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Eight Tips for Styling the Perfect Coffee Table

Welcome to our latest Project Design. I am sharing Eight Tips for Styling the Perfect Coffee Table. We last did coffee tables back in 2015.  I am so excited that six of our blogging pals are joining us today to share their tips. Styling a coffee table isn‚Äôt a project that needs completing in a day. Take time to find pieces that you really love. Shop vintage markets, antique shops, and resale stores in addition to the traditional spots. A coffee table is often the center of the living room, so use it to display items that you enjoy looking at every day.  It should be functional, say a bit about who you are, and most of all be balanced and decorative. 

eight tips for styling the perfect coffee table

My go-to formula for styling a pretty coffee table

  1. Some sort of natural element (fresh flowers, a plant, some other earthy element)
  2. Candlelight ( to add ambiance and possibly scent to the room )
  3. Books (arrange them in neat stacks paying attention to the colors of the room)
  4. Decorative accents (that personalize the space)
  5. Tray( to organize the above items if needed)
  6. Vary Heights and Textures (items should have enough visual weight that they don’t get lost but not so big that they overwhelm)
  7. Add Something Vintage ( to add history and character)
  8. Relate objects to other elements in the room (such as colors and textures)     

I recently moved my large coffee table from our game room into our family room (we don’t have a living room) My old square coffee table was looking dated and didn’t really fit the space well.  This is what the coffee table looked like decked out for fall. 

diy fall decor from foraged materials


diy fall decor with foraged materials

I recently switched out my pillows to something more spring-like so I thought I might try something a little more neutral. The cowhide box and tray I scored at Home Goods. Everything else I shopped my home for. 

 I love using books.  They are great for adding height to smaller objects and injecting color or texture.

neutral coffee table


Although I love the textural look of this one I craved a more minimalist look. Be sure your coffee table isn’t stacked with so many decorative objects that it no longer functions and has lost its purpose. 

coffee table with tray and flowering branches


  I picked up some simple flowering branches at the wholesale florist (nothing blooming in my yard now), and stuffed them into one of my vintage jars.  I love the life the branches bring into the room.  I saved the tray, added my latest favorite tatine candle and some cowhorn and deer horn.


My final rendition turned out to be my favorite.

coffee table with branches and lemons

I added a favorite potato stamped antique basket filled with lemons, the vintage jar filled with flowering branches and my candle. Simple and minimal.

coffee table with branches and lemons

The older I get the less complicated I like things. Since bringing in the salmon in my new pillows I got the bright idea to add the pair of arched doors off one of my cupboards to the mantle.  What do you think?

coffee table with lemons, branches and shutters

If your coffee table is like mine and has two levels with a space for baskets, trays or books underneath, try making the lower interesting and functional as well. Again, this can add visual interest to your table.

For more ideas and inspiration, Pottery Barn has some helpful hints here and here.  Apartment Therapy has a great tutorial here, and the Spruce has some pretty suggestions here.

You might want to check out our previous Project Design post on coffee table styling here

At the bottom of this post, I have shared some of my favorite trays that I use for clients and some current favorites and my latest favorite design books.

Now stop by and see what our blogging pals have in store for you.  This group is great you won’t be disappointed!

seven bloggers coffee tables

classic casual home
design indulgence
driven by decor
most lovely things
northern california style
simple details

Pretty Trays & Design Books for Every Budget

Reader Interactions


  1. Karen Bunch says

    Love this. I enjoyed seeing all of the variations, but like you, I find I’m longing for simplicity. Love the basket of lemons and the tree branches are the best. I wish we had a fruit tree I could rob some from.

  2. kim says

    Cindy I love all versions of this table. You have the best eye for mixing things. I have a tree full of lemons and I am going out now to copy your idea! I already have a few in the kitchen in wooden bowls, but a basket full is even better. We are so lucky in California ! Citrus season makes winter bearable. Thanks again for including me in this challenge. I enjoyed getting to know the others and am now following their blogs! Have a great weekend! Hoping the sun lasts a while. Kim

  3. sherry hart says

    Well well…..looks like we both pulled it off… the last minute…..haha. Love the glass jar with the branches! I often see pretty branches in my neighborhood and want to go back after dark and break some off but now that everyone has cameras I didn’t feel like it would be worth it….haha. Nothing like being shamed like that! I need to find out where they have lemons with pretty leaves on them around here because I love that!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      I still forage..I may end up in jail one day. i will mail you a box when you need them! Thanks so much Sherry for participating you always give me so many good ideas!

  4. Gail Storti says

    Cindy, your coffee table styling makes me swoon! After seeing all the wonderful ideas in this latest edition of ‚ÄúStyling A Perfect Coffee Table‚ÄĚ I just promised myself to change up mine. I live the branches in bloom but my husband would complain that he couldn‚Äôt see what was on the other side…but that not a good enough reason not to do it!
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful home and your decorating talents.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Ha! husbands!! The good thing about branches are you can see through them, but your husband is right. If I were having guests I would probably remove them!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Joanna!
      One is a naturally shed deer antler and the other is a naturally shed cowhorn! Aren’t they great?!!

  5. LA CONTESSA says

    MY coffee table in the KITCHEN is full of silver bud vases and pictures in Frames………..
    I do LOVE LOOKING AT IT HOWEVER, and it makes me GRAB a FLOWERING SOMETHING from the GARDEN to put in one or THREE of the VASES!
    MY problem is the BOOKS I COLLECT………….I need shelving to go up and around as the BOOKS are stacked EVERYWHERE…………Do you tend to pass on your older Decorating books?I find that HARD TO DO as I love to curl up with them and take a SNEAKY PEEK over time!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      I do pass on my old decorating books but not nearly as soon as I should! I keep the timeless ones!

  6. Annie Diamond says

    I love your formula! It’s thoughtful making it authentic. I love all the textures and warm tones in the first photo! Looks like it could be on Diane Keaton’s coffee table. Then I always love California citrus! Are those from trees on your property?

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Yes we have four lemon trees, and a healthy crop this year! Thanks for the kind comments. LOVED your coffee tables!

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