 Easy Steps


From ‘Cuckoo 4 Design‘, this coffee table decor has it all. Square items to ground the arrangement? Check. Something tall? Check. Something living and something unique? Check, check!


This coffee table decor by ‘Lauren Conrad‘ includes every one of these four steps, but does it in a subtle, glam way. Make sure you match the items you are styling your coffee table with to the style of the room.


If you are decorating a round coffee table, use this tip from ‘Studio McGee‘. Divide the surface space into a triangle, instead of a square or rectangle.


That’s it, four easy steps!

  1. Start with something square.
  2. Add height.
  3. Add something alive or from nature.
  4. Add a unique shape for contrast.

Here are two final hints… You don’t necessarily have to have four things on the table just because there are four steps…remember, something could be both tall and alive, or both square and tall! Or you can have three things with unique shape, or three stacks of books. Play with your ideas till you get it right! Lastly for a coffee table, one, three or four items grouped together looks best. You can also use trays to organize your decor on the table. (And there is your square “base”!)

We hope you are off now to gather all your favorite accent pieces, coffee table books and favorite plants and create awesome coffee table decor! We think you will also love our posts on Sleek & Stylish DIY Coffee Tables, and Furniture Arranging Mistakes You May Be Making!

Image Credits: Lauren Conrad, The Every Girl, The Every Girl, The Pink Dream, 12th & White, The Every Girl, Apartment Therapy , Cuckoo 4 Design, Studio McGee
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Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates & Steve Bates (co-owners) – Woodard Bates Media LLC consisting of three blogs:, and

Kathy Bates’ previous writing credits include:

Former home decorating expert for Lifetime TV, Galtime and Country Woman Magazine.

Her book spent time at #1 on Amazon’s Home & Garden Topseller List in 2002.

Published or featured in numerous national publications, including:

Country Sampler’s Decorating Ideas magazine, Woman’s Day magazine, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Decorating Solutions magazine, Decorating Ideas magazine, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City News, The Oklahoman, Akron Beacon Journal, Pensacola News Journal and The Telegraph.

1 Comment

  1. January 27, 2015 / 11:28 am

    I really love the look of these arrangements on the coffee tables – BUT where am I going to put the tea tray??

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