The coffee table. It’s simple—the reason a coffee table exists is to put your coffee on it or your feet. Coffee tables, in my opinion, are a necessity because they make us feel comfortable. Period.
The coffee table made its debut, as you might have guessed, in Britain during the latter half of the Victorian Era. And, there’s no surprise here. It started out as a long low table that was placed in front of a sofa for putting tea cups on it. So, not much has changed. Many of us still get up in the morning and place our cup of tea or coffee on our coffee table.
The ever changing face of the coffee table
These days, though, the face of the coffee table has changed from the Victorian era. As we all know there are a multitude of styles, sizes, and shapes in a variety of materials to choose from. From round to rectangle to square to long and low to large, medium and small there’s no end to the choices. In addition, tables can now be old trunks, ottomans, made out of granite and from reclaimed wood and even formed from crates and old suitcases. The key here is creativity. People are using unique materials and flea market finds to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
But one thing that has changed is now we want our coffee table to hold more than just a cup of coffee. Using our coffee table to store items down below is one more criteria that we require from this piece of furniture with humble beginnings. Which means that we have raised the bar for our coffee table. Your table can rise above but, first, you need to decide your table’s purpose. Remember, your table can do double duty. Meaning that it can have purpose and style. With just a few simple tips you can make your table a focal point of your room and still leave space for your coffee cup. However, don’t forget we are trying to make a statement and still have our coffee table provide us with a certain comfort level.
Here’s how to make your coffee table shine
- The first rule of thumb is to separate your table visually in quadrants. For example, square tables are easy to decorate because they can be divided into four equal quadrants. Same goes for rectangle styles which can be divided into three or four equal quadrants depending on the length of the table.
- Make the table a reflection of yourself. Let your personality shine. Let your table tell your story by using personal items. Look around your place and locate a few of your very favorite items such as a bowl, ginger jar or small box. An item that you cherished, or a childhood book that you kept all these years. Maybe an item that somebody gave you that you love. If you love it, you will find a way to include it on your table. One of my favorite items is a small white ginger jar with a lace cutout. Since I love it, I have found ways to incorporate it into several rooms in my house. Don’t be afraid to move items. Just because it was always on a shelf in your bathroom doesn’t mean it can’t be used in another place in your home.
- Layer, don’t clutter. For example, start with a tray. They come in a variety of sizes, colors and woods. Trays also come in silver, gold, copper and mirror varieties. Look outside of the box to create interest. Use the tray then layer your favorite items on top of it. Limit the number of items you place on the tray to no more than four. Make sure you can see the top of your table. If you can’t you are cluttering and need to regroup
- Create interest by varying the height and color of the objects you place on your table. Use color and contrasting colors. You can also coordinate your table’s decor with the changing of the seasons and holidays. Both are great opportunities to change up your coffee table scape. Fall, and Christmas are the first to come to mind. But, what about the three other seasons and, all the other holidays? Now, the possibilities are endless.
- Make sure items are multi-dimensional and that you will be able to see them for all angles—steer clear of picture frames because they can only be viewed from one side of your table. The same goes for those cute decorative blocks of wood, glass etc. with sayings. You can only read those from one direction.
- Don’t like to read or have a favorite book. Then, ditch the books and make your table something functional. There’s no rule that says coffee tables have to house books. If you like to play games then make it a game table. Do you like chess? Then there’s your centerpiece or focal point. Or, layer multiple board game boxes with your favorite vases and candles.
- Give rebirth to your older items. For example use a silver plate tray and mix it with new transitional pieces. When I moved I had numerous items in my other house that I thought I would never use again. I went from a formal decorating style to a more casual look. As I started to box them up for the attic I began to look at those items in a different way. I had a blast trying to figure out how to use them in new ways to create my own unique style. And, guess what? It worked!