Before I get into today’s topic about coffee table styling using what you already have, just a quick note about the snafu with the widgets on Sunday for the timeless furniture post. My geek guy fixed it, but it took him several hours.
I sent out the post again on Monday so those of you who couldn’t see the furniture on Sunday could see it. Those who couldn’t were looking on their mobile device. Since I didn’t know who saw the furniture and who didn’t, I sent the notice about the post getting fixed to the entire list.
Therefore, I’m sending apologies if you:
- were annoyed getting another email.
- thought you were losing your mind because you could’ve sworn you saw the same post the day before.
- thought Laurel had lost her mind.
Hopefully, the problem won’t occur again. Something I didn’t say is that after over ten years, Laurel Home is undergoing a little facelift. We are shooting for sometime around the middle of August.
Some of you may remember a mention of my new vintage coffee table, and some of you expressed interest in the backstory. So, here goes:
Years ago, I became completely
obsessed infatuated with the lovely coffee table (below) in William Mclure’s home. Well, one of his homes. haha
I believe it might be of Henredon origin.
Some of these tables were in a stained wood finish; however, I prefer this Chinese Chippendale-style table painted.
In addition to William and others, I discovered Maura Endres in 2016, which you can see here.
I fell in love with Maura’s gorgeous Chinese Chippendale-style stools. Her taste is off the charts fantastic!
Both the coffee table and stools have a Chinese Chippendale “blind fretwork” pattern on the legs. Maybe it should be called “seeing impaired fretwork?” Anyway, it’s so-named, of course, because one can’t see behind the geometric fretwork pattern. In an open fretwork pattern, you can see through the intricate design.
Below are two more pieces of furniture with the blind fretwork design.
Above and below are two more examples of the blind fretwork pattern.
Of course, there are numerous examples as Chinoiserie designs have been trending for several years.
One day, while hunting for some antique pieces, I found this coffee table below on One King’s Lane.
I loved this table. However, there were some problems.
As you can see, in the upper right corner was a big chunk of the table’s affixed “tray” missing. Well, I suppose that could be fixed.
However, the bigger problem was that at 38″ square, was way too big for the old Bronxville living room. And, I had no other place it could go. The table sat on the OKL website for at least a couple of years. I debated getting it, but didn’t.
Laurel, do you like all of those dark knots?
No, but I adore the table!
One day, I looked for the beautiful, albeit damaged, coffee table, and it was gone!
I had an extreme case of buyer’s remorse in reverse.
After that, I thought, well, surely there’s another one. At least I could find out the manufacturer. I know that Baker had put out a similar end table which you’ve seen different versions of in the HOT SALES vintage page. However, I’ve never seen a coordinating coffee table from Baker furniture.
The table on OKL did have the coordinating side table. That was gone, as well.
I kept digging and digging for this table. No starving dog searching desperately for a bone has anything on me when I have a bee in my quest for something.
FINALLY, I found an image of the table and discovered it was a table manufactured by Century Furniture in the 1970s. It is pine, and the rest we already know.
So, every so often, I’d do a good old-fashioned Google search.
Century Furniture, Pine Chinoiserie coffee table, Blind fretwork.
Invariably, what I came up with were the coffee tables I adored in this blog post.
But, I did not ever find another coffee table like this one. I found some with open fretwork. And, I found other fretwork-type patterns.
This was all before I decided to move.
After I moved, I began to think about that coffee table again.
But, every time I did a William McLure post and saw his gorgeous coffee table styling on all of his coffee tables.
Photo Above Hector M. Sanchez of William McLure’s old Birmingham loft and brilliant interior design.
photo Jean Allsopp – via Flower Mag – William McLure – perfect coffee table styling, but I know what you’re thinking.**
Shortly after moving to Boston, with more than ample space for this dream coffee table, I began searching again for the Square, Pine, Century Furniture, Chinoiserie, and Blind Fretwork Coffee Table.
The word “pine” confused Mr. Google a little. It is not typical for Chinoiserie furniture to be made of pine. As you probably know, pine is a relatively soft wood better suited to more rustic-type furniture. Most Chinoiserie fretwork tables are quite refined. Typically, back in the day, they were made from Mahogany or other hardwoods.
I’m going to interrupt myself to share a fine example of a REAL Thomas Chippendale, or at least “of the period” piece of furniture.
Alas, it is not a coffee table, for I don’t believe they drank coffee in 18th-century England. Or, if they did, they pretended it was tea. :]
But, please don’t get too excited.
It’s marked down from 70k to 60k! haha.
