When it comes to your living room décor, a coffee table is just as common as, say, a cozy couch or beautiful area rug. We mean, how else do you expect us to kick back and relax or scarf down a delicious dinner in front of the television?
But while coffee tables have been living room staples since what feels like the beginning of time—and show no signs of slowing down—the way these stylish surfaces are decorated is in desperate need of a serious refresh. After all, how many coffee tables topped with covetable art books can you see before the whole look begins to feel, well, basic?
To help, we asked a handful of interior designers about their favorite, off-the-cuff ways to decorate a coffee table. Turns out, sprucing up your living space isn’t as difficult as you’d think.
1. 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 guest. I filled my coffee table with all my favorite things, and yes, that means incorporating books on top of my sexy coffee table. But, 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!” —Shalena Smith, interior designer
2. Keep it Personal
“Coffee tables have become much more personalized and are an expression of the family that lives in the space. 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.” —Jessica Gersten, interior designer
3. Fuss-Free Flowers
“Don’t worry about the need for a florist, you can drape a bundle of you favorite in-season stems in a bowl you already have.” —Charlie Hellstern, interior designer
4. Mixed Materials
“A mix of textures and materials. Brass accessories, marble trinkets, and wood accents—a mix of it all can add warmth to any coffee table and living space.” —Kate Taylor, interior designer
5. 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! Candles are excellent for immediate evening mood and don’t be afraid to set an architectural element or sculptural piece for height and texture.”—Alison Pickart, interior designer
6. 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. Take a simple wooden coffee table and give it a makeover with a fun grid design.” —Joy Cho, founder and creative director of Oh Joy!
7. 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?!? 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!” —Joy Cho
8. Soothing Style
“Having zen elements in your family room will help to balance the craziness and chaos that can happen there. One way to do this is to incorporate a homemade rock garden in, or on your coffee table. It's a reminder to take that deep breath and have a meditative moment to recenter yourself." —Robin Baron, interior designer