Shea McGee just shared 3 coffee table styling tricks to make your living room work double – family game night has never looked better

Whether your family's full of bookworms, loves a good game night, or has racked up quite the collection of knickknacks, the designer has your coffee table styling needs covered

A photo of a tray with decorative accessories on a coffee table next to a photo of Shea McGee
(Image credit: McGee & Co.; Target)

More often than not, the coffee table defines the entire living room. Centered and stocked with your family's prized possessions, every coffee table has quite the story to tell. That's why getting the coffee table's styling down is an important final touch, a must-have when creating a stylish living room design scheme.

Lucky for those of us giving our coffee tables a much-needed seasonal refresh, interior designer Shea McGee just shared three distinct coffee table styling ideas – and there's something suited to every family on the list. Whether you love a good board game or just can't stop collecting chic decor, there's so much to be done with your coffee table – and the possibilities go far beyond a makeshift footrest.

1. Hit the books

A white coffee table with two tiers and an assortment of accessories on top

(Image credit: Dan Cutrona Photography / Firefinish Interiors)

After declaring 'library tables' in for 2024 earlier this year, it comes as no surprise that Shea's first coffee table styling tip involves books – and lots of them. Many interior design books are conveniently coffee-table-sized, making for an easy addition to your living room's central seating area, but any coffee-table books will do.

Shea suggests making three to four stacks of books on the table, depending on its size, and 'letting the color of their binds and their covers be just as much part of the design as the coffee table itself,' she writes on her website. Experiment with color, size, texture, and placement, and each book you add to the table will present you with new design opportunities.

Plus, show off your hobbies, interests, and more through books, out on display for family, friends, and guests to flip through as they please. Shea adds that books provide a perfect foundation for layering other decorative objects atop (such as trays, candles and floral arrangements) as well, as pictured above.

Shea McGee
Shea McGee

Interior designer, Shea McGee founded her iconic design firm, Studio McGee, with her husband Syd in 2014. They later launched their e-commerce brand, McGee & Co, and starred in their very own Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover.

2. Display your curiosity collection

A Chrome coffee table paired with an earthy pink sofa

(Image credit: Jonathan Adler)

Decorative objects are often scattered throughout the home, making appearances on bookshelves, side tables and, often, anywhere else they'll fit. But Shea's second suggestion puts these accessories on full display, right out on the coffee table for all to see. By layering several pieces together, pairing them based on color schemes, size and shape, you'll be well on your way to creating a stylish vignette that'll elevate the entire design scheme.

Avoid common coffee table styling mistakes like piling on too many items and limiting your personality to make the most of your collections' display. You'll be letting visitors know your interior design style, and about the items you hold dearest, each and every day – what better place for a conversation-starter than the living room, after all?

'These coffee table styling elements are sure to strike up a conversation and establish your home as a well-traveled, cultured one, thus relaying the same message about those that live within it,' says Studio McGee.

3. Have some fun with it

living room with wooden tiles on walls and white sofa with picture window

(Image credit: Ema Peter)

If you love to indulge in a good old family game night every once in a while but don't have a separate space that's up to the task, the coffee table can be a great place to gather and engage in some healthy competition. And, as Shea says, integrating games right into your living room design scheme is the perfect way to make these family room gatherings more accessible and spontaneous.

The good news, for those of you who value family fun and aesthetically pleasing interiors all at once, is that many of the classic games come in stylish, elevated designs nowadays, like McGee & Co.'s black-and-white marble tic-tac-toe board. You'll be able to display your favorite games without compromising your pared-back, warm neutral space.

'We love the idea of giving your family and your guests a reason to engage around the coffee table. Incorporating games into your coffee table styling is a great way to do that, or at least present the option,' writes the Studio McGee team.

Level up your family room's coffee table by decorating it with the accessories and collections that make you happy, above all. Not only will your design scheme benefit, but you'll enjoy living in your space more each and every day.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.