Styling An Oval Cocktail Table....Tips and Suggestions?

kswl2August 30, 2014

If you google "styling oval cocktail tables" or coffee tables, you'll see loads of photos of tables with nothing--- or almost nothing---on them. I've looked at many pictures and have determined that round or small footprint/tall things look best.....big books look awkward and smaller ones look like you forgot to put them away. Most rectangles or squares look uncomfortable (for lack of a better term) perched on an oval surface.

Ever since our interior designer "relocated" the big pottery bowl that was the sole item on our library table to the lower level, I have been shopping my own house for items to use on the table, and I would love pictures, suggestions, tips, etc.

Table is pedestal base from Baker with an inlaid medallion at the center. It is very pretty on its own. Here it is with a large book so you can see the size. (Apologize for horrible iphone pictures, it was after floors but before rug came back from cleaners)

Rug restored, flowers from birthday bouquet from a friend in ceramic vase, silver Revere bowl with green enamel interior, and three varying height brass candlesticks with fat Root candles in green:

More, less, what?

This post was edited by kswl on Sat, Aug 30, 14 at 12:30

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oaktonmom

I don't think candles work on a coffee table and am not thrilled with the vase. I like the table with the revere bowl on it. What about adding some pretty coasters and an interesting coffee table book.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Patricia43

I really think the table could stand alone and be used simply for wine glasses or a crystal liquor set. Oval tables are hard. I have one. I just never quite get it right and it seems better like it was on the showroom floor, unencumbered.

I think your trio is nice and the colors are great, but it is too much. I don't care for the flowers with the other items. I like the bowl and the candlesticks and perhaps a silver or nickel-plated candle snuffer.

I think that or just the floral arrangement alone. I see you are trying to create odds within odds, but less is more and you know that based on what I have seen of your beautiful work. Sit back and look and think. The right thing will come to pass in time.

This post was edited by patricia43 on Sat, Aug 30, 14 at 12:50

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

See original post for reasons to avoid books-- the proportions don't work. Agree about vase, but it is not a long term fixture there, I am looking more for guidance on sizes, heights, mix and especially SHAPE of materials. I have a cupboard full of vases of every type, from ceramic to silver to glass, but they are not all the right shape or height :-(

I could also do a plant.....

Curious why you don't like candles on low tables?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Thank you patricia :-) but it's been YEARS and I still haven't come up with a great solution to this. I did have one large ceramic bowl on that table that a potter friend made for us, it functioned as a sort of catchall for stuff left on the table (good) but was really too big and too casual for the table. (The bowl is now in the lower level filled with 3-D glasses for the new tv screen.)

I'll take the flowers away (although I LOVE the colors flowers add to a room) and see what the candles and bowl look like together. I think I am going to need something glass, though, in addition.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Boopadaboo

I like the flowers too. Maybe in a rosebowl though? do you have one of those? I admit they are a weakness of mine :)

I am kind of nutty on symetrical too though and admit my first thought was an intersting low oval pottery piece - a large one. ( I think my brain is on vacation as I missed above that you relocated a pottery piece!)

This post was edited by boopadaboo on Sat, Aug 30, 14 at 13:11

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teacats

Got an oval coffee table here in my one-and-only living room -- and looks just like yours!!! :)

Not a Baker ...... just a "Basic" oval mahogany coffee table .... LOL!! :) ...... just teasing! :)

Anyway -- find a darker oval tray (mine is dark-woven wicker with sides)-- and I filled my tray with two or three décor books (without their bookjackets) and a couple of VERY old brass match-holders and a small stack of coasters .... and (right now) an old brass dish/tray sitting right on top of the books ..... the whole thing is set off to one side of the table ....

Nothing tall because it would block the sight-line to the TV .....

The key to the whole game seems to be finding an oval "object" like a tray or bowl that echoes the shape and depth of color of the table .....

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Boopadaboo

Some ideas here...

