Coffee brings people together around the table in most American living spaces (although some other countries love their coffee even more). From small square end tables to sprawling ovals, coffee tables are recognized not only as standard but also as necessary. Once we’ve purchased the couch or chair, we feel as if we must place a stable surface near it.
Many people don’t concern themselves with how to style a coffee table. It is a purposeful piece of furniture that serves to hold drinks, keys, and the occasional cell phone.
That being said, coffee tables can-- and should-- be the center point of a room’s design. Figuring out how to style a coffee table requires an understanding of how shape, color, and composition all impact a room’s aesthetic. We’ve compiled four approaches to styling a coffee table.
1. Designing Practically
If you love coffee and all its health benefits, then the coffee mug itself will likely be the centerpiece around which you will style your table. You’ll need to balance the coffee table’s design and its practicality for use. Coffee mugs have soft shapes and colors of their own to consider; you may want your coffee table’s style to reflect your coffee mugs’ style.
When planning your brilliant coffee table design, take a survey of the mugs that you use. You may need to invest in some new mugs, or design a table that matches the mugs that you already have.
Just like there’s a coffee maker for every lifestyle, there’s a coffee table for every lifestyle. A coffee table is not just a place to throw all of your junk when you run in the house! A proper coffee table is its own delicate design ecosystem. If you wish to toss keys and phones onto the table, consider setting it up in a manner which complements those objects. Include plants to absorb some of the surface space and maybe a small bowl for your keys.
2. Appealing to the Room’s Vibes
Are Coffee Tables Out of Style?
The coffee table has become a staple element in American homes but is a broad furniture category. Certain coffee table designs and trends are certainly past their time, but the coffee table itself is far from out of style.
When considering how to style a coffee table, you need to consider the overall layout of the room. A lot of failures in coffee table styling come from a lack of integration with the aesthetics of the room that the coffee table is in.
Are Glass Coffee Tables out of Style?
Any coffee table that fits the room’s vibes isn’t out of style. If you have a mid-century modern aesthetic, with some vintage yellow furniture and minimalist bookcases, a glass coffee table might perfectly complement the look.
Read the Room
The only bad coffee table is a one that isn’t playing nicely with the other pieces in the room.
Most coffee tables should complement the couch or chair that they are placed next to. A coffee table is smaller than the other furniture, so it can be used as a softening or contrasting point.
If the coffee table is a lighter color than the couch, it will soften the room by bringing in light. If the coffee table is darker than the couch, it will sharpen the room by creating contrast.
3. Styling for the Shape
How to Style an Ottoman Coffee Table
Ottoman coffee tables can be tricky because they blend into the room, as they usually match the couch, loveseat, or chair that they are paired with. They also aren’t a stable wood surface like a traditional coffee table, so it can be more difficult to arrange objects and designs on them.
Trays have been fairly popular ways to style coffee tables for a while. However, they are becoming less popular, as they can look a bit crowded and evoke the farmhouse style from 2010. Avoid them if you can, and opt for more creative interpretations.
A vintage suitcase, large book, or a stack of records can serve as a flat surface to build off without reviving the tray trend.
How to Style a Rectangular Coffee Table
Rectangular coffee tables bring a sharp, angular look to the room. You can use strong objects to intensify this look and create a minimalist and edgy feel. You can also opt to use softer objects, which would contrast with the edges and achieve a casual and comfortable vibe.
A rectangular coffee table paired with a few sharp books and other square-shaped items projects a sense of power.
If your rectangular coffee table needs to be softened, use plants and other loose forms in your design. Pair the table with softer shapes to reflect community and connection with a stable foundation.
How to Style an Oval Coffee Table
Oval coffee tables naturally evoke a softer design. They are grounded and stable without the sharpness of rectangular tables.
Rectangular shapes on the table’s surface will contrast with the shape of the oval, making a bold statement. Meanwhile, spheres and plants will bring the design inward and make the table feel a bit smaller. Play around with taller candles, because cylinders are reminiscent of upward ovals and will bring a sense of peace and comfort to the table. Just remember to leave enough room for your morning brew!
4. Designing Creatively
Style a coffee table with coffee, especially a bag that looks appealing. If you have a coffee table that has a shelf underneath the main surface, coffee framed with plants and books can create a pleasing design.
Leave space for coffee mugs-- they are called coffee tables, after all! If your coffee table is going to frequently feature coffee favorites, like the adored columbian dark roast, then anticipate the look and feel of mugs. You may want a charming set of coasters that fits in with the table’s vibe both when used and stacked.
Consider the psychology of colors. The coffee table is a focal point in the room, meaning that the eye will constantly draw to it. Pay careful attention to the colors you design with to ensure that you set the desired mood.
Need a design idea? Try white. White is an appealing neutral that can soak up space and make every other color pop brighter and bolder than before.
Designing with books isn’t just about using shapes and colors. Books also provide small-talk pieces and conversation starters, which are great personality signals for a friend or date who walks in the door. There are a number of fascinating books that are both excellent coffee table pieces and conversation starters!
Coffee table design can also be a gift of its own! When considering gifts for the coffee lover, try giving some coffee and some coffee table pieces--or even an entire coffee table.
We hope you’re inspired to transform the coffee table in your home from forgotten furniture to design centerpiece!