Best Coffee Table Books for Decorating

The shelves in our family room, with one of my favorite coffee table books, Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone

Searching for the best coffee table books for decorating? I love nothing more than a good coffee table book, and while there are certainly some that I buy to read, I’ll admit that I buy others for purely decorative purposes.

Personally, I think all books, including coffee table books, are a must-have for any living area, whether it’s the family room, a formal living room, or even a dining room. They add instant personality to a room because you they reflect the interests and the aesthetics of the people who live in the home. I also think that calling them “coffee table” books is limiting their potential, because they’re also perfect for arranging on built-ins, console tables, in china cabinets, and on dressers, etc.

If you’re looking for the best coffee table books for decorating your space, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites in a range of price points, below.

Quick Shop:

The best coffee table books for decorating

1. Live Beautiful, by Athena Calderone

This is one of the coffee table books I love both as a decor element, and a must-read (It’s also under $25, so I’ve included it on my list of cheap and cute home decor buys). Athena Calderone’s style is impeccable, and this design coffee table book offers a tour of her homes as well as various homes she loves. It’s also peppered with wisdom on how to create a curated, layered home from an impressive selection of designers and tastemakers. The neutral book cover and spine also go with all sorts of decor.

2. Elements of Style, by Erin Gates

This coffee table book is a classic (and so it it’s black-and-white striped spine). There’s a good chance you’ve seen this book on the shelf or table of a friend, or an influencer you follow, because it’s been everywhere for years.

3. Tom Ford

If you’re into fashion, this Tom Ford book is a must-have, and one of the most popular coffee table books for decorating in the last 10 years. It’s large size and the graphic title make a big visual impact, so much so that you can even let it stand alone on a table or shelf, with a candle or small vase on top.

4. AD at 100

This book, which commemorates Architectural Digest’s 100th birthday, has been another of the most popular coffee table books for decorating ever since it debuted in 2019. It’s larger size makes it ideal for the bottom of a book stack on your table, and it’s neutral, minimal cover and spine feel as sophisticated as the book’s contents.

5. Eat, Drink, Nap

If I never opened the book Eat, Drink, Nap, a coffee table book by the members-only club Soho House, I would still love it simply because of the name of the book, splashed across the cover. Inside, however, the book is part design and part cookbook, sharing famed cocktail recipes and photos of its ultra-glam spaces.

6. Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury

This Louis Vuitton book is simply gorgeous. It’s large and weighty, so it looks as rich as its name implies. I love this book as a substitute for a tray on a coffee table, with a candle stacked on top.

7. Patina Modern

Patina Modern is a coffee table book by former Conde Nast Traveler editor-in-chief Pilar Guzman and her husband Chris Mitchell, that shares the couple’s fabulous homes in Brooklyn and the Hamptons. The cook chronicles how the duo blended their aesthetics, their love of antiques, and their neutral layered style.

8. Establishing Home by Jean Stoffer

A coffee table book by Jean Stoffer not only makes good decor, it’s also basically a decorating bible for those who love her (like me), and an advice-filled guide to growing a business and raising a family. The Michigan-based designer’s book has a richly colored cover and a equally-rich story inside.

9. Kinfolk Home: Interiors for slow living

You’ve likely seen this coffee table book in a few dozen Instagram reels by whatever design influencers you follow. It’s been one of the most popular coffee table books for decorating aficionados since it was published in 2015. I love that the spine is minimal, and the cover is cheeky, and it’s packed with inspiring images and ideas for a modern home.

10. The Little Book of Chanel

This mini coffee table book is about the size of a standard paperback. While it’s small, it’s also perfect for stacking atop larger volumes, or for bookending an upright set of books.

How to choose coffee table books

Coffee table books should, of course, reflect your interested and tastes, but if you’re using them as a decorating element, there are a few other considerations that will make the books look good on display, too.

The first is to choose a color scheme. Like any area of home decor, a color scheme is a big part of what will tie a book arrangement together and make it feel cohesive and intentional. Choose books that complement the color scheme of your room, i.e. that pull out a color in an area rug or your throw pillows, or that match the paint or wallpaper.

The other key is to vary the size of your books. This will add visual interest to the book arrangement and break up a stack of items that are otherwise very similar. Choose a larger book for the bottom (or end, if you’re standing them up) of your arrangement, then go smaller from there.

What makes a good coffee table book?

Good coffee table books are a combination of looks and personality (just like a good date, am I right?). Kidding aside, my advice for buying coffee table books is to choose tomes that, 1. Reflect your interests and personality. If people come to your house, you want them to be able to discern a few things about you by looking at your coffee table book collection. And 2., good coffee table books should reflect your aesthetic and the style of your home, too. Choose versions that enhance the decor of your room.

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