How an ELLE Decor Editor Styles Her Coffee Table

Your coffee table may not be the largest piece of furniture in your living room, but it does function as the focal point of the space. Whether you’re sitting and chatting with friends or family, relaxing by yourself with a glass of wine, or just kicking back and watching Netflix, every activity tends to center around the coffee table—or the trunk or ottoman—and switching up the decor on its surface can have a big style impact for the entire room. The best part: It does not take a lot of effort. So if you’re looking for a little refresh in your living room, here are some easy styling tips to help you decorate your own coffee table like a pro.

Anchor It with a Tray

how to style your coffee table like an editor

An ikat textile tray with brass detailing dresses up a rattan trunk table.

Brian Potter

A decorative tray is key. Not only does it keep accessories contained to avoid a cluttered look, but you can also cart away objets when you need more surface area for cocktails or dinner and a movie on the sofa. A tray is also an easy way to mix in a new texture—for instance, if you have a wooden table, try a rattan or fabric tray.


Bring in Books

how to style your coffee table like an elle decor editor

If you’re stacking books, keep them neat by limiting each stack to three. Layer a small box on top for a more polished look.

Brian Potter

Of course, coffee table books are beautiful to flip through, but they also serve as artistic pieces when they’re closed. Choose books on subjects that are meaningful to you, whether they feature the work of an interior designer you love or photographs of your favorite foreign city. These are a great conversation starter and add instant personality to the table.


Add Color with a Vase of Fresh Flowers

elle decor coffee table styling tutorial

I love picking up a mix of bodega flowers and creating my own bouquet.

Brian Potter


Introduce a Signature Scent

elle decor coffee table styling tutorial

Find a trademark fragrance for your room.

Brian Potter

I love being greeted by a familiar scent when I pop by the Gramercy Park Hotel for drinks—they created a custom candle that burns throughout the common areas—so I tend to pick one scent at home and stick to it, and I always get compliments on the candle I have burning. I’m looking forward to something light and beachy soon.


Don’t Forget the Coasters

Leaving coasters out on display is a friendly reminder to guests to take one when setting down their drinks. I love the kind that come with a holder to keep them contained when they’re not being used.


Layer with Vessels

how to style your coffee table like an elle decor editor

Decorative boxes and bowls add dimension and height to the table.

Brian Potter

Whether it’s a decorative bowl or a small canister, a vessel or two will add dimension and some height variation. I love a lidded box or a pretty ceramic bowl; I filled mine with some faux moss spheres to add a bit of greenery to the table. (My bowl is no longer available, but you can get an equally chic planter in the same print.)