Aug 012014


Remember when your kid first started to walk?

It was right around 12 months. You were so proud. You were astonished by how fast he or she was growing.

And suddenly the home childproofing frenzy started.

You rushed to the nearest Babies R Us and bought boxes of plug covers and foam corner protectors. You came back home and went through all the rooms of your house installing those plug covers. They were so annoying. Every time to needed to plug something in, you’d either spend five minutes trying to take them out or one of your nails would break.

The foam corners were really handy and safe. You installed them on the corners of the coffee table, the fireplace hearth, and a few other sharp edges around the house. Now you were able to rush to the bathroom without fearing coming back to a bleeding toddler.

When that kid started to walk things changed forever.

After that toddler triumphantly did his first five steps you became a risk assessing machine. There was no more containing him or her in a bouncy chair or a baby gym. Really soon you found out that no place in the house was off limits for your little explorer.

It was time to transform your house into a large version of a jungle gym.

That table with a lamp on top was now a potential accident. At any time you could imagine turn around and see your child grabbing it and the lamp would come flying on top of his head. The bottom cabinets in your kitchen became part of his playground. It was time to lock everything down with those pesky child proof locks or move all dangerous things to the top cabinets. The bathroom had a major overhaul. As soon as that kid was free to explore, open drawers and swing the cabinet doors open medicine, make-up and mouthwash had to be put in a controlled area.

Hopefully by the time that baby became a toddler, he or she was already sleeping through the night, because it was exhausting.

Probably one of your baby’s favorite new toys was the coffee table. It’s such a fun place to hang around and most importantly it’s the perfect height.

So the coffee table got a makeover. Maybe it disappeared altogether from your family room.

Those days are over. They are now a fun memory, immortalized in the family photo album. You now sometimes miss that stage of their lives, that is, until you see an exhausted mom running after their toddler and you remember how it all was.

But the coffee table is still a problem.

How can you create a beautifully stylized coffee table?



There is a ton of advice out there on how to style your coffee table. The problem is that they don’t have your kids in mind when they are giving you advice. I know they definitely don’t consider having boys in the house and how tempting it’s for them to land their planes on your coffee table.

So even though many designers can give you great ideas and pinterest has fabulous pics, you still need to make it fit your family.

Maybe you have a beautifully designed living room that is off limits for your kids. However you are still going to want to have a beautiful yet comfortable family room where all the family can gather and relax without worrying about breaking some precious heirloom vase.

Dos and Don’ts for a family friendly coffee table

It’s not your fault your coffee table doesn’t look astonishing. After all you know that if you put half of the things you see styling coffee table in your favorite magazine, they wouldn’t last a month in your house.

So you need a family friendly version of the styling rules.

Don’t buy a glass or acrylic coffee table is my first rule for a family friendly living room. They look absolutely amazing on magazines. However when you think about how much upkeep they need, you should eliminate them from your wish list.

Unless you can have your children and husband promise not to ever touch it just don’t buy it. I have one glass side table bought pre-son that I had to move to my master bedroom for that reason. It’s a fingerprint magnet!

Books are your best friends. Books look fabulous on your coffee table. They add color, sophistication, and a dose of entertainment. You should definitely have a least one stack of books on your coffee table. Maybe more if your table is really large. My favorite part about books is that they won’t break if someone accidentally drops them. The worst that can happen is a bruised toe.

via House Beautiful

via House Beautiful

Have a beautiful tray. Trays help you keep the table organized. They can corral a series of little things that you’ve collected and want to display on the table in an organized way. They can also add a pop of color or introduce a much wanted shiny element such as silver or gold. If your coffee table is really large, the tray will help you break up the space into what seems like more pleasing proportions.

Introduce a box. Where else are you going to put that unsightly remote control? Boxes can get pretty sculptural nowadays. You can find them in all sorts of materials including glass, metals, leather, wood, bone inlay, upholstered in all sorts of fabrics, lacquered, etc. You just have to decide on a favorite.

The natural element. This is where you’d normally have beautiful glass vases filled with roses, peonies or hydrangeas. Don’t! Every time I see a beautiful coffee table in a magazine it invariably has a glass vase with flowers. I love it. I want it for my living room. Crave it would be the right word.

It would never work. There are two reasons why. Chances are one of the boys in my life would take it down and I’d end up cleaning up a huge mess on my rug. The other downside is that I’d have to change those flowers every week. That’s a lot of work. I’m going to have to leave that for when I’m an empty nester.

You can still enjoy those beautiful flowers. I have vases around that I take out to display a gorgeous flower arrangement for special occasions. Just not for every day, it’s too much upkeep.

What do you do instead? It’s simple, a potted plant. They add the freshness and liveliness you need with very little upkeep. If you really, really can’t keep plants alive, try a couple of large moss balls.



Vary the heights. To keep the vignette interesting you need to make sure not everything sits at the same height. If you are good with plants you can have a sculptural orchid to give you that desired height. I was not born with a green thumb. For years I’d buy plants and they would be dead within a month. Even succulents! Just recently I’ve been able to keep a really easy one alive.

What do you do if you have my same problem? Use that easy to care for plant for your table. If you need extra height place it on top of books or a large box.

Candles. Small votives are really family friendly. Tall candleholders, though they are perfect for adding height to your table and can look astonishing, they are easily tipped over. You decide if your family can still live with them.

The final rule on accessories. If you love it, display it. There may be some accessories you can’t live without. In that case if the accessory can withstand being accidentally dropped on the floor, display it on your table. If it’s a delicate and valuable piece find somewhere safe for you to showcase it.

The missed opportunity for storage. The coffee table is an excellent opportunity for adding storage to your great room. I have three boxes underneath them overflowing with toys, games, and kids books.

So now you are ready to make your coffee table the center piece of your living room.

Would one of the above examples work for you? Which one? Are you still struggling with the styling? Send me a picture!