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Simple tips for styling your coffee table

There’s an art to displaying an investment piece and the right finishing touches can really elevate it. Here, our experts share their advice on how to try it at home

By Megan Murray

The key to a well-curated room is layering. It starts with building colours, patterns and textures, and extends to a final veil of decorative touches with books, vases, and ornaments.

You could say that the styling of a coffee table is as important as choosing the right sofa; creating depth that brings a scheme together. However, it can be hard to know where to start.

'There's no "one size fits all" when it comes to styling a coffee table,' says Soho House Interior Stylist, Candy Murray. 'You need to take into account size, shape, and material. Is there a texture or pattern that you want to show off? I think of it as a blank canvas, looking at the composition and dividing the sections as an artist would.'

Here, Murray shares different ways to style your coffee table and the components to consider while doing so.

Create height with books and magazines

'When arranging decor on a coffee table, experimenting with different heights is an easy rule to follow that will create depth, add interest, and draw the eye around the space.

'While minimalism has its place, playing with height prevents an area from looking flat or unfinished. The best way to do this is to stagger the heights throughout your decor; start with a thick coffee table book, a small stack of design magazines, a tall dinner candle, and a larger vase.'

Make home fragrance a focus

'A simple way to give a focus to a coffee table layout is using an eye-catching home fragrance. Choosing a candle in an interesting vessel, such as marble or patterned glass, or in an extra-large size will immediately ground the space.

'Naturally, humans find candlelight and scent inviting, so positioning home fragrance on a coffee table in the middle of a room will bring people together and create ambience. Place the candle at the front, on a book or alone on a side table.'

Bring it to life with flowers or botanicals

'This is a simple tip that many people may already know, but when you consider the deeper connotations behind bringing a floral arrangement to a coffee table, it helps to understand why it's so important.

'While books and ornaments are beautiful, incorporating an element of life gives a scheme extra depth and instinctively pleases the eye. Whether it's a full vase of flowers, a dried arrangement or a carefully placed, sculptural branch, a little piece of nature breathes life into an area.'

Try dividing the space for a conceptual look

'One method for laying out your coffee table is to think of it as a blank canvas - and, like an artist would, work on the composition. Divide it up in a purposeful way and do books in one section, flowers in another, and a bowl in another.

'If I'm stuck, creating a grid of four squares in my mind is a good way to work with the space in front of me.'

Don’t underestimate the beauty of a bowl

'I like to include something sculptural in the design of a coffee tabletop - whether that be an ornament, vessel or bowl. An empty bowl can look beautiful positioned alone or on top of a small stack of books or magazines.

'You can also fill the bowl with citrus fruits or fresh produce to add some colour and life, and change it throughout the seasons.'