How to decorate a round coffee table – 8 ways experts create a relaxed and sophisticated vibe

If you're wondering how to decorate a round coffee table, our experts offer tips to make it look like the perfect living room centerpiece

large white living room with curved white sofa and round coffee table
(Image credit: Jessica Lagrange Interiors credit Douglas Friedman)

When thinking of ways to decorate a round coffee table keep in mind that unlike a square one - where you typically have a lot of space for your favorite styling accessories and area leftover for functionality - a round table's decor needs to be a little more considered. 

‘The impact of a well-appointed coffee table should not be overlooked,’ says Lisa Kahn, founder of Finding Sanctuary by Lisa Kahn Design. ‘It is often at the center of a space that connects people as they perch in adjacent seating. Objects on the table may end up serving as a conversation starter, a mood enhancer, a platform to showcase personal interests and collections, or a display area for the things we wish to use to connect to those gathered around the table.’

Decorating a round coffee table, when done right, can look like a piece of jewelry in the room; a wonderful focal point that brings the room's scheme together. To create an aesthetically pleasing set-up and to add to your living room, we decided to bring you key points to keep in mind while decorating and help you create an effortlessly stylish coffee table.

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi is a homes writer and editor with several years of experience. Her articles, backed by expert insights, offer suggestions aimed at helping readers make the best home design choices. For this article, she spoke to top experts to understand ways to style a round coffee table. 

8 fresh ways to decorate a round coffee table

One thing to keep in mind is that different coffee table shapes lead to different styled looks. This is because the table top will have different parameters you have to work within. Remember, to style a coffee table it’s important to note that you view the tabletop from all directions, especially important for a round table. So don’t style with the front of your pieces all facing the same way. 

Another rookie error while styling a round table is that people tend to use too many circle-shaped objects. This can make the table look too symmetrical, thus boring or unnoticeable. It's a good idea to bring in clashing shapes for an eye-catching look; a big coffee table trend as well.  

1. Add wooden platters for a rustic look

A table in the living room that has wooden platters on it

(Image credit: LOAK)

Layering is always a good tool to add finesse and a sense of coziness to a space. While we think of colors and fabrics for layering, consider textures too. If you have a tactile coffee table material, say wood or stone, make its decor look coordinated and together too. 

Trays are the perfect coffee table decor, and a way to create order on a table. Add wooden platters on a wooden table and create an attractive grouping. Consider the finish of the tray and contrast it with the surface of the table. A light wood table with a dark wood platter would look smart. 

2. Coffee table books are always a good idea

A coffee table with books on it

(Image credit: James Merell)

'Books, books, and more books,' says Lance Thomas, principal designer at Thomas Guy Interiors. 'I like to divide my coffee table into even sections and place a stack of books in each section. Structured maximalism is my style guide for coffee tables. The only time I go minimal is when the coffee table is playing the hero in space. I've even been known to place a small table lamp in one of those quadrants for an unexpected ambient lighting surprise.'

You might be tempted to keep a stack of thin books on the table, and that's okay if it's magazines, but for a more eye-catching setup, you want the books to be thick. 

Another small but important point to keep in mind is the theme of the book. Try to find interesting volumes; say an encyclopedia, a book on famous paintings, or a good prose book. This could encourage the guests to pick it up when there's a painful pause during conversations. At other times, the books will be a reflection of your taste and interests. 

'Depending on the coffee table size, you can pile three books on top of each other or spread them out if it's a bigger table into three piles of two,' says Charlotte Sitton, founder of Organised by Charlotte. 'It can look colorful as well as interesting,' 

‘We think of coffee tables like dining tables, as heritage furniture pieces that get passed down through families and generations,’ says Emily Lauren, founder of Emily Lauren Interiors. ‘Oftentimes, seating arrangements are centered around a coffee table in rooms where we create memories with countless conversations and gatherings. We use our coffee tables to display our favorite books or collected pieces from our travels that are meaningful to us and tell our stories.’

3. Centre the arrangement with dried grasses

A coffee table with pampas grass in the centre

(Image credit: Living with Lolo. Photo credit Life Created)

For a round coffee table, make sure your pieces or objects it in a cluster, arranged in the center of your table. This will help create a focal point. 

For the living room fall decor theme, set up pampas grass in a vase – this will create a lovely, brown, autumnal vibe. 'Even dried twigs and leaves, placed inside beautiful vases will do,' says Ajay Arya, founder of A Square Designs. 'If not, use charming cake stands and cookie jars of different styles to decorate the table – you can also place cut fruits for an eye-catching vignette.'

LyuHome Nesting Coffee Table from Amazon
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LyuHome Nesting Coffee Table from Amazon

This round coffee table, along with a side table, made of MDF is lightweight and combines modern and rustic styles. Perfect for the living room or the bedroom, this piece is easy to move around in the house, and also convenient to clean.

