When it comes to living room furniture, coffee tables are just as common as sofas, area rugs, and stylish décor. But while they're always a living room staple, the way these stylish surfaces are decorated can vary greatly from home to home. Since this piece of furniture is at the center of your space, it's helpful to design it with styles that fit your personal taste (and the overall feel of your living room). From clean and sleek to maximalist-inspired themes, take inspiration from interior designers to decorate your coffee table in the perfect way for your space.
Below, read on for coffee table décor ideas from designers to give your living room a fresh face.
Hone In On Your Hosting Skills
“A coffee table is definitely more than just stacking books; it needs to be welcoming and entertaining for your guests. I filled my coffee table with all my favorite things—and yes, that means incorporating books on top of my sexy coffee table," says interior designer Shalena Smith. "I also made sure it was aesthetically pleasing and flowed with the room design. Creativity starts with the style and surface of the coffee table. Be unique in your selection, and then decorate it so that it tells a little story about who you are!”
Stick to Your Palette
To make the style feel cohesive with the rest of your living room, stick to your color palette when choosing décor for the coffee table. Here, a bright living room features white accents throughout its design: White accent chairs, a blue-and-white striped throw blanket, white pillow, and white light fixtures complement the fresh and airy walls. The style on the coffee table stays true to the theme with minimalistic white décor and fresh, lush leaves.
Keep It Personal
“Coffee tables have become much more personalized, and are an expression of the family that lives in the space," says interior designer Jessica Gersten. "I like to place a few personal objects or art pieces on the table, and of course, a vase to always have fresh flowers—whichever is the family favorite.” Choose cuts of flowers that last long in vases for floral scents and a lush style.
Blend It In
For a monochrome look, style your coffee table with décor that matches the upholstery on the sofa. This round table adds a playful element of shape alongside an angled L-couch, and its storage bowl blends in with the rest of the furniture. The darker choices in furniture contrast beautifully with bright white walls, plenty of natural light from the windows, and a textured white ceiling.
Contrast the Living Room
If you're a fan of color, use your table décor to contrast other bright hues in the living room. Here, minimalistic green coffee table books and earthy-colored décor stand out against a plush pink velvet sofa. Styled alongside a traditional blue rug and the natural wood trim around the room, the coffee table complements both the room's vibrant colors and its neutral shades.
Try Fuss-Free Flowers
“Don’t worry about the need for a florist," says interior designer Charlie Hellstern. "You can drape a bundle of your favorite in-season stems in a bowl you already have." If you don't have much of a green thumb, you can also opt for faux flowers that keep looking fresh year-round.
Carry the Look Around the Room
For living rooms that are already styled with a particular theme, carry the look onto your coffee table for a cohesive finish. In this space, natural wood grains and lush greenery are the star of the room. To keep it uniform with the rest of the design, this designer added minimal accents of each piece of décor to the coffee table. Driftwood and a trailing plant in a sleek white pot add just enough style to the table without making the room feel busy.
Use Mixed Materials
“[I like to use] a mix of textures and materials," says interior designer Kate Taylor. "Brass accessories, marble trinkets, and wood accents—a mix of it all can add warmth to any coffee table and living space.” For a dynamic design, opt for decorative items of varying heights to bring depth to your living room.
Add Extra Seating
If you're already happy with the surface of your coffee table but want to add some new design elements to the space, try out extra seating. This woven rattan stool fits perfectly under the edge of the table, bringing a boho touch to this clean, eclectic living room. It also helps to play on shape, as it works with the rounded table to contrast angular photo frames and modern décor.
When it comes to styling cut leaves or fresh flowers in a coffee table vase, live and faux versions can look equally appealing. If you don't have a green thumb, you can opt for fake leaves or dry your own long-lasting flowers.
Keep It Minimal
This cozy living room is styled with plenty of texture, from the wood blinds to mix-matched throw pillows, upholstered sofa, and woven throw blanket. Since the rest of the space carries enough depth and dimension on its own, the designer opted for a simple finish on the table: A stack of white coffee table books with a minimalistic vase placed on top. While we're loving the touch of green on the table, we're extra impressed with how the low leaves draw the eye up to the tall indoor plant placed behind the sofa.
Create Conversation Starters
“I keep a set of marble dominos along with a lucite box of ‘conversation starters’ on our living room coffee table, which guests (and kids) love because it’s something to do!" says interior designer Alison Pickart. "Candles are excellent for an immediate evening mood; and don’t be afraid to set an architectural element or sculptural piece for height and texture.”
Incorporate Stylish Storage
“Storage is one of those things people rarely talk about when it comes to pretty interiors, and I always wonder—where do people put all their stuff?" says Cho. "Especially when you have kids, storage becomes something that requires maintenance every single day. It's made such a difference for me in my own home to have functional storage for the kids' toys in our living room (since toys always end up there one way or another). The solution? These chic and practical coffee tables, which double as storage bins!”
Design in Sections
This modern living room is filled with eye-catching elements in every corner. The designer used the coffee table to complement the rest of the space, playing on its angular touches by styling the table in sections. Each piece of the square has its own decorative flair, while the color scheme carries over to the overall design by sticking to grayscale with a few black-and-white elements placed throughout the room.
If you're feeling bored with a simple coffee table design, consider adding an extra table at a slightly shorter level. Not only does it add more living room storage space, but the second table creates a level of dimension by playing on height. These rounded tables work perfectly together—and if they weren't built to be styled as a pair, we'd never know it. We especially love the contrast of a marbled finish on the bottom table to complement the bright whites of the main surface.
Color Me Happy
“Paint is the easiest and most cost-effective way to add some new life to a plain (or older) piece that feels just so-so," says Joy Cho, founder and creative director of Oh Joy! "Take a simple wooden coffee table and give it a makeover with a fun grid design.” Choose colors that complement your room's overall style, and opt for slightly brighter hues than your accent colors to make it stand out.
To paint your coffee table in geometric patterns, simply place painter's tape in an arrangements of shapes that you like, then fill the negative space with your favorite shade.
Play With Shapes
A fun way to bring dimension to your coffee table is to focus on the shapes: Choose different pieces of décor that each brings their own element to the design. Here, a geometric glass table with brass metallic accents is styled above a polka-dotted rug. Atop the table sits décor of different shapes, from two stacks of rectangular books to the round bowl, curvy vase, and angular wood planter.
Display Favorite Finds
Since it's the center of your living space, the coffee table is a great place to display your favorite finds. Whether it's a unique vase, modern tray, or even a fun board game, what makes the area special is a curation of items that reflect your own personality in the design. Here, bright yellow and green leaves styled in an earthy vase complement the yellow accent colors on the sofa and greenery on the side tables.
Opt for Soothing Styles
“Having zen elements in your family room will help to balance the craziness and chaos that can happen there," says interior designer Robin Baron. "One way to do this is to incorporate a homemade rock garden on your coffee table. It's a reminder to take that deep breath and have a meditative moment to recenter yourself."
Style a Landing Area for Small Items
One important piece of decorating your coffee table is to consider the storage. This piece of living room furniture often becomes a landing place for keys, accessories, and small daily items. Make a space for everything by adding a large bowl at the center of the table to store regularly-used items in style.
Stack It Up
Looking for a simple but timeless coffee table design trick that works in virtually every room? Try stacking. It's always helpful to start with books or magazines, but just about any decorative item in your home can be a good candidate for the coffee table when styled properly. Pay attention to shape, height, texture, and dimension when pulling the design together: Here, stacks of books add texture to the table while rounded décor and modern accessories bring a sense of dimension to the space.