Creating a beautifully appointed coffee table is trickier than it looks. That’s why we brought in an expert — interior designer Tamara Eaton, who also gave us a bookcase-styling tutorial — to school us in the art of artful arrangement.
Does the style of the coffee table dictate what you put on it?
If it’s a more modern apartment, we’re certainly not going to add really ornate porcelain. It really depends on the space. Here, we pulled items that were generally of the same era. You just have to make sure that things don’t feel too matchy-matchy.
What are the essential elements of styling?
Start with at least one coffee table book. They exude personality, so choose something that piques your interest — something people feel compelled to pick up. When you stack them, always go large to small — like a pyramid. The top book is the one on view, so pay attention to its cover.
It’s hard to keep fresh flowers, but even a cactus or a succulent — or something dried — feels really nice. It’s fun to play with height.
How do you personalize your tabletop design?
I collect things, so when I see something interesting, I tend to get it. To add some personality, choose books that speak to you. Find really special, creative pieces. Each item should have a little personality and uniqueness.
What’s on your coffee table?
I have a Josef Frank coffee table from the ’60s, and on it I have The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style and other cool, random books. I have a huge Ferrari ashtray — I don’t smoke, but it’s a cool statement piece.