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How to style an outdoor coffee table

By RST Brands
January 18, 2015

Coffee table styling was incredibly popular in 2015. It was so popular, in fact, that it was covered by major home design gurus like Pottery Barn, Houzz, HGTV and The Everygirl. It remains a popular trend even now in the 2021. The outdoor coffee table, however, has been a bit neglected. For many of us, our patios are merely exterior extensions of our homes, and we think they should be designed to look like it. Mother Nature can make creating a most beautiful and durable space seem a bit difficult. We think it gives backyard decorating a bit of a bad rap but all hope is not lost. To take your outdoor living room to the next level, the coffee table is the perfect place to start. Lucky you, we know just how to style an outdoor coffee table.

Trays and books

In reality, styling your outdoor coffee table isn't so different from styling your indoor one. Using several layers of decor, you effectively make your coffee table a visually interesting centerpiece. The key? When choosing outdoor coffee table decor, choose items that are a bit more weatherproof. If your patio is covered, then few tweaks will need to be made. If your coffee table is exposed, however, then you'll need to be a little more careful.

Every well-decorated coffee table begins with some sort of flat piece. Trays work wonderfully, and many are waterproof. Large, hardcover books make a great base too, but these should be reserved for coffee tables that are sheltered from the elements. Whatever you choose, make sure it contrasts well with the color of your outdoor furniture; you want your patio to be just as cohesive as your living room.

Nothing anchors a coffee table quite like a little shrubbery does. While you can opt for a traditional vase of flowers (they are great for adding a pop of color), you can also opt for more durable and unexpected succulents. If your table isn't covered, feel free to opt for a fake plant that won't die during the next rainstorm.

Lit or unlit, candles make a beautiful addition to all coffee tables. The key to protecting yours outdoors? Candles that come in decorative, protective cases, like small lanterns. Regardless of your candle choice, you'll want to make sure you have a waterproof box of matchbooks nearby. One cool idea we've seen: a clear glass jar filled with matchbooks the couple had picked up on their vacations.

Personal items
Next up: Small trinkets like magnifying glasses, statuettes, patterned bowls or crystal goblets. These personal items can be mixed and matched for the most unique look, and most are weatherproof by nature. One thing to keep in mind when placing these decorations on your coffee table outside: weight. Super lightweight items can quickly blow away in the wind, so you'll want to save those for your decorating indoors.

Other centerpieces
When thinking of outdoor coffee table decor ideas, one that often comes to mind is the classic bowl of fruit centerpiece. You can use fake fruit or real fruit, but fake fruit would be safer against the elements. You can use other popular centerpieces like tea sets, a pitcher with classes, artistic metal decorations, or ornamental balls or spheres inside a bowl or glass container. Just make sure your outdoor coffee table centerpiece is protected from the elements and won't blow away or be knocked over too easily.

Bonus: An outdoor rug and blankets
To anchor the whole look together, you can also throw an outdoor rug directly underneath your coffee table. Not only is it a great way to tie together you coffee table decor and your outdoor furniture, but it's also a great place to incorporate fun patterns. During the cooler months, keep a basket of blankets underneath your coffee table so friends and family can keep warm - and keep the conversation flowing.

We're just saying - there's no reason indoor coffee tables should have all the fun. A few minor tweaks can make your outdoor living space just as breathtaking as your indoor space. We guarantee it. Now that you know how to decorate an outdoor coffee table, get to it!