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41 Tips to Style a Coffee Table Like a Designer

A stack of books, some florals, and one weird piece will turn your coffee table into an art installation.

kim alexandriuk living room
Trevor Tondro Photography

The coffee table is the center of the living room. While it can be landing space for remote controls and magazines, it’s also a place where your style can come to life. There is some science to creating a stunning tablescape, such as using objects in varying heights, but the magic mainly comes from an artful mix of flowers, books, trays, and unexpected objects. Here, we highlight 41 chic ways to style your coffee table like the pros.

lorenzo castillo paris living room
Ricardo Labougle
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Organic Modernism

Place two treelike stools side by side in a formal seating area with upholstered furniture to add texture. Leave the tabletop bare except for one small object. Small gray tables break up a vibrant color palette in this Paris apartment.

alexandra loew   venice beach
Roger Casas
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Jewel-Box Ottomans

In this Eileen Gray–inspired living room爱博体育下载, designer Alexandra Loew used three small ottomans upholstered in Pierre Frey fabrics in place of a traditional cocktail table. While the ottomans are gorgeous on their own, a small silver tray for cocktails or flowers would add more glamour.

james huniford cottage in westchester county, new york
Matthew Williams
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Undulating Sculpture

Balancing multiple accessories on a tufted ottoman can be tricky, so a pro tip is to anchor a decorative object on a tray. The tray and sculpture shown in this New York cottage are from the Huniford vintage collection.

katie ridder round living room with sofas and artwork by robert deniro sr
Eric Piasecki
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Leaflike Cocktail Table

A vintage cocktail table by Wendell Castle shaped like a leaf makes a statement on its own in this Manhattan penthouse. Top it with minimalist accessories, such as a flower-filled urn and low bowl.

aman and meeks living room with white furniture and large doors
Douglas Friedman
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Antique Cocktail Table

In a neutral space with high ceilings, cherry blossoms in a Georg Jensen vase are earthy and airy. They also add height to the low antique Chinese cocktail table in this Palm Beach house.

kim alexandriuk living room
Trevor Tondro Photography
6 of 41
Go from High to Low

On the square cocktail table by Thierry Jeannot爱博体育下载, there are four points of interest. Each point varies in height, and a tall flowering plant adds color to the gray design scheme.

coffee table styling
Laurel & Wolf, James Tabb
7 of 41
Consider a Glass-Topped Table

When you’re aiming to showcase a significant amount of accessories, a cocktail table with a glass top can provide balance. It doesn’t take up as much visual space as an all-wood design, for instance, and it keeps the focus on your display.

coffee table styling 
Cynthia Lynn
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Go for One Statement Piece

If the idea of mixing decorative objects, flowers, and books really isn’t your style, opt for one statement piece that reflects your personality. An eye-catching sculptural item or vase containing your favorite blooms is sometimes all that’s needed to complete a living room design.

coffee table styling
Stephan Julliard
9 of 41
Weave In a Sentimental Item

爱博体育下载Whether it’s a family heirloom or a ceramic you’ve treasured for years, incorporating a sentimental element into your coffee table decor adds a special touch. Plus, it’s the perfect conversation starter, something necessary for every interior.

modern farmhouse
Alyssa Rosenheck
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Add an Air of Mystery

A brass cloche is the singular (and somewhat mysterious) piece of cocktail-table decor in the living room of designer Shawn Anderson’s country-meets-gothic farmhouse爱博体育下载 in Memphis.


buenos aires apartment
Björn Wallander
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Stick to a Single Color

The circa-1950 Sphere cocktail table and lamp in this Buenos Aires living room爱博体育下载 are by . A simple white bowl and blooms add to the room’s monochromatic palette.


Simon Upton
Simon Upton
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Light It Up

爱博体育下载A duo of candelabras ties this living room’s gold elements together in glamorous harmony. The sofa, from designer Jean-Louis Deniot’s collection for Baker, is in a Martyn Thompson Studio fabric, the 1930s Jindrich Halabala chairs are in a JAB Anstoetz fabric, the vintage cocktail table is by Paul Frankl, and the gold side table is by Hervé Van der Straeten; the indoor-outdoor rug is by Galerie Diurne, and the artwork is by Franz Kline.


minimalist living rooms
Stephen Kent Johnson
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Go Minimalist When Furniture Is Heavy

Designer Shawn Henderson pared down the cocktail-table decor in the living room of this Montana mountain home. The custom sofas are in a fabric, the custom settee is covered in a fabric, and the custom swivel chairs and 1930s English wing chair are in fabrics from . The walnut cocktail table is custom, and the 1950s Austrian floor lamps are from . A custom hooked rug by the has a pattern based on a topographical map of the home’s site.


kevin dumais mid-century modern home
Eric Piasecki
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Add Some Height

