12 modern coffee table decor ideas to make a focal point in your living space

Modern coffee table decor ideas like these will create an eye-catching centerpiece on your coffee table with details that make all the difference.

Colorful roses arrangement in round glass vase, on stack of books on coffee table
(Image credit: Marian Louise Designs)

With the latest modern coffee table decor ideas, you can easily create a wow-factor focal point that zones your entire space with decorative details of pretty (whilst still being functional of course.)

Don't just let your coffee table stand sadly like a lonely island in the center of your living space. Just sitting there, idly waiting to be dumped with this week's life admin paper mountains and coffee mug takeovers. There's a centerstage opportunity ready for the making and taking with modern decor for coffee tables.

With a layered approach to mixed elements, like decorative objects, flowers, candles, and books, you can radiate your tabletop with personality. Or, if less is more in appeal, you can choose a standalone statement piece or sculptural vase, that adds instant impact. Whatever you're preference, give your living room an instant update and buy one of the trending coffee tables we're into right now.

Easy and elevating modern coffee table decor ideas in every shape and size

2022 is big on coffee couture, and here's why...

Sam Baldry, head of design, Swoon, comments:  'With 2.5 million ‘coffee tables’ hashtags on Instagram, it is clear they are an extremely personal and customizable piece of furniture that has the potential to transform any room. A coffee table isn’t just for coffee, it’s a style statement.'

'With simple design tips, a new coffee table has the potential to refresh your whole space. Pile it with the latest design magazines or beautiful candles and flowers, and see how it brightens up your living room - and the faces of your friends.'

Transform your lounge from drab to fab with just a few added styling details on the edit of our modern coffee tables.

1. Zone your coffee table

Duo of coffee tables zoned with coffee table books and plants

(Image credit: Adri + Dahlman Interiors)

Create different areas of interest on your tabletop with grouped items in varying heights, materials, and textures. 

Oshri Adri and Jillian Dahlman, co-founders of Adri + Dahlman Interiors, comment: 

‘When styling coffee table books, consider implementing various zones of accessories strategically placed on the table. It can be one larger zone in the center, two smaller zones in the opposing corners of the table, or four even smaller zones in each table corner.'

'The accessories should vary in height and include some stacked materials. For example, several coffee table books can be stacked with a bowl or box on top. In addition, make an effort to incorporate greenery on the table as it adds a new texture that complements any style of accessorizing.’

2. Add a serving tray

Industrial-rustic living room with round wood and metal coffee table, mustard sofa and exposed brick wall

(Image credit: Stone House Collective)

A transportable tray is a versatile addition to any modern living room scheme. Choose a round, rectangular, or organic shape in a patterned or natural finish to suit your style and space. 

Anna Franklin, interior designer and founder of Stone House Collective, comments: ‘A serving tray is a functional and thoughtful accessory to add to your coffee table while adding texture and design depth. In addition to being visually appealing, a serving tray is a clever way to organize your living room necessities, such as coasters, remotes, or your latest reading material.'

'My favorite way to incorporate them is by using a tray made of natural materials, like this Round rattan ottoman tray from Amazon, and then layering in a floral arrangement to style.’

3. Create a centerpiece with details that anchor your entire scheme

Playful, Miami-style living space with brass scalloped coffee table focal point, and open shelves styled with color-coordinated books and quirky objects

(Image credit: Wayfair)

A coffee table is often a central feature in a living space and provides an opportunity to unite a scheme through shared elements such as color, pattern, and materials. Create accent color pops by matching a favorite hue on, for example, a cushion or living room rug idea, with flowers in the same shade, or curate a modern artisan look with sculptural vases and textural finishes that harmonize with fluid furniture silhouettes. It’s all about adding layers of interest…

Nathan Scheuer, senior designer, Spacejoy, comments: ‘A well-designed coffee table can elevate a room, no matter the style making it the perfect centerpiece. We tend to focus on the larger items of a space, for good reason, however, it is in the small finishing details on coffee tables, side tables, and DIY bookshelves that can transform a space into a home.’ 

‘Tabletop decor should complement the rest of the room blending practical elements you might want nearby, like coasters, with accessories that display your personality. For a space that is used on a daily basis, I prefer to keep the decor elegant but simple and usually start off by using a tray like the Rustic gold round tray from Pottery Barn. This piece adds texture to any space with its beautiful worn antique gold finish, and the handles make it convenient to move if you happen to need more room for a family board game or game day feast.’

