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How To Arrange Coffee Table Books

Adds Character To A Home

How to Organize Coffee Table Books and Trays | Pottery Barn

Coffee table books are a way to express your interests without verbalizing them. Whenever I enter my friends homes, I love flipping through their coffee table books and getting a glimpse of what they like. Theyre also great conversation starters. Overall, coffee table books are a great temporary solution to flaunt your personality.

Combine Shapes And Textures

Create visual interest in a coffee table display by mixing shapes and textures. Pair curved items with straight, shiny with dull, textured with smooth, and hard with soft. While most of the items in this display from One King’s Lane are square or rectangular, the burst of shapes that comes from the floral arrangement adds contrasting textures.

Organize Your Coffee Table Books

  • Stack your largest book at the bottom and end with the smallest book on top.
  • Stick to odd-numbered groupings. I recommend starting with three books.
  • If youre using a round coffee table, think of your space as a triangle, which means you have three corners to style. Stack your coffee table books in one corner.
  • If youre using a square or rectangle coffee table table, divide your table into quadrants. You can use one corner for books or have four stacks of books in all of the quadrants. The latter arrangement should only have books and nothing else to keep the look clean and modern.
  • Got too many coffee table books? Stack similar-sized books next to your couch or accent chair and top it with a tray to create a unique side table.
  • If youre styling them in a bookshelf, stack them horizontally or vertically to create variation. Always remember to line book spines with the front edge of the shelf. If they are in different colors, turn them the other way around for a cohesive look.

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How To Decorate With Coffee Table Books + My Favorites

Anyone else a book nerd like me? Raise your hands because this post is for you! I have always loved books. I found myself reading more than anything when I was younger. Then I went to design school and the books I started collecting were the big magazine worthy coffee table books. I could not get enough of them. They inspired me as a design student and in my days as a designer. I would love to grab a cup of coffee and sit down with them in Barnes and Noble for hours.

I have honestly collected design coffee table books for more than 10 years and love to see where my interests have traveled. I originally started collecting books on thrifting and antiquing and have now traveled to collecting books on coastal interiors. That maybe because we are not living near the beach anymore and I want to jump into the pages of my new books! My collection has really grown over the years and besides the insides inspiring me, I love to decorate with them and thought I could share some of the tricks I have learned over the years.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it wont cost you a penny more! .

Great Escapes Europe book | | Gold Turtles | Driftwood Votive holder

So hopefully I will inspire you to use the books you have in a fun decorative way and introduce you to some new ones you might want to add to your collection.

The Number One Best Coffee Table Accessories You Can Collect Are Trays


A tray works like magic to corral all the other accessories you will put on your coffee table! And it gives the things you will put on your table some boundaries.

Trays are usually inexpensive and having a few different types of trays will give you lots of variety when you style a coffee table!

Yes, you can style a coffee table without a tray, but a tray adds so much texture and our eyes love trays!

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Pretty Ways To Decorate And Style A Coffee Table

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Coffee tables have a prominent place and function in a living room. Since eyes will be on it, keep it looking neat. You might even want to style it like you would a work of art. Use artistic techniques to design the look, such as striking a balance with symmetry and composing a color story or style.

Take a look at more tips to help you achieve easy coffee table displays.

  • 01 of 15

    Simple displays, like this one from artist Sarah Greenman, are attractive without disrupting the eye. This display looks tidy with a clear acrylic tray and keeps the focus on books and flowers. Do not overcomplicate or crowd the table.

    Continue to 2 of 15 below.

  • 02 of 15 Amanda Carol Interiors, photo by Laurie Perez Photography

    Balance is an essential component of any coffee table display. One of the easiest ways to achieve visual harmony is with symmetry. On the table styled by Amanda Carol Interiors, three is the magic number. The middle object grounds the display. The smaller piles of books are similar in size to balance the entire display. Three sets of table legs and three sections on display make this table, and the whole room, appear united and orderly.

    Continue to 3 of 15 below.

  • How To Organize Books On A Bookshelf

    ‘Tis the season to declutter and organize. Discover easy and clever ways to arrange, style and find the perfect new home for your book collection.

    Theres something about the experience of flipping through a well-read book that just cant compare to an e-reader. But from time to time, those books have a tendency to pile up and get shoved in every nook and cranny. One of the easiest ways to store your prized publications is a handy, dandy bookshelf. Organizing said bookshelf can be a little tricky, though. Until now!