A feathery floral arrangement keeps the vibe of this family room nook cozy while adding height and drawing the eye up to the artwork by Zipora Fried. The custom sectional is covered in fabrics by Great Plains and Donghia, the cocktail table by Daniel Scuderi and the chandelier by Trans-Luxe are both custom, the Ecart International sconces are from Ralph Pucci, and the carpet is by Tai Ping; the walls are in a Dualoy leather, and the ceiling is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Bison Brown.


mantel decoration ideas
Richard Powers
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Display Your Art

A bust sits on a cocktail table from India in the living room of designer John Robshaw’s Connecticut home. The living room sofa and its fabric are by John Robshaw for Duralee; the armchair, custom banquettes, and bone-inlay side table are all Robshaw designs.

rela don gleason house tour
Björn Wallander
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Mix Rustic with Refined

The cocktail table inside designer Rela Gleason’s San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, home爱博体育下载 is an inverted polished tree stump, and a stone mill wheel serves as a side table. A ceramic vase and a leather-bound book keep the look classic.

living room ideas
Douglas Friedman
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Create Levels of Interest

A three-level coffee table sets the stage for drama in this Chicago living room. The 1950s chair is in a Dedar fabric, the 1930s orange lacquer–and-shagreen sideboard is French, the 1955 chandelier is by FontanaArte, the custom rug is by Beauvais Carpets, and the Venetian plaster walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray.

coffee table styling ideas
Eric Piasecki
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Choose a Statement Table

If your table makes a statement on its own, whatever you place on top of it is just a bonus! In a PR maven’s New York City home, the cocktail table and floor lamp are from West Elm爱博体育下载. Atop the striped table are an array of stylish books, fresh flowers, and chic trinkets.

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coffee table styling ideas
Trevor Tondro
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Try More Than One Table

The sleek living room of a Manhattan apartment designed by Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson has two separate sitting areas and tables of various sizes throughout. The glass cocktail table by Fredrikson Stallard (right) is filled with feathers, the round side table is by Holly Hunt, the lamp atop it is by Charles Paris, and the custom rug is by Tai Ping.

coffee table styling ideas
James Merrell
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Accent with Stools

In the living room of a weekend home in Bridgehampton, New York, designed by Steven Gambrel, the cocktail table is by Dos Gallos爱博体育下载 and topped with several vases and trays. The petite Thebes-style cane stools that accompany it are vintage.

coffee table styling ideas
Ricardo Labougle
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Swap for a Side Table

This country house in southeastern Uruguay, which was built on the remains of an 1810 roadside general store, defies all design conventions. In the living room, the owners have opted for a vintage side table from France instead of a cocktail table. A single vase full of wildflowers draws the eye inside the stylishly stark room.

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coffee table
Tim Street-Porter
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Stagger Small Round Tables

Don’t stop at one (or two) tiny cocktail tables. Stagger three tables throughout your living room and choose a different accent for each: say, a book, a candle, and a plant. This look worked well in Ellen Pompeo’s Hollywood Hills home.

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coffee table styling ideas
Stephen Kent Johnson
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Top an Ottoman with a Tray

Give your ottoman a makeover by styling a tray on top of it, creating the perfect place to display flowers, candles, and books, like in this Greenwich Village penthouse.

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coffee table
Richard Powers
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Don’t Forget Flowers

Adorn your glass cocktail table with fresh flowers for instant style. Add a few stacks of books and personal objects to give it an eclectic touch, like in this upstate New York home.

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coffee table
Ricardo Labougle
25 of 41
Accent with a Single Dish

If your coffee table is tiny in size, like the one in this São Paulo duplex, all it needs is one of your favorite artisan bowls or plates爱博体育下载 to elevate it—especially if the rest of the room boasts maximalist decor.

coffee table
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Display Your Collection

Stack books on your cocktail table as a foundation for your collection of eclectic knickknacks. In an apartment on New York City’s Sutton Place, trinkets and miniature sculptures give the living room a chic but eclectic vibe.

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coffee table
Mark Seelson
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Opt for Two Long Tables

In the living room of hotelier Ian Schrager’s New York apartment, two long tables divide the sofas. The visual illusion itself is the decorative piece—simple and effective.

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coffee table
Max Zambelli
28 of 41
Add a Pouf

In the living room of Kate and Rem Reynolds’s townhouse in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, the wooden cocktail table is Danish and accompanied by a pouf. Extra seating and爱博体育下载 texture play? Yes, please.

coffee table
Stephen Kent Johnson
29 of 41
Stack Sets of Books

In the living room of antiques dealer John Pope’s Charleston, South Carolina, apartment, the statement red cocktail table was found at auction. It is topped with meticulously stacked sets of books and a sprinkling of trinkets that ensure the colorful table is still visible.

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coffee table
Matthieu Salvaing
30 of 41
Dust Off Your Retro Finds

In Ibiza, Spain, this living room is outfitted with a mirrored 1980s cocktail table. The ceramic tiles reflect off the table and centerpiece, creating a psychedelic effect.

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