Home Decoriez

How to Style an Oval Coffee Table – Expert Designer Tips & Tricks

Table of Contents

Oval coffee tables are a popular choice for living rooms because their elongated shape allows for maximum tabletop space; perfect for your coffee cup whilst still leaving room for a book, the TV remote, and some decorative bits to tie the room together. Their lack of corners makes them both pet and child-friendly, too!


The oval shape is classic, whilst at the same time providing more visual interest than its round counterpart. You’ll want to use an oval coffee table when you have larger floor space to fill or if you have a long sofa. Whatever the reason for choosing an oval coffee table, you’ll want it to look as stylish as possible. 


We’re here to give you the full breakdown of what works and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t when it comes to how to style an oval coffee table. In this blog, we’ll cover everything from accessories and shapes to textures and colour, leaving you feeling both happy and confident in your styling choices!

How to Decorate an Oval Coffee Table: Top 7 Tips

The key word when it comes to styling an oval coffee table is opposites; shapes, colour and textures should work to balance out the table and using opposite shapes and textures to that of the table will help achieve this. That said, unlike other shaped tables, oval coffee tables can work well with rounded shapes as well, just make sure to keep a point of difference through the use of textured accessories. 


With a more traditional shape than that of abstract, modern designs, you’ll likely want to keep the accessories more classic but that’s not to say that you can’t add a contemporary twist if you like a more modern-day style. 


If you have an oval coffee table and wonder what would look good on it, then look no further than our top 7 expert styling tips:

1. Use a Tray

Trays are a great addition to coffee table styling as they help to declutter by grouping everything together. It also reduces the chance of you losing the remote control every day! 


Pick a tray that’s noticeably different to the material of the table. For example, if you have an oval-shaped, wooden coffee table, then you’ll want a metal tray. 


Some popular materials for trays that you may wish to consider for your oval coffee table include:

  • Marble
  • Resin
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Wooden
  • Mirrored
  • Glass
  • Metal


This oval coffee table (below) has a gold, square-shaped tray on its marble tabletop that picks out the gold hardware providing clear contrasts to the table itself without ever overpowering it.

When it comes to what shape tray works for an oval coffee table, the good news is that any shape works well! Unlike rectangular coffee tables – which suit more rounded shapes and soft lines – any shaped tray will be suited to an oval coffee table. Working to the rule of opposites, however, then a rectangle or square shape would be best suited as it provides an interesting visual contrast.

2. Play With Heights

Playing around with proportions on your oval coffee table will create some interest in the room and make it more attractive to look at. Start with a tall item that will stand out such as a vase or sculpture, and then style the shorter pieces around this. One tip for getting scale right on your oval coffee table is not to exceed one third of the height of the actual table.


It isn’t just height that’s important, however, as you’ll want to keep to large-sized decorative pieces rather than trinkets. With small knick-knacks, there tends to be an inclination to keep adding more to fill the space and that will lead to a cluttered, unattractive table which isn’t what we’re after!


This image gives a great example of playing with heights and shows you how to style an oval coffee table without a tray if that’s not your vibe. If you’re looking to style an oval coffee table without a tray, you can also consider using candles and magazines to further decorate.

Designer hint: Think about the table from all angles, and style your items so that they are facing different directions. Remember that your table is not going to be viewed in just one position so you want all angles looking pretty!

3. Blooming Lovely

Flower arrangements are a must for oval coffee table styling as it works to soften the area, particularly if you’ve styled the table with harder, more angular objects such as books. Whilst we wouldn’t recommend leaving a coffee table empty, a decorative bouquet is particularly useful to keep things sleek and classic if you prefer to leave a coffee table bare. 


Oval-shaped tables are most suited to a single vase of flowers compared to other shapes. Make any floral arrangements you choose for your oval coffee table the main focal point with any other decorative items placed to compliment the blooms. This oval coffee table with a marble top is softened with a delicate hydrangea arrangement in a soft pink which brightens up the table, whilst at the same time also tying in the rest of the room.

4. Stack Attack

Stacked coffee table books are a home styling must-have right now, so much so that you can even buy fake books to get the look! Stacked books look great on an oval coffee table owing to their angular lines that offset the curves of the table. Style them on their own or use them as a tool to vary heights on the surface.


If you’d prefer to make the books the focal point, stick to the rule of three by stacking three books on top of each other and then placing an unusually shaped ornament on top.

5. Underneath it All

Coffee table styling doesn’t just stop at what’s on top; you need to think about the underneath as well.


If your oval coffee table has a shelf, then you could consider stacking some statement books on it or, if size allows, you could even place some storage baskets which will help to keep the top uncluttered. At the same time, this also helps to add some more texture to the table as well as bringing the rest of the room’s style together.


Consider using a rug under your coffee table; from a practical viewpoint this will help to protect your flooring but, once again, it’s another way to pull the room together making sure it all flows in harmony.

What kind of rug you choose with an oval coffee table will depend on the space you have and the size of the rug. If you choose a large, area rug, then you would want your coffee table to sit in the middle of it but if you are opting for a rug solely to go under the coffee table then you will want to leave an extension of the rug that goes about a third past the edge of it. 

As a general guide, follow this:


  • For an oval coffee table that is 60 cm in length, choose a rug that is 90 x 50cm
  • For an oval coffee table that is 135cm in length, choose a rug that is 120 x 180cm


You want the coffee table to sit on the rug almost like a floating island and ensure there is enough space around it so that the rug isn’t completely hidden.

Designer hint: If you have an oval shape, glass coffee table, then you may want to keep the top relatively clear of accessories to allow the pattern, texture and colour of the rug to be seen through it.

6. Rule of 3

The rule of three in home styling works to group three (unsurprisingly!) décor items together. This simple method adds an aesthetically-pleasing dynamic that’s more natural to the human eye as our brains love odd numbers grouped together.


When you arrange an oval coffee table using the rule of three, you’d be wise to choose different heights for each item to keep visual interest or consider stacking some items like this oval coffee table (below) to add differing height dynamics to the table.

Some, such as design expert Phoebe Hayward, interpret the rule of 3 differently and instead of applying it to the decorative items, they split the surface into thirds. Hayward has styled the below rectangular table by separating it into thirds, but the concept can still be applied to an oval table in the same way.


7. Opposites Attract

In most cases, you’ll want to select colour, textures and materials that differ from that of your oval coffee table as this will help make it feel more dynamic and exciting to look at. You will want to keep colour schemes cohesive on the table as well as throughout the room. If you have a natural wooden tabletop, for example, consider using black accessories to provide a striking contrast.


Pops of colour are ideal to be introduced to a room via a coffee table but again, ensure they sit well with the rest of the environment. As well as colour, consider textures as they are super important too. Avoid repeating the same textures that are on the table in your choice of accessories. You won’t want to be placing matte decorative items on top of a matte table, for instance, as this would be overwhelming, and you risk the visual impact being lost.

Final Thoughts…

If you’ve been wondering what to do with an oval coffee table, these tips provide a perfect starting point for your styling journey. Whilst we can provide inspiration, you are in complete control so make sure to have fun and inject your own personality onto the table to create a cohesive but personable living space.

Our Designer

Kasia Nowicka - ShowMeDesign

Kasia Nowicka - ShowMeDesign

This blog was written in collaboration Kasia. Kasia has excellent space planning & conceptual designing skills. She has been an Interior Designer for 9+ years. In that time she has founded a highly successful in interior design business called ShowMeDesign.

Latest Posts: