Some call it a coffee table. Some refer to it as a cocktail table. Regardless, I’m game for sipping either and having the opportunity to show a well-appointed collection of objects.
Before I ever even think about styling a coffee table, there’s the task of choosing the furniture piece itself. There are so many options and questions to ask. Is a hard surface the top priority or would an ottoman be a better choice? Should the table be a waterfall style, so a pair of covered stools can slide underneath to provide extra seating when guests come to visit (Can you tell, I have finally returned to a more normal social life with invitations to friends?) Is a two-tiered table with a bottom shelf needed to store books and games?
For my own sunroom, I turned to Iowa-based Aronson Woodworks to create a custom piece using their patented Claize finish that I selected in white with a contrasting warm butterscotch-toned grain. The ash wood that the table is made out of makes a dynamic statement with its strong linear grain and supports the play of patterns that I layer in this room.
I love “things” and collecting objects that speak to me. Our coffee table is where I display some of my most coveted treasures. Because you don’t want anything too tall or too big, it’s easy for this surface to get a regular update. Change out the objects that top it seasonally or after a special trip when you’ve acquired something new that you want to show front and center.
Here, I enhanced the texture of the wood with a curvy wicker tray that corals some of my newest design books. A little tip: Choose coffee table books on a variety of topics—design, photography, sports, fashion—and give your guests and yourself a lot of eye candy and pages to flip through while sitting. Next, I stacked two boxes in two different materials. The larger of the two is made of faux horn, while the smaller one is faux bone made to look like it’s woven just like a basket. Boxes not only come in so many great looks, but are also a useful tool to store remotes, pens, and matches for a nearby candle. In this case, I left my matches out for everyone to see in a shagreen match strike. Match strikes are one of the hottest accessories right now. I’m always hunting antique shops for the vintage ones, but there are new ones on the market, too, that are really lovely. A favorite scent of mine burns on a vintage brass coaster with a bamboo motif. Speaking of brass, I thought this table was the perfect spot to display a Mark and Graham tray that’s engraved with our family name.
Finally, the coffee table will always be relevant with something fresh and alive on it. Peonies and roses always top my list of favorite flowers, but to make this arrangement a little trendy, I added mini cabbages to the blooms.
The beauty of the coffee table is that it can be styled and restyled regularly. So have fun with it. Stack new books, mix things up, show off something special. Just remember to leave a little room to place that beverage.