How to Decorate a Beautiful Coffee Table in 4 Easy Steps
Have you ever wanted to switch up your décor…without changing the entire room? Or have you ever tried to decorate something and just got so frustrated that you gave up and left it the same…again?
I hope you answered yes so I’m not alone in this!!!
Especially in our fast-paced culture with the world at our fingertips, we can easily catch the feeling that we should always be making big changes, doing the next best thing, renovating, improving, even house shopping every few years…you name it. While I love a good project, I am a huge fan of small, simple changes that help us continue loving our own homes, as imperfect as they are.
If you’ve been around for awhile, you have probably heard me talk about this before. If you are new, (welcome!) and hopefully you’ll quickly find out that I am really passionate about HOME. But if you’re at all like me, I can get a little tired of looking at the same thing over and over. Before I know it, I can have myself talked into “maybe we should just look for a “better” home”, when all I really need is to just fall in love again with the home I have.
It’s kind of like marriage…dating your spouse is a real thing! We are coming up on our 18th wedding anniversary and I’m pretty sure that my hubby “gets tired of seeing the same thing” sometimes. But you stick with it…you find ways to continue falling in love…right?
But I digress. Haha!
So what does that have to do with coffee table styling? Well, sometimes just a simple switch of your coffee table arrangement can help the entire room feel fresh, give you something new to look at, and you might just love that room again!
While I am also a big fan of the concept that home décor should be whatever YOU want it to be for YOUR home, I also understand that sometimes we want to refresh things a little but feel stuck. My goal for this blog post is to give you the basic tips and ideas for coffee table styling…some rules of thumb, so to speak…and then let you fill in the blanks with what makes you smile!
So let’s get started!
Four Essential Elements of Coffee Table Styling
- Tall item
- Medium item
- Shorter object
Let’s break this down into details so that you can start hunting for pieces that will definitely work for your coffee table vignette!
Coffee Table Styling Essential #1
Choose a base
This could be a basket, tray, cutting board, large book, crate, dough bowl, or any other piece you might want to use as the foundation for your coffee table vignette. My coffee tables are both quite large, but you’ll want to choose a scale that feels right for your coffee table. I like to think of my base as being about one third to one half of the table size.
Having a base for your vignette helps the décor feel grounded and intentional. I also love the practical reasons of making it easier to move around for cleaning and especially to slide it over for playing family games! Your home décor should always feel like it enhances your family life, not be in the way of it.
My favorite bases for coffee table vignette styling are vintage cutting boards. I love that they add a lot of character and patina to my décor. They are also flat, easy to maneuver, and easy to store. You can even store them in plain sight by stacking them, leaning them in a corner, or against your kitchen backsplash!
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your coffee table vignette base is to choose something that contrasts with your coffee table. If you have a wood-toned coffee table, consider a base that is either an opposite, yet complementary, wood tone or perhaps white or metal. My family room coffee table is wood with chippy white paint, so with a table like that, you can really use woods or whites! The important thing is to have a bit of contrast so that it doesn’t seem like you were trying too hard to make them “match”.
Have fun with your coffee table vignette base! Consider investing in a vintage piece that you really love and that can be used year-round in your décor. By doing this, you’re sure to love the styling much more for a longer period of time, have less “extra décor” to store away, and can easily switch the smaller décor items that go on the base.
Coffee Table Styling Essential #2
Choose your tallest item.
Lanterns, buckets, vintage vessels, and tall vases are all natural choices for the first item you’ll choose for your coffee table vignette. Depending on how you use the space, you’ll want to determine the height for your tallest item. If you have a TV on the opposite wall, for example, you’ll want to make sure you don’t block the view. Play around with some different options to settle on a final scale, as the tallest item sets the scale for the rest of your coffee table vignette.
In our back living room, there is no TV and there are not chairs directly opposite the coffee table. This gives me a lot of freedom with the height of my vignette. I love making a dramatic statement with these kinds of vignettes, so taller branches, such as these palm branches, are really fun for that.
You could even consider if there are ways to rearrange your furniture to give you more freedom with your vignettes. But if not, don’t worry! There are lots of fun ways to style smaller vignettes! For me, the main key is lots of texture and layers!
I often use my taller item to hold some kind of greenery Greenery (or flowers) is a key essential for me in a coffee table vignette. It brings a lot of life to the vignette as well as adding an additional texture. You can use real or faux. If you choose to put greenery in your tallest item, have some fun with the vessel. A great pottery piece, basket, or vintage vessel can be another way to add character and interest to your vignette. Additionally, a simple switch of flowers or greenery can help your vignette transition from season to season…or just switch things up for the fun of it!
Coffee Table Styling Essential #3
Choose your medium item.