Here is a link that might be useful: oval coffee table decor

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

I have looked for a brass gallery tray without much success, the ones I have found don't feel very nice. Don't want a big one ---well, not big enough for books--- because I don't want to cover the medallion in the table. (Pedestal feet are brass, so I like that material for it.)

If I found the right tray I would not use the Revere bowl or flowers but I could probably use an orchid on the tray along with other items. I'll keep looking for that.

Teacats, could you post a photo of your table?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oaktonmom

those candlesticks look as though they belong on a dining table or sideboard. To my eye, it looks too 'staged' because you really probably would never light those candles on a coffee table. Perhaps one pretty, chunky candle would look nice on a low crystal stand.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fun2BHere

I think you can still use books, but you have to balance them with something of equal visual weight. So, two or three books on one end with a small object on top like a magnifying glass balanced with a tea chest and two smaller boxes on the other end. For flowers, use a low dense arrangement in your Revere bowl or a squat, glass square vase or use a tall, but spindly orchid. Place the bowl either on the books (remove the object) or sort of at the top of a very flat pyramid made of the books, boxes and flowers.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Good point--- I probably wouldn't light them and they are certainly staged, lol!

Found some great trays at Bliss:
White ceramic and pewter:

iron and mirror:

antique brass:

supercool shagreen tray:

Adore this one but it is nickel:

Ok, the next ones not for me but in case mtnrdredux looks they are very Maine-y:

A wood and brass cheetah design that appeals to me for some reason!

Boop, thanks for that link.....you see most of those tables have nothing on them!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Fun, thanks for those suggestions! I actually have a magnifying glass---it is a large blue plastic one I bought at a toy store to read find print! I guess I could find a nicer one for the library :-) We have an antique Rolleiflex camera that belonged to a relative / photographer but I am afraid to leave it out for fear it will be mishandled, it is both valuable and sentimental.

I will look for some smaller books, and post pictures of what that looks like.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fun2BHere

Here are three quick ideas I did with things from around the house. As I look at the pictures, I see I didn't do such a great job of spacing and aligning, but you can get the idea, I think. This happens to be a games table with a smaller top than your coffee table, so the items would look more graceful on your table. Hope this provides a little inspiration.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Thanks for those photos, Fun!! I like the first one best because it shows a lot of your game table top, but might also work on mine because I don't want to cover the center medallion.

I have found these interesting items online:

a nut dish with an acorn scoop! Wood and pewter:

A 9.5" tall x 7" wide B'rer Rabbit sculpture in bronze (I loved these stories as a child and visited the Joel Chandler Harris house yearly):

I need to go shopping!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Alternative to a tray?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oaktonmom

How about an oval lacquered tray with a glass vase filled with good quality hydrangeas or an orchid. A pretty box. Something whimsical that reflects your personality. Just throwing out some ideas.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
teacats

And a fast, quickie photo from DH:

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Thanks, teacats, the tables are very similar. Looking at your photo makes me want to find a round brass tray!

Oak ton, thank you for those suggestions, I like the idea of a lacquered tray very much.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
voila

I have a soft spot for old paper Mache trays, and think you might like the addition of a Florentine print or a mix of colors to correspond to the room, to tie the display to its beautiful surroundings. You can find oval or round trays inexpensively on eBay, Etsy or locally in antique shops. You can lay the magnifying glass on it with an old stamp roll holder, or use it as a base for a rose bowl, or the Revere bowl with potpourri. A stack of things might keep the look lighter, and less cluttered.

Here is a link that might be useful: vintage Paper Mache

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
voila

Here is another example from Etsy, but it was sold.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 3:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zuponcic

I think the issue is the center medallion: if you want us to see it, then you can't put anything except coasters or something small on the table. Leave it empty unless you need to put it to functional use. Pretty table. I think it probably has to be something in the center, or nothing at all.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Holly- Kay

KSWL, I just have to know where you found that gorgeous antique brass tray and even more importantly the B'rer Rabbit sculpture, would you share please? I loved B'rer Rabbit as a child also.