This outstanding example shows the intricate hand-carved detailing in both the open and blind fretwork patterns frequently seen on Chinese Chippendale-style furniture.
That corner detail blows my mind, especially because it remains intact nearly 250 years after production! However, that’s one reason why this rare beauty is so expensive.
Okay, back to Laurel’s search for her 20th century “in the manner of” Chippendale coffee table.
I probably searched a few times before last March.
And, as you might expect, nada. Nothing.
Indeed, there must be another coffee table like I had seen! Distracted by the move, I had forgotten about the table for several months, until one evening towards the end of last March, in a characteristic Laurel move, SUDDENLY, at 1:30 AM, I just HAD to look for that table again.
Oh, the drama. ;] You know what happened.
I FREAKING FOUND IT!!!
Yes, ***MY*** coffee table, ugly knots and all! I found it. However, as I do when I’ve met an attractive gentleman who appears to be interested in dating me, I did not allow myself to get too excited. You see, I’ve been duped when engaging in Google searches. In sadistic fashion, Mr. Googs frequently puts up images of furnishings that no longer exist.
Or rather, they exist, but they were already purchased and now living in someone else’s home.
So, I clicked on the link, holding my breath.
Fortunately, my Macbook is pretty fast and wasn’t in the middle of an update. After a few seconds, I was on the website. My eyes scanned the page faster than a rabbit running from a coyote.
OMG! The table was available. And, even though it was now 2:00 AM and 3/4 of the people living in the USA were sound asleep, I wasn’t taking any chances.
Laurel, are you going to tell us WHERE you found the table?
Yes, of course, I am. I found it at Palm Beach Regency in Lake Park, Florida.
They have some listings on Chairish, but it’s only a tiny fraction of their entire line of lovely vintage Hollywood Regency furniture. Their prices are very reasonable.
I saw that they give trade discounts. Well, the table was almost half the price of the damaged one! Gosh, I would’ve paid more! Also, I did save money on shipping by not taking the glass.
Laurel, that’s an interesting story, but your headline says “styling your coffee table using what you already have.”
What? Did you think I was actually going to style the new coffee table? ;]
But, guys, you must realize by now that coffee table styling is not exactly my strong suit.
Well, styling anything is not something that comes naturally to me. Remember this post when I virtually styled two bookcases?
That one came close to killing me. I mean it. It wouldn’t have been the most horrible death, but still… I reckon that would’ve put an end to my blogging days.
Okay, I can see that you’re not altogether satisfied with my response.
Fair enough; please give me another day, and I’ll whip up something for the coffee table. But, first, let’s look at this beauty with nothing on it whatsoever.
A vintage Century Furniture Chinoiserie coffee table.
Yes, I do see the chunk of wood missing in the leg. I didn’t notice it before now. It’ll be easy to fix when it’s painted. Yes, I plan on painting it, but I’m currently working on more prescient matters.
And, also as stated earlier, I don’t like the knots. They’re horrible.
As you can see, being Pine, it’s gotten pretty dented up. But, I love that!
Okay, it’s Wednesday; however, before I show you le masterpiece, let’s first go over some of the principles of coffee table styling. Please be patient and don’t scroll ahead.
- Group like with like.
- It’s okay to do pairs, but not too many pairs. Instead, I think groupings of threes or fives are best.
- For square coffee table styling, think visual weight in the four corners without making everything match exactly.
I did this about 12 years ago in a client’s home in Chappaqua, NY. Oh, how I wish that fruit bowl were more towards the corner. Alas, she had a lot of beautiful items to work with.
- For a rectangular table, three vignettes across the table are an attractive solution. If it’s a very large rectangle, then it becomes more like a square coffee table.
- Please do not ask me what to do with a round table.
- Do not have everything at the same level, height-wise.
- Less really IS sometimes more.
- Therefore, it’s best not to use too many materials or items.
- Balance the design with a unified color scheme tied into the room’s color scheme.
- Don’t forget to layer your objects, but don’t go overboard.
- Negative space to give the eyes some rest is essential. In other words, please try not to over-crowd your coffee table styling.
The above is from a job from 2011. The orchid is from Home Goods, and the yellow and mercury glass boxes I brought over for the photo shoot.
- Something fresh, like some fresh fruit or a living plant, is always lovely. But, I don’t have an issue with very good faux fruit or a plant, particularly an orchid. Those that own the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection might remember that in almost every one of the 40 mood boards in the palette collection, there is an orchid or some kind of plant on the coffee table if there is one.