Candlesticks, cloche, pot with plant, ironstone compote, lantern, jar, or vase…they all make great medium items for your vignette. Often, my tall and medium items might be a tiered pair of something, like candlesticks or lanterns. If you have two items that you want to use together but they are the same height, put one on a stack of vintage books to create your tall and medium items. The books will add even more of a layered, curated look to your vignette, as well as more texture!
A large book, like this vintage dictionary, standing up also makes a great medium item. I often use some of my larger books to create the medium item in my grouping. I think they go with most anything, despite the season, and add a lot of texture and character to a vignette. You can also do this with nice coffee table books or picture books! It is a great way to add a personal element to your coffee table vignette!
Smaller architectural items can make perfect medium items for coffee table styling! Actually, a chippy corbel can be great for your tall item too! I often use architectural salvage pieces for my vignette base, or layer a salvage piece on my base for extra texture. You can even use an architectural salvage base to add height to a smaller item in order to make it your medium item!
Coffee Table Styling Essential #4
Choose your smallest item.
I like to think of the smallest item as my “seasonal” touch, whether it’s a piece of coral for summer, a little pumpkin in the fall, a reindeer figure in the winter, or a cute cement bunny in the spring! Keeping those seasonal items in smaller sizes can be super helpful with your storage. Additionally, if you have a coffee table vignette that you love and don’t want to change, just switch out that seasonal item and you have a brand new look in 1 minute’s time!
Other items that work great for the small item can include:
- Ironstone jelly mold with a baby plant
- Small vintage clock
- Jar with old paintbrushes
- Mortar and pestle
- Vintage brass swan
- Wood or resin chain link
- Favorite candle
- Small vase with fresh flowers
- Small cloche with seasonal object underneath
- Favorite collection item
- Small faux plant
- Little piece of vintage pottery
- Small picture frame with a favorite family snapshot
These are just a few of MANY, many possibilities! Get creative with your smallest item and look around your vintage collections to see what you could use! If you decide to do a little shopping for this smaller item, there is good news! You can usually switch out these smaller pieces with a little less expense, especially if you’re doing so with seasonal items.
(That’s not to say that you might spend more on a pretty vintage clock or ironstone jelly mold than you do on your tall and medium items combined!)
My main point is that to change your vignette, you don’t always have to change all of the essentials at once! Remember…we are looking for simple, easy changes that make you smile when you walk through the room!
A Few Other Tips to Consider When Styling Your Coffee Table Vignette
Using Greenery in Your Coffee Table Décor
Almost every coffee table vignette I create will have some kind of greenery or flowers mixed in! Whether fresh or faux, I think they add so much life to the vignette. Greenery also helps to soften the edges of your coffee table vignette pieces and help everything blend in. You can find a couple of my favorite faux greenery HERE and HERE.
Where to Find Vintage Items for Your Coffee Table Décor
I get most of my vintage pieces from favorite vintage shops and vintage markets. However, I can often find some of the smaller items at thrift stores and flea markets. And don’t discount some of the big box stores for pieces as well. While much of my décor is vintage, I definitely mix new pieces in as well. Seasonal décor is something I specifically look for at places like Target, Homegoods, and Walmart.
You can find my favorite tips for vintage hunting HERE.
How to Get a Cohesive Look for Your Coffee Table Décor
This is not a hard and fast rule because if it were, I break it often! However, I do like to keep some common elements in each vignette. In this vignette with the zinc basket, you’ll find that the two bases I layer have a similar wood tone. The bucket with the olive tree is zinc, tying in with the zinc basket. While the book is a stand-alone element, the blue-gray tones of the cover and the tan tones of the pages flow nicely with the wood cutting boards and zinc pieces. The sponge is another unique element, though it’s coloring has a common tone to the bread boards.
Several different elements, yet the colors tie them together. You could find common elements through material, texture, color, and pattern.
Use Layering to Add Texture to Your Coffee Table Décor
Layer, layer, layer! Layering is a great way to add texture and character to your coffee table vignette. In this summer vignette I created for our back living room, I could have used the zinc basket as my base and put all of the same tall, medium and small items. However, I used an extra-large bread board under the basket and a small bread board inside the basket.
Essentially stacking three bases for my vignette, I was able to bring in a contrasting tone (since the coffee table has a zinc top), add a color that would connect with the book pages and sponge, and add some extra patina. Because of the location of this vignette, I don’t have to worry too much about height, so I could add those layers with no concern of blocking anything.
However, even on a space where you need to keep a direct line of sight to another piece of furniture or TV, you can add layers with thin things such as:
What Do I Do Next?
Create! Go have fun with your décor!
Experiment! Gather many more items than you could possibly use and try lots of options until you find the one that makes you smile! Walk away if you get frustrated and come back to it later (works like a charm!)
I hope this has given you lots of ideas to work with simple vignettes throughout your home! There are so many fun ways to decorate and the possibilities are truly limitless!