How to Arrange Stacked Coffee Table Books Beautifully

Learn how to decorate with stacked coffee table books on different tables and favorite selections of colorful-eclectic and neutral books.

Books are one of my favorite things to decorate with! They are often the base of a beautifully styled shelf or table. I enjoy reading and displaying them and have shared stories on how to style bookshelves, 10 creative ways to decorate with books, and my favorite books for interior home decor lovers.

Just the other day I was scrolling through Etsy and found the cutest bundles of vintage books in rainbow colors ready to go. And now you can go online and buy stacks of designer books to make decorating a breeze.

Of course, using books you already have and hunting for ones that you’ll be keen on reading and decorating with is why I’m here. I’m thrilled to share just how easy it is to style coffee table book stacks to create a designer vignette and some of my favorite coffee table books in my collection.

Colorful and eclectic stacked coffee table books styled on a large white rectangle coffee table with air plants, brass cranes, and colorful accessories.
Colorful Stacked Coffee Table Books

How to Style Coffee Table Books in Three Steps

Let’s call this the basic formula and we’ll take it from there.

  1. Grab 2-4 coffee table books and stack them from largest to smallest. Sometimes a book will be longer but not as wide as the next one. That’s okay as long as they are similar in size.
  2. optional: Use a flat accessory a little smaller than the top book. This can be a decorative dish, bowl, stand, tray, basket, or anything that something can safely be placed on top! This is used to elevate the top accessory and add interest with layers but is also optional.
  3. Place 1-3 sculptural items directly on top of a book stack or flat tray or dish. Use a collection of items if you used a decorative bowl or basket. Examples: A small plant on a plate or footed stand. A couple of brass figurines or pair of tall candlesticks with a third decorative item. Decorating in odd numbers is a designer secret.
A front view of a grand piano with books and decor on top, a large fringed arch lamp, jewel toned walls, furniture, curtains, and rug.
Colorful Decor on a Grand Piano

Now let’s take it to the next level. All of the flat surfaces that you decorate should visually have a similar amount of decoration on each table, shelf, counter, etc… as a rule of thumb. Follow the next tips below if you prefer minimal and clean styling or decor. Scroll down if “more is more” is in your book!

Clean and simple book arranging tips

  • Use neutral coffee table books.
  • Keep accessories simple and interesting with different textures and one or two pops of color.
  • Two stacked coffee table books adorned with a small potted plant or accessory on top of a coffee table or accent table make a gorgeous statement without looking busy.
  • Use a decorated stack of coffee table books on one side of a large coffee table with a trio of pillar candle holders, a vase with flowers, or another object roughly the same size as the coffee table books to balance the other.
  • Use two more stacks of coffee table books evenly spaced out with only one accessory on one or two of the stacks.
A white nightstand with stacked black books and black candle and a round retro clock on the side.   A anthropologie mural on the wall.
Tone on Tone Decorating with Books
A gray coffee table with a large white tray holding a stack of books with white candles and a koi fish, a wood box, and candle snuffer.  A decorative box and aloe plant on the other side of the tray.
Using Orange and Browns as Neutrals for Coffee Table Styling
Summer Bedroom Decorating With a stack of art books, chinoiserie bowl, and sunflowers below a gold antique mirror.
Simple Styling for Stacked Art Books
 Small gold bamboo table with a wood chest underneath against a white wall and blue and white rug.  A couple of decorative coffee table books with a round mecury glass small lamp is styled on top.
Interior Decor Books on a Small Accent Table
Books on a white chair with a jade plant.
Stacked Books on a Chair
Simple black and white decorating with netural cooffee table books and plants on a piano.
Neutral Book Arranging on the Piano

