Expert Tips For Styling A Console Table

A carefully-curated console table adds a decorative flourish to finish any interior. This versatile piece of furniture works hard in small spaces, from offering an extra surface to adding a decorative focal point that transforms any room, from hallway to bedroom. We spoke to the experts for designer tips on styling a console table to achieve a look you love.

It’s More Than Just A Design Statement

“Ensure the style is right for the property,” says interior designer Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. “And the materials should also be practical depending on the table’s usage. For example, a leather-wrap tabletop is lovely in a master bedroom but in an entrance hall you need something more durable, like stone or wood, as people come in and put down keys or a handbag.”

But this piece of furniture has plenty to offer beyond the hallway. “It is a great addition to a dining room where you can’t fit a sideboard,” says Irene. “You can use it for water and food when hosting a dinner party, but it’s elegant and practical too.” Victoria Atkin, co-founder of Atkin and Thyme, suggests you consider the functionality of the piece: “A slim console can work in a bathroom to provide storage and act as an attractive display space. In a bedroom it can become fantastic storage for jewellery and trinkets, or be used as a sleek little dressing table. If space is tight, a console works well as a desk in any area of the home.” 

Atkin & Thyme's Ashridge Console Table, £299

Think About What’s Behind

“It’s important to consider the location of the console, the wall behind it, the placing of artwork or mirror above and, of course, the lighting,” says Ivana Allain, studio director at Helen Green Design Studio. “I would advise not covering your artwork, but it often works well to cover a mirror as it can add additional visual depth to a room.” Irene agrees: “A floor-to-ceiling mirror behind a console table is very effective. For a standard mirror, I’d go for one 10cm narrower on either side than the console. With art, I hang my paintings 15-20cm above the tabletop.” 

Consider Balance

“I use a rule of three when styling a console table,” says Irene. “First you need something high, such as a vase or tall lantern. Then you need a low item, such as a dish for keys, and finally a mid-size item, a clock or candle perhaps. When you’re styling a pair of tables, either side of a fireplace perhaps, it’s nice to match the lamps or choose similar ones with the same lampshade, and then accessorise using the rule of three.”

“Balancing the height of objects positioned on top of the console is something to keep in mind,” says Ivana. If you’re adding a vase, fill it with taller blooms – don’t be afraid to create height. Consider a lamp too, especially lovely come evening time when the light fades.”

Choose Your Objects Carefully

“You don’t need to overload the surface of a console for a stylish look,” says Victoria. “Simple items - like a couple of engaging books and a bespoke vase - can create a clean and chic look. If you’re placing a console beside or under a staircase, mimic the natural angles with accessories on top that flatter the stairs’ descent.”

“The more detailed the table is, the less styling you need to do,” explains Lyndsey Goodger, founder of Rose & Grey. “We love the look of a metal frame topped with a hint of greenery - real or faux - and a few strategically placed books. For a pared-back wooden piece of furniture, a couple of arty prints propped up is all you need to achieve a Scandi-inspired look.”

“I’m not particularly fond of a key bowl on an entrance hall console and would much rather use a discrete drawer in a console to drop everyday objects into,” Ivana says. If your console table is there for practical reasons, use storage baskets underneath for gloves, scarves, shoes and any loose ends.
If in doubt, follow Lyndsey’s top tip: “Take inspiration from the famous Coco Chanel quote and take one item off your console table after styling, to ensure it isn’t too contrived or OTT!”

Here’s our selection of stylish console tables:

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