Give them something to talk about

Should coffee tables be a topic of conversation?  Should they be the wow in the room, or should they disappear under the objects that adorn them?  A matter of preference for sure, and I have to say that there is a lot of – less than extraordinary out there.  How would you even go about wowing if that was your intention?  I propose the following:

coffee talk



  • An outrageous color
  • A non-traditional object:  a steamer trunk, a sea chest, neat stacks of design books all in a row, a set of 2 or 3 stools – upholstered or not
  • A large scale ottoman

It’s important to remember that aside from a place to display your beautiful picture books, photographs, and scented candles, coffee tables have a utilitarian role they play.  This should be taken into consideration when you select your own.  Are you in need of storage for blankets and throws?  Do you disdain the look of remotes scattered about and desire a place to hide them away, or display them more artfully – a drawer or a tray?  If you find yourself dining more frequently in the living room in front of your TV than in your kitchen, or dining room, or you are the hostess with the mostest – a stable place to rest your drink and a charcuterie platter is, for practical purposes – in order. Personally, I love putting my feet up on the coffee table, so I look for pieces that are solid and can support my tootsies without tipping over.

The pallette:

While in my opinion design for practicality has it’s place, it should also be beautiful and a reflection of your personality.  If your personality is all glass and glamorous metal, but you have little kids, you might consider shelving the urge.  Just temporarily, I promise.  If it saves a few trips to the emergency room for stitches it’ll be worth it.

Some argue that you should establish your design style.  As I’ve said before, if you lack design confidence, having some guidelines can help you feel poised to make a decision sans anxiety.  In the end, I like a plan that provides a framework for the entire room.  The beauty of a framework plan is that it provides a rough layout of what’s needed, and a general “recommendation” on the place that the pieces will live.  Further, you might augment it with images of pieces that “feel right” together, and that speak to you.  Most folks I know don’t go out and buy everything at once, which makes this approach particularly attractive.  Even if you choose to substitute a side table for a small chest of drawers, add lamps where none existed before, or opt for a mini-settee instead of a couple of slippers, the plan will help you make an informed decision.


The table that works with every style:  Peekaboo by CB2

If definition is important to you and you want to announce to the world, or that new friend you are trying to impress, your design style, it can be as simple as asking yourself, “Which do I like”?  I use the following to illustrate a number styles with a few factors/items that are non-negotiable in the space.  The floor will remain a dark espresso.  The Lattice black and off-white custom curtains will dress the windows, and the new charcoal grey Restoration Hardware sofa will supply the backdrop.  By using these pieces you can imagine how you’d incorporate your own into a fresh program – and maybe even re-define your style!

Contemporary:  West Elm Reeves Coffee Table $349., CB2’s Bousaf Side Table by Lennie Kravatz $299. and Madeline Weinrib Clover Carpet – sold at ABC Carpet, NYC.


Glamorous:  Oly Studio, Yves Cocktail Table, Call for Pricing ($3K+), Bernhardt, Aubrey Round Chair Side Table, $1325. and The Rug Company, Moses Ice, $179 a foot.

Boho Chic:  Layla Grayce, Eloquence One of a Kind Vintage Coffee Table, $920., CB2 Stump Side Table, $199., All+Modern, Karma Blue Area Rug – 9′ 3″ x 12’9″ $668.99.

Jeffrey Alan Marks Grove Table, $1009., Ballard Design, Durham Rectangle End Table, $249., and Oushak Rug, Turkish Origin – Arg. price for 9′ x 12′ $6K – $9K.

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