Traditional and Eclectic book arranging tips

  • Divide your flat surface with stacks of books evenly using 2-6 stacks of books to make a grid.
  • Color code the book colors for an interesting arrangement! I love sticking to greens and blues or just using black and white with pops of gold.
  • The accessories on top should be of varying heights. Try decorating one stack of books with a single tall/large item or a grouping of tall items while the other stacks of books have smaller/shorter decorative objects to take up less visual space. A pretty box to hide things on one stack can be practical for a coffee table with remotes and controllers.
  • Spread out two to four stacks of decorative books and place something large in the middle directly on the table if you have the space. This is perfect for a flower arrangement, plant, or tall candle holders and figurines.
  • Stick to a single-color family and neutrals if things start looking too busy. A pretty plate or tray with family photos or postcards to browse through can be enough. Or a basket or bowl with seashells or pinecones depending on the season!
  • Display high-end decor with special mementos together.
Sofa table with raw edge wood and eclectic decor with decorative books in a Japanese rental house.  A white cat sits on a ottoman next to a basket nestled under the table.
Sofa Table Styling with Decorative Books and Trays
A white french provencial dresser is decorated with stacked books, candles, flowers, plants, and vases with an ecletic gallery wall around a wall mounted tv and blue and white area rug.
Stacked Books on a Dresser
Pinecones sit in a wood bowl on top of neutral cofee tabe books for seasonal decor on the piano.
Pinecones in a Wood Bowl on top of Neutral Coffee Table Books
Asian decor in a white bright foyer wtih a plant in a chinoierie bowl.  A beautiful black Asian cabinet wtih Fall decor and a large lotus art piece above.
Gold and White Books Stacked on a Gold Tray

Join me on Instagram for behind-the-scenes, DIYs, decorating tips, room tours, and home inspiration. I’ll see you over there!

A large white coffee table is divided with four stacks of coffee table books and colorful accessories on top.  Green furniture is around it.
Book Bindings Facing Out on Our Coffee Table

Why decorate with coffee table books?

  • Use everything you have. You can display and store almost anything beautifully. My motto is to decorate with things I love and use to keep clutter at bay.
  • Think of books as a tray to coral or hold items. Items just look neater when they are anchored together. A stack of books may be the solution you were looking for on a busy table or shelf.
  • Elevate something special. Feature your favorite pieces by using a stack of coffee table books as a display.
  • Can add height to lighting and other things when needed. Mismatched end tables or table lamps? Use a stack of books to create an even height on both sides of the sofa or bed.
  • It makes seasonal decorating super easy. Just switch a container of something for the seasons and different holidays.
  • Books are special. Plain and simple. “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway

Look at any magazine or professionally designed house and you’ll see coffee table books styled into the decor!

A note on plants: Make sure a live plant is in a cache pot and/or on a plate or tray to protect the book from water.

A grey coffee table with two white large trays and decorating items.
Easy Coffee Table Styling

How many coffee table books should you stack?

2-4 books are roughly the same size but can be of different thicknesses. The larger the surface the more books you might use. Multiple stacks can be the same height for a cohesive look.

Modern Chic Coffee Table Styling for Christmas.  A white tray with burled wood box and plant, stacked coffee table books and a pair of brass cranes are on one side.  The other half is a wood bow with ornaments and stack of books with candles.
Tray with Books on One Half and Books and Bowl Balances the Other Half

How do you arrange stacked books on a coffee table and decorate with them?

A small rectangular coffee table usually looks best with one to two stacks of books. Larger rectangle or square coffee tables can be divided into squares for 2-4 stacks of books and occasionally 6 stacks! Think of a triangle shape when styling a round coffee table using 1 or 3 stacks of books.

A view of the living room with a green velvet sofa, german smear fireplace with built in bookcase, and white and green decor.
Colorful and Eclectic Styling with Lots of Books
Stacked interior decorating books with decorative grapes on top.
Stacked Books with Decorative Grapes

How do you decorate with a stack of books on a table?

Start by placing a stack of books on a tray and then arrange accessories on top and/or around. Use odd numbers for groupings. For example, three small items on top of the stack of books or one large accessory.

Decor styled on a stack of magazines.
Decor on a Stack of Magazines

Do coffee table books have to match?

This is preference. A mix of colors looks great in eclectic and colorful traditional styles while using all warm or cool tones can appear less busy. Neutral book bindings are the easiest to decorate with. Try incorporating colors that are already in your decor on top of white coffee table books.

A green velet sofa with a close up of a MCM side table using books to elevate a copper table lamp in an eclectic living room.
Art Books Elevate a Table Lamp

My favorite place to look for used coffee table books is Half Price Books. I also love hunting for used or vintage coffee table books at Estate and garage sales. Most of my new decorative books come from Amazon so I’ve rounded up a couple of lists below with affiliate links for your shopping convenience.

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convince to brands I love. You still pay the same price but I may earn a small commission.

Best Coffee Table Books for Decorating on Amazon

I own every single one of these. They are my favorite decorating books that are also fun to decorate with!

Neutral Coffee Table Books

I have a couple of these but the rest are on my Christmas/birthday list. 😉

I hope you are inspired to display and style your books! Leave a comment if you have any questions or comments and I’m happy to reply.

kathy
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