‘I love to add a little height to a coffee table composition and a vase like the Lyman scratched vase from Crate and Barrel is a wonderful addition with the handcrafted angular shape and the vertical scratches that add depth and interest. Finishing the vase off with some dried or faux botanicals can add vibrancy to the room with a bold pop of color from a floral, or some more depth of texture with some pampas grass or eucalyptus leaves. 

‘To almost every coffee table, I try to add a candle or two, which adds ambiance through multiple senses and always makes a space feel cozy and inviting, perfect for lounging or entertaining. A multi-wick candle is a great choice as it usually provides a greater impact to the space and a candle like the Alura 3-wick candle from West Elm also comes in a unique vessel that is a sculptural piece in its own right.’

‘With these three items, your tabletop space can be transformed quickly and because of the versatility of these layers, you can easily craft a space perfect for you by adding a few subtle personal touches with a few books or small accessories.’

4. Narrate your personal style through collected treasures

Relaxed living space in calming neutrals and natural materials, with low-level wood coffee table and artisan details

(Image credit: Ink + Porcelain)

Your home shares your constantly evolving narrative and should be filled with unique finds and sentimental picks that harbor cherished moments and memories. With this in mind, consider learning how to upcycle a coffee table to flip old furniture into something extra meaningful. 

Cindy Ngo, founder, Ink + Porcelain, says: ‘What makes a house a home is that it shares your story. It's a form of creative expression that showcases your personal style, travels, and what inspires you through form, color, and texture. Every home is unique, and it's important to bring parts of your life and objects you absolutely treasure into your home.’

‘I recommend layering your coffee table with books that inspire you from travels. Your coffee table is a place you'll spend time and it's a place of gathering. Add texture to your table with a vase and fresh flowers or branches. I love a lived-in space and I always add details of handmade objects whether it's a vintage tray, a candle, or handcrafted coasters that will protect your table.’

5. Add color pops with fresh flowers

Wood coffee table with sculptural floral arrangement in ikebana style

(Image credit: KKDW Construction)

A simple arrangement of seasonal flowers is an instant update that will brighten up your entire scheme and space. For a chic, minimalist accent, opt for a low-level arrangement that features a single species, such as roses, or to create a unique, sculptural focal point, try Freakebana - a modern twist on the centuries-old Japanese art form of traditional floral arrangements.

6. Create ambiance with candles

Modern rustic living room with tree root and glass statement coffee table, large round wall mirror & calm neutrals palette

(Image credit: Stonehouse Collective)

Get all the senses going with glowing candlelight. The beautiful Driftwood candle from Shoppe, is made from carved mango wood and serves as the perfect decorative accent for any space. With a tobacco bark scent, the candle tray can be reused after burning to store keepsakes and mementos.

Anna Franklin, interior designer and founder, Stone House Collective, comments on the virtues of candles in interesting vessels: ‘In addition to making your home feel welcoming and smell wonderful, a candle in a well-designed vessel looks beautiful even when it hasn’t been lit - making it a great coffee table accessory. After the candle is used, you can clean and keep the vessel for storage, or simply for decoration as well.’

7. Curate your tabletop with a less is more approach

Nested coffee table styled with colorful sculptural vases and books

(Image credit: Adri + Dahlman Interiors)

Regardless of your coffee table design - compact or coffee table ottoman, don’t be tempted to over-clutter it - you don’t want to encourage a dumping ground for paperwork, toys, and snack attack nibbles bowls. Adopt the Scandi ‘lagom’ approach for ‘just the right amount.’

Ellora and Esben Rasmussen, founders of Lucie Kaas, recommend the following styling tips: 

1. Accessorize with one or two items that stand out, a colorful piece, such as a sculpture or vase, like the Fumario vase; Tube Marzipan, or Marco candleholder

2. Be sure not to overcrowd the table, when thoughtfully curated, less is more!

3. Use large coffee table books placed geometrically opposite from each other to create different heights and juxtapositions.

4. Go for a storage coffee table to hide your clutter in style.

8. Coffee tables as art

Black sculptural coffee table with dried flowers arrangement

(Image credit: Rose & Grey)

Choose a black coffee table design that makes an impactful statement through form and finish alone.

