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Coffee Table Decor 5 Edited

Essential Coffee Table Decor Tips

Is there anything more important than having your living room coffee table decor done right? I’m sure there are, but at the moment I am having a hard time thinking about what they might be. So, while I’m in this headspace let’s talk – like really talk- about some of the most essential decor tips you need to know (right now) for how to decorate center table in living room. Often serving as the focal point – the center table is an important—but often overlooked—design moment you don’t want to get wrong. It’s just too important to the overall aesthetic in your home.

Table - Coffee

Whether you live in a small urban apartment or a large suburban estate, nailing your coffee table decor will get you one step closer to the living room of your dreams – and I think you deserve that, now don’t ya? Let’s get started.

Placement With a Purpose

Before we start looking at any decorative items, we need to determine the primary “purpose” or goal of your coffee table makeover. Are you more interested in visual appeal, overall functionality, or a healthy mix of both?

Just like my post on office desk decor ideas, finding a happy medium between form and function is ideal. However, feel free to adjust your coffee table setup and decor to suit your individual needs. If you’re going for a wow moment, and less concerned about function consider lots of oddities, plants, and big books. If you need more function, grab coasters, small trays, and small bowls paired with scented candles to store all your odds and ends.

I personally go for a bit of both, with as few items as possible. My essential list of musts for a maximum balance of form and function are:

Okay, now that we have an idea of how much form and function. Let’s talk a little bit about how you go about decorating a center table in a living room based on the shape of the table.

Round Tables

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With a round coffee table, you’ll have a lot less surface space (or area) to use. I suggest trying to arrange most of your decorative styling items in the shape of a triangle. The triangle shape works great for a circular surface keeping things looking visually interesting and not weighted to one side or the other. Simply work from the middle out, expanding as far as you desire depending on how much tabletop space you’ll need. Don’t worry if things aren’t lined up. A round table allows for less fussiness here.

Round coffee table tips

Interior design - Emerick Architects
  • Place your biggest and heaviest item first. This will become your focal point.
  • Always include something square or rectangular to counterbalance the circular shape of the table. Books and trays are great for this.
  • Don’t over-clutter – less is more, and consider placing things in odd numbers.
  • Vary height and scale to keep things interesting, but don’t have things to tall and block your line of sight.

Rectangular or Square Tables

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With rectangular center tables, you’ll generally have more surface area to work with, making them a bit easier to decorate – phew! For families, these are often a better option in high-traffic areas. With these tables, you’ll want to start by creating your focal point first and decide from there. Again, place your biggest items, often a stack of books or a tray first.

Since these tables tend to have a “long side” and a “short side”, you’ll arrange items slightly differently. I like to center my focal point items on one of the short sides, and then run decor groupings down the length of the table leaving a bigger negative space toward the middle for functionality. Usually, this means I have two main groupings on the left and right sides.

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If you want something directly centered, you can simply center your items—from the “long side”—for increased symmetry. Alternatively, you can also bias the items towards one side only for a slightly more asymmetrical look. They all can work.

Covering the entire table with decor is technically an option, but it’s not one I’d recommend. Not only is it easy to make the table look cluttered, but you’ll also need to rearrange the table every time you want to use it. So leave some negative space. I prefer to leave a bit in the middle.

Of course, the final arrangement is up to you – just have fun with it, and keep it simple.

How to Decorate Center Table in Living Room

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Now that we’ve covered the general coffee table decor placements for the two main table shops, let’s jump right into the fun part – decorating:

First, Decide on a Basket or Tray

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Many people start with coffee table books (which you can if you’d like), but I prefer to start with a basket. When trying to figure out how to decorate center table in living room, one of the most important things is figuring out when you’ll place your smaller decorations.

That’s where a basket comes in! However, it doesn’t have to be a basket. You could also use a large tray or a centerpiece bowl instead.

If you have a round table then it’s a good idea to opt for a circular basket or tray to match the curves of the table. 

With a rectangular table, either with work. Just grab a fun basket that suits you with a nice texture.

Then Select Your Books

Table - Architectural Digest at 100: A Century of Style

The reason I like to start with a tray is that—by choosing it first—you’ll know exactly how much space you’ll have left to work with once you get around to selecting decorative books – which really are a must.

If you aren’t going to use a tray or basket start a stack of books. I promise it’s easier afterwards.

However, you shouldn’t select just any old book. Even choosing your favorite books might not end up looking quite right, so you will need to put a bit of thought into your selection.

I’m not going to go into great detail here, but you’ll want to select books that look similar, follow the same color palette, and center around a general topic. Don’t worry: you can get more specifics by reading my post on how to select and decorate with coffee table books.

When making stacks of books, it’s important to place the main large book on the bottom. Build a pyramid from here, providing a sense of visual flow up the stack as the books get increasingly smaller. Top with an oddity, plant, or candle. It’s a ca n’t-fail tactic.

Next, Add Larger Decor and Oddities

Flack Studio - Design

If you’ve followed this guide on how to decorate center table in living room so far, you have the basics set up and arranged by this point. With that out of the way, we’re on to integrating larger decorations into the overall vignette or design.

There are many different types of larger decorations you can use. House plants, lidded boxes, vessels, or small sculptures just to name a few. But do choose a few – you want your table to be uniquely you – so grab something from a family vacation, recent thrift store haul, or otherwise. Just make sure the texture and material complement your tray, books, candles, etc. Brass is always my go-to!

