Coffee table decor: tips and 17 modern ideas

A coffee table may seem like a pretty self-sufficient piece of furniture, but only at first glance. Indeed, you can install it in the living room, billiard room, or bedroom and not put anything else on it. However, over time, you will still realize that it is here that you are missing a couple of decorative elements to make the interior of the room look complete.

The times when a vase of flowers or (sometimes such) a lace napkin was enough for a coffee table to look stylish are far behind. Modern decor is a kind of message, an opportunity to demonstrate your habits, tastes, favorite textures, and palettes. That is why it is not surprising that today decorative groups on coffee tables conquer with variety and diversity. If you also do not mind creating a spectacular and highly relevant design using such techniques, we will be happy to share the secrets of coffee table decor with you.

How to decorate a coffee table: basic rules

So, you have at your disposal a rectangular, round – or any other – coffee table that you plan to decorate with an elegant, practical, or concise composition. However, before you go to a decor store or open related sites, we suggest you narrow down your searches a bit by using the rules for selecting items to decorate on the tabletop.

  • The Rule of Three. Today, designers consider the number 3 to be ideal for the number of decor items on a coffee table. Moreover, their shape and size are secondary, and the configuration of the table itself does not matter at all. At the same time, the coveted three is by no means an axiom: if your idea requires more items, feel free to add the right amount.
  • Match the table decor with the base design. A vintage side table made from shabby natural wood is unlikely to make a harmonious ensemble with abstract steel decor. The luxurious ceramic decor will not be at his place at all on the surface of chrome and black lacquered wood. Wicker baskets and handmade wooden figurines will be lost against the backdrop of an art deco-style brass mirror table. Don’t forget about balance: it matters even in these little things.
  • Keep the palette! The decor on your coffee table should undoubtedly overlap with the primary or accent shades used in the interior of the room. If you managed to find elements that are entirely in tune with the room’s color scheme, do not forget to rejoice in your luck. An exception can be made only for indoor plants: natural greenery will decorate any design.
  • Consider the size. Do not clutter up a small coffee table with a variety of decor – this way, you will instead create a feeling of clutter than a spectacular and expressive combination. Also, a small decor – a small planter with a flower, a candle, or a figurine – will look quite lonely. Do not forget to respect the proportions.

As you can see, there are very few rules, and most of them are not too strict. So, both the slight color contrast and the moderate mix of textures are allowed – however, without a pronounced opposition.

So, now you roughly know how to act when you need to arrange a coffee table in the bedroom, living room, or hallway. It remains only to think about what exactly you want to see there. We offer you a list of ideas that you can repeat, develop or change at your discretion.

Indoor plants are a win-win option

As designers joke, if you don’t know how to decorate a coffee table, put flowers on it – and you definitely won’t be mistaken. Indeed, it is high time to stop thinking about stereotypes that the place of indoor plants is on the windows. Place several pots with plants of different heights on the table, or add volume with one large plant combined with other decorative items. What it will be – an elegant orchid, a modest violet, or a juicy green sansevieria – it’s up to you to decide.

Natural brightness: fresh cut flowers

At first glance, it may seem that there is no particular difference between indoor and cut flowers, but this is not entirely true. Firstly, bright or delicate flower buds collected in beautiful bouquets or equally attractive homogeneous compositions play the role of a natural and always appropriate accent. Secondly, the vase’s beauty in which they stand is added to the natural beauty of flowers – and this is an earnest application for an essential component of the decor. Remember to keep the bouquets fresh and regularly change the water in the vase – and you will appreciate the effortless luxury of such a reception.

Cozy glow: candles and candlesticks

Chic and warm with a light but a charming touch of old-fashion decor – this is the effect created by the candles located on the coffee table. Such a decor option is equally attractive for both traditional and classical luxurious, as well as modern interiors. The whole secret is in selecting the color of the candles themselves and the design of the candlesticks. In shops and salons, you will find dozens and even hundreds of models for every taste.

As for their arrangement on the coffee table, then, in this case, you can determine for yourself which arrangement of the candlesticks will be the most beneficial for your interior. This can be either a row arrangement of the same accessories, a grouping of elements of different heights, and a very eclectic group made up of candles and stands of different colors and shapes.

Food for thought: books as decor

Great news for reading lovers: their favorite novels and detective stories can also be a decoration for a coffee table. Choose from beautiful covers of roughly the same size and stack them, complementing the composition with a vase of flowers, a stylish handmade tray, or an original figurine – or place them between elegant holders. Glossy magazines will look no less impressive (and perhaps even more), especially if they are serious enough thematic editions – from architecture and design to cars and psychology. Despite all the obviousness, this decor bears a clear imprint of individuality since it allows you to demonstrate your passions and hobbies visually.

Such a different geometry

Round on round, square on square, rectangular on rectangular – it would seem that what could be more natural? However, designers still recommend not getting carried away with the perfect match of geometric shapes, so there is no risk of visual overload. Instead, try decorating a rectangular table with small round trays or flower pots of the same form, and put a stack of books on a round table or install a small cubic or triangular installation – it will turn out in a harmonious decor.

Transparent hints

If the coffee table top is made of wood, metal, or marble, deciding on the decor is quite simple. But what about glass surfaces? In fact, you shouldn’t have any difficulties with this either: be guided by the color and texture of the floor covering, which can be seen through the surface of the table. Place the wooden tray on top of the furniture on the hardwood floor. Add metal and stone decor to the concrete texture. Find something elegant if your table rests on a classic lush rug.

We play in pairs

Double coffee tables are no less popular today than 30 years ago when they first came into fashion. If you become the proud owner of a model with table tops at different levels, you will have to make a little more effort since, in this case, you will have to decorate both surfaces.

