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How to Style a Console Table

Console tables can be the perfect complement to your existing furnishings, from the foyer to an awkward niche at the top of the stairs - but you have to style it properly. Because console tables feature narrow surfaces, your best bet is to treat it like a decorative island that has a ton of potential to add panache to your space.

Choose a console table that meshes with your decorative style, whether it's sleek and modern, classically elegant or retro-trendy. From there, it's all about picking the right accents and embracing empty space.

Fashion + Function

While your console table is a decorative island, it can serve as a fully functional part of your home's furnishings as well. It's the perfect place to prop mail that needs to go out, hold your car keys or provide a little light to accent its space. The fundamental thing to remember, though, is that if you're using it as a functional furnishing rather than simply a decorative piece, you need to keep its surface neat and clutter-free.

Choosing a Color Palette

Treat your color palette very casually when you're styling a console table. Because the table and its contents are meant to be interesting, you can be more adventurous with your choices. One or two pieces that are just outside your palette's range will enhance the entire group.

Console Table Style Tips

Find a great focal point to hang above your console table. You can choose a mirror or your favorite art; the point is to keep it proportional to the table so neither looks out of place. (If the focal point is too large, it'll dwarf the table; if it's too small, your display will look too off-balance.) The focal point should be larger than the accent pieces you'll place on the table.

Items grouped in odd numbers work best for aesthetics and in this case, the table doesn't count. However, the focal point and the items on the table do. Choose two or four additional items - more if your console table is very long - to put on the table's surface and use them to create a sense of depth by placing some closer to the wall than others.

Vary the height of the decorations you use on the surface to keep the table interesting. Even if your elements are placed symmetrically across the table, varying height adds layers of visual interest.

"White space" is essential on a console table, too. Too many decorative elements on a console table make it look cluttered and disorganized, and that's not attractive. Keep at least 25, but preferably 50 percent of the table's surface free from accessories.

Great Items for a Console Table

  • Lamps
  • Live plants
  • Sculptures
  • Picture frames
  • Baskets, trays and bowls
  • Books

Try to steer clear of items that can distract from the table's aesthetics, like lamps with dangling cords. (If you must use a lamp with a dangling cord, make sure you secure it to the back of a table leg and keep it out of sight.)

Getting More From Your Console Table

If you'll be using your console table in the foyer and you're worried it'll end up as a catch-all, place a tray on it - that's the best way to prevent clutter. When the tray accumulates more than a small handful of items, clear it out (an empty tray can create even more visual appeal) and start fresh. You can also opt for a table featuring a drawer.

Don't be afraid to experiment, either. You can change the arrangement as often as you'd like until you settle on the style that works best for your home.