What to Put on Your Coffee Table

Yesterday I did some rearranging in my living room.  Nothing too crazy, but as I was putting the room in order- “jooshing” it, as one of my favorite stylists Carson Kressley would say, my husband suggested that we put the coffee table at the end of the couch against the wall.  I looked at him blankly.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because to me, that is the most logical and practical place.  It’s out of the way.  I like unimpeded paths of travel!”

Now, to give him the benefit of the doubt, in his engineer mind, having the table at the end between the wall and the couch is practical, but it completely neglects one of the easiest ways to show your personality and style of your living space.  As I tried to explain that to him, I thought to myself: I wonder how many other people have the same point of view as my husband?

Your coffee table is what people gather around in a living room.  It is meant to be centered around good conversations, laughter, and entertainment.  Your coffee table is not a catch-all for the junk in your home.  It is not meant for piles of mail, keys, food wrappers, receipts, and my all time coffee table faux pa: collectable knick knacks!  There is nothing wrong with owning knick knacks, however they should be in their own space like a shelf or in a display cabinet with glass doors.

Before we get to what should be on your coffee table, lets do a little shopping!

The first type of coffee table option is very simple but also incredibly functional and affordable.  You can find this table at Ikea:

The reason this is such a great coffee table is because not only is it affordable, it has a great shelf below.  Its perfect for extra magazines, books for guests to flip through, to store folded up throws, or a short basket for remotes or controllers.

Another style of coffee table you can find at higher end stores like Pottery Barn.

This would be a great table for a rustic sunroom or an Adirondack style home.  Its very basic, but extremely sturdy and solid wood.

If Pottery Barn isn’t in the budget, there’s always chain furniture stores like Raymour and Flanigan that sell coffee tables with drawer storage like this one:
This type of table is great for kids because you can store paper, crayons, or small toys in the drawers when you want to entertain and don’t want the kids supplies everywhere.

Now that you have a few options of what kinds of coffee tables are out there, you can decide what kind of table suits you and your lifestyle.  Now, what to put on your coffee table!

I like to stick to this rule: keep it simple.  The easiest way to think about decorating your coffee table is accessorizing it.  In the same way you would put jewelry on your body, think about it as “jewelry” for your living room.   There are many different types of accessories you can display on your coffee table.  Here is a list of my favorites:

– A vase with fresh flowers adds life to your table, and vibrance to a room.

– Candle or group of similar candles, or candle holders with votives or tea lights. Candles add an inviting aura to a room, and makes people feel comfortable and at home.

– Books (no more than three on the table) say lot about your personality.  I like to display books about what my husband and I am interested in like art, travel, fashion, etc.- which opens up conversations with our guests.

– A solid color or metallic picture frame with a photo of you with your partner or family, your friends or a pet.  This also invites conversation and shows people what is important to you.

Remember, what you display on your coffee table isn’t permanent, so don’t stress out too much as to what goes on it.  In the same way you take off your shoes and jewelry at the end of the day, you can rearrange the accessories on your coffee table on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  I like to switch the items every other week or so, or decorate to the holiday or season.

Here are examples of some combinations of coffee table toppers:
I keep a tray to hold the remote or any other controller, and a candle that I made.  On the other side I have some easy read books to flip through.  You can also find old books at a thrift store, they add vintage character to your table.  The coolest part about our coffee “table” is that it is actually two end tables pushed together!

This is actually perfect for my husband and I because sometimes when we are in the living room together, one of us may be on our laptop, while the other might be watching TV or reading a book.  Each person can have their space, and the tables can go right back together when we are done.

If there is one thing you take from reading this, it’s to put things on your table which best reflect your personality or other personalities that live in your home.  Please remember not to leave junk on your coffee table because it reflects disorganization and clutter.  I love hearing from you so if you have any suggestions leave a comment!


There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Abi Schoonover at 2:59 am

    Wow, I barely remember the days when I could put things on our coffee table. Our current “coffee table” is an old trunk that we picked up at a garage sale for two dollars! My sons put books, toys, and pencil markings on it. If I put a vase of flowers on it I would just have a mess to clean up! Loved your post, Mags!

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