The steps to styling your coffee table

An easy way to convey your personal style is by creating a vignette on your coffee table. It’s a great place to show off  your signature look with items that personally resonate with you. After all, the point isn’t to make your space look like everyone else’s, it should be a reflection of you and your life.

By layering and arranging a few key elements, you can make your mark and create a visually pleasing table scape for your living room. 

Pick a theme: It will create cohesiveness in the final result. It can be as simple as choosing a color scheme, or more challenging, as in displaying items that you’ve collected on vacations.  You can also choose an element like wood or glass to pull the display together.

Display items of varying heights: You don’t want everything to be at the same level, otherwise your eye will land on one spot and nothing will stand out. Layering heights adds visual interest. But be careful not to add things that will block your t.v. viewing. You can stack books and place smaller items on top for a more subtle way to layer.

Add something living: Live plants or fresh flowers are always a nice addition and add a vibrant energy to your display. They can also be updated the keep your tableau from looking stale.

Add something personal: Give people a peek into your personality by placing items that have a personal meaning to you. I have a dear friend who is also a designer in North Dakota who likes to place old photos in a decorative bowl on her coffee table. It creates an interactive experience with the composition. You can also use mementos from vacations, or objects that have been in the family for years. Just use your imagination.

Add something quirky: Another way to create an interactive experience is by adding a conversation piece. Something quirky, or humorous can show off your personality and add a bit of fun to the vignette. Frequent your local curiosity and antique shops for off beat treasures to add to your arrangement.

One of my favorite curiosity shops is in Portland OR.  Paxton Gate is filled with all kinds of crazy stuff from taxidermy, to a vial of meteorite shavings, to a fossilized bison jaw.

Uncommon Objects in the SoCo District of Austin TX is another of my favorites to find…well…uncommon objects.  It’s a well curated shop filled with the treasures of 24 antiquers. If you can’t find something quirky there, then it’s not to be found.  

Corral things on a tray: Trays are a great way to corral smaller pieces, giving them a more intentional look. You don’t want your arrangement to look like a bunch of random pieces sitting on the table. Use a round or oval tray if you already have books in the grouping. It will add a little contrast.  It will also make it easier to clear off the table when you need it to function as something else.


Worlds Away has a wide selection of trays, boxes and accessories to help you create your arrangement.

Your arrangement doesn’t have to be elaborate.  Just a few, well placed items can add pizazz to any coffee table.