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Ask a Design Expert

Emily Foster Interiors, Interior Designer in Albuquerque, gives tips for styling your coffee table. 

Coffee tables are often unintentionally the focal point of a living room. I realize clients want to have a beautiful space, but also need to have a practical space. I style with one bold statement piece – this could be a vase full of blooms, a decorative piece or a stack of books, but it needs to be the largest and tallest item. Then, I have a smaller display of something else – a stack of books with a paperweight or a scented candle on it for example.

How to style using a tray:

This is great for the client who uses his or her coffee table regularly for work or their kids homework and needs to spread out. I make sure I know how the room “lives.”  Limiting styling with a tray that you can easily move is an excellent idea. It is helpful to corral items and a great way to focus the styling to one area. Simplicity is best. I pick a tray that matches the shape of the coffee table and about half its size. 

How to style with books or magazines:

I love using books when I style. I always like to add a decorative piece on top of the books like a candle or small bowl to play with height and scale. I usually take off the jacket cover of a book to be more visually appealing. I also try to use the same color palette for a more cohesive look.  

How to style with a floral arrangement:

Introducing greenery or a floral arrangement is not only beautiful, but very good Feng Shui. Faux arrangements are ok, but the real deal is always best. Heck, flowers and greenery themselves symbolize good luck and abundance. Who doesn’t want more of that?! You won’t believe how it will boost your mood and the moods of others using the space. I use a beautiful vase to. Scale is important here though.  You don’t want your arrangement too tall.  Experts try to stick to the tallest object on a coffee table to be a third of the height of the coffee table itself. However, if you use this table a lot, then you want to use a smaller arrangement so it doesn’t bug the person watching tv or the guest that comes over and can’t hold a conversation with you without staring into a large Chrysanthemum.  

I make sure when I’m styling it feels relaxed rather than untouchable. I buy new pieces for my clients, but I also include pieces that they use and love. Simple is key, but simple doesn’t need to be boring.


 

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