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How to Select the Perfect Coffee Table and Tabletop Decor for Your Lifestyle

Your coffee table (along with your sofa) creates a focal point in your living room or family room—making them the heart of your gathering space. So, it’s worthwhile to consider how your coffee table is styled. As a focal point, your coffee table and its decor help set the style and functionality tone of the room.

Need help creating your coffee table arrangement? Read on for some of our customers’ most frequently asked questions about coffee table decor, plus tips on styling a coffee table based on your lifestyle and needs.

Is coffee table decor necessary?

Technically? No, it’s not. The decor on coffee tables is kind of like throw pillows on a sofa: not 100% necessary but an easy way to add personality. Sure, you can have a sofa without throw pillows—but it might look a little bare or boring. But with throw pillows, you get extra comfort and style. The same goes for coffee table decor. Yes, of course, you can skip it and go for a bare tabletop. But your living room or family room will look a whole lot better with even a little bit of coffee table decor.

Just remember this: if you’d like to enhance your space by adding decor to your coffee table, you’ll want to ensure that both the coffee table and the way it’s styled complement your personal design style and work for your lifestyle needs. It’s this mix that will really create a harmonious design. (More on that below.)

How do I choose the right coffee table and decor?

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With so many options out there, for both coffee table styles and tabletop decor, it can be hard to find items that meet your style and functional needs while also creating the right coffee table and table decor combination for your space!

With so many options out there it can be hard to find a coffee table and tabletop decor combination that go together and work for you on a functional level.

Of course, you’ll want to start with finding the right coffee table. A great way to narrow down your options is by aligning your coffee table with your design style. Not sure what style you like? Take our free style quiz. From there, you can check out our guide on how to pick a coffee table shape to go with your sofa and our guide to coffee table materials. And if you want some specific ideas, here are some of our favorite modern coffee tables and the best kid-friendly coffee table styles.

Once you have your coffee table, you’re ready to start styling it with the right decor. How you approach coffee table decor should come down to your personal style and how you use your coffee table day to day.

Not sure how to get started? Read on for a guide on how to style your coffee table based on your specific lifestyle needs and preferences—plus some great coffee table decor ideas.

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The Comfort Connoisseur

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Do you love your creature comforts and keeping your living room full of coziness? Keep comforting objects nearby by styling your coffee table with a mix of candles, books, and beloved decor.

Do:

  • Consider a wood table, which adds visual warmth to your space—enhancing your desire for cozy comfort
  • Add a decorative tray to corral your smaller items, like candles and coasters
  • Stack a few beautiful coffee table books; choose books with covers that match the color scheme of your space
  • Swap out candles and books to coordinate with the seasons or your evolving style
  • Add a vase of flowers, fresh greenery, or other natural elements for an instant mood-boost

Don’t:

  • Layer too many candles and books so that your coffee table starts to look cluttered
  • Leave burned out candles on the coffee table
  • Stack things too high, which can create an unbalanced appearance

The Rugrat Wrangler

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If you have young kids you already know that a perfectly curated tabletop of delicate decor is not in the cards for you. It’s simply not worth it to constantly worry about little hands grabbing and breaking something you love. But don’t worry—that doesn’t mean your coffee table has to sit bare! You can still use it as a way to add some personality to your living room.

Do:

  • Choose a round coffee table or perhaps a soft leather ottoman, rather than a coffee table with sharp corners
  • Pick out light-weight objects that won’t hurt little toes if they fall or are dropped
  • Add decor that is durable and can handle being, well, handled
  • Keep your styling simple and uncomplicated

Don’t:

  • Choose a glass coffee table or even a glass-topped coffee table, which are too fragile for homes with children
  • Include breakable items, tippable decor, or fragile vases
  • Clutter the coffee table with unnecessary decorative objects

The Utilitarian

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If you live by the motto “a place for everything and everything in its place,” then this is the coffee table decor approach for you. No need for unnecessary or non-functional decor. Instead, keep things practical, minimal, and clean.

Do:

  • Embrace minimalist styling, including just a few items you really love or need
  • Consider function over aesthetic; include useful objects and skip the rest
  • Keep things orderly by corralling all your objects in a tray

Don’t:

  • Pick large, bulky items that take up the whole coffee table
  • Include intricate items or things that need to be maintained (like live plants)
  • Add decor that isn’t functional

The Pet Parent

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Beware of wagging tails and curious cats. If you have pets, you already know that your furry friends can pose a threat to tabletop decor. But, like children, having pets doesn’t mean you have to forgo a beautifully styled coffee table. You simply need to be more conscious of the objects you include.

Do:

  • Add decor that’s low and heavier, which makes it more difficult for a wagging tail to knock over
  • Use durable items that are easy to clean if your pets tend to jump on the coffee table
  • Opt for flameless candles to keep your dear pets safe from singed fur
  • Choose a chew-proof material, such as metal, for the legs of your coffee table.

Don’t:

  • Choose objects that are easy to knock over, like tall vases, which seem to be a magnet to cats
  • Use live houseplants if your pet likes to eat them because some plants are harmful to pets when ingested

The Maximizer

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If you’re someone who likes to make use of every square inch of your space, this one’s for you. By prioritizing functionality and organizational solutions in your living room, you can get maximum practicality out of your coffee table while still giving it some style.

Do:

  • Pick a coffee table with built-in storage space to keep some items out of sight
  • Use boxes, decorative bins, baskets, and trays to keep things organized
  • Make use of lower shelves to house blankets and additional storage boxes or trays

Don’t

  • Use only open or only closed storage; a mix of both helps balance the look
  • Add too much decor within the storage elements (like a tray), which will cause your tabletop to look cluttered
  • Use a coffee table that doesn’t provide built-in storage space, since this will limit the amount of storage and organization you can achieve

The Multi-Tasker

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Are you the type of person who loves a well-styled coffee table but also regularly clears it off for game nights, casual dinners, puzzles, and more? Just know that there’s a way to embrace all the beauty of a styled tabletop while also honoring the shifting functional needs in your living room.

Do:

  • Include a mix of coffee table books, decorative objects, natural elements, candles, and vases for a unique and beautiful coffee table
  • Have all your decor fit onto a tray (or two!), which can easily be moved off the coffee table when you need a clear tabletop
  • Keep your arrangement light and easy to move

Don’t

  • Add too many small, individual items, which will take too long to remove when you’re switching functions
  • Skip the trays—they are essential for this approach
  • Forego decor; a mixed-use and functional coffee table can still include decor, as long as it’s mixed in with functional items

The Entertainer

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Love hosting people? Then you’ll want your coffee table style to be on-point for when guests visit. However, a functional coffee table surface is also of the utmost importance, offering a surface for food and drinks. (Perhaps even a self-serve drink station!) For coffee table decor that looks good and works hard, look no further.

Do:

  • Do add a tray with glassware, coasters, and perhaps even a pitcher of water or a batch cocktail
  • Layer on fun objects that will catch people’s attention—like cards games or interesting coffee table books
  • Include a decorative box that can hide your practical essentials, like TV remotes, game controllers, and power cords

Don’t:

  • Totally ignore decorative items; mix decor in with your entertainment items for a layered, thoughtful design
  • Include anything too fragile (there’s nothing worse than being the friend who accidentally breaks something at a party!)

Want some help picking out and visualizing your coffee table decor?

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