Coffee tables. They’re the unassuming centerpieces of our living rooms. And they’re certainly central to seating areas. But lest it play second fiddle to the rest of your home, your coffee table could likely use a spring spruce up. Answer these six questions posed by interior designer Suzanne Varner to add character to your coffee table and, in turn, to the entire room.

1. Do you like symmetry or asymmetry?

Some people like painstakingly perfect order, while others prefer a more casual, haphazard arrangement in which items look like they were loosely placed. Neither one is better than the other. Which style suits your vignette?

This coffee table arrangement in the home of interior designer Suzanne Varner is a symmetrical arrangement. | Image credit: Julie Wage Ross

This coffee table arrangement in the home of interior designer Suzanne Varner is a symmetrical arrangement. If you would like to see more of this lovely home, click here. Image credit: Julie Wage Ross

This coffee table arrangement is more casual, and items look like they were loosely placed. | Image via elledecor.com

This coffee table arrangement is more casual, and the items look like they were casually placed. Image credit: elledecor.com

Another example of an asymetrical coffee table vignette | Image via rikkisnyder.com

Another example of an asymetrical coffee table vignette | Image credit: rikkisnyder.com

2. Do you have varying heights?

Whether you are assembling furnishings for an entire room or working with a tabletop layout, incorporating objects of various heights is key to the success of your design. This element brings movement and visual interest to your arrangement.

Notice the importance of various heights throughout this modern room. The coffee table reflects this movement with objects of different heights as well. | Image via <a href="http://www.architecturaldigest.com/decor/2013-04/jamie-drake-new-york-city-apartment-slideshow_slideshow_item3_4" target="_blank">architecturaldigest.com</a>

Notice the importance of various heights throughout this modern room. The coffee table reflects this movement with objects of different heights, as well. Image credit: architecturaldigest.com

An excellent example of using the coffee table arrangement to add dramatic variation with height for visual movement in this space. | Image via thetransatlanticblog.com

Here is an excellent example of using the coffee table arrangement to add dramatic variation with height for visual movement in this space. Image credit: thetransatlanticblog.com

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This coffee table design delivers playful variations of height. Image credit: westelm.com

3. What shape and size should your coffee table be?

The shape of your coffee table should coordinate with the shapes throughout the room. If you have an abundance of patterns, furnishings or accessories that emphasize round shapes, then you should consider a coffee table that is more angular and vice versa for the spatial composition of your room. Likewise, look at the furniture surrounding the coffee table to determine what height your table should be. For example, an oversized couch next to a delicate, small coffee table would be a disproportionate combination.

This rectangular table complements surrounding furnishings in shape, material, height and color. | Image via eyefordesignlfd.blogspot.com

This rectangular table complements surrounding furnishings in shape, material, height and color. Image credit: eyefordesignlfd.blogspot.com

A round coffee table next to Angular furnishings offers a pleasing contrast. | Image via bloglovin.com

A round coffee table next to angular furnishings offers a pleasing contrast. Image credit: bloglovin.com

Who says your coffee table has to be round or square? Look at the room as a whole, and then use your imagination! | Image via thetransatlanticblog.com

Who says your coffee table has to be round or square? Look at the room as a whole, and then use your imagination! Image credit: thetransatlanticblog.com

4. What is the material of your coffee table?

It is fun to be creative when choosing your coffee table. Consider repurposing an antique chest as a coffee table, or use a large ottoman that will quickly transform from seating to footrest to table. A traditional room will probably coordinate best with a table made of wood, iron or glass; a fabric or leather table/ottoman adds warmth to a room, and a modern room might call for a slick table material, such as glass, marble or even Lucite.

suitcase-coffee-table

This DIY coffee table was made from a large suitcase. See more DIY coffee tables by clicking here. Image credit: justimagine-ddoc.com

This large ottoman will quickly transform from seating to foot-rest to table. | Image via thetransatlanticblog.com

This large ottoman will quickly transform from seating to footrest to table. Image credit: thetransatlanticblog.com

This Lucite coffee table adds a touch of modern and pairs well with the room's light and airy mood. | Image via Pinterest | Photo credit: Brittany Ambridge for Domino

This Lucite coffee table adds a touch of modern and pairs well with the room’s light and airy mood. Image via Pinterest, credit: Brittany Ambridge for Domino

5. Do you decorate with keepsakes or shiny, new objects?

For the arrangement at hand, would you like to emphasize objects that have meaning to you, such as collectibles or keepsakes, or do you want to work with a grouping of accessories just purchased from the store? Will you use things that mean something to you, or items that are shiny and new?

Not Your Typical Bachelor Pad: A pop of metallic and texture gives a reflective quality to an otherwise flat space.

This shiny, modern object adds a pop of metallic and texture, giving a reflective quality to an otherwise flat space. See more of this inspiring home, here.

This coffee table is decorated with objects that match a dramatically monotone room. | Image via lizmarieblog.com

This coffee table is decorated with objects that match a dramatically monotone room. Image credit: lizmarieblog.com

Another direction, this wooden table is topped with a softer combination of collectibles, antique books and organic objects. | Image courtesy of Varner Interiors

Another direction, this wooden table is topped with a softer combination of collectibles, antique books and organic objects. Image credit: Varner Interiors

6. What is the function of this coffee table?

Will this table primarily be used for formal gatherings, or will children be pulling out the crayons and crafts and using it? It is always wise to let form follow function in any design choice for the home. Define the purpose of the room before selecting your coffee table and the decorative objects to be placed on top.

A relaxed coffee table table design that serves as an anchor to this beach house room, is ready for casual children, board games and casual gatherings. | Image via coastalliving.com

A relaxed coffee table design that serves as an anchor to this beach house room is ready for casual children’s activities, board games and laid-back gatherings. Image credit: coastalliving.com

In contrast, a coffee table like this one is not going to be used for lots of activities. | Image via today.com

In contrast, a coffee table like this one is not going to be used for lots of activities. Image credit: today.com

No crayons and crafts in here, please. This coffee table is better suited for adult, formal gatherings. | Image courtesy of Varner Interiors

No crayons and crafts in here, please. This coffee table is better suited for formal adult gatherings. Image credit: Varner Interiors

Today’s suggestions for adding character to your coffee table are from Memphis-based interior designer Suzanne Varner, who is with the design firm of Ray & Baudoin

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