Designers recommend using decorative elements that will overlap with each other. For example, you can arrange small vases from the same collection on different countertops, add candlesticks of the same design and different heights to them, and complement all this with geometric figurines or flowers. In this case, it is desirable to arrange elements within a certain structure – for example, a basket or a tray. This will not only create a harmonious and complete look but also avoid the need to collect and put back accidentally fallen and rolled decor.

The transformation of upholstered furniture

This idea is a little more global than the ones we suggested above, as it implies an impressive dramatic transition of a piece of furniture from one quality to another. And this can happen with a square or round pouf, which you can quickly turn into a coffee table.

To cope with such a task, you will again be helped by a tray with sufficiently high sides, on which you can build a decorative composition or a beautiful dish with a slight depression. What will lie on this tray or container, and what color and material you choose, depends only on you. However, we are ready to give you a small hint: poufs used as a coffee table most often belong to the classic or neoclassical style.

Consonance of textures

When choosing decor for a coffee table, you should not get too carried away with contrasts – and first of all, this applies specifically to the materials from which both furniture and accessories are made. So, it is worth looking at products with a soft and calm texture for a wooden table – the same wood, rattan, matte porcelain, or unglazed ceramics. However, if it is made of glass and metal, you can safely use a more spectacular and daring design – with an abundance of gloss, golden coatings, shiny surfaces, and a few rough lines.

A bit of uniqueness

Is it easy to turn a coffee table into an art object? In fact, it really is! If traditional geometry and familiar material combinations seem too trivial to you, go outside the box! So, someone tries to order a coffee table, on the surface of which a rock garden can be arranged, someone equips a florarium under the tabletop, and someone goes even further and may well place a full-fledged aquarium under it. Remember the famous shopaholic saga heroine who dreamed of decorating a coffee table with jewelry from a renowned designer? Try to think just as creatively, and you will be surprised at how realistic it is to realize specific fantasies!

And one more storage space

If you think that in this case, we will only talk about coffee tables with a lower shelf, then we hasten to please you: it’s time to think a little wider! Indeed, the lower part of the furniture will allow you to store your favorite books, trinkets, and board games successfully (as well as casually draw attention to them), but if your model has a different configuration, you can use a much more exciting solution. Install a container on it, in which you will store keys, lock picks for phones, and other critical everyday trifles like a TV remote control. Depending on the living room design you choose, this decor can be a wide copper bowl, a low flat vase, a patterned ceramic dish, or an exquisite metal or wooden tray.


In some cases, the owners of houses and apartments are pretty supportive of the “empty” coffee table, on which there is no decor. As a rule, this is typical for fans of minimalism, who adhere to the principle of “less is more.” However, they may also think of the need to diversify the seated area from time to time. In this case, elementary and obvious solutions can help you out – such as a vase of flowers, like a casually open glossy magazine or an album with reproductions, as well as a dish with fruit or just a group of glass or crystal glasses.

Global changes

Decorating a coffee table can imply the arrangement of accessories on it and certain transformations of the surface itself. In fact, many techniques allow you to update this excellent piece of furniture – especially if it is somewhat neglected or no longer fits into the new interior. Still, there is no desire or opportunity to throw it.

So, today’s most popular techniques are decoupage, ceramic or glass mosaics, craquelure, and stencil painting. All these decorating methods are not too complicated, and by creating a new design with your own hands, you can feel the pure joy of creativity.

This thrilling symmetry

Grouping the same or similar decor items into two compositions on one coffee table can look very impressive. As a rule, small plants (most often succulents) in small pots, candles, and abstract figurines are used for this, and trays with sides or stacks of books are used as a unifying element. The arrangement of such compositions is no less intriguing: if the table is small, it will be enough for you to place them along the edges, but if the tabletop is rather long and rectangular, you will need a unifying element – it can be another succulent in a pot, a florarium, or a charming figurine made from ceramic, metal, or wood.

More luxury

If you are crazy about Art deco and glamor, then we can already imagine which coffee table you have chosen. It is most likely exclusive, in expensive polished wood, with a mirrored finish, glass top, or a base in intricate gold-tone metallic lace. A table like this is excellent on its own, but it doesn’t get any worse if you add some sophisticated decor.

Candles in luxurious candlesticks, decorative crystal balls and gilded boxes, magnificent orchids (they can be artificial – but provided that they are of very high quality), shining brass dishes, and trays. You will have something to create a composition that embodies absolute luxury.

The amazing eco

Speaking about the coffee table decor, one cannot fail to mention such a direction as eco-style. The fact is that its characteristic palette and materials are very democratic, and therefore can be successfully used in any modern or rustic interior.

That is why you can safely use jute and rattan baskets, trays, and other accessories made of unpainted wood, as well as green plants in pots and ceramic vases. This decor is perfect on wooden coffee tables, as it communicates coziness, tranquility, and unconditional peace.

We’re in the game!

Earlier, we mentioned books as an opportunity to showcase your personality as part of decorating your coffee table. However, this can be realized not only with the help of literature or magazines but also at the expense of your favorite games!

Indeed, a scrabble board of exclusive design, a trick-track set, charming old-fashioned chess (especially from precious woods, although ordinary ones will also work), and even a neat box with Monopoly will create a unique atmosphere in the recreation area. A bowl with decorative balls, a stylish figurine, or a small plant will complete a cozy and welcoming composition.

If even the most beautiful coffee table leaves a feeling of an understatement for you, then it’s time to work on its decor correctly. As you probably already understood, the possibilities open up before you are truly endless – all that remains is to find accessories or solutions that really please your eye, and therefore your soul.

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