Console tables are particularly versatile pieces of furniture that provide both extra surface space and a focal point of interest to any given room. As such, they can be purely ornamental or take on a more functional role.
The console table is a blank canvas to be interpreted according to the requirements and design of the room, but knowing how to dress them can be a challenge. In this Minotti London design guide, discover how to style a console table in order to elevate and really lift a room.
Traditionally the console can be found in the hallway, but with a wide array of designs and styles to choose from, the console table can be used just about anywhere in a home, office space or hospitality setting.
As a result of their slenderness, console tables can fit into narrow areas like hallways. They can also be a great addition to dining rooms and living rooms to provide a decorative focal point. Whilst often positioned against a wall, a console table could also be located against the back of a sofa in a spacious living room, or underneath a window.
How to Style a Console Table: 5 Design Ideas
It is important to consider what is displayed on a console, how it is arranged and what its purpose is. Styling a console table is all about bringing more function and individuality to a space. To help, we’ve put together five styling solutions for console tables that will create an elegant, appealing and individual aesthetic.
Choose an Anchor Piece
This Close Console has been placed adjacent to a sofa and anchored by a complementary sculpture that sits off-centre in a way that naturally draws the eye | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London
Before populating the surface of the console, one should consider how the table ties in with its backdrop. Often, the console will sit flush against a wall and, in this case, the key display piece could be a mirror, artwork, sculpture or perhaps an antique clock; this will create an anchor that centres the console.
If the table is located under a high window or behind a sofa, incorporating a large sculpture or artwork on a table easel will have the same effect. In smaller spaces, such as hallways, keeping the look neutral will ensure the eye is drawn to the chosen accent piece and avoid a cluttered feel.
If the anchor piece is wall-mounted, then one might consider placing it at eye level while ensuring its width is less than that of the console to prevent the design from looking top-heavy. As a general rule of thumb, a wall-mounted anchor piece should spread across two-thirds of the width of the console and around 15-25cm above it.
Be sure to add at least one piece on the console surface that is taller than the lower edge of the frame, which will help to unify the anchor piece and the vignette below. This could be an interesting candlestick or perhaps an elaborate vase.
Ground the Console
This Kirk Console is home to a selection of interesting ornaments and has been grounded by a plush leather ottoman | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London
Placing substantial items underneath a console table can help to balance the visual weight of an open console. For example, baskets and decorative boxes add textural detail and provide extra storage though one may prefer to create interest with a textural vase or a selection of stacked books.
It’s important to ensure items on the bottom of a console table are tall enough to only leave a small space between them and the top of the table, to avoid the scheme feeling unbalanced.
If the table doesn’t have a shelf, the space underneath can be occupied by a neat stack of books, boxes, a stool or ottoman. In a dining room, a lower shelf could house an arrangement of chinaware.
Many designers typically aim for symmetry when it comes to styling a console table, as it offers a sense of calm and draws the eye in.
Balance can be created by adding matching table lamps, vases or ornamental objects at either end of the console, with a focal feature in the middle. This is a classic approach to styling a console table that works in a variety of settings.
It’s also important to bring balance to the height of the objects positioned on the console table. To do this, one may refer to the ‘rule of three’:
- Include something high in the arrangement, such as a vase or lamp
- The high object can be contrasted with something low, such as a dish or small candle
- Tie the big and small objects together with something mid-size, such as a clock
This Calder Console features a large and unique lamp which offsets the symmetry of the layout, though the vases and the large book underneath help to bring balance to the space | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London
Alternatively, asymmetric designs can be just as appealing, though an unbalanced layout does require more thought than a symmetrical design. The result, however, will give the room an air of nonchalance.
An effective asymmetric layout can be anchored by a large object at one end, with successive pieces decreasing in height towards the other side. If the console is beside a staircase, mimicking the natural angles with the objects on the table will flatter the stairs’ descent.
Choose Decorative Objects Carefully
When styling any console table, start with the big pieces first, such as lamps, vases and stacked books before evaluating the overall setup and bringing in smaller items. The more ornate or detailed the design of the console is, the less styling it will need as with too much attention to detail, one risks making it appear contrived.
Simple items, such as a vase or a collection of books can create a look that’s both clean and chic. A stripped-back, organic style can be achieved with simplistic or rustic decorative objects in varying shapes and sizes, whereas a trailing plant will soften the look.
Elaborate floral displays can create an impression on a large console. One might consider displaying bouquets of big blooms such as hydrangeas in matching vases positioned at either end of the table.
In a dining room or restaurant setting, a console can provide a practical yet stylish alternative to a display cabinet, showcasing glassware, bar accessories and decanters.
Consider the Lighting
Every console table will benefit from a light source to highlight the vignette, whether an ornate table lamp, a swing-arm task lamp or a picture light. Lighting will also add texture to the console, reflecting off each piece of décor and adding depth to the space.
Ambient lighting in the form of a ceiling pendant or chandelier will bring an element of charm and character whilst anchoring the space. If the table is on the smaller side, twin wall sconces will save space, as well as add visual interest to the overall design of the space.
Conclusion: How to Style a Console Table
A carefully curated console table adds a decorative flourish to finish any interior. This versatile piece of furniture can provide extra surfaces or a decorative focal point that will transform any room.
To summarise then, here are the five ideas for styling a console table:
- Choose an anchor piece
- Ground the console
- Consider balance
- Choose decorative objects carefully
- Consider the lighting
These styling tips can be applied to a console table in any space, whether that be a penthouse suite, a hotel lobby, bedroom, dining room, living space or hallway. Whether the scheme is classic or contemporary, these ideas can be interpreted according to the design and function of the space in which the console table features.