Over the years I’ve spent ages faffing around with the coffee table in our living room, trying to create something akin to the stylish displays which fill the pages of interior design magazines. As anyone who’s tried to do the same will know, it’s not very easy – you either end up with a pile of clutter, or something which looks lost on a sea of wood or glass. But I think I’ve finally managed to hone the look I want, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few of the styling tips that I’ve picked up along the way.
Use a tray
Knowing where to begin with a blank tabletop can be daunting, so try starting with a tray, placed in the centre of the table or to one side. This anchors the arrangement, and helps to break up a large surface area. I’ve chosen a beautiful inlaid tray from India May Home, a fantastic online shop which draws on Scandinavian and boho influences and which I featured back when it first launched. It’s hand-carved in Rajasthan, and I love the way it mixes muted grey and white with a touch of exotic style.
Next, choose a large item such as a vase or plant to act as a focal point – I’ve used a glass jar filled with eucalyptus. Then gradually add other items such as candles, sculptures, souvenirs and stacks of books, working from the largest to the smallest. Experiment with placing things in and around the tray until you have a balanced look, and think about how to showcase your interests and personality through the items you choose. Here, for example, I’ve added Scandinavian candles and a few of my favourite travel and design tomes.
Consider the wider room
While you’re dressing the table, it’s worth taking into account the style of the room as a whole. I wanted to keep things looking clean-lined by sticking to a muted colour palette that matches the wider scheme, but you could experiment with pops of accent colour that stand out from the rest of the space.
Thinks about scale
You also need to consider the size of the table itself. Big coffee tables tend to look best with larger-scale objects rather than lots of little items, while a small table might look unbalanced when topped with big vases and books.
Keep things simple
However you choose to arrange your table, the trick is to avoid over-cluttering it. If you have functional items which you need to keep to hand (remote controls, pens etc), you can always hide them away in a pretty box – I’ve used an inlaid one from India May Home, with a contrasting pattern to the tray. And remember to leave some surface area clear for cups of coffee, glasses of wine and the like; I have a smaller tray inside the larger one, ready and waiting for drinks and nibbles.
Change things around
Finally, don’t forget that coffee-table displays needn’t be static. I often rearrange things according to my mood, adding seasonal touches such as flowers or foliage, or rotating the items on display.
If you have any coffee-table styling tricks of your own, do leave a comment below…
All photography by Abi Dare
India May Home kindly provided the trays and box for this post, but as ever all words and opinions are my own.