Choosing console table decorating ideas is fun. In entryways, these pieces are part of the first impression your home makes, while also playing a role in living rooms and open spaces to fill transitional spaces.
In the most complementary way, console tables are – space-fillers. They serve a lot less of a purpose than your other living room furniture ideas, but that comes with its own reward. The chance to make it beautiful or interesting and not worry too much about functionality.
“Consoles offer the possibility to create theatre,” says interior designer Ghislaine Viñas. “A grouping of objects and artwork provides an opportunity to set the mood and is a great way to illustrate the history of the homeowners.”
To provide some styling inspiration, here are 8 of the best console table decorating ideas, along with a pinch of expert advice on how best to use these pieces.
8 console table decorating ideas for hallways, living rooms and entryways
Your vision for your console table decor needs to be influenced by the console table itself. What materials is it made of? Is it a simple design or a bold sculptural piece? Let the design of your furniture and the wider space guide you.
This selection of designer created spaces with console tables will give you some inspiration for beautiful decor and layouts to try, as well as some clever ideas on how to set up your console table with storage, lighting, seating and more.
1. Include a place to keep your keys
Although a console table doesn’t have much practical use, there is one important function it serves.
“A console does a few things for a room,” says interior designer Greg Natale (opens in new tab). “It fills a wall in a typically narrow space and is also a handy place to keep your keys.”
It makes sense to make a console the first place you look when looking for your keys as it will be placed in entryways, hallways and in open spaces. So, when it comes to console table decor, it’s worth considering including a small, pretty bowl or key catcher.
2. Play with heights, textures and shapes
Considering height and layering does the trick to styling almost any space, whether you’re decorating bookshelves or a console.
“Blending textures, heights and shapes is key,” explain Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini, founders and directors of House of Nomad (opens in new tab). “We love having a mix of textures – think natural materials combined with marble and stone.”
“Create a variation of heights and textures by stacking books, layering art with flanking table lamps, or adding natural, elongated branches in a vase or planter that you can swap out seasonally,” they add.
3. Also think about the space under the console
While the key principles are different heights, placing items on books to stack them higher, different textures and different shapes, negative space is just as important as the space they fill,” explain Stelly Selway interior designers Tanya Selway and Benjamin Stelly (opens in new tab). This means treating the empty space as a separate device to be used.
One space to especially think about in terms of negative space is under the console table itself. Console tables often have proportions with large voids underneath, something you might want to consider as well.
In the dining room of this Seattle home designed by interior designer Lisa Staton (opens in new tab)a relaxed, versatile look was created for the top of the console. “We started with the client’s own collections and then added handcrafted combinations of candlesticks to create a harmonious and appealing backdrop,” explains Lisa Staton. Below, a large bison skull evokes the house’s California desert inspiration.
4. Create balance with symmetry
Symmetry can be a useful tool when it comes to choosing decor for a console for an upscale, luxurious look. It’s a brilliantly simple way to create balance when you’re unsure about having the pieces that complement each other in asymmetry.
When decorating an apartment in New South Wales, interior designer Greg Natale squeezed the idea of symmetry not on a single console but on two styled tables nearly identical.
“For this extra-long hallway, I felt it was more balanced and symmetrical to repeat the same console, lamps and accessories,” explains Greg. ‘The hall lighting provides a nice, atmospheric light at night.’
5. Be attention-grabbing in your decisions
Console tables are a place where you can be creative and have fun with your design. So why not use bold, interesting pieces to style it?
“A little cheekiness goes a long way in creating a unique and authentic atmosphere,” says interior designer Ghislaine Viñas (opens in new tab). “It sets the tone for the rest of the house. I think it’s a wasted opportunity to place generic items or artwork around the console as that’s the first thing you see upon entering.
In this Ghislaine-designed LA project, the entryway is a characterful space, but the console table still draws the focus despite nestling against an impressive staircase.
“There are many different approaches you can take to create an activated focus,” says Ghislaine. ‘The combination of a stunning marble console with the amorphous, green stainless steel mirror creates a dynamic eye-catcher here.’
6. Add casual seating to a console
Let’s get back to that idea of choosing decor to fill the void under a console table. Two ottomans are placed under the console in this design by interior designers House of Nomad.
“Depending on the nature of the console’s legs, it can feel like there’s a lot of dead space underneath,” explain House of Nomad founders Berkeley and Kelley. “Stools or small ottomans are a great way to add depth and texture and incorporate a different color than the rest of the home.” In this entryway, the patterned fabric picks up design details from the mirror and even evokes the Crittall-style front doors.
“Besides a visual factor, it’s a great space-saving trick,” adds Berkeley, “with easy and convenient additional seating that pulls out for entertaining.”
7. Turn a console table into a part-time desk
Speaking of adding seating to a console, if you choose a table with enough depth, you may find it can double as a desk idea. When designing this large New York apartment, Michael K. Chen of MKCA (opens in new tab) used a clever trick and paired a console table with a vintage perspex chair to ensure that the console looks like a console from afar, but provides a desk to sit at without moving a chair.
“This is a formal space, but one where people live and children play, and our clients are committed to ensuring that every space in the project is utilized,” said Michael housing etc‘so the elements it contains are designed to serve the dual purpose of visual formality and a high level of functionality.’
“The console is a very resolved object – deep enough to be a desk, yet rounded and comfortable to reach and use. It’s visually impressive enough to mark the entrance to the space, yet accessible, flexible and playful,” he adds.
8. Make a coffee table functional
“Consoles are a great way to add visual interest to an open space, because who wants to be looking at the back of a big, long sofa?” says interior designer Greg Natale. However, dressing a coffee table is a little different than your standard console.
First of all, the decor on the top of the console needs to look good from all angles. Living room lighting is also a beautiful addition to a sofa console, and with more (and more stylish) cordless lamps on the market, you don’t have to worry about dangling cords either.
After all, a coffee table acts more like an end table than your standard console, so design a stack of chic coasters in your decor to make this a more functional part of your space.
What do you hang on the wall above a console table?
“I like to add a mirror above and a decorative wall light to be both useful and aesthetic
Reasons,” says interior designer Greg Natale. If your console is in an entryway, a mirror seems like a sensible idea as it gives you a place to check yourself before heading out the door.
However, in the mirror versus art debate surrounding a console table, there is no clear winner. While living room mirrors have the added practicality, make sure it’s something that inspires you and completes your console table vignette. Otherwise, go to art.
Wall lights can also be part of your wall decoration. Once you’ve added lighting, you can position that lighting perfectly for your console vignette. If you’re working with existing wall sconces and it’s not quite right, asking an electrician to relocate them may not be a big or expensive job, so it’s worth considering.