How to Style a Coffee Table Like a Pro

We relax beside it, pop our coffee on it, leave our magazines lying all over it and chat across it. It's quite easy with the frantic pace of everyday life to let things pile up and accumulate into one giant mess! Follow these expert tips from Interior Designer Greg Natale to make your coffee table look amazing. 

The coffee table is such a part of our comfort zone that we often forget what a beautiful piece - and display - it can provide in its own right. 

Of course, what you choose to place on your coffee table is your own business. But in my business, I’m regularly asked for tips on how to make this much-loved piece of furniture look spectacular, as opposed to a home for random items.

To keep things looking practical yet stylish, here are the key pieces you need take your table manner from ordinary to extraordinary.

1. Books

Start with these as they make a big statement, personally and physically. A single book can look a little lonely unless it’s a huge standout piece, so I generally recommend choosing more than one – try for comparable sizes and even similarly coloured spines.

2. Flowers

Go easy here – you don’t need a towering arrangement that would better suit a wedding reception. Keep it simple and compact, filling a small glass cylinder or fishbowl vase with a cluster of the same blooms. Sometimes just one flower will make enough of an impact.

3. Objects


This is your chance to play with different materials, such as ceramic, metallic, acrylic and marble. With ceramics, consider grouping by shape or colour and varying the texture, placing a smooth surface beside a rippled one. A metallic piece injects a little glamour into a display, but stay with one metal for consistency. Acrylic brings retro charm, while marble adds elegance, structure and coolness to a warm palette.


On top of your books, place an ornamental object, such as a bowl, or an artwork, such as a small sculpture. Then set a ceramic piece or a pair of pieces beside them, for example a box, bowl, pair of vases or candle holders. Consider introducing a box with either a metallic or ceramic finish, to balance what is already there. A beautiful box with a lid is also a great place to hide your remote controls. A stack of coasters, too, will bring a lovely hit of texture, pattern or colour, as well as protecting your table.

Balance and contrast

The key is to have a balance of elements and enough contrast to ensure a dynamic mix. Here are a few suggestions:

Play with shape: Try a pair of matching curved vases and contrast with the sharp geometrics of books and a box.

Play with colour: Opt for monochrome pieces and balance with a pop of a bold, bright hue.

Play with finish: Cluster matte and gloss ceramics in the same colour and contrast with a metallic.

Have fun but keep it pared back, removing a piece if the collection looks crowded. Sit back, sip your coffee and enjoy your new arrangement!

Three Coffee Tables I Love: 

Greg will be joining The Conversation Series at Life Instyle Trade Event, Australia’s destination for homewares and trends, Hordern Pavilion, 19 - 22 February, 2015. Greg Natale’s book, The Tailored Interior, is available from all good bookstores or online at Bookworld

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1 comment
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Posted by AleksanderReport
Gone are the days when coffee table had to be just a coffee table. In today's design world, the coffee table can be so much more