4. Miniature sculptures will create interest

A living room with a small sculpture on the centre table

(Image credit: Chicago Studio)

If you have two round coffee tables as your living room furniture, give each of them a unique look. While one can have books and pretty boxes, the other can double as a display unit for interesting sculptures. 'Boxes on a coffee table can store clutter, (think remotes or coasters) or conceal a treasure you want to reveal upon closer inspection,' says Anna Popov, founder of Interiors by Popov

These are also like tiny living room storage pieces. She suggests using boxes made of wood, crystal, mother of pearl, and raffia, in interesting sizes and shapes.

Mini sculptures, on the other hand, can become conversation starters. These could be hand-painted, made of paper-mâché, or carved in wood, picked up during your travels. Make sure you keep these figurines and knick-knacks grouped or your books all stacked on one another, as an organization between similar decor items makes the table look less chaotic and more pleasing to look at. 

5. Consider a big bunch of fresh flowers

large white living room with curved white sofa and round coffee table

(Image credit: Jessica Lagrange Interiors credit Douglas Friedman)

'One of the best parts of the upcoming season is the changes it brings to the outside world,' says Alison Hughes, interiors director at Coast Road Furniture. 'But this doesn’t mean that you can’t admire autumnal nature in your own home. There are lots of different parts of the season you can enjoy in your living room. For example, you could try crafting your autumnal bouquet and displaying it in your favorite vase on the coffee table,' says Alison. 'There is a great range of colorful flowers which are in bloom next season, including chrysanthemum, aster, and poppies.'

Looking to add a Christmas vibe to your living room already? Consider a Christmas flower arrangement for your coffee table!

6. Bring in more greenery in the living room with houseplants 

A living room with a houseplant on a coffee table

(Image credit: Maestri Studio. Photo credit Jenifer McNeil Bake)

This is the season to love and show off houseplants...well, if truth be told, it's always the season for houseplants! Think of sculptural plants; ones that have interesting shapes, long, leathery leaves, or eye-catching root structures. Spider plants are a good bet; perhaps even succulents are a fair option. 

Place these inside pretty pots or bowls and bring life and softness to the living room decor. Remember though, if you have dogs or cats at home that can access the coffee table, you should perhaps only place pet-friendly houseplants. Also remember to care for these, with their watering and sun requirements, and you may have to move these in and out of the house often.

7. Keep a piece of driftwood for an artsy look

Driftwood kept on top on a round table

(Image credit: Maestri Studio. Photo credit Jenifer McNeil Baker)

Another artistic yet earthy way to decorate the coffee table is with a driftwood piece. This will contribute to a natural living room look if you're going for one. A big benefit of an arrangement like this is that it is perfect for indoors or outdoors and will last much longer than typical flower arrangements.

Also, you want to fill the coffee table up with your styled objects but still leave room for it to be functional, say to place a coffee mug or a book. You also don’t want plant leaves drooping into your drinks. Make sure you leave enough space between your objects and the edge of the coffee table.

Recaceik Coffee Table Set from Amazon
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Recaceik Coffee Table Set from Amazon

This coffee table set can transform any living room into a more comfortable and relaxing space. It's designed in a matte faux marble, with gold-painted legs. 

8. Think of terracotta vases on coffee tables

Ceramics kept on top of a coffee table

(Image credit: Ravi Vazirani)

These vases aren’t a matching set, but follow a similar theme and together make for an eye-catching collection; ideal for coffee tables or even living room side tables. The terracotta pieces look striking against the black table, while the feet sculptures add layering to the tabletop. 

'Odd numbers win when styling a coffee table,' says Mary Patton, founder of Mary Patton Design. 'You can’t go wrong with a set of three items. I like to play around with texture and height when styling; one set-up that always works is one large book, a decorative piece like a vase, and a candle.'

What shape tray goes on a round coffee table?

A living room coffee table with a round tray

(Image credit: Amoeba Design)

There is no set rule to this, as both circular and square/rectangular trays can be placed on a round coffee table. However, the size of the coffee table does matter in the selection of the tray. 

If you have a large round table, you could consider placing a rectangular tray on it, but a diagonal placement will look better and make for an elegant living room decor. For smaller tables, it's better to maintain symmetry, and so a round tray should be preferred. 

Keep the size of the tray too in mind. Don't choose a large round tray and cover the coffee table entirely, unless that is something you're specifically going for. A smaller tray will make sure it fits on the tabletop and doesn't get knocked over by passersby or pets. A good size for most coffee tables is 22 by 22 inches. For some longer coffee tables, you may be able to put two of these on the table. 

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.