Featured image: Atelier Ribe. Without sounding too boastful — and while having absolutely no qualification to state this — I like to think I have a fairly good ‘interiors eye.’ It may be the copious amount of Pinterest pictures I browse on a given day. But generally, when hunting for new home items and placing them in a space, I have a gut instinct as to what works, and what doesn’t.
This is true, except for one glaringly obvious part of every living room: the coffee table. Yep, main room in every house’s focal point, the decorative near-star of the show, only second to the sofa. Or maybe third to the TV. An important piece that, when I attempt to decorate, I blunder and fail miserably. It’s both a decorative feature and a useful, practical part of daily life. How do you combine the two, for real people who don’t live in Home & Garden magazine (sigh)? Decorating a coffee table is hard, guys. Let’s learn together how to do this right.
Because our flat is so small, Stag and I literally use our coffee table for dining, for lounging, for working and for attempting to look decorative. I’m sure many of you fellow tiny-home-dwellers can relate. I may get away with having throw cushions, but I doubt I’d get away with covering our entire coffee table with pointless decorations. We like our marriage squabble-free, thanks.
Even more annoyingly, look up “coffee table decor” on Pinterest, and you’re awash with spotless homes with — wait for it — fresh flowers in a vase on the coffee table. Who are these people? Are they secretly Kim Kardashian? Do they have their own florist? Where have I gone wrong in life?
But we still want our coffee tables to look nice, for heaven’s sake. Well, I’m here to tell you two things: one, it’s actually really easy (and affordable) to make your coffee table look styled without fresh flowers and expensive decorations; and two, I secretly did wish I had my own florist on speed dial. Sigh.
I’ve been brainstorming and researching to come up with some easy-to-follow tips to decorate your coffee table. For real people, in real homes, who use their coffee tables, because #reallife.
How to Style a Coffee Table: For People Who Can’t Afford Daily Fresh Flowers
Because we aren’t all Jay-Z.
FYI, all images are from Pinterest unless stated otherwise
Follow the Rule of Three
The most basic principle of styling a coffee table (as I have just discovered; thanks, Pinterest) is to follow the rule of three. Include something vertical, something horizontal, and a third ‘object’ to bridge the two together. The easiest way to do this is to have a stack of books, a taller vase or plant, and a candle or decorative object stacked on the books. Aka, all my coffee tables, ever. Following this means you need very few expensive decorative pieces to look good; chances are, you’ll have those things lying around at home.
If you have quite a large coffee table, this doesn’t mean you can only have three objects. Scale up your styling, but stick to the Rule of Three, and it will look polished.
Trays are your Friend
If you’re like me and are in a perpetual state of Justifying Your Decorative Home Items To Your SO, placing everything on a tray is magical. And by magical, I mean ‘a compromise,’ which let’s be real, is the magic word in all relationships. This way, if you need to, you know, use your coffee table for reasons other than ‘holding a stack of useless books,’ you can take everything off it in one easy swoop. Plus, trays are the best way to make a series of objects looks organised and purposeful.
The best, most affordable trays I have ever come across are from H&M Home. If you can fork it out, get a nice marble one, as they look divine.
No Plants? Keep your colours simple.
You may be beginning to feel that, although you don’t need fresh flowers, you are required to have some form of greenery to make your coffee table look swish. However, not all of us are that green-thumbed (ahem, yours truly included, “Killer of the Unkillable Plants”). There are two tricks to make your coffee table style work without plants: remember the proportions of your decorations, and keep your colour palette simple. A stack of black-and-white books looks chic and sophisticated, or a series of objects in the same colour looks cohesive.
But if all else fails, use green.
Yes, okay, I literally have a dying plant sitting on my coffee table as we speak. A small plant in a decorative pot is by far the easiest — and most cost efficient — way to style your coffee table. Beyond the stack of books/object/plant trio, you can even use a cluster of plants in different proportions to achieve a similar look.If you have a high coffee table, try using a draping ivy for some added elegance/to make you feel like you live an Elven wood or something. GOALS.