a beautifully styled coffee table adds layers and texture to a room. to find inspiration for mine in the family room (which i promise i've been working on), i turned to pinterest. the search "coffee table styling" yielded tons of incredible results:
you will notice a pattern. these beautiful coffee tables consistently sport four elements:
1. a tray
4. decorative accessories
an easy formula is this: for a large coffee table, imagine it is divided into four quadrants. put stacks of books in three of the squares, and the tray in the fourth. flowers and one or two small accessories go on the tray, and larger accessories go on the books. pay attention to balance, but don't worry about making it too symmetrical. trust your instincts and you'll know when it feels right.
it's an easy recipe to put together. the real problem here is that the ingredients can get expensive fast. here are some tricks i used to make my coffee table stylish but still affordable.
the tray: try the dollar store. i found two gold-framed mirrors and layered them on top of each other.
another resource for trays is ikea- they have several options, all for under $15. i especially liked this black one, named "omvaxlande":
the flowers: my favorite two places to buy fresh flowers are traders joes and costco. both usually have great selection and the best prices i've come across. if you go with faux, hobby lobby has some higher-end stems that are insanely realistic and gorgeous. they are about $20 each (ouch) but coupons are readily available and you can save in the long run by piecing together a bouquet that won't require replacing.
for a vessel to hold your flowers, think outside the box. i went to a grocery store with a large ethnic selection, picked out a can of tomatoes with a pretty label for $1.89, cleaned it out, and had a vase.
i admit to feeling guilty about suggesting this, but it really does make total sense. if you delicately snip the tape holding the jackets on, then safely store said jackets until your return deadline, no one has to know that the beautiful books on your table are borrowed. and you can switch them out- one month you have a collection of art volumes, the next architecture, the next interior design. even if you do intend to purchase some books, this could be a good way to test drive them, making sure the size and colors coordinate before you commit. (by the way, designer shea mcgee wrote a great article about her favorite coffee table books to help you get started).
lastly, the accessories: shop your basement, shop your house, shop your parents house. these should be the things that have history and meaning, and that make you smile. you can also diy this one. take a nature walk. dip a giant pinecone in white paint, or spray a sculptural branch silver. i ended up making a gold sunburst accessory from supplies i had laying around the house.