Coffee Table Decor Essentials and How to Style Them

6 coffee table decor essentials and how to style them like a pro to make your living room feel purposeful and beautiful.

Coffee table decor is weird. Like… when else in the history of ever would you find yourself staring at an inanimate object for an hour wondering what to do with it?

I mean, coffee tables are the most high maintenance pieces of furniture ever and have some nerve making you second guess every little item you place on it.

There is a formula to it though if you’ve ever wanted a perfectly decorated coffee table vignette but didn’t know how to do it.

How to Decorate a Coffee Table

(By the way, if any other places in your house have eluded you too, you can see lots more decorating secrets in this Simplified Decorating series.)

rattan coffee table in a living room with black doors

1. Start with a Tray

I love trays particularly because I have kids, and if they’re getting rough and rowdy, I can just lift the tray away with all the decor on it whenever needed.

But trays also give you a foundation to make all of the items on a coffee table look collected and purposeful. Use one that isn’t too small but still leaves room for you to kick your feet up, if you’d like.

2. Add something natural.

Whether it’s a potted plant, a vase of flowers, a bowl of moss, choose something that brings nature into the mix. It can be as simple as a bundle of flowers from the grocery store, but if you like longevity, fake stems are fine. (These are some of my favorite fake flowers.)

coastal style coffee table decor

3. Incorporate a container.

I like using a decorative box for storing TV remotes or a decorative bowl for tossing in odds n ends as needed. They’re both beautiful and functional. Pick one that varies in material from your tray for extra texture.

If you’re using a marble tray, use a wooden bowl. Or if you’re using a brass tray, choose a rattan box, etc.

remote control holder on a coffee table

4. Use a couple of books.

Choose hardcover ones that are interesting and beautiful to you that you’d enjoy picking up and flipping through regularly. Pick whatever interests you: particular artists, beloved travel destinations, signature fashion styles, a favorite period of history, whatever speaks to your heart.

These are some of my absolute favorite coffee table books for all interests.

The helpful thing about books is they can act as risers too, if you want to vary height of your decor items.

5. Add a candle.

Lighting a candle in the evening sets the mood for the entire room and helps you relax a little better. Choose one in a scent you love. (Or if you prefer diffusing essential oils instead, opt for a cordless candle diffuser for aromatherapy benefits.)

decorative chain on a wooden tray with concrete bowl and vase of dried hydrangeas on a coffee table

6. Finish with a decorative object.

Have fun with an out-of-the-ordinary object. Maybe a quirky figurine, an interesting paperweight, or a strand of decorative beads for added texture. If all of the other items on your table are short, choose an item that will add some height.

I love finding figurines at the thrift store and painting them to look like concrete, granite, or aged brass for just a couple bucks.

coffee table decor essentials

7. Edit.

Don’t go so overboard with your coffee table decor that you can’t actually use your coffee table. Less is more. Pare down items as needed so that you don’t end up with a table full of clutter.

8. Mix Textures.

Mix up different materials like marble, rattan, stone, glass, ceramic, brass. It adds dimension and interest, especially when sticking to a neutral color palette.

9. Use the Decorator’s Triangle.

A good rule is to decorate in odd numbers: 3, 5, or 7. Then, vary the heights of those items to form a triangle. Can you see it?

the decorator's triangle on a coffee table vignette

So keep that in mind as you tweak your coffee table vignette.

These are some of my favorite coffee tables, but really coffee tables are one of my favorite pieces of furniture to makeover, if you keep your eyes peeled at the thrift store or search Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

That’s it! Move things around, play with different textures, and you’ll end up with a pretty, collected coffee table.

If you need some different ideas, here are a few more.

Coffee Table Decorating Ideas

winter living room styling with coffee table decor

rec room coffee table decor

christmas coffee table decor

coastal style coffee table decor

fall coffee table decor

fall living room decor

spring coffee table decor with white tulips

If you need more help about how to decorate a living room, you can see more in the Simplified Decorating series here. 

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  1. I love all these ideas but I’m stumped with how to style mine. The entire top of mine IS a big rectangular tray sitting in a woven base so adding a tray doesn’t look right. Do I just style it the same way but use larger scale objects? Not sure why this is so hard for me 😫😫😫

    1. Hi, Paula! I think your solution would be a great start. You can certainly join the facebook group I host for budget decorating. You can share pictures and get suggestions from all the very talented minds in the group.

  2. This is perfect timing for me, because I’ve been trying to decorate our coffee table. I love your style, so I know I am in for a gorgeous, decorative coffee table. I love the wicker coffee table, but it’s not in the budget for now. I also am in love with these ideas.

  3. Sitting on my couch looking,at my coffee table as I read your blog. I have a large wicker tray on one side with a bouquet of peonies and hostas leaves from my garden, a small book on gardening and a round chinese bowl. In the middle of my table is a large glass cloche with a faux candle inside and on the other side is my oriental wooden box for the remote ect and a square wicker,container with coasters in it. My antique pine coffee table is a large rectangle shape and has plenty of room for my coffee cup ,a book and put my feet up. I love decorating this table for each season and would never part with it. I think I paid $15 for it in a thrift shop😁

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