How to Style a Coffee Table, toddler version

Ours is like this, but different. Source: via Josie on Pinterest.

I enjoyed this short tutorial (with video) by Cupcakes and Cashmere about setting up your coffee table in an attractive, effortless looking way. (Hat tip: Long To Love’s Friday Favorites.)

To make it work for us, I followed some of her steps, and made some minor modifications.

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Start with a stack of hardcover books. Three books usually work well. Play around with it to see what looks good, with the largest on the bottom. Go for picture books, not novels.

Easy. We’re at no loss for hardcover books that are picture heavy. I went with some colorful choices.

Choose books with varied subjects. Our selections were mostly animal focused in content—instead of, say, impressionist art, old New York, vintage fashion, or Ansel Adams photography.

Next, select a tray. I switched out the tray for an indestructible bowl. (It’s also important that this bowl can function as a funny looking hat when we find ourselves putting on dinner shows for Mary Tobin.) If you have an indestructible tray, go for that. For us it worked to sub the bowl for the tray, because the tray is supposed to corral all of your objects from the next step. . .

On the tray, place fresh flowers, along with objects from around your home that will be a delight to the senses.

Toddler version: nix all of that. No flowers, candles, matches, or sharp rocks.

In the bowl we’ve got colorful blocks. Who knows? Your adult guests may enjoy them as well. If we had some attractive Waldorf-esque wooden toys, that would’ve been nice.

And, let’s be real, here’s how my clever arrangement devolves on a normal day:

coffee table real life

But it’s easy to put back into place!

My advice is tongue-in-cheek, but I am not making fun of this video; I really did enjoy it. I was cracking myself up as I tried to follow the steps as well as I could given our circumstances. (And I hope my attempt amuses you, too . . .)

I do love it when Mary Tobin’s toddler world and our grownup world coexist peacefully and as smoothly as is reasonable. That has meant:

  • For baby stuff: limiting the amount of it, choosing things that I like the look of, and having alright looking storage for it.
  • For adult stuff: limiting the amount of it (ackk), and putting a lot of things away for now, or at least out of reach and out of the Mary Tobin zone.
  • In general, getting rid of superfluous stuff (which is so hard for me!).

Stuff stuff stuff! It also helps that I’m OK with bright colors.

Side note: I’m thinking of painting this coffee table. Any suggestions?

What’s on your coffee table right now?