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How to Style a Rectangular Coffee Table

  • Coffee table styling
  • Coffee Tables
  • furniture
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Ed Hawes
rectangular coffee tables

A coffee table, no matter the shape or size, is usually positioned in the centre of a room, which means it can be the focal point of that room. Whether it’s for functional use or aesthetics, a coffee table can create balance and help bring the interior style together, presenting the perfect look. 

From understanding the space to adding personality, creating a theme to layering objects, here’s our guide on how to style a rectangular coffee table.

How do you accessorise a rectangular coffee table? 

We look into the detail of accessorising a rectangular coffee table below, but first here’s a quick overview. Start by using a tray to act the foundations and to organise smaller items – the tray should complement the interior design of the room and the coffee table. Add large coffee table books, plants and flowers; introduce texture and interest with different sized objects, from vases to diffusers and decorative jugs. Add personality through artwork, framed prints and photography, while creating an ambiance with clever lighting – whether that be table lamps, fairy lights or candles.   

Follow these steps and you will find the right balance between functionality and style in your living space.   

rectangular coffee tables

Understand the interior and space 

Before styling any piece of furniture; whether that be a side table, a coffee table, a sideboard, or a bedside table, always consider the room first and its interior style. With a rectangular coffee table, think about the size of the room and the furniture and sofas within that space – you want to make sure the rectangular coffee table is consistent and pairs well with the current setup. 

A minimalist interior, for example, works well in small spaces, whereas a larger room can accommodate big furniture pieces and decorative items. 

Decide on a theme 

If the room doesn’t already have an interior theme or a colour palette, now is the time to create one. Using a rectangular coffee table as the main focal point in a room allows one to use that as the base of the interior’s style.

Take inspiration from the room’s elements; Minimalist, Scandinavian modern, Farmhouse Chic, Eclectic, Bohemian, Rustic, Industrial, Traditional, and Modernist are a few of many designs that can be incorporated into your home. If you’re struggling to know where to begin, take a look at our Interior Design Trends for 2024 report.  

Use a decorative tray 

Start from the bottom. Use a decorative tray to create a versatile starting point. A tray can help organise and arrange smaller decorative items whilst making sure the coffee table still looks in keeping with the style of the room. 

What shape tray do you put on a rectangle coffee table? Any shaped tray works, but for a balanced cohesive look, a rectangular tray would work best. Not only that, but it will almost guarantee to fit on the coffee table. 

Add coffee table books and magazines 

As with all types of coffee tables, a selection of coffee table books and magazines is essential – and a rectangular coffee table is no different. So when it comes to styling said coffee table, get a selection of your favourite coffee table books – large books that are often visually-led, photography books, or bi-annual magazines. Not only will they look great, but the living room won’t need to be restocked once a week with the latest edition.  

Create ambiance with lighting 

Lighting is an important accessory to use when it comes to styling any piece of furniture in your home. Lighting can be introduced to a coffee table through the use of a small table lamp – that fits with the interior aesthetic – or fairy lights, depending on the room’s style. Whatever type of lighting you choose, it should always be there to enhance the ambiance and style of the room. 

Bring the outside in

Bringing the outside in is nothing new when it comes to interiors, so it shouldn’t be passed up when styling a rectangular coffee table. Add a large vase to the centre of the rectangular coffee table with a carefully selected bunch of flowers. A floral display can add interest to a room as well as incorporate new, complementary colours to a colour scheme. Plants and flowers have also been known to reduce stress levels and create a relaxing aesthetic.

Add different heights & textures

Using different heights and textures on a rectangular coffee table will guarantee to add interest in the room. This can be achieved by combining diffusers, candles, vases, decorative objects and bowls, or coffee table books and magazines together.   

Use personal items for personality 

Use a rectangular coffee table to introduce personality to your interior. This can be done by framing cherished photography of family, friends, and travels. You can also add artwork and posters which can be a good way to add a new colour to the room.  

Think about the functionality of a coffee table 

Although this blog is about how to style a rectangular coffee table, the main focus should be on the functionality of the coffee table. If the furniture item is in your living room, make sure there’s either space or storage for the TV remote, and an area to place drinks or snacks. 

Be experimental, a coffee table is not permanent  

A coffee table is not permanent, which means it’s great place to experiment with styles, layouts, and accessories. If you want to introduce a new colourway into the room, but you’re not sure if it will work, use decorative items and accessories on the coffee table to explore the new colours. The key thing to remember is that nothing here is permanent. 

rectangular coffee tables

How do you make a coffee table look expensive? 

In theory, making a coffee table look expensive is simple. Blur high-quality materials with attention to styling detail, and a cohesion with the interior style of the room. Start with a quality- over-quantity mindset, choose a statement piece for the centre of the coffee table, create interest and texture by adding layers with a focus on symmetry, and use mirrors and a sophisticated colour palette to guarantee an expensive or lux aesthetic.

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