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    Using Books To Create Height

    When you group items together, it makes a bigger statement. I love to use coffee table books to add height to a small object! Morgan W.

    Morgans Coffee Table Book Recommendations

    I love A Tree in the House: Flowers for Your Home, Special Occasions and Every Day Live Beautiful and Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating.

    Add Color With Florals

    How to Arrange the Perfect Coffee Table

    A coffee table display can immediately look better with a floral arrangement of any size. The white hydrangeas used on this table by Jennifer Reynolds Interiors add a burst of freshness and life to the room. Many decorators sometimes place a small and sturdy vase of flowers on top of a short pile of books to elevate its beauty. Blossoms allow you to experiment with color combinations throughout the seasons.

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    Incorporating A Variety Of Heights Textures And Colors

    I recommend keeping the coffee table styling simple by using stacked books with either a decorative object or a small plant on top. They should be functional by incorporating a decorative box to hide TV remotes as well. There is also the opportunity to use a variety of heights, textures, and color. Brookes M.

    Brookes Coffee Table Book Recommendations

    Some of my favorite coffee table books include Christian Dior: History and Modernity, 1947 1957 The Big Book of Chic Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life and Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color.

    Corralling Objects With A Tray

    Using a beautiful tray on your coffee table helps hide your remotes. All you see at a glance are the books and greenery. Kelly W.

    Kellys Coffee Table Book Recommendations

    The Fall season is all about Halloween for me, so I love bringing in my Londons Strangest Tales, Scottish Myths & Legends, and Scottish Folk Tales books.

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    Light Up Coffee Table

    Add a bit of ambiance to a coffee table by using candles in a vignette. How pretty!

    Im using three-wick candles I got on sale at Pier 1. Its Citrus Cilantro! See it HERE.

    But dont be afraid to use a tall candleholder topped off with a chunky candle if you need a little height in your decor.

    As you are creating a fabulously decorated coffee table you might want to keep these things in mind too

    • vary height
    • keep a tight color palette
    • edit, edit, edit- dont overcrowd a vignette

    These 5 coffee table accessories will help you seamlessly create coffee table decor like a pro

    • 1 basket

    Coffee Table Decor Must

    How to Use Books as Home Decor

    I always use a large tray on my coffee tables. Always. I love that they keep everything neatly corralled and if you want to clear off your coffee table to use it for playing a game or setting out a spread of food, you can take everything off with the simple lift of a tray. Trays are also a great way to add some contrasting texture or color to keep things interesting. For our family room coffee table, I went with a large 28 square wood tray that takes up a large chunk of the coffee table but still leaves room for my husband to throw up his feet on it :

    I had the hardest time finding a large square tray that I liked but ended up finding the perfect one . This Etsy shop sells them pre-painted but I actually just ordered a bare wood tray and painted it myself so I could get the exact color I wanted. And I love that if I change up my color scheme in the future, I can simply repaint it rather than having to buy a new tray.

    On our living room ottoman/coffee table, I mostly use light woven trays to add some brightness and texture. I recently bought which is a nice size and a great price for a tray this large:

    FYI, be sure to add felt pads to the bottom of woven trays to make sure they dont scratch your coffee table! These are a few other favorite coffee table trays that would also work beautifully :

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    How To Style A Coffee Table Using The Rule Of Three

    Are you wondering, What about my books, and my collectibles, and everything scattered across my coffee table right now?

    Ive got one final tip for you when it comes to the Rule of Three. On a coffee table , dont limit yourself to only three objects on the surface. Instead, think of the Rule of Three as three footprints on the surface.

    Now, the example below has 12 objects total, all neatly arranged into three footprints.

  • A stack of books, even though its three books, only makes one footprint. A stack of books with a decorative object on top is still only one footprint. For the purposes of the Rule of Three, a stack reads as one visual element.
  • A tray, regardless of how many objects are on it, only makes one footprint on the surface. For even more advanced styling, limit yourself to three footprints on top of the tray. In the example above, the three footprints are 1) a stack of books with a jar on top, 2) a vase of flowers, and 3) a driftwood ball.
  • A larger decorative object, like a globe or a vase of flowers or a sculpture, makes one footprint.
  • Remember, when arranging your décor, create odd number groupings. The best looking are groups of three.

    To see the Rule of Three demonstrated on video, and get access to the entire Home Styling 101 video series, . I cant wait to show you how easy it is to arrange your home decor like a pro stylist.

