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Coffee Table Curating: How to Choose the Perfect Accent Pieces

DISCLAIMER: The images in this post are for informational purposes to illustrate potential possibilities, recognizing that individual tastes vary. We aim to capture your wants and needs, expanding on each style where possible to offer a range of available options from reputable designers and affiliated brands. This selection process considers a variety of factors to ensure we cater to the diverse preferences of our readers.

Have you been staring blankly at a bare living room, wondering what to put on your coffee table? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Decorating a coffee table can be tricky if you’re unsure where to start. But with a few tips, you’ll be curating a stylish tablescape in no time. The key is to think of your table as a chance to show off the things that make you, well, you. Include a mix of decorative accents, storage, lighting, and, of course, things you actually use.

Start with a tray to corral smaller items, add natural elements like plants or stones, and include a lamp for extra lighting. Don’t forget a few books, magazines, or coasters. For a stylish yet functional table setup, keep things symmetrical and at different heights. With the right combination of accents, your coffee table will become a focal point that gives guests a glimpse into your style.

Table decor with tray and flowers

Photo by User27955914 from Freepik

Insight – Enrich your guests’ experience by providing a fun-filled activity that everyone can enjoy. Keep a puzzle or board game on hand, and let the good times roll!

The Purpose of Coffee Table Decor

The coffee table is the centerpiece of any living room.

Its more than just a spot to rest your drink—it’s a place to express your character and interests. Carefully curating your table with accent pieces can create an inviting space for you and your guests.

To start styling your coffee table or side table, begin with a serving tray. A tray is practical for holding smaller items like coasters, candles, and remotes, while also adding a decorative touch. Look for a tray with a lip so that items don’t slide off the edge. Metallic, wooden, or stone trays are versatile and can be paired with most decor styles. Next, add books. A stack of your favorite books, magazines, or photo books provides a chic yet casual feel. To keep things organized, mix in decorative bookends. Books with hardcovers and attractive spines work best for display.

Read More: Wooden Serving Trays: An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Plastic

Keep lighting in mind. A table lamp provides ambient light for evening entertaining. Opt for a sculptural lamp base that complements your setup. Metal, ceramic, or stone bases are all eye-catching options. Finally, include natural touches. Greenery, flowers, stones, or branches will add organic warmth to your space. A small potted plant, flowering stems, or a natural wood bowl filled with river stones are all options to consider.

Glossy table with vibrant decor

Photo by IamMujahidMalik from Freepik

Insight – Convert your space into a hub of productivity with a convenient charging station. Adding an outlet or charging dock for your devices can help you stay connected and powered up throughout the day.

What to Put on a Coffee Table—Or Not

A coffee table is meant to be a place for decorative accents and conversation pieces, not clutter and knickknacks. When curating your coffee table, avoid the following:

Too Many Small Items

Scattering little trinkets, candles, books, and bowls can make a table look messy and cramped. Stick to a few larger statement pieces. Group complementary items together in a pleasing arrangement. Leave open space for a clean, uncluttered look.

Anything Too Tall

Items too tall block sight lines and make a space feel closed in. Choose accents under 14 inches for an airy, open feel. Taller plants, sculptures, or book stacks are better suited for side tables, credenzas, or the floor surrounding the coffee table.

Practical Yet Unattractive Items

A coffee table should be a decorative focal point, not a disorganized dumping ground for everyday items like remotes, phones, or keys. Store practical items in a drawer or basket under the table or in a nearby cabinet when not in use. This will make your table look tidier and more organized, and you will be able to appreciate its allure even more.

Discover More: Coffee Table With Drawers: 16 Slick Ideas for Dual Function & Style

A Mismatch of Styles

Choose accent pieces that complement your design style for a cohesive look. If your space has a rustic farmhouse style, natural wood accents, greenery, and soft textures are a great fit. Opt for metallic accents, stone pieces, and sleek forms for a modern space. A hodgepodge of mismatched styles will make your table vignette look messy and disjointed. Stick to a cohesive theme for the most pleasing result.

Overcrowded table decor with rocks

Photo by Ahmaddesignsswl from Freepik

Insight – Elevate your living room’s style by coordinating accents. Choosing items that match the existing decor creates a cohesive and polished look.

Avoid Clutter: Keeping Your Coffee Table Organized

A coffee table can quickly become a cluttered catchall if you’re not careful. Keeping your coffee table organized and avoiding clutter is key to maintaining an inviting space.

Group Similar Items

To keep things organized, group items such as greenery, trinkets, sculptures, or remotes together. This makes items easier to find and gives the table a tidier appearance. Utilize trays, baskets, or bowls to corral smaller items. For example, place all remotes in a decorative tray or group a few scented candles on a wooden platter.

Keep It Minimal

As with any decor, less is more on a coffee table. Limit yourself to three to five focal pieces you love and a few smaller accents. Simple but stylish options include:

  • A bouquet of fresh flowers
  • A stack of art or travel books
  • Sculptural objects like geodes, crystals, or a decorative box
  • A lantern or vase
  • A tray with a candle, matches, and a photo

Too many accessories will make the space feel cluttered and haphazard. Purge anything you don’t need or love before setting up your table vignette.

Hide Clutter

For things that need to be accessible, like remotes, chargers, or tissues, use hidden storage solutions. A lift-top coffee table is ideal, giving you an entire compartment to stash items out of sight. Baskets, bins, and trays under the table also work for hiding clutter.

Read More: 17 Lift Top Coffee Table Designs For A Smart Furnishing Upgrade

Keep a Clear Walkway

Leave open space in front of the table so people can easily walk by. About two to three feet of clearance is good. You don’t want an obstacle course of accessories that people have to navigate around. Keeping part of the table surface clear also gives it a more spacious, minimal feel.

Living room tea set and colorful decor

Photo by IamMujahidMalik fr0m Freepik

Top 3 Things to Put on Your Coffee Table

When curating your coffee table, consider including some of these top accent pieces to create an alluring space for you and your guests:

What to Put on a Coffee Table: Candles or Diffusers

Candles or reed diffusers give your coffee table a warm glow and fill the space with a pleasant, calming fragrance. Opt for a natural, woodsy scent like sandalwood or lavender, which works well for a living room. Place the candles on a tray to catch any melted wax and make it easy to rearrange or move them.

What to Put on a Coffee Table: Magazines

A neat stack of magazines adds a pop of color to a coffee table and gives guests something to casually flip through. Choose a mix of fashion, lifestyle, travel, and hobby magazines that speak to the interests of you and your visitors. Arrange them in a wooden magazine rack or letter holder to keep them organized.

What to Put on a Coffee Table: A Small Plant

Greenery helps to soften the look of a coffee table and brings life to the space. Choose a small potted plant, succulent, or air plant that requires minimal maintenance. Look for a plant with rounded, oval, or spiky leaves in a simple ceramic planter. A small plant is an inexpensive way to freshen up your table.

Related Article: Decorating With Houseplants: Tips for Creating an Indoor Oasis

Flowers, lamp, and serving tray

Photo by Gabrielhrech from Freeepik

Insight – Enhance your guests’ experience by providing a dedicated space for their creativity. Set up a journal or notebook and let them unleash their inner artist or writer. This will create a unique and memorable stay that they’ll never forget.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, our tips for choosing what to put on a coffee table to guarantee it stands out. First, use a tray to organize smaller items and make cleaning up easier. Second, incorporate natural elements like plants or flowers to bring life to your space. Third, add a book or two on a subject you enjoy for easy browsing. Fourth, light a candle or use a diffuser to create an inviting aroma. With the right combination of functional and decorative items, you’ll create a chic table vignette in no time.

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