- The coffee table styling should reflect what’s going on in the rest of the room. It’s like a mini-room within a room. It’s okay to add a surprise or move things around if you get tired of it.
- Have fun with your design! It’s not rocket science. Use items that you love and have personal significance.
- ** Don’t yell at Laurel because you think using books to style a coffee table is a ludicrous idea.
Of course, you don’t have to have a coffee table book anywhere in sight for your coffee table styling. If it is good enough for William Mclure and Lee Radziwill, it’s good enough for me! Or, you could keep it to one or two books.
You might enjoy this post which has several examples of beautiful coffee table styling.
Also, this is a terrific post with 30 fantastic coffee table and sofa pairings.
Okay, are you ready to see my masterpiece coffee table styling?
Please be kind. I worked super hard on this. And, although difficult for me, I tried very hard to follow the rules.
Presenting my Instagram-worthy coffee table styling!
The ubiquitous “instaready” “flatlay” vignette.
Pretty cool, huh?
Well, I exceeded all of my expectations. So, thank you for the encouragement!
I’m calling it “My life On A Coffee Table.”
It’s the new styling and all the rage in Europe. You know, “unstyling” like an “unkitchen?”
Please notice how the carefully placed objects on the coffee table accentuate the lovely carving on the legs.
Also, please notice how I judiciously used:
- Like with like, i.e., meds, bug sprays, bottle openers, I never can find those damned things; well, now I know where they are.
I didn’t know there were bugs in Boston, Laurel.
True, there aren’t many, but the 16-20 mosquitoes in the city do find me and have a feast, creating a massive allergic response. Plus, the other day, I was blessed by a visit from the hugest fly I’ve ever seen. May he rest in peace.
I made my concoction of apple cider vinegar, honey, and dish soap. It works. Or, at least makes them sluggish enough to kill. Raid, is for emergency use, only.
- Something fresh. I think cherries are what make life worth living.
- Please also notice an excellent example of “negative space” in the image above to give the eyes a bit of respite. Sometimes people think they need to fill EVERY inch of space, and you definitely don’t, unless you’re British. ;]
Above are other essentials and faves: La Mer face cream, my freakin’ keys (which do NOT normally live here!), and my beloved popcorn to keep the blood sugar on an even keel.
No, that is not water from the Charles River. It’s ginger beer and fantastic for queasiness.
Furlow – da man! If you only purchase ONE interior design coffee table book, this is the one! Oh, and in the far left corner, something living. Well, it was living for a few days back in December.
Laurel, what did you put in that ginger beer?
Well then, have you completely lost your marbles?
Yeah, probably. I betcha them marbles are somewhere on that table. BTW, those chocolate-covered cherries you can get at Whole Foods are totally sick!
Is that it, Laurel? Really?
I’m afraid to ask, but oh gosh, was it not in any way helpful?
Okay, okay. Please put the knife down. I was just having some fun. Frequently, what folks present is only for show. And, I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel mighty incompetent.
However, there’s a reason this post took two days.
The real pics for coffee table styling using stuff you already have are coming next.
And yes, I only used stuff I already have. However, some of it was already on the table, just not quite this neat. But, please know, it was nothing like the earlier images. It took quite a while to get it that way. All in good fun. (I hope.)
Above is version number one. See the yellow Chinoiserie box I used to style my client’s coffee table back in 2012?
I did two versions of the coffee table styling. This one without the box. In real life, it seemed a little tall.
In real life, I think this version looks better.
The jar is quite distorted, but otherwise, I like this image.
There’s a warm color scheme going on.
One tall, beautiful Chinoiserie ginger jar.
The other three corners look pretty balanced with three compositions that coordinate nicely. The rest are candles from Anthro, mostly.
There’s layering with the books that make terrific bases. By the way, you can also have coasters.
And, there are sentimental items, like the brass box I bought when I lived in Cairo, Egypt, in 1980. (That IS an antique!)
My son Cale brought some little shells back from his Caribbean adventure earlier this year.
Of course, there’s Mr. Gatewood’s beautiful book and another book one of you sent. Both of them were gifts from blog readers. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness!
Please pin to Pinterest for reference.
I hope you enjoyed the coffee table styling and were entertained a little, too.
Besides, a little escape is necessary sometimes.
Speaking of escapes. OMG!
Our divine principal ballerina at American Ballet Theatre, Skylar Brandt, did it again.
Oh, how I wish I could’ve seen this performance of her New York debut as the lead in Swan Lake.
Blessings to all!