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If your table has a space, floral (or branch) arrangements are a great way to incorporate natural elements into your design. Simply place them in a decorative vase for a perfect touch. My favorite house plants are a no-brainer too.

Select statement items serve as a great conversation piece. You’ll enjoy how the kick start conversations during get-togethers with friends and loved ones.

Finally, Incorporate Smaller Decorations

Coffee Table Books 5

With the larger objects out of the way, you can start adding in smaller, decorative objects. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to go overboard with smaller objects, turning your once-beautiful table into a disorganized mess. Don’t clutter. Just a few will do.

For that reason, I’d suggest keeping the small items to a minimum. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to fit your smaller items within the pre-existing setup.

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a scented candle. Beyond the aesthetic, luxury candles—like this Etched Frosted Glass Scented Candle—have the advantage of offering amazing, on-demand aromas for your living space. Other great options are coasters, beads, a small trinket, or magnifying glass like mine.

Factors to Consider When Decorating

Now that you know how to decorate center table in living room, I think it’s a good time to go over some of the finer points you may not have considered yet.

I’ll keep things short and sweet, so please don’t skip this part. These tips can make or break your coffee table. Hang in there!

Color Scheme

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It seems obvious – but often gets overlooked. Selecting and sticking to a color scheme is key if you want your final look to sing. Color can be scary I know – you can find some inspiration in my post on the latest color trends to get started.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t mix bright colors with dark ones. It simply means that your coffee table’s accessory colors should be coherent, not only with the items on the table but with the room as a whole. Keep them’ in similar or complimentary colors.


Coffee Table - Living room

Above, I briefly touched on functionality. Trust me guys, it’s important. Just because your table looks amazing doesn’t mean it can’t be practical. I know we spend lots of time at our coffee table – so it needs to function for your iced coffee, remote, and in my house – my feet! You just need to put a bit of thought into the arrangement so you aren’t kicking things over or blocking the TV.

Even a large coffee table will only give you a small space to work with so be thoughtful. Once you factor in all of the items you’ll want to have on hand—from decorative accent pieces to the remote controls for your TV. If you want added space purchasing a two-tiered coffee table is a great idea if you want both functionality and visual appeal. Plus you can stick unsightly items in baskets below.

If this guide on how to decorate center table in living room has taught you anything, I hope it was less is more!


Look for less living room fireplace how to decorate center table in living room

It’s important to consider the size of everything when you’re decorating your coffee table. In general, opting for mostly larger items is a great way to go. Not only are larger items easier to clean, but they also help minimize clutter.

Of course, the sizing of your decorations isn’t the only thing you have to think about. It’s also important to consider the size of your table as a whole. You want to have enough space left over to be able to use the table to serve tasty treats or play games, among other things.

If your current table isn’t big enough to meet both your fashion and functioning requirements, you may want to consider upgrading your current coffee table or downsizing all the items or removing stuff altogether. When in doubt – take it off!

Are You Ready to Start Decorating?

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As we’ve figured out in this guide on how to decorate center table in living room, there’s not one “best way” or “perfect way” to decorate your table. It really just comes down to nailing the basics and personalizing the rest. You got this!

Fortunately, you can always redecorate as you get new ideas or inspirations. I’m constantly rearranging my coffee table in my living room. Personally, I love decorating for the seasons, which means I don’t have one “best coffee table” setup: it’s constantly evolving over time. Have fun with it!

Even if you don’t want to be constantly redecorating, it’s easy enough to turn your simple center table into one of your favorite places in your home. Just follow the steps above, and tweak things as needed.

Find anything new or inspirational that caught your eye? If so, let me know in the comments below. know I love hearing from y’all. xoxoxo

Commonly Asked Questions about Decorating a Center Coffee Table

favorite coffee table how to decorate center table in living room

What do you put on the center of a table in a living room?

You have plenty of options to choose from! If you’re placing multiple items in the center then you can use a mixture of books, candles, plants, or storage solutions (like baskets or trays) to decorate the center. 

However, if you’re only looking to place one thing on your table, larger items—like a plant—that can serve as an effective focal point are best!

How to decorate center table tray?

You’ll want to first figure out how big the tray is. With that information, you can determine what will go on the bottom. Flat surface objects (such as books) are best for this. Once the base is done, you can start adding additional decorative items, such as candles or plants. 

Aim for a variety of textures, heights, shapes, and sizes for maximum visual impact!

What is the use of center table?

Different people use their center table for different things. 

For many, the center table simply serves as a place to put unneeded items at the end of the day, such as keys. This could also be a convenient place to eat while watching the evening news, or for completing other casual routine tasks.

However, the center table can also serve as a decorative display, offering an easy way to highlight your personality and decorative preferences to any guests you may be hosting. 

How do you make a table look luxurious?

Whether your favorite coffee table is made from a high-quality material like stone or different materials like acrylic, giving it that “premium feel” ultimately comes down to decor choice.

Placing a statement piece, using fine china, or adding metallic highlights (such as gold candlesticks) can really help turn an average-looking table into an impressive one!

Of course, pairing it with aesthetically-pleasing furniture—-such as this beautiful leather couch—can also help it look a bit more upscale. Your table doesn’t have to be the best-looking thing in the living room, but you certainly don’t want it to be the worst-looking either.

What is the small table called in the living room?

There are many different names for this small table. Some common options include center table, coffee table, cocktail table, and low table. Occasional table is also another name that people may use.

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