Styling Lesson: How to Style a Coffee Table

When I enter a home to style it for a photo-shoot, I always bring accessories for a coffee table. I have a big collection of coffee table books in my studio and tons of bits and bobs in my prop stash for this specific purpose.


Think of the coffee table as the first thing you style up on a shoot, it sets the tone for the entire room. Once it is themed the rest of the styling falls into place. Think of it as the underpinning for the entire day and tackle it first when you arrive on a location. Keep in mind, publications always want to see the living spaces in a feature.

Here’s a video I did for Ballard Designs that shows you how:

Styling tip: keep it edited and color themed like Ana Antunes.


Styling tip: For photo-shoots always add flowers, keep them low and uncomplicated (pinned here).


Styling tip: Add visual noise once you have the basic composition in place. By visual noise I mean smaller items that add a little interest like the match collection shown here, along with the paper weights. It’s all in the layering of objects (via The Every Girl).


Styling tip: massing out coffee table books is a great way to accomplish basic composition, then layer in the visual noise (spotted on Paloma 81).


Styling tip: Visual drama. One huge pop of color is another way to add interest to a coffee table, in this case a simple basic composition is best (via Glitter Guide).


Styling tip: Pops of color. Construct your composition in a monochromatic way then bring in big pops of color. Notice even here the “magic triangle” applies (via Refinery 29).

I hope this brings more clarity to styling a coffee table from a stylist point of view.


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