3 Steps to a Stylish Coffee Table

Left to its own devices, the coffee table can quickly accumulate clutter—remote controls, a box of tissues, People magazine—giving your space about as much style as a waiting room. But thoughtfully composed, the coffee table becomes the centerpiece of the room, a microcosm of the space it inhabits; conveying your tastes and interests at a glance. Styling your coffee table is the fastest way to redecorate and thankfully, it’s also a relatively simple (and fun) affair. Nicole Balch, the woman behind the beloved design blog Making It Lovely, shows us how to use a few tricks and some style acumen to transform a humble coffee table into a showstopper.

“I like to have a general mood or feel for the room, and then go from there,” Balch says. Her first look features a handsome mix of black and metallic gold. “[This] was my take on masculine glamour,” she says. Curvaceous shapes balance an otherwise masculine vignette. Balch couldn’t resist using the magnificent articulated horse, which adds drama and anchors the scene. A tiny, origami-like horse figurine beneath the bell jar playfully echoes the grander sculpture.


*Tip: Don’t be afraid to go big! This tableau makes daring use of scale and materials.


Balch’s second design is bright, happy and bursting with feminine flourishes. A lacquered pink tray keeps cheeky books and accessories in check while the poppy-colored clock is a whimsical touch. Airy teal is laced throughout the composition and a bundle of tulips freshen the warm palette.



*Tip: Repeating thematic elements and color ensures a bold look remains cohesive. Here the idea of girly exuberance is reflected in everything from the cursive “hello” to the book titles and color scheme.


Rustic elegance defines Balch’s third concept, which she says, “was designed to highlight natural elements like the beautiful wooden bowl and found rocks.” Gleaming pops of brass lend the cool palette and earthy motif modern luxury, while offsetting the rugged texture of the stones and wooden bowl.


*Tip: “Aim for a mix of shapes and textures,” Balch says. Here the jagged stones and the hard lines of the books are softened by the curvaceous bowl and rotund vase.

Nicole Balch’s Three Steps to a Stylish Cocktail Table:

1. “Start with something low and flat,” advises Balch, “like a stack of books or a tray.”

2. Add interest with something pretty and sculptural, like Balch’s voluptuous wooden bowl or articulated horse.

3. Introduce living elements with fresh flowers or a green plant in a beautiful vessel.

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