Ben Hyman, co-founder, and CEO of Revival Rugs, says: ‘Minimalistic, modern, and sculptural coffee tables are currently popular. They don’t detract from the other stylistic elements generally incorporated into a living room. Besides being beautiful in their simplicity, they’re also functional.'

'The Sama Coffee Table, and Kanyon Coffee Table, from Revival Rugs, both draw inspiration from Mediterranean geography and the spirit of the region.’

9. Create a tabletop jungle with trailing houseplants

Round marble coffee table styled with trailing houseplant, glass vessel, books and candle

(Image credit: Norsu Interiors)

Tap into spring decor trends 2022 and get your 'jungalow' juices flowing with a fresh and verdant display of houseplants.

Invite the natural world inside and mix it up with a variety of potted species in different textures and tonal shades, in trailing and tousled formations. For a slightly more controlled look, try a DIY terrarium, or a nested succulent garden. 

10. Add flexibility with a nesting design

Round marble and brass nested coffee table in living room with dark green walls, and mustard velvet sofa

(Image credit: Cult Furniture)

Not only do nesting coffee tables mix up the dynamic in a modern small living room, but they also have the ability to completely separate, creating versatile pieces that can be utilized in a variety of ways - creating extra surface space when and as needed. 

For a chic addition, and instant injection of textural contrast, choose a mixed-materials design like the Lahja nesting tables in brass and marble from Wayfair. Finish with a statement crystal to enhance the minerals-magic effect. 

11. Get playful with luxe-look board games

Blue living room scheme with glass chess set arranged on glass-top coffee table

(Image credit: My Uncle's House)

Your favorite board game reimagined as a luxury, high-end piece of table decor is a wonderful conversation starter and will certainly be interacted with more than your ordinary tabletop book. 

Enjoy games night with Scrabble giant deluxe edition (larger than traditional Scrabble, the oversized solid wood natural finish Scrabble tiles make this classic word game ideal for tabletop viewing); Monopoly luxury edition (wood and faux leather turn a family favorite game into a beautiful statement piece. 

Every game detail sees an elegant upgrade; from the gold-stamped game path to the beautiful wood cabinet with burled veneer panels and decorative metal plaques), or Chess and checkers maple luxe (add an air of sophistication and maturity to your living space. Solid maple wood cabinet with an inlaid wood game board, natural wood chess pieces, and a die-cast metal drawer pull brings a luxe feel to a convenient two-in-one game, all available at the WS Game Company.

12. Style a ‘shelfie’ on a split level design

Modern and playful living room with ellipse shape, two-tier coffee table, boucle white sofa and framed abstract print on wall

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Add interest and order on an oval coffee table with styled vignettes of books, decorative accessories, and treasured bits and bobs on different levels. A shelfie can be adapted onto any willing surface. Keep larger items, like stacked magazines on the lower shelf, and experiment with scale and composition on upper levels. 

You can also make use of a lift-top coffee table to store your clutter (or your coffee table books) underneath and your decor bits on top.

What do you put on top of a coffee table?

Nathan Scheuer, senior designer, Spacejoy, recommends adding a simple but elegant tray for texture; adding height and visual interest with a shapely vase filled with dried or fresh flower stems, and creating ambiance with scented candles in attractive vessels. 

He comments: ‘With these three items, your tabletop space can be transformed quickly and because of the versatility of these layers, you can easily craft a space perfect for you by adding a few subtle personal touches with a few books or small accessories.’

How do you arrange things on a coffee table?

Zone your coffee table - either with a single-styled composition in the center, or smaller groups of objects in odd numbers. Arrange objects in different heights or stagger by placing them on stacked books. Experiment with different materials, textures, patterns, and colors to translate a visual story full of captivating details, contrast, and depth. But don't over clutter.

Content Editor

Holly is a Content Editor at Real Homes, and has previously worked at Future Homes brands including Country Homes & Interiors and Livingetc. She has a background in interior and event styling spanning a decade, which previously took her from coast to city and beyond to Australia. 

Holly loves working with creative minds and discovering fresh, indie brands, and is a firm believer that no home can have too many cushions, unruly blooms or decorative details of happy