By Erica Reitman

Published on November 3, 2016

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Photography by JEN KAY

If you want to figure out how to bake that crazy complicated cake you found on Pinterest, you follow the recipe. To successfully “hack” your ikea lack table and make it look like it’s covered in carrara marble, you read the tutorial. But what’s a design superstar wannabe to do when it’s time to figure out how to style their coffee table? We’ve taken all the guess work out, and put together a foolproof coffee table styling starter kit for you.

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Photography by ARTERIORS

tray

If there were ever an award for the most versatile-slash-useful style accessory, I would nominate the tray in the “lifetime achievement” category. You can use a good tray in 101 different ways, and on your soon-to-be perfectly styled coffee table, your tray should be front and center.

TIP: You can place a smaller tray on top of your coffee table book, and use it to hold any other accessories, or even TV remotes.  If you choose a larger tray, you can stack your books on it, and use it as a quasi centerpiece on your table.

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Photography by ABRAMS BOOKS

coffee table book

It doesn’t have “coffee table” in it’s name for nothing. The first place you want to start is with a beautiful coffee table book. This is the one time you have our permission to completely judge a book by it’s cover, so pick one whose color, mood, vibe, or content really speaks to you. Think of it as a piece of art for your coffee table so choose something that you’d be proud to have on display (one book will do it, but feel free to add more than one, and stack them up for some extra glamour).

TIP: if you are unsure what book to choose, fashion and photography books are usually a good place to start. Add a pop of color to your table by choosing a title with a vibrant cover, or use a black and white coffee table book to bring some neutral vibes to an already colorful space. 

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Photography by MOE’S HOME COLLECTION

decorative accessory

You can really have some fun with a decorative accessory for your table.  Pay attention to scale and settle on a piece that feels right, size-wise based on the proportions of your table. Accessories often work well sitting inside your tray.

TIP: Think about your coffee table on your next trip! Traveling is a great time to pick up smaller decor items that you can then use in your home (and remember your vacay each time you see them).

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Photography by D.S. & DURGA

candle

A candle is a key piece in your starter kit, and a great way to bring some mood and homey-ness to your room. If you’re someone who loves scent, you’ll have an easy time choosing a fave. But even if you’re not a scent-a-holic, you can choose an unscented candle and still enjoy the same vibe.

TIP: Choose a candle in a glass container to amp up the glam factor and to help ensure there is minimal mess. After the candle burns out, save the container to use as a bud vase, make-up brush holder, or jewelry catch-all.

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Photography by VICTORIA MORRIS POTTERY

vase

Fresh flowers are always a good idea, and a pretty little vase is basically going to serve as the delicious frosting of your new, perfectly styled coffee table. A medium sized vase will generally work well in a grouping, and a simple metallic or white color will ensure it looks good with every type of flower.

TIP: Pick up a simple bouquet of one type of flower at your nearest market for easy arranging. If you’re not a big flower fan, use a plant instead. Just make sure to put a pretty dish below it to catch the water runoff.

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