Decorating console tables, or sofa/entry tables, can be a challenge. They are long and narrow, and oftentimes there’s the temptation to fill up all that linear space with stuff. I recently added a console table under the beautiful mirror I purchased during Black Friday, and as I am preparing to style it, I thought I’d share some tips for decorating your console table and what to consider in order to get it right every time. You really can do it!
Whatever your reason for adding a console table to your home, there is a surefire way to get a look you’ll love for a long time. Just remember the two most important things in styling: Scale and Placement.
- Scale – your decorative items MUST fit the scale of the piece of furniture they are on (no wimpy lamps on large console tables and conversely, no over-sized round mirrors hanging over tiny console tables)
- Placement – chant this in your head every time you are styling anything, “layer, layer, layer”. Group things together, stack things up…don’t just spread everything out because of the length of the table.
Everything else, from the decor pieces you choose to what you hang over the console table, is up to your own interpretation based on your personal style. Here are some things to consider when it comes to decorating your console table:
1) Purpose Of Your Console Table –
- purely decorative,
- a place to drop mail and keys
- a functional piece of furniture in a living space
- will it need to provide light for a space?
When I designed the above reading nook for a client, I knew the console table was also doubling as a side table for her reading chair, so a lamp on that end was in order. This helped steer the direction of the rest of the styling. A properly-scaled lamp is an easy way to complete one whole side of a console table, and it is functional as well.
My new console table will be a place for us to drop keys and mail, hopefully provide a little storage (even if it’s just to tuck away two footstools), and hold a nice, big lamp because personally, I can never have enough lamp light. Deciding on the function of your console is essential, as it will determine the styling, so it’s best to thoroughly think through that piece of the process.
2) Style Of Your Console Table –
- Don’t match your decor to the style of your table
- Mix it up
When decorating your console table, it’s best not to determine your accessories based on the style of your console table. Some of the best, most unique and eye-catching console styling I’ve seen has been a combination of different styles. If you have a clean-lined, ceramic or Lucite console table, warm it up with some gold or wood accents and greenery. On the other hand, if you have a traditional console, such as the wildly popular Everett foyer table, pair it with a more modern mirror and unexpected styling pieces for a collected look. I love the way Nicole at Eye For Pretty transformed the Everett foyer table by adding light, airy pieces to give it a fresh, modern look rather than a farmhouse or traditional look. This console is so versatile that whatever your style may be, it can work in your space.
3) What to Hang Over the Console Table –
- Juju hat/interesting over-sized object
- Collection of baskets, hats, etc.
- Mix materials
The subject of what to hang over a console table is one that could go on all day, but a mirror is always a good choice. Depending on location however, your space may be better served with a large piece of art hanging over your console. But if you have an interesting object, such as a juju hat, very large basket, or collection of straw hats or artifacts that you’d like to display, go for it. Just make sure the scale is correct for the table.
Here is an example of a console table with framed art above it. You can really stretch your creative legs on what to hang over this versatile piece of furniture as long as you love the look of whatever is on the wall paired with the table.
As a general rule of thumb, if you have a wooden console table, you should pair it with a metal or gilded mirror. If your console table is metal, white, concrete, or Lucite, warming it up with a wooden or gilded mirror is the way to go. Gilded is good in any situation…it’s timeless. To create visual balance, you need to mix materials.
4) Will You Need Light? –
I am Team: “You-Can-Never-Have-Too-Many-Lamps,” so for me, a lamp on a console table is a no-brainer, especially if your table is anywhere that could use a little extra comfort lighting (not sure if a space exists that couldn’t benefit from that kind of lighting). However, I recently designed a master bedroom that called for a console table on a long, bare wall, but it was in close proximity to the owners’ nightstands and they preferred not to have another lamp so close. In that case, we went with an over-sized vase filled with tall branches.
Here is an example of a console table without a lamp and pretty much only serving the purpose of being a beautiful welcome to guests who walk through the entryway. The two sconces flanking that gorgeous gilded mirror provide the light needed for this space, so the console is freed up to hold beautiful objects and lots of greenery or flowers.
This entryway designed by Studio McGee is the mother lode of console table styling. Drawers and baskets for storage, a bowl for keys and mail, two large lamps for light, AND the beauty of a mirror and fresh flowers. It combines all of the elements you need to consider in such a beautiful way.
I recently consulted with a client and came up with the console set up below for an awkward wall she just couldn’t figure out. Metal table, wooden mirror, space for footstools underneath, perfectly-scaled lamp for additional light, large accessories layered in front of mirror. This provided the function she needed as well as the pleasing aesthetic she wanted, and it was all achieved on a modest budget.
Whether you have a healthy budget or are designing on a dime, decorating your console table doesn’t have to be so challenging. Simply remember the “Things to Consider” as well as SCALE and PLACEMENT. Use this post as a guide, remember to be confident in your style (refer to this post if you’re not), and decorate with items that bring you and your family joy. It may take some time and you may have to save your dollars to collect the right pieces, but I know you can do it!
P.S. If all else fails, you can always hire me to create a design board for you.