Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

May 3, 2016

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Back in November, we ordered a coffee table for the living room from–seriously drool-worthy pieces over there (this affordable planter basket is in my shopping cart)–after seeing it in my dear friend Jane’s home (here). It was on back-order until March, but we loved it so much, we decided it was worth the wait and the money. We ended up getting a different coffee table for upstairs because we needed one in place for a shoot, however, it was truly fated; the Arteriors Jacob coffee table was absolutely meant for the family room.

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

I am always on the hunt for family-friendly pieces (something aesthetically pleasing for Chris and I, and kid approved for the girls, you can read more about our decorating mindset here) and this coffee table is the epitome of that. It’s solid wood, round and finished in a wash that already feels a little worn, so it’s not too delicate. The price is more than we have spent on coffee tables in the past, but the quality assures it’s a piece we’ll have for a long time and maybe even pass down one day. In the end, the heart wants what the heart wants.

“Styling a coffee table” might seem like a silly thing, I admit. But, it’s also a really fun, satisfying thing if you have a passion for decorating or a love for home like we do. I’ll be the first to make room for popcorn, but day to day a styled coffee table (or nightstand or shelf, etc.) can help me keep an entire room clean and tidy because I’ve already put forth an effort to make it look nice. Does that make sense? Are you the same way?

Styling a family-friendly coffee table 101:

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

1. Start with a coffee table you love to look at, and one you don’t have to worry about kids hurting, themselves or it. 

2. Add something green, leafy, or floral to give it a sense of life. If I didn’t have two little ones running around, I might go for something fresh and living, but at this level, I love using faux plants, like this succulent, because it’s not going to get dirt anywhere or die. We just get to enjoy it.

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee TableStyling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

3. Add in something layered. This can be decorative boxes, trays, or I prefer books. They’re virtually unbreakable (remove the jackets if you’re worried about them getting ripped) and are actually usable decor–like when Chris is watching Road House. Again.

4. Go for height. The quickest way to add interest to any surface is to vary heights. You might notice at fancy parties (or really, any party now thanks to Pinterest) that the main food/dessert table has platters at all different heights. It just looks better. I added a trio of these tall, metal candlesticks (I originally got them for the built-ins, but they were too tall to fit in the shelves!) that, again, aren’t breakable.

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

5. Lastly, add in something quirky or meaningful. I’ve long loved Jonathan Adler’s ceramic elephant (for luck!), but my rule is if something is breakable at kid-height, than I have to not care if it does end up breaking. I found this fun, little ceramic elephant–a good low to Adler’s $170 option–for $5 at Target. It’s the perfect finishing touch.

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

Styling A Family-Friendly Coffee Table

Oh, and we like to leave enough room for feet, too. ;)


Arteriors Coffee Table- Shop Candelabra | Books: The Things That Matter- Nate Berkus, The Kinfolk Home, Cabin Porn | Faux Succulent | Candlesticks | Ceramic Elephant.

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What do you think?

  1. Katy says:

    although the set up looks nice, nothing about it is really family friendly. Others have mentioned the obvious book, but even if the elephant is cheap….its still breakable and can really injure a child if it did break. And the candle sticks can topple over extremely easily from a toddler or dog walking by and bumping the table

    • Angie says:

      Or, you can get stung by a bee, bit by a dog, or worse yet, hit by a car. Every. Time. You. Leave. Your. House. Relax, live and breathe people. Please don’t let tiny ceramic elephants bring you down.

  2. jaclyn says:

    Does the coffee table feel too small for your space in real life?

    I thought maybe it was a perspective issue in the last image since it looks TINY compared to your giant sofa and large scale built in’s but when I went to the product listing for the coffee table, it says it’s only 12 inches high….that seems almost useless.

    Just a note though, I never see ads on your page because I have AdBlock….do people actually use the internet without an ad blocker anymore?! This is 2016 isn’t it, or maybe AdBlock hasn’t made it to middle America yet?

    • Julia says:

      We definitely considered height and dimensions before ordering it and decided we wanted something a couple inches shorter than our sofa so it would feel natural to prop our feet up if we wanted. This coffee table feels just right. :)

  3. Tanya Thomas says:

    Any tips for decorating with babies/toddlers. I liked your post of covering toys with blankets in the baskets around the house. That’s really helpful! But everything on a shelf or coffee table, my 11 month old grabs or plays knock it all onto the ground. What did you do to decorate your coffee table when Greta and Faye were around 1?

  4. Amy says:

    What color did you paint your family room wall? Im looking for a color to paint our guest bedroom, and this color looks very relaxing!

  5. Bethany says:

    #1…I love everything about your downstairs! It’s beautiful! Thank you for the inspiration!
    #2…I feel as if I’m the odd one out here, but I actually LIKE the “read more” option on the blog posts. I read a few blogs regularly and really like the ones with this set up. That way if something doesn’t interest me, I don’t even click on it. (But who am I kidding with your site – I read everything you put on the world wide web)

  6. Andy says:

    As a mom of 3, I can tell you kids will hear the word “porn” at school, on the bus, at activities outside of school, etc. As Julia stated above, it’s great to have conversations with your kids about this kind of thing because they will definitely be hearing it and seeing it from more than a coffee table book on beautiful cabins.

    Gorgeous coffee table, beautiful styling, wonderful blog. Thanks for your hard work, I enjoy it immensely.

    • Jess says:

      I totally agree with the “teachable moment” idea behind this, but as a mom of 5, I feel like while I don’t want to shelter them completely from things, bringing it into the house is more than a teachable moment, it’s normalizing something that shouldn’t be.