If I were styling the table I would look for vintage B'rer Rabbit books in good condition, stack them, and place the sculpture on top. It would be a reflection of something you love.

I also think a beautiful sterling silver tray would look gorgeous but I know you want to stay with brass.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sumac

I agree with vedazu

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Holly-Kay, I found it at an online shopping site called Bliss Home and Design, they have wonderful accessories! They also have large (7-9 inch) reproductions of the monopoly player tokens --- the iron, the shoe, the derby, the terrier, and something else I can't remember.

Vedazu, you may be right, I might should leave well enough alone unless I want one tall fabulous something in the middle of the table.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bliss---- look in accessories for Br'er Rabbit

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Holly- Kay

Thanks KSWL!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Vedazu, I like that tray!

Shallow ceramic bowl and red leather Chinese box for dominoes:

Closer with the box open, it is lined with interesting fabric. Perhaps I could find dominoes to go in it.

Bowl:

I think I might order the brass gallery rail tray and Br'er Rabbit...good idea Holly.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

Do you have a small piece of art glass or a small Oriental vase/pot? I am a fan of orchids, especially orchids in a low art glass dish. I like this orchid in the low bowl

Contemporary Bathroom by San Diego Interior Designers & Decorators Alpha Design Group

Perhaps an orchid on one side, arching toward the middle, with the books and magnifying glass on the other side. Maybe a few crystal paperweights scattered on the table, too. Wish I had a photo. In my mind, it looks fantastic! ;-)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 9:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Lol, bbstx, we need the long distance Vulcan mind meld :-)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 9:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

In lieu of the long-distance Vulcan mind meld, Ms. Spock, how about a couple of photos? Not exactly what I was talking about in the previous post, but I like this one by Amy Howard. She does 3 julep cups with nosegays in each. I know this table isn't much like yours, but I like the simplicity and symmetry of the 3 evenly spaced cups. And who doesn't like julep cups! You could move yours slightly above the equator to show the medallion.

Or if you can't find a magnifying glass, you could put a shoe on top of your books

:\-))))
    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 10:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Well, I don't have a shoe that looks exactly like that one, but I DO have three silver mint julep cups. I guess a picture may be worth more than a thousand words :-). Thanks, I will try that look

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 10:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Gemcap

i LOVE your cocktail table. The wooden grains are marvellous. Keeping it shorn of any adornments would show off the beauty of the table.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Patricia43

I have a large magnifying glass atop a stack of books on my BR library (night) table which I found at Wal-Mart a few years ago. It's a nice one. Granted, it's not heirloom quality and it's not goldplated but I think it has a brass outer rim and a horn/bamboo looking handle.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 3:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

Well, patricia43, just think of how stylish you could be if instead of a magnifying glass, you fling an old shoe up on top of your books!

I hope you all know I'm being very tongue in cheek. Who puts a shoe on top of their books? Who puts a shoe on top of anything other than the pile of other shoes on the floor of the closet? Do people buy shoes strictly for display? Have I missed another trend?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

A pretty Phoebe Howard coffee table

Replace the roses with an orchid, and this is pretty much what I was envisioning in my 21:23 post yesterday.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 9:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Bbstx, I LOVE your sense of humor! But .....if I put an old shoe that was a replica of the monopoly player's piece I usually got stuck with in family games, would that make it any cooler, lol?

