The pressure is on for the coffee table. Usually it’s positioned to be front-and-center where its houses both objects that are needed and objects that are solely for “frill” status. This table is one of the most used and can’t-live-without pieces of furniture within a home, one that is vital to any sitting area, and one that comes in all shapes, sizes, and materials. In fact, this piece is oftentimes elevated to sculpture status that’s just as impressive as the practicality that it offers. Some call it a coffee table, and others refer to it as a cocktail table. Full disclosure: I fall into the camp that calls it a cocktail because who doesn’t prefer a cocktail to a coffee? Either way, it’s a much-needed form. I typically center this low-profile table in front of a sofa and between two chairs and sometimes in front of a fireplace, too. The ubiquitous piece needs to be above all functional. It’s a work horse and is required in even the simplest of rooms to hold a drink, books, a tray, a scented candle, and a collection of favorite decorative items such as boxes, ash trays, or just about anything else.

This coffee table is one of my favorites. Made of olive ash burl with a French polish finish, the grain is full of depth and interest yet remains sturdy. It is textural and rich in tone but doesn’t compete with fabrics and patterns throughout the rest of the sitting area.

Arranging the items on a coffee table requires a bit of forethought and planning to get the height and balance just so. Then there are the practical and beauty factors. For instance, I love to appoint a pretty box or two to house remotes, coasters, and matches. Then I lay out art and design books with captivating photography. I’ll include a few surprises such as a pretty little sculpture, a candle, and of course, something living. Here, a petite and vibrant arrangement of roses and anemones bring color and texture to the table. The ashtray from the Colony Hotel was a gift from my dear friend, Billy, and adds a personal touch. I also like to add something metal on a wooden or painted table as I have here with a brass bamboo coaster.  Mixed materials, after all, gives that layered look that is so appealing and interesting. I top the books with an antique ivory handled magnifying glass that I picked up on Portobello road in London years ago.

Don’t be afraid to play around with the table scape of your own table. Use its surface to corral pretty things as well as those items you need to keep in close proximity. If the table is taller or has a shelf, add a tray or basket below to house newspapers and magazines. No matter what size the table is make sure to leave room for people to put their drinks and glasses down.

Remember, a coffee table is one of the most welcoming pieces of furniture. It says, “Sit down, have a drink, stay awhile.” My table is ready at all times. I encourage you to do the same.