Happy Monday, folks! We’re kicking off the week with a much needed lesson in styling from one of our favorite interior designers in town, Ann Lowe Edgerton (though you might remember her from this gorgeous entertaining story). With an impressive roster of both commercial and residential clients, Ann knows a thing or two about designing spaces that are beautiful and functional. So today, we’re talking about one of the most loved pieces of home furniture: the coffee table. Without further ado, take it away, Ann!

In most cases, the coffee table is the single piece of furniture that anchors a living space. It’s where we put our feet up at the end of a long day, kick back for a leisurely movie or game night, gather for a deep conversation, and store some of our most used knick knacks. So while I love the idea of styling a really beautiful coffee table, I also think it’s important to remember the many functions of a coffee table when arranging it. My rules to live by: keep it uncluttered, interactive and a reflection of you.

And now, a few easy tips for keeping your coffee table functional, beautiful and interesting…

*photography by Molly Winters

1. Go green.  Let’s be honest, it’s not always feasible to keep fresh flowers around at all times, but there are some inexpensive and simple ways to give your table an equally lively look without the hassle and upkeep. Choosing a vase with a wide base and small top allows you to display one tall item, such as a branch or single stem, rather than an expensive bunch of flowers. A couple other options: buy a succulent or cactus that requires little care, or place a bowl of fresh fruit on the table.

2. Use the space to tell a story. What are you interested in? What are you passionate about? Since the coffee table is central to the living room, having objects that speak to you and your hobbies will intrigue guests and generate conversation. Maybe it’s a shell collection, a souvenir from a special trip or your favorite magazine subscriptions.

3. Books! I love plopping down at the end of a long day and flipping through a gorgeous book — it’s such a nice alternative to switching on the TV! Having a great collection of your favorite books at hand will not only keep you inspired and entertained, but can also tell your guests a lot about who you are.

4. Create an interactive space, both for you and your guests. In this case, I placed a loose pile of pictures in a stone bowl. Having this out on the table is not only a way for me and my family to remember vacations or shared memories, but it’s a fun way to start conversation, too. It has been said that happiness comes more from experiences than bought objects, and looking through photos brings way more joy than staring at a bought object.

5. Use beautiful containers to catch your assorted trinkets and remotes on the table. When random items are scattered around, they tend to look like disorganized clutter. When you carefully choose a vessel that will work well with your decor, guest’s eyes are likely to see the vessel rather than its contents.

*photography by Molly Winters

4 comments
  1. 1
    Kristin | August 25, 2014 at 9:57 am

    love the idea of creating an interactive space — photos in a pretty vessel is so simple and personal.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Cristina Cleveland | August 26, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I’m so into that photo bowl! Much more interactive than closing them off in a book and more casual than a photo frame… This is going on my coffee table (once I find one!).

    Reply
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