I guess I need to reassess why I am even giving brain space to the motion that I need to style a beautiful table. Is this the dreaded PROJECT END SYNDROME? If so I guess I need to step up my volunteering. At least I am not going to the extreme of moving, like Kevin! (JK Kevin, know your move is a spouse/house combo :-)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 11:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sallymo2015

We had an oval cocktail table in the store for awhile and I loved it! Of course it's overdone (we're trying to sell things), but I think some taller things in the mix, and we love using glass paperweights, they're all over the shop!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 1:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Sallymo, I think your table looks great, even overfilled, and I think it is because you have only round shapes sitting on it. Agree completely about the need for something tall, that was the rationale behind the three tall candlesticks in the first picture. Unfortunately I can't really think of anything else tall except a hurricane globe with a candle or filled with something :-(

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 1:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

I think the Monopoly shoe on your cocktail table would be cool! especially because it has special significance for you.

Is this it?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Yes, that's it. But I always wanted the dog! I was just kidding about it earlier, itheyre actually just a little too big....almost creepy. Just looking for stuff leads one down some dark alleys, lol!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sueb20

Darnit, now I want that Brer Rabbit...

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 8:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tuesday_2008

I like the ceramic bowl and red leather box stacked on the books that you posted Saturday at 20:38. They look like they "belong" there. It looks great with the sofa, pillows, and rug.

The box is pretty open or closed.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 11:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Be careful, SueB, one rabbit is an accessory, two is a trend!

Thank you, Tuesday. I've been to the nursery and bought a pretty orchid in a clay pot, which I am going to try next with something else and will post a photo. I appreciate yours and others' willingness to look and weigh in :-)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 2:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cyn427

So many ideas! I actually think you could use your Revere bowl, vase with flowers and something smaller and round like a beautiful crystal paperweight (lots of different ones available to suit any color or style you like) as a group of three offset from the center and then put one small item (or a small stack) away from that group.

Can't wait to see what you choose!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 2:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lizbeth-gardener

I think it should be a reflection of you/your family. Angle your books so the top edge is to your left and titles facing sofa. I don't think you need anything on top of them. Then count your medallion as another item and put a third on other side. It could be a fat pillar candle on a simple holder, a sculpture/decorative object, a mint julep cup filled with flowers, a plant, or a group of objects that read as one. If it's an item from your travels or an interesting family memento it can be a conversation starter, like your monopoly piece!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 3:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Okay, here are two shots of enameled Rever bowl, books, and orchid in clay pot.

This post was edited by kswl on Mon, Sep 1, 14 at 20:16

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 8:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

Love it! Do you have an Oriental cachepot to slip the orchid into so that it doesn't damage your books?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 8:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Yes i do, actually, and it is light yellow. I think the colors would be perfect for the orchid. Will find it in decorative accessories graveyard and post a photo!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 8:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mtnrdredux_gw

I love that bowl. I like the orchid there, but I agree you should find a pot for it. Id also rather a white orchid.
Pretty table and room.

PS I love those trays you posted, eps the ones you said were Maine-y!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 8:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Orchid in planter on books

No books:

Mtn, I love those revere bowls, I actually have three green enameled ones, the one shown, one more olive green and one a teal green. And I thought those trays would be fun for your pool next year....if you don't watch out you will have your own army of shoppers for that place :-)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 9:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

I think you need the books on the table. Looks a little nekkid (spelling per Lewis Grizzard) without them. What about the books under the Revere bowl?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Revere bowl on books:

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 9:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bbstx

Perfection! IMHO.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kswl2

Thanks, bb! (We still miss Lewis down here, I live about an hour away from his childhood home.)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mtnrdredux_gw

Not to be a PITA but I like the Revere bowl by itself, but the orchid needs a smaller cachepot if it sits on the books imho

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:13PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Red / burgundy accent wall?
Hi all! Would love your opinions on this ! My husband...
eesmerelda
How to respond to social backlash aimed at your mid mod aesthestic? R
Today's retrorenovation blog was filled with subjects...
lov_mkitchenIOWA zone 6b
Pier 1 Furniture???
Okay, we are at the tail end of a whole-house remodel...
dgranara
This is why you don't pick paint colours off the internet
This photo has been circulating the internet today....
amberm145
Any idea what this style house is called?
Hello folks! I saw this house and am very interested...
jplanger
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™