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Interiors

Tips & Tricks: Coffee Table Edition

If you ask us, the art of coffee table styling is one that is attempted by many, and only hit out of the park by few. The coffee table is often a big focal point in any living room, office, or lounge area, and the difference between a hit and a miss can be as small as a few trinkets and treasures. So, how exactly do you create that Instagram-worthy tablescape? This is the question we have been asking ourselves, and luckily, our resident design expert and contributor Kate Lester is here to solve all of our design qualms and show us how it’s done.

If you’ve ever wondered just what objects to choose for your coffee table, how to arrange them, and which ones to highlight, then keep reading for a crash course in coffee table styling below. Trust us, with just six simple tips, you’ll have a coffee table that will turn heads in no time… Take it away, Kate!

Tips and Tricks, Coffee Table Edition - Kate Lester on GrayMalin.comPhoto by Lauren Pressey

When it comes to coffee table styling, there are a million schools of thought on what is best. Styling a coffee table is not as daunting as it seems, I swear—and I’ve made hundreds of coffee tables photo-shoot ready over the life of my design career. So sit back, relax, and get ready to soak up some golden coffee table knowledge. Below I have compiled six of my top tips and tricks to make sure you get that perfect Instagram-worthy coffee table vignette every time, so keep reading to brush up on a little Coffee Table Styling 101…

1. Buy more books.

On average I use about 10 nice-sized coffee table books as a base when styling a client’s coffee table. Put the larger, (less-pretty) ones on the bottom, and leave the most decorative and appealing to showcase on top. (Ahem, BEACHES or the eagerly anticipated ESCAPE) #buysomebooks

Tips and Tricks, Coffee Table Edition - Kate Lester on GRAYMALIN.COMPhoto by Amy Bartlam

2. Everything looks better on a tray.

…EVERYTHING. A tray serves both a practical and stylish purpose by showcasing your favorite smaller or vintage finds, while also making them quickly removable if you need to clear the table for entertaining. A tray also adds structure, and grounds tabletop items that might otherwise get lost in the mix with books and pottery. #traychic

Tips and Tricks, Coffee Table Edition - How to Style Your Coffee Table Like the ProsPhoto by Amy Bartlam

3. Pay attention to the scale.

No, not THAT scale. The scale of the objects you are planning on showcasing on your soon-to-be-fabulous coffee table. (Nothing makes for a hot mess faster than a large collection of small tchotchkes.) To keep things balanced, vary the size and visual weight of the items on display and stack or group like objects together. #thisscaleisyourfriend

Tips and Tricks, Coffee Table Edition - How to Style Your Coffee Table Like the ProsPhoto by Amy Bartlam

4. Create your own skyline.

Think of your coffee table vignette like a cityscape. When all items are at the same eye level, nothing gets noticed. To create a more eye-catching vignette, vary the height and scale of your objects, and remember that a little height on the coffee table can be a good thing, so don’t rule out taller vases and the like. #skysthelimit

Tips and Tricks, Coffee Table Edition - How to Style Your Coffee Table Like a ProPhoto by Amy Bartlam

5. Know the rule of three.

This rule suggests that when things come in threes, they are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. Don’t believe me? Think about it. Three piece suits, rock paper scissors… the Hansen Brothers. So take a tip from a pro and get your “mmm bop” on while remembering to style in groups of three. #mmmbop

Tips and Tricks, Coffee Table Edition - Kate Lester on GrayMalin.comPhoto by Amy Bartlam

6. Add living things.

Pop in hints of fresh greenery, flowers or succulents. Adding plants or florals keeps the table from feeling stale and sad. Switch them out each week and play around with color and texture. Plus, this gives you an excuse to peruse the peonies at Trader Joes, or take an impromptu trip to the local farmers market. #stayinalive

When in doubt, remember that when it comes to coffee tables (and shoes) more is more. More funky objects. More vintage pottery. More books and greenery. Did you know that Coco Chanel used to say that before you leave the house you should look in the mirror and take one thing off? I say, true that. And when you take it off, smile—then turn around and lay it right down on the tray on your coffee table. #MoreIsMore

Simpler than you thought, right? Did you pick up any new tips here?

Let’s just say we’re pretty confident that these six tips are going to change our coffee table game for the better! We can’t thank Kate enough for her input, and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. For more design inspiration, make sure to check out Kate Lester Interiors online, and follow Kate on Instagram.

And if you missed Kate’s last post on how to take the perfect shelfie, you can find it right here.

Xx Team GM

Photos: Lauren Pressey, Amy Bartlam
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