At 1825 Interiors, coffee table styling is one of our pet topics. There are so many beautiful ways to decorate a room, but there’s something so satisfying about the simple formula of coffee table vignettes—and it’s simple as 1-2-3.
Ah, the rule of three! How poetic that a principle lying at the heart of literary craft also informs the lounge room vignette. Follow this formula with your own flairs and touches, and your coffee table will tell a compelling, one-of-a-kind tale in just three items.
Image: 1825 Interiors
So, what are the three items bound to tell a smart coffee-table book of a story? (Hint: a coffee-table book actually qualifies!) The first is a tall touch of the outdoors: a houseplant or a flower in a vase. The second is a flatter platter, or tray, or book—or a stack of books! The third and final addition is an oh-so-practical candle or coaster. And although you can branch out into four or more items, the rule of three is a fantastic framework for the coffee table styling novice. If you have a clean slate—or surface, as the case may be—why run the risk of clutter?
Rule #1: A coffee table with plants or vases
The first component of our coffee table vignette literally comes from the ground up (unless it’s artificial, which is also a valid, low-maintenance option). In an interesting contradiction, the addition of a plant or flower in a vase will ground your display by towering up over the other items. Whether you’re using something long-stemmed or flourishing, the plant will draw the eye upwards to settle on the centremost point of your stunning centrepiece. That being said, you should also consider your coffee table’s context and function in your lounge room. Add a plant with too much length and you’re obscuring the view of the telly—or the person sitting opposite you.
A touch of the overgrown outdoors contained to its place in this space. See how it runs wild without overspilling? Image: 1825 Interiors
In a nutshell, you’re striving to use verticality to ground. If it’s proving an unpleasant distraction from your surroundings, you may wish to trim it down—or trade it for foliage less unruly.
Want some artificial flowers or foliage? We’ve got you covered. Browse our range of low-maintenance houseplants here.
Rule #2: A coffee table with trays or books
Next, we’re selecting our anchoring template. A coffee table with books or a tray has a neat platform upon which to display ornaments or store trinkets. Not only does it lend an aesthetic order to your display, but it also presents a (shallow) storage solution. It’s important to remember that your coffee table is a piece of furniture rather than a museum piece and that you’ll likely want some space for your remote controls, earbuds, or other trinkets.
If display pieces have too abrupt a height difference, you can stack multiple books to restore balance. Image: 1825 Interiors
If you’re a fan of coffee tables with books, this is your chance to showcase your personality or current interests. You could display some of your favourite reads, or—even better—choose coffee table books detailing your pet subjects. For example, if you love art, you could put out a book about Vincent van Gogh. You could even experiment with height by stacking multiple books!
If you like the sound of a trinket tray, we have a selection of designs ranging from classic to whimsical. Wade through our range of accessories to find them.
Rule #3: A coffee table with candles or coasters
The third and final component of your coffee table vignette is the practical addition of candles, or coasters—or both! As the smallest items in the set, there is often room for the two of them. And if you can afford the space, who says you have to choose between candlelight and caffeination?
Not only do candles look great, but they can lend a sense of ambience to a room. There’s something romantic and delightfully old-fashioned about a lit candle—and that goes double if it’s scented. If you’re buying one of our coffee tables, the best way to protect it from ring stains is to use coasters. And because they take up limited space, coasters can be a fantastic subtle addition to your coffee table vignette. Be sure to choose coasters that colour-match or team with the theme of your display.
Stack coasters to give your display a tactile edge. Image: 1825 Interiors
At 1825 Interiors, we have a wide range of scented candles available, and Idyllic is our most noteworthy brand. We stock many different scents that we know you’ll just melt for. If you want to fill your lounge room—or your whole home—with the sweetest smells, you can browse our range of candles here. We also have a gorgeous selection of coasters boasting botanical and rustic designs. Browse our coaster sets here and see what tickles your fancy. You could even match them with one of our trinket trays!
Some final tips
There’s more to coffee table styling than the rule of three. When it comes down to it, your vignette is a three-part story with a beginning, middle, and end. As you’re piecing it together, you should account for personal and spatial nuances. Let’s finish with some tips for truly making this story your own.
Image: 1825 Interiors
Arrange according to size
Coffee tables come in different shapes and sizes. What looks fitting for one table may appear out-of-proportion on another. For this reason, it’s important to dress your coffee table to scale. With larger surfaces, you can include oversized items and use the space liberally. Smaller surfaces, however, call for more careful selections that won’t overload your more limited space.
Think of a theme
If these items tell a story, they should share a theme. Don’t throw just any old items together—ensure they interact in some way. Are the items a similar shape? Are they colour-matched? Do they orbit outwards from an anchoring point in the centre? However you curate and craft your vignette, remember that you’re constructing a ‘visual anecdote’ with an overarching theme.
Ultimately, this vignette is your personal highlight reel. Choose the items that represent you best! Choose vases, candles, or trinket trays in your favourite colours—or, if you’re a bookworm, do away with the tray altogether and stack your most prized books. Do whatever feels best for you—provided you don’t overcrowd the space. If you can’t contain yourself to three items, you can always change up the display with the seasons or whenever the mood strikes.