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.
How to Style Coffee Table Books in Three Steps
Let’s call this the basic formula and take it from there.
- 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.
- 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 of! This is used to elevate the top accessory and add interest with layers but is also optional.
- Place 1-3 sculptural items directly on top of a book stack or flat tray or dish. Use a collection of things if you use a decorative bowl or basket. Examples: A small plant on a plate or footed stand, a pair of brass figurines, or tall candlesticks with a third decorative item. Decorating in odd numbers is a designer’s secret.
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
These book stacking ideas are fail-safe decorating for any style of room decor.
- 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.
Traditional and eclectic coffee table book styling
- 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.
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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.
How many coffee table books should you stack?
You should use 2-4 books that are roughly the same size but can be of different thicknesses to get a nice balance for a coffee table book stack. The larger the surface the more books you can use. Multiple stacks can be the same height for a cohesive look.
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 coffee table 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.
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.
Do coffee table books have to match?
This is preference. A mix of colors looks excellent 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 already in your decor on top of white coffee table books.
What size of coffee table book should you use?
Coffee table books are larger than your standard book to grab attention to their aesthetic qualities and can come in many different sizes. Expect to find portrait, square, and landscape layouts for these decorative books.
The larger the surface you are styling, the larger the coffee table book size should be for the bottom of your stack or single-layer display. Try for 11″ in length or larger.
Where to Find Coffee Table Books
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.
Find books just for home decor and DIYs lovers in this article.
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience 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. 😉
Now that you know how to style coffee table books, I hope you are inspired to try the tips with your own books and decorating accessories! Find out how to decorate with books in this article and tips for styling a bookcase here. Leave a comment if you have any questions or comments and I’m happy to reply.
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