Friday, January 28, 2011

Coffee TableSCAPES

Styling a coffee table is often a difficult task. So many of us struggle when it comes to deciding what to put on them. Coffee tables are a significant focal point and what we put on them deserves careful consideration. I often change what I have on mine, either for the seasons, or just because, but the key to making it look good is to have items of different heights to create rhythm, to layer objects, and use scale in proportion while coordinating the objects on the table in relation to the size of the table.
{Via New England Home Mag}
Above: This coffee table is LARGE....and from a design stand point, the items placed on top are almost too small proportionately. What makes this work is the idea of having a gallery wall of art behind the sofa. Because there is so much going on directly in front of the coffee table, there is little need to add more items to its surface.

{Via Traditional Home Mag}
Above: The cleanness of this coffee table scape mirrors the simplicity of the rest of the room. Notice the monochromatic color scheme? How the tall chest in the corner has nothing on it? The off white walls and wall to wall neutral carpet? All of these things combined lend this room--and it's coffee table--to be understated elegance.

{Via Traditional Home Mag}
This one might be one of my favorites. I am in love with the idea of the coffee table being taller than usual. The items placed on this table are not at all function to the table, but purely decorative. This is a great example for using Rhythm. The heights of the objects are all varied, which makes your eyes travel from piece to piece. There are some 3-dimensional elements, mixed with hard accents and then greenery to soften to look.

{Via Traditional Home Mag}
This coffee table scape also has good rhythm to it.  By using several vases grouped together, it gives the illusion that they are one large object, rather than several individual pieces. This way your eye clusters them together and the proportion of the object is in scale with the size of the table its placed on.
This coffee table also has some other design features worth noting: The room appears to be rather casual with a cotton blend fabric on the sofa, and the woven jar on the left of the table to match. The coffee table seems a bit formal, even art-deco-ish for the room painted in its shiny black lacquer.  However, by simply placing the INFORMAL, very casual sunflowers in the shiny white vases you instantly bridge the rawness of the sofa and jar, with the shiny luster of the coffee table and bowls. The sunflower's dark center is key to making this all work---as silly as it sounds--as it moves your eye from the sofa to the jar to the table and back to the flowers.

{Via Traditional Home Mag}
Functional. Casual. Yet very placed.

{Via Restoration Hardware}
Above: This coffee scape is easy to assess: Repetition. Each flat
surface shares two items. Adding a third would throw the
whole room out of balance. Count them and see for yourself!

{Via Traditional Home Mag}
{via New England Home Magazine}
Above: This coffee table is very looks like it's the height of a tea table or maybe even a dining table. The surface of this is almost cleared, like they use it for a work space or desk. The way the books are arranged below appear that whoever uses this space, picks up the books as they were arranged on the table and simply places them underneath. Either way, this coffee table looks great!

{Via Pottery Barn}
Above: I love this one! Look at just the top of the table. It appears that the majority of the items are to the left of the tables surface. After all there is only a small stack of books to the right. The reason for this is because the drawers on the right side add more weight, so you NEED more objects on the left to balance them out. A good way to do this is to add something tall as they did here with the glass jar. By placing a GLASS jar here it gives you the height you need, but because you can see through it it becomes less obtrusive. Overall the perfect balance.

{Via Restoration Hardware}
Above: I am a huge fan of using two smaller tables, slightly taller than normal, grouped together to make one. Even though each table has only two objects on it, the one on the left has to be larger in scale to balance out the flowers on the end table to the right.

{Via Restoration Hardware}

Overall, it seems that the current trend of what to place on your coffee table is books, greenery, ssculpture's and trays.  In the end, there is not really a right or wrong as to what you should have on your coffee table---rather it's more in the design rational of height, rhythm, balance, scale and proportion! Good luck!

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