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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Shields


Is your living room in need of a little update? A little interest? A little intrigue? Despite its name, the coffee table isn’t just a place to rest your coffee cup and your tired feet. This small but significant piece of living room furniture has big potential, from its function to its style. Here are some of my favourite ways to dress up your coffee table.



Look for diversity

Choose objects of varying height, shape, material and texture. In design, contrasting elements are often used to bring balance to a space, create visual interest and to complement one another. These differences actually play off each other, to help highlight each object’s unique qualities. For example, pairing a piece of textured clay pottery, smooth glass, some fresh greenery and a metallic objet d’art really emphasizes their contrasting characteristics.

PRO TIP: Choose low-profile accessories, to ensure you don’t block sight lines across the table.



Group accessories.

A single object looks lonely, so make friends and assemble your collections in small groupings. Arrangements of three can be arranged symmetrically and thus, are pleasing to the eye. When placed in a triangular formation, they bring dimension to your displays. The secret to a successful grouping is to find some common ground between objects. It could be their function, colour palette or something else entirely. Just make sure they relate to one another somehow.

TRY THIS: When arranging accessories, try using a tray or a large coffee table book as a base and layer smaller items on top.



Engage the senses.

When choosing accessories for your coffee table, look for pieces that stimulate different senses, to attract attention and encourage conversation. Remember, this is an area where people tend to sit and stay, so give them something to entertain their sense of sight, touch, smell and even taste. My own coffee table vignettes often include elements such as a stack of books (two or three, tops), a scented candle, (Vancouver Candle Co very stylish & smells great) a string of beads, some fresh greenery, and always a mix of materials – wood, metal, glass, stone, woven materials and the like.



Refresh your display.

Your display doesn’t have to be permanent. This can be a seasonal switch-up, or an update reserved for when you collect some new pieces, or when the room starts to feel a little stale. When doing this exercise, use the same principles as outlined above, to ensure your coffee-table vignette is balanced. If you’re re-styling your table for the holidays or a new season, incorporate some appropriately themed elements, like candles and evergreens in the winter, or fresh blooms in the spring.



Styling Two-Tiered Coffee Tables

If your coffee table has an upper and lower surface, avoid overcrowding by limiting your display. Consider styling a single surface while leaving the other free for casual dining or to set down drinks. If taking a dual approach to styling, be sure to or edit down your accessories to leave enough breathing room.

A coffee table should never be left empty. Just as walls need art, a coffee table needs accessories to give it purpose, and personality and whether it’s functional, aesthetic or a bit of both. Be selective and choose pieces that you love, that tell your story and sing to your unique sense of style.

Then, go ahead and grab a drink and put your feet up.


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