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If you’re struggling with decorating your coffee table, sideboard or bookshelves and wonder why you can never get it to look quite right, then these tips will help you bring your decorating A game!

how to style a coffee table

Coffee Table Styling

Almost every week a reader will email me a photo of some spot in their room where they have a side table, coffee table, mantel or bookcase and they are struggling to decorate it.

No matter what they put there, it just looks off. While I’m not the most amazing styler, I do have a few tips that I always rely on to create a vignette that I’m usually pretty happy with.

If you’re not already following these tips, I can promise you this is why your styling doesn’t look as good as it could be!

Work in Odd Numbers

Working in odd numbers (especially 3) is a simple tip to bring your coffee table styling to the next level
This vignette has 3 parts to the grouping. The vase, the orb and finally the small plant stacked on books, which still just counts as 1 object.

Working in odd numbers is the simplest way to effectively group your decorative items to display. Don’t go overboard, generally 1 or 3 is the way to go, with 3 actually being the most pleasing to the eye. Items stacked vertically (such as on books) still count as one object.

By varying the height of objects you will be able to decorate your coffee table, bookshelves and sideboards just like the pros!


Vary The Height  and Shape

What do you notice about the above arrangement? Yes, the height of each item is different. You’re going to want to pick one taller item, then balance it out with something shorter and that has a different shape. Tall items could be a vase, lamp, picture frame or a smaller item given height by placing it on a stack of books. Balance out the tall, skinny or straight objects with shorter, rounder objects.

A gold leaf patterned candle holder, a white jar with copper cover, and a set of square white coasters with intricate pattern
Are you adding height to your coffee table or bookshelf styling? If you're not, this might be one of the reasons your efforts never look quite right!
Easily add height by stacking some books. Face the pages out if you don’t have spines that necessarily work with your color scheme.

Vary the Textures and Colors

Tulips in a rustic glass vase on top of a stack of books, with a garland of small, wooden balls, next to a silver lamp
This grouping has a lot of variety of texture. From the mercury glass lamp, to the rope around the mason jar vase, to the decorative wooden beads. These simple additions pull it all together and make it feel just right.

My favorite way to add texture is to add a plant or flowers into the mix. Objects like jacks or urchins are great too, as are decorative beads. I like to pick plants with spikey leaves that have a totally different texture compared to the smooth objects and books that may already be part of the vignette.

Plants and flowers add a pop of color to your styling that might just give it that extra oomph that it needs. Also be sure to include accent colors from your room so that the vignette ties back into the rest of your decor. In the above photo, I purposely added the pink book to to tie into the blush pink throw pillows that are on my couch.


Add Dimension

Layering adds depth and dimension to your styling. It can be as simple as placing a decorative object in front of a stack of books. Again, you will want to vary the height and shape to get the best effect.

A short, white vase with large, white flowers, a blue and white ceramic ball and a small plant in a white pot, all resting on a round, blue tray.
In this vignette, notice how the glass ball is placed in front of the plant and vase of roses.

Corral Items on Trays

Coffee table styling doesn't have to be difficult.
Trays are also another way to add color and texture. This blue tray adds a pop of color while a wooden or marble tray would switch up the texture.

This trick not only serves the purpose of keeping your coffee table neat but corralling items on a tray helps to ground them to the space and instantly draws the eye to the objects. Plus, it looks pretty! Use what you already know about odd groupings and texture to really create a vignette that wows.

Don’t forget about functionality – hide unsightly objects like remote controls in decorative boxes for easy access.

5 simple tips for styling your coffee table

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  1. Cheryl A Good says:

    I think that an even better name change might be “~Home~ With Jenna Kate”. At home with Jenna Kate, kinda sounds a bit choppy. Love your name by the way. Very feminine. Love your site and all of your wonderful, fresh, easy to do ideas. :)

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! This name thing is such a process…but I do like your idea!!