How to Dress a Coffee Table, According to an Expert

Coffee table styling is a go

Coffee table styling is something that looks so easy on the internet but can actually feel like a mammoth task. Where do you put everything? Can you clash colours? How much is too much?

Thankfully the ever stylish Lydia Millen, whose enviable home has more than 300,000 Instagram followers, is on hand to give her advice on achieving a chic coffee table look. Think complementary materials, varying heights and a personal touch.

Arrange your coffee table into segments

"For larger coffee tables, I always think it helps to divide your space into thirds or quarters and arrange items in each section," Lydia explains. Look at each designated space and assess what might work there from the items you already have. "A stack of beautiful old books, a sleek tray with candles and coasters, a small vase or ceramic piece - working the space in this way looks clean and stylish - even with an array of different items on show.

Don't forget you also want your table to serve its purpose - to hold drinks - so use removable trays or leave negative space for glasses. "The aim is to create a visual point of interest without feeling cluttered! For a smaller coffee table, a tray displaying a few select items that can be lifted away and replaced for ease of cleaning, or interchanged to mix up the things you have chosen to display is a great way to add interest without it becoming just somewhere to put the TV remote!"


Avoid your coffee table looking too 'flat' by introducing levels, which as Lydia says, is also "a great way to create an interesting visual for the eye. Choose vases, plants, book stacks and candles of different heights, to incorporate with your coffee table books. Try to avoid any items that are overly tall though, you’re adding interest, not a boundary to others in the room!"

You essentially want accessories and items of interest that look beautiful, but won't obstruct every day use - no one wants to be leaning over a giant vase to grab the remote.

Think about your colour scheme

"I recommend choosing one colour scheme for all your items displayed on your coffee table," Lydia says. "A neutral colour palette is always a failsafe option for a higher end look, even on a budget! Choose flowers, candles, vases, coasters and trays in your chosen colour scheme and your coffee table will look like a curated collection.

"For example, if using magazines rather than books, stacking them neatly with the spines aligned will create a seamless stack. Finding a candle in a similar coloured jar to the spines of the magazine or books will help make it look cohesive."

You don't necessarily have to go out and buy things just to style your coffee table, though; have a think about the belongings you already have that you might want to pop on display, or books with sentimental value.



Mix up your materials

Any hard surface can do with a ‘softening touch’, and a really effective way to do this is to introduce a variety of materials for visual and tactile qualities. Perhaps a beautiful runner, a wicker placemat under a vase, a natural stone coaster, or a small woven basket for example, can all help add interest and effortless style.

Plant power

You know we love having plants all over our house, and the coffee table is no exception. "Plants and flowers bring a lovely uplifting energy to any room, and your coffee table is a perfect place for them to live as a focal point," Lydia explains.

"Foliage can also be used as part of the display itself, for example, why not try making your own seasonal table piece, perhaps to sit surrounding a candle, or as a standalone way to bring an element of interest and your own personality into the space."