    Incorporating Storage + Organization

    As we just mentioned, a coffee table is ultimately about function. Its the surface you use for beverages, snacks, laptops, phones, and whatever else you have nearby when on your sofa. So, you dont want too cluttered of a surface. And it also helps to incorporate some storage and organization.

    This can start with a storage coffee table if you want larger amounts of hidden storage. But you can also integrate good-looking storage options right within your styled surface. Thats where trays, boxes, and bowls come in. Trays are an excellent way to corral all of the styled objects on your coffee table and give the arrangement an added look of intentionality.

    Bowls make great catchalls for a match collection or anything you want to keep handy. But if you prefer hidden storage, a decorative storage box is going to be your best friend! They offer the perfect place to stash remotes when theyre not in use, or to tuck a pad of paper and pen for when youre struck with a brilliant idea!

    Ultimately, its all about incorporating storage and organization in a way that works for your needs.

    Heres how some of our designers are bringing these tips to life

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    Style Your Coffee Table Books

    • Layer your coffee table books with other decorative items like a candle, bowl, vase, or picture frame. Layering different items adds height and creates a visual interest.
    • Add a personal touch to your coffee table books by choosing topics that you actually have an interest in.
    • Incorporate plants or flowers in your arrangement. Anything green or alive will immediately soften the entire area. It also brightens up any room!
    • Mix functional and decor items to create a homely feel. Place things you actually use next to your coffee table books like glass jars to store snacks or a decorative box to conceal remotes.

    The Fine Things: Timeless Furniture Textiles And Details


    The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Textiles, and Details by Christiane Lemieux and Miles Redd is an amazing book for decorating purposes. Quality matters. As a homes foundation should be made to stand the test of time, so, too, should the furniture, objects, and everything about our rooms speak to a sense of serenity. The book cover is eye-catching and appeals to ones attention. Find unlimited ideas for home decor through which you can apply and make the most of your inner setting. Give your place a timeless look, and enjoy the peaceful aura that can help you make a huge difference with this incredible book.

    Caroline Lee, CocoSign

    Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at to answer questions and get published.

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    Coffee Table Book Colors

    An effective color scheme will keep your book both unified and organized. Youll probably use certain colors to indicate headings, sidebars, and sections of the book. Though readers might not consciously notice how youre using your color scheme, they will nevertheless be led by it. You can use our previous blog post on devising a color palette to help you select appropriate colors.

    In general, try limiting your colors to a few strong ones and some related lighter ones, such as the pairs below. The colors you settle on should reflect the mood, culture or geographical area, predominant color of images, or theme of your book. Choose wisely.

    Here are three different simple color palettes, with the dominant colors above and lighter shades below. Colors are subjective, but you could probably say that the moods shown, left to right, are somber, cheerful, and businesslike.

    The Far Side Collection Set

    I personally received The Far Side Collection set as a birthday present from my eldest son by Gary Larson. This collection is for those of us who had to wait for our daily newspaper but never knew what to expect from the comic strip. Theres nothing like the wit of Mr. Larson to help break the ice, start a conversation, or provide a hearty laugh. Those strips remind me of my roaring 20s and the good times I had. Plus, I love seeing his work in color.

    LT Ladino Bryson, vCandidates

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    Feel Free To Use Them

    Am i correct in saying that the number of different ways to place the books on the shelf together by subject would be $$2! Here are some tips and ideas for coffee table displays that will make the most of form, function, and style. Arrange books according to their size. Organizing by size can provide more uniformity, smirl divulges.

    As the name suggests, it’s usually placed on a coffee table in a lounge, so a coffee table book is a classy and sophisticated way to express your style and interests on a particular topic.

    Go For An Ottoman Instead Of A Table

    The Art of Arranging Tabletop Vignettes

    Go for an ottoman with an unusual pattern than the rest of the room.Or maybe two stools combined to form the table.

    How to style: to style an ottoman, place a bowl of plants, a stack of books, a small to a medium silver tray to securely hold a decorative object on it, you can add flowers for more glamour.

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    The Rainbow Atlas: A Guide To The Worlds 500 Most Colorful Places

    The Rainbow Atlas: A Guide to the Worlds 500 Most Colorful Places is a perfect coffee table book for decorating. Its a subtle and natural pop of color without trying too hard. Its full of stunning and vibrant images from all over the world. You could leave it open to one of your favorite places or to a location that has coloring that matches your living room. Most importantly, its perfect for entertaining guests and sparking conversation.

    Andra DelMonico, Trendey


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