How to Decorate a Center Table
Make a feature table look grand no matter what its size, with artistic arrangements of flowers, vases, and more.
Whether placed in a grand foyer, tucked in the corner of a compact entry or serving double duty as a reading spot and dining table, you can count on a center table to bring a gracious note to the home. Here are eight ways to decorate this classic piece.
Center Table 1: Rikki Snyder, original photo on Houzz
1. Cluster of vases. Find three to five vases of varied heights that go together — they don’t need to be identical, but they often work best when they are the same material or color (for example, all blue or all glass).
Styling tip: Place the tallest vase in the center and cluster the others around it, working from tallest to smallest; fill the vases with seasonal blooms or cut branches. For ambience, scatter a few tea lights around the vases.
2. Sculpture and books. Pick a sculpture or an object roughly as tall as half the diameter of the table, and place it in the center. Next arrange piles of coffee-table-size books (two or three per stack is usually enough) like spokes of a wheel around the sculpture.
3. Vase, books and stools. Another option is to use a large vase in the center of the table and keep it filled with fresh flowers or cut branches. Arrange stacks of books like spokes of a wheel around the vase, as before. Finish by tucking a pair of stools beneath the table — quite helpful for perching on to browse the books or put on and take off shoes.
Center Table 2: Elizabeth Dinkel, original photo on Houzz
If you would rather not have to fuss over fresh blooms, choose a vase that also looks great empty, like the one shown here. Then you can fill it (or not) as you please.
4. Asymmetrical arrangement. If you plan to tuck a round table into a corner or will be walking by the table primarily from one side, place a vase or sculpture to the back of the table and beautiful books in front.
Center Table 3: Dresser Homes, original photo on Houzz
Creating an asymmetrical arrangement is also a great way to make a centered table feel less formal. Try placing a large vase off center and surround it with short stacks of books, as shown here.
Center Table 4: Katie Rosenfeld Design, original photo on Houzz
A rule of thumb for objects: two on top, one not. If you like to add decorative objects to your stacks of books, place objects atop two stacks of books and leave one stack free of accessories. This look is less fussy but still balanced.
5. One massive planter. Choose a planter that will fill up to three-quarters of the surface of your table (measure before buying) and plant it with something gorgeous and interesting, like bonsai, orchids or a wild tangle of plants.
Before going this route, be realistic about the amount of light your foyer receives, as well as how much time you have to commit to caring for houseplants — then get help from a local nursery to choose plants that will do well in your space.
Center Table 5: Jacob Hand Photography, original photo on Houzz
6. Floor-length tablecloth, sculpture and books. A floor-length tablecloth looks elegant, but even better, it can hide storage underneath. In the foyer you could keep a few large baskets under the table and out of sight for stashing winter mittens and scarves, or a recycling bin.
Place a sculpture or vase in the center and surround it with interesting books. The table shown here is in a dining room, but without the chairs, it would look right at home in a foyer.
Speaking of dining rooms, the covered table is a natural choice for a formal dining room that is used more often as a library or study than for dinner. Keep books and interesting objects on the table most of the time, and clear them away when you want to host.
7. Floor-length tablecloth, lamp and books. A smaller round table also works well in the living room when topped with a floor-length cloth, a lamp and books. And remember, that floor-length cloth is the perfect cover for some hidden storage, making it a smart choice for small spaces.
Cleaning tip: To easily wipe up spilled drinks, have a round glass top cut to fit your table and place it over the tablecloth.
Center Table 6: Kim Armstrong, original photo on Houzz
8. Small but grand trio. Smaller versions of the foyer table can still look grand. The key is to not clutter them up with lots of small items.
Styling tip: Choose two large pieces to fill most of the space (like the horse sculpture and potted plant shown here), and place a third, smaller item (like a candle or small tray for mail) in front.