Recent Comments


    Tip Top Tabletop

    styleBy Courtney Lake

    Early in my design career, I was hired to design a client’s living room. The centerpiece of the space was an expansive vintage coffee table, on which I proceeded to pile art books, stacked boxes, and other little treasures that we specifically bought for a “coffee table vignette.” The client walked into the space, clapped her hands and immediately responded—“I love everything, expect for all that “s**t on the coffee table.” It was a rude reality check, but an important learning experience for how to go about styling a coffee table versus propping a coffee table for an editorial shoot. Through trial and error, we have identified several fool-proof solutions for styling the perfect coffee table depending on your design aesthetic.


    Rule 1

    If minimalism is your thing…then think about on oversized statement piece. We have found that an oversized coffee table book, or one large decorative box that hides the remotes, is perfect.  If you lean towards a more natural statement, then a large piece of driftwood or a geode make the perfect focal point on a coffee table.

    Rule 2

    If you are a collector…then think about your coffee table as a potential home for your collection. To make sure your collection doesn’t devolve into a chaotic mess, define a specific area for the items, such as a beautiful tray or atop a linen bound book. By defining a space for the collection, it creates a visual border around the pieces, and forces you to edit and only display the items you sincerely enjoy.

    Rule 3

    If you are a maximalist…then you need to consider how to reign yourself in! While I am a member of your tribe, there is a limit to how many coffee books one table can hold. If you are going for the more is more look, then divide your coffee table into quadrants and limit yourself to no more than two quadrants being books. The other two quadrants should be left open to allow some visual airiness, or for just throwing your feet up on or for having a dinner in front of the television.

    Rule 4

    If you need additional storage…then you should consider draping your table. More times than not, clients say they love their existing coffee table, but need more storage. We love using simple washed linen, sewing contrast banding and making either a table cover or a skirt. It’s an easy way to recycle the table you love, and to have a place to hide all of the things you need under your coffee table.

    Rule 5

    If you want more bling…then add a mirror to the table. A beveled piece of mirror can give an instant update to a coffee table with little need for anything else. Many big box home improvement stores, like Lowes, now offer custom cut mirrors. If yours doesn’t, then look for a glass repair company in your area, and they should be able to help you.

    These quick tips can turn your coffee table into a useable focal point in your room with space left over for lounging and the occasional Netflix binge.

    Courtney Lake is the interior designer and lifestyle expert behind Monogram Décor ( and its celebrated blog, Courtney Out Loud. His work and writings have appearedon television and in writing including, “The Wall Street Journal,” “The NateBerkus Show,” “The San Francisco Chronicle,” “Life & Style Magazine,” “RUE Magazine,”“Real Simple,” “This Old House” and “7×7 Magazine.”