Staging a Living Room that Will Delight
You and Your Buyer

Staging any area of the house, particularly a living room, requires a delicate balance between making it inviting and interesting, while resisting the urge to add so many things that it becomes distracting or overwhelming. This requires keeping the focus on the best attributes of the property and your main goal, which is selling the home.



Some of the simplest techniques are also the most effective. When highlighting the main area of a home, be sure to create an interesting display on a coffee table. It's like adding jewelry to an outfit. It dazzles and delights. And, it's so easy when you know what to do.

What Can You Do with an Elegant Old Home?

The owner of this lovely old home in a neighborhood with the "right address," had moved out. He left behind an assortment of antiques and odds and ends, arranged in no particular order.

Frequently we think the address will sell the home. But, it takes more than that.


Living Room Before


Living Room After

What Happened in this Room?

  • The antique furniture was too small in scale and would not appeal to a younger buyer so everything was moved out

  • Old-fashioned window-length sheers were removed to display the wood trimmed windows

  • An area rug was brought in from another area of the house. It warmed the room and set the color scheme, predominantly blue, with gold and terracotta accents

  • A blue sofa and love seat are the perfect

    furniture arrangement to provide a cozy seating area around the fireplace

  • A lot of wood can feel gloomy, so additional accent lamps were placed on the built-in bookcases flanking the

    fireplace mantle

  • Some greenery and an elegant old clock were added to the mantle to emphasize the beautiful built-ins surrounding the fireplace

  • Richly colored pillows echo the color scheme in the rug and add sparkle

  • Staging the coffee table provides the final touch. It invites the buyer to move closer, sit down and imagine owning this home

    • Keep the display in a color scheme that coordinates with the rest of the home

    • The marble "texture" on the chess pieces repeats the texture of the stone surrounding the fireplace

    • Vary the heights of objects on the table to create interest

    • Stack pretty books to form a base for lifting other objects

    • An odd number of items "feels" better. In this case there's a group of 3 chess pieces on one side and a tray with 5 decorative balls on the right

Does a "Coffee Table" Have to Be a Coffee Table?

The owner of this condo had also moved out. The main area of the home was bare, but this love seat was found in one of the bedrooms.

No coffee table anywhere. However, buried in the very back of the master closet was an interesting old trunk.


Before - Searching the House for Furniture


Living Room After

What Happened in this Room?

  • The love seat and trunk were moved into the main area

  • Two of the light colored pillows were removed from the loveseat and one black pillow was added for contrast

  • The "coffee table" was visually divided into three "sections" and staged with the following items:

    • A gorgeous horse sculpture that the owners had purchase on one of their trips was elevated onto a red spined book

    • A red clay vase went on the right

    • A colorful book, also with red in the cover went on the left

What Else Can You Use as a "Coffee Table?"

Bill's tiny house was so small a love seat wouldn't even fit. So we used a "chair-and-a-half" (smaller than a love seat, bigger than a chair). For a "coffee table," we used a glass end table.


Living Room Before


Living Room After

What Happened in this Room?

  • A small, graphic area rug sets the color scheme. Predominant color is red with a black accent

  • Red "chair-and-a-half" and a small black leather side chair form the seating area around the rug and "coffee table"

  • The red color is repeated in the artwork and the dining area

  • A poly-silk tree provides freshness, contrast and softness to a stark corner

  • "Coffee table" is staged with 3 items:

    • Taller green plant

    • Medium sized "fat cat"

    • Small book

The Basics of Staging a Great Coffee Table

  • Just about anything can serve as a coffee table if the size complements what you're using for a sofa. In general, your coffee table will look best if it's about the

    • Same height as the seat of the sofa and

    • Slightly smaller than or equal to the width of the sofa
  • Visually divide the surface of the coffee table into thirds and try three items or three groups of items that have the following properties

    • Height: tall, medium, small

    • Color: tie in the color scheme with the rest of the home

    • Texture: Vary the texture of items, smooth, rough, shiny, dull, etc.

    • Greenery: Always looks great, as long as you haven't used a lot of it already. If it reminds you of a jungle, it's too much

    • Whimsey: Add something fun and unexpected to make the buyer smile

  • Step back periodically and assess the result

    • Take something away, see how it feels

    • It's so easy to over do it!


Staging a Coffee Table is Easy and Fun!
Let your imagination go. See what you can come up with that you, your buyer, and others will enjoy. More coffee table ideas in

Decorating a Coffee Table.

What's Your Favorite Idea for Staging a Coffee Table?

What's your favorite idea for staging a coffee table? We're collecting reader favorites in our Decorating a Coffee Table idea forum. See your favorite ideas on this website. If you're a stager or decorator, feel free to include a link to your website!

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