Tips and Guides

Coffee Table Decorating Tips

Edit and decorate your coffee table to serve your needs and mirror your personality


Though a coffee table plays a supporting role to the sofa, you can use it to reflect the kind of lifestyle that you have. Let these tips guide you when it comes to decorating your table – from highlighting your books to showcasing your collections.

Styling by Arlene Sanchez-Maslog. Photographed by Jun Pinzon. Production by Dagny Madamba.

 Read the original article ("Table Matters") in the September 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Choose pieces that you want to highlight. There’s no need to showcase your decorative collections all at once! Pick a few ones, arrange, and save the rest for the next display. This makes sure each piece can be noticed and admired.
Set the mood with candles. Have candles ready to set the mood for a fun evening with friends. You may place them in candlesticks or votives that aren’t too high to keep them from toppling over. Matches can be kept in a pretty box – stashed within reach from the table – so there’s no need to go to the kitchen for them.
Prepare coasters. Place coasters nearby for drinks. They can be stored in the same boxes as the matches.
Use trays to transport food and drinks. A coffee table can easily take a good beating from frequent entertaining, so use an attractive tray for transporting and serving food and drinks; no need to transfer!
Keep the area clean. When cleaning wooden coffee tables, avoid alcohol based cleaners as these will damage the wood. Always use coasters when serving beverages so glasses and cups won’t leave unsightly marks on the surface. Make sure you have paper towels within reach, too.
Stack books in a pyramid. For those who display books, one of the easiest ways to display books on a table is to stack them in pyramids, starting from the biggest to the smallest piece.
Keep a uniformed look. For a neat look and a dose of flair, cover your favorite books with brocade or any textured paper.
Group your reading essentials together. Designate a pretty tray for rounding up your current read, reading glasses, books marks, pens and highlighters, and other reading essentials.
Add an interesting decor. Finish off a stack of books with a quirky travel find or any interesting décor.
Follow an imaginary grid. For those who displays their collections on the coffee table, keep your tabletop from looking crowded by following an imaginary grid in arranging your knickknacks; place pieces on alternating squares. Complement a collection with a centerpiece that goes with the overall feel and look of the piece so they won’t clash.

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