How To Decorate A Coffee Table

tips from a seasoned stager

As any good home stager will tell you, the coffee table is a central element in both the Living Room and Family Room.  Here is where you add interest, texture and set a mood. Here is where you can define exactly who the target buyer is for the home. Here is where you make them feel welcome.

how to decorate a coffee table family room example


Good stagers follow a few simple rules for decorating coffee table. These simple rules will work for anyone looking to spruce up their space. Spring cleaning anyone? Why not give your coffee table a fresh look?

5 Rules For How To Decorate a Coffee Table

(using our own staging photos as illustrations)

Rule #1 – Start with a tray

A tray grounds the room, and allows you to cluster a mix of items in a tidy way.

Use a tray on a coffee table

Rule #2 – Vary The height

Be sure to never exceed the height of the sofa, but add a tall item, or pair of tall candlesticks, and then vary the height of the other pieces. It makes for an inviting focal point, and draws you into a room to have a look.

LR 2


3.  Add Greenery or Something Organic

FR 2

When we are considering how to decorate a coffee table in a vacant home, we will not use any real plant material. But we do use silk plants, and faux fruit. Here we have used 3 ceramic fruits to add a dramatic pop of yellow, reminding us of summer and the lushness to come.

4. Use Books

They’re heavy and annoying to carry around, but there’s nothing else that speaks to a target buyer quite so quickly. If the house has a beautiful yard, you want a “Great Gardens” book. If there’s land for horses, a book of horses underscores the point; the same with boating and /or fishing if there’s a river or lake nearby.  And if the home is on the flight path to a major airport, then books about travel suggest this is the perfect home for anyone where proximity to transportation is an important selling feature.

How to decorate a coffee table


Less is usually more for those of us in the staging world, so this table is w-a-y too busy, though it sure is pretty.

5. Rule #5 – Strive For Balance

The easiest way to balance is to have matching lamps on the side tables and a few simple, larger items on the coffee table. The human mind finds symmetry soothing, which is why you see so many designers using it. However, when you have an L-shaped sofa, symmetry isn’t an option. Below,the large shell is offset by the vase by the fireplace and the shimmering pillow. The intricate rug mimics the  pattern further.

Balance in Coffee Table Decor

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