The coffee table can be the most important piece of the living room. Sure, a living room wouldn’t be a living room without a sofa, but once you’re sitting on the sofa all the focus is on the coffee table in front of you. It’s where you put your cup, or your book, or your glasses – it’s where your guests reach out to to grab another cookie from the jar! The coffee table is a vital component in your living room, and needs to work as a central anchor. The overall style and decor of your living room should be summarised by, not only your coffee table, but what’s on it.
Styling A Coffee Table
How you style a coffee table really depends on how you’ve styled the rest of the room. The themes and colours should all be reflected by what’s on your coffee table. Match accent colours from your paintings or your throw pillows or what have you to the objects arranged on your coffee table.
Objects of interest (or a decorative accent) do well on coffee tables and make great conversation starters, especially if they invoke intrigue and a little mystery as to the relevance of the “quirky” item. Flowers and plants add fresh touch of natural life into your living room and will soften the overall look of your coffee table.
Use heights creatively to add visual interest to your coffee table arrangement. Use something tall and narrow, like a vase or a candlestick, to draw the eye. This however does not have to be the main focus of the coffee table, but its height can help to direct focus onto your main item. Vary the items in size to reduce visual clutter. A good trick to remember for basic styling is matching items in threes: something vertical, something horizontal, and something to tie the two together that is neither particularly vertical nor horizontal. You can use various colours drawn from around the room. If you want to use a single colour palette with all of your items a similar colour or shade, using different textures for each item can be very effective. These are but some very basic guidelines, which are difficult to do wrong by.
A tray that matches the coffee table can be used to group coffee table items, and separate them from the “functional” space on the coffee table. Or you can use the coffee table tray to group colours or objects that are small and decorative so that they are separated from any books on the table or what have you. Having a tray is also handy for when you need a bit of extra room on your coffee table, for TV dinner or for when you are working from your living room (or there are small children running around!). You can just grab the tray as a whole to move it elsewhere temporarily without disrupting the placement of each individual item.
Don’t forget, while you are styling your coffee table, about the everyday items that will inevitably find their way onto the table whether you dedicate space to them or not. Such things can include glasses, beverages, plates, DVDs and TV remote controls. The coffee table can quickly look cluttered if you populate the surface with beautiful ornaments, forgetting that they won’t be alone on there. So leave plenty of space!
Choosing Coffee Table Books
An extremely popular decorative addition to the living room coffee table is an arrangement of coffee table books. Not to mention the fact that they are a great conversation starter! Depending on how big the books are, the style of your coffee table and what else you have on the coffee table, you can stack or fan these books on or below the top surface. Many people choose to only style their coffee table with books, as it eliminates the need to over-think the decorative items on the coffee table. Instead you can choose a good three or four books and just slap them out onto the table for you and your guests to ooh and aah over, and cycle through different coffee table books as regularly as once a week. You can drastically change the mood of your coffee table just by choosing different books to put on it.
When choosing coffee table books for your living room, look out for hardback or hardcover books with bold front covers that will entice your guests or your family to pick up and have browse. Like other coffee table decorative objects and ornaments, draw from the colours around the room to match accent colours from your paintings or fabrics to the front cover of the books. The pages within the book should seduce your guests with lots of big, bold, inspirational images with only snippets of writing. The most common types of coffee table books for this are ones about art, design, travel, fashion and food. The books on your table should be a mood lifter; sources of inspiration. Books where you can flick to any page and be able to enjoy the images and messages out of context. Your coffee table books need to provide your guests with an insight as to who you are, what you like and what you do. There’s no point in having a travel book about a certain country that you’ve never been to, or have never been interested in visiting, just because the colours match your rug. You’re just waiting for that awkward moment when a guest enquires about the choice of books on your table, and you can’t honestly tell them why those books…. Similarly, if you have a very modern and contemporary style of living room, you’re going to want to look for modern and contemporary books. Stay within theme!
There’s a difference between appearing well-read to your guests and appearing as a clutter-brain. Don’t overwhelm your coffee table with too many books, and try to keep the majority of them light-hearted. If you want to appear well-read, that’s what your bookcase is for. Coffee table books should serve more of a purpose to your guests than your personal library books, as chances are they won’t spend more than five minutes browsing through a single book.
Also, avoid having just a single book on your coffee table. This will make it look out of place, as if you’ve just forgotten to put it away. Aim for between three and six, depending on the size of the books and the size of your coffee table too of course. If you are stacking them tidily on the table, try not to make them too perfectly uniform or completely flush with each other. Choosing books of varying sizes will help prevent this, and you can stack them easily in order of size with the biggest one of the bottom of the pile. You can also use a stack of coffee table books to vary the height of the other decorative objects on the coffee table.
However you decide to style your coffee table, just make sure that the coffee table itself is still visible beneath everything and doesn’t become too overburdened! What’s the point in having a beautiful coffee table if you’re going to hide it away?