      • Julia says:

        I totally understand what you’re saying, this isn’t actual pornography. And I don’t believe the word “porn” or “pornography” is a bad word. We’ve shared this video with Greta about the harmful effects of actual pornography–a great resource!

    • Jessica says:

      I agree about talking about porn with your kids. As someone who works with university graduates I was shocked the other day to find out what the ‘new’ version of the the baseball metaphors are – lets just say 2nd base is now what we would all know a home run, so don’t get me started on what 3rd and 4th now are. Eek! This lead to a really interesting conversation with both the males and females on what is expected in the bedroom based on porn as this is now an (ill advised) learning tool thanks to the internet.

      Still loving your blog C&J and appreciate all the effort you are putting into it. Looking forward to the final room reveal with the pulled out shots :-)

  7. Kris says:

    Eeeks, I noticed some constructive comments re: the “read more” click button on the blog and I’m totally not feeling it either, it’s not efficient at all when trying to read or catch up on your posts. Is there a setting I can change on my end to show all blog posts at once like previous?

    • Julia says:

      It’s an effort to address some of the other comments about the site loading quickly. We’re doing what we can! Standby! :)

  8. Rachael says:

    Your site is SO SLOW lately! It’s not my computer…every other site is normal but things are super slow to load on your site.

    • Julia says:

      Gah! Someone else had that issue last week and just came back and said it’s working so much better now. We’re tinkering. Sorry!

  9. Jeni says:

    Speaking of cabin porn, I really need a full frontal of that couch! ;)

    Seriously though that coffee table is incredible. Y’all do rustic modern so well.

  10. Linda says:

    Love this table and have been stalking a few similar in style. Wondering where you keep your remotes?

  11. Sarah says:

    Love! I need this coffee table but can I ask… How substantial is it? Pretty heavy?

  12. Kim says:

    I’ve most recently stumbled acrossed your blog. Thanks for sharing. I love your choice of table books. Keep up the great work. ;)

  13. Sue says:

    All these blog ads just recently are destroying the reading along with having to click on the read more button. It never used to be this way :(

  14. Jess says:

    Just a little feedback on your new blog format. It takes me forever in a day to read your posts now which is sadly steering me away. I loved the way it used to be, fast & efficient PLEASE go back.

  15. Allison says:

    I love the colors of the table in your pics! The undertones are fabulous, the pictures on the order site really don’t do it justice – gorgeous!!

  16. Kristi says:

    You HAVE to create a coffee table book! Your style makes my heart race. I always come back for inspiration, in fact, I just went to Lowes and am purchasing the same carpet. Keep at it!

  17. Miranda says:

    Can I ask, that with the family-friendly experience you’ll be getting with this new coffee table, if you are worried about wear and tear on something that was so expensive? I’ll admit that thinking of spending that much on such a beautiful piece gives my heart palpitations, myself. Thinking in having children one day, do you expect any food/drink to be had downstairs and messing up the coffee table?

    • Julia says:

      We’ve had a few family movie nights already and have decided that treats like popcorn or chips are fine in this area, but drinks or ice cream, etc. they can enjoy at the table on the playroom side of the room (which still has a straight view to the tv).

  18. Jen says:

    I agree, I wouldn’t have a book with the title “porn” in a family friendly post. I don’t need word in my children’s vocabulary.

  19. Alexa says:

    Julia, I love your blog but I seriously question your decision to have a book with “porn” in the title on the coffee table of your playroom. It’s obviously not actual pornography, but it could certainly add “porn” to Greta’s vocabulary.

    • Julia says:

      That could have been due to lapse in judgement on my part as Chris said something similar after I bought it. You’re right that it’s just really beautiful photographs of breath-taking cabins in rural areas, purchased for inspiration sake. I do think it’s important to talk to our children about the harmful effects of actual pornography, but I’m sorry this offended you either way.

  20. Lindsey says:

    The blog ads are absolutely killing the reading experience. I get you need to monetize but there’s half a dozen in one post.

    • Julia says:

      Lindsey, are you on mobile or desktop? And share what browser you are using, too! We recently changed ad networks and we’re still ironing things out.

      • Lana says:

        I sadly am having the same issue. I read daily and love the site, but it has been a lot lately. 1/2 of my screen is ads, including ones at the bottom that I have to physically close to see anything. I am on Chrome desktop.

      • Julia says:

        Send a screen shot to me so I can get it worked out. I’m not seeing anything like that on my end.

    • Allison says:

      Try using a newsreader like Feedly. It’s lifechanging. No ads and everything is composed much like an e-book is on a tablet. I have a couple dozen blog/news sites configured… it makes going through my daily/weekly sites I like to read so much easier. After reading an article I can click on the link at the bottom or top to access the website and read through the comments.

    • Alicia M says:

      Same here :( I’m using IE11 on a Windows 8 operating system but have had similar issues with Chrome. I think my problem is that the multiple video ads slow everything down and lock it up. In trying to type this comment, my browser has stopped twice and re-opened. I love your blog but the sluggishness is rather annoying.

  21. Michelle says:

    I am always worried about putting tall things on a coffee table in fear they might get get in the way of my TV viewing. Have the candle sticks bothered you?

    • Julia says:

      I agree whole-heartedly. The candlesticks aren’t in the path of tv viewing at all. You can kind of see the tallest is in line with the top of the credenza and the tv is probably 10-12 inches above that.

  22. Mira says:

    Love your style! You once posted about wooden games that were great for a coffee table – could you provide that link again? Do you still use those? Would they look cute in a tray on a similar wooden coffee table? Thanks!

  23. Alli says:

    Where is your shirt from? Looks adorable!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

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