A beautiful centrepiece can make us smile and be the highlight of a room. We all have friends who impress with their coffee table arrangements and hit it out of the park with their holiday dining tables. Ever wonder how they do it? While we can’t all be Martha Stewart, we can all add decorative elements to our spaces without too much effort. Centrepieces are eye candy that can elevate our spaces by providing an attractive focal point. Just because you may not be able to bring in fresh flower arrangements on a weekly basis doesn’t mean your centrepieces can’t impress. If you’ve ever struggled with how to decorate your coffee table, then keep reading for some simple tips to elevate it with ease.
Size & Height
The size of your coffee table centrepiece should correspond with the size of your coffee table. Oversized (4’x4’) coffee tables will require more, and larger pieces than smaller rectangular coffee tables for example and the centrepieces themselves should never take up more than 20-40% of the overall surface. If you plan on using flowers to decorate, consider the size of your table before choosing them. Hydrangeas will take up more space than tulips for example, and might be a more practical choice if you’re looking to fill up some space.
Tip: If the bouquet you’ve just been gifted isn’t quite large enough for your table, place a mirrored tray underneath the vase to beef up the footprint and highlight the flowers.
Grand rooms need oversized coffee tables and if you’re fortunate enough to have space, consider adding height and drama to your table as a starting point before working outwards. Centrepieces that exceed eye height when seated in the space are great for tables that have a width of 4 feet or more. Tables with such a width require that anyone seated on either side of them will be around 9 feet apart (table + 2.5 feet on either side) and oversized pieces on the table won’t affect your guests’ ability to easily see each other around your centrepiece. A large vase with eucalyptus leaves shooting from the top or a sculptural piece that could usually stand on its own often look great on such tables. Several stacks of books with small vases or ornaments on one or more they can be stacked around the centrepiece filling in the vast tabletop and adding interest to finish it off.
Tip: Sculptural pieces can be as simple as a favourite ceramic vase but should add some height to your arrangement- twice the height of the other object you choose to pair it with is a good rule of thumb.
For standard rectangular coffee tables, it can be helpful to use a tray as a starting point. A rectangular tray with a stack of 2-3 coffee table books on one side with a small plant and sculptural piece on the other side always works well.
Circular coffee tables lend themselves to circular trays as a base where a pairing of three items will look great. A plant, a sculptural element for height, and a third knick-knack roughly the same size or smaller than your plant will work. If you don’t plan on moving your centrepiece, try it without the tray, and if you grow tired of your current tray, switch it out for a mirrored one.
When using books as part of a centerpiece they should always be stacked with the spines facing the entrance to the room. With a stack of books on one side of your table, all you’ll need is a plant beside it and one or two sculptural pieces to create the perfect focal point.
Tip: Never use fake books on your coffee tables! In addition to being overpriced at places like Urban Barn and Homesense, you’ll miss an opportunity to tell a story about yourself and your space. Coffee table books come in all shapes, sizes, and topics, and your local thrift store will have plenty to choose from should the prices at Indigo put you off.
Coffee table centrepieces are an essential part of any living room décor. We can easily overlook them because our coffee tables need to be functional. For apartment dwellers especially, coffee tables are a part desk and dining table, but centrepieces that are practical and easily moveable are not hard to create using elements most of us already have in our homes: books, vases, candle holders, and lanterns. Make Martha proud and let this year’s spring cleaning become an opportunity to dig through the cupboards and reimagine your centrepieces.
Kiel has been a member of the BREL team for three years and a designer for UPstaging since its founding in 2019. As a McMaster alumnus in Communication and Design at George Brown, he soon made his life-long dream of spending other people’s money…err.. we mean decorating… into reality with the BREL team! When he’s not staging homes he can be found searching the Junction for vintage furniture and unique accessories.