There’s some fun to be had in choosing console table decor ideas. In entryways, these pieces are part of the first impression your home gives, while they also play a part in living rooms and open plan spaces in filling transitional spaces.
In the most complimentary way, that’s what console tables are – space fillers. They serve much 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 are an opportunity to create theatre,’ says interior designer Ghislaine Viñas. ‘A grouping of objects and art are a chance to set the mood and a great way to illustrate the story of the homeowners.’
To offer up some styling inspiration, here are 8 of the best console table decor ideas, along with a sprinkling of expert advice on how to use these pieces to best effect.
8 console table decor ideas for hallways, living rooms and entryways
Your vision for your console table decor needs to be informed by the console table itself. What materials is it made from? Is it a simple design, or a bold sculptural piece? Let the design of your furniture lead you in how it’s styled, as well as the wider space.
This selection of designer-created spaces featuring console tables will serve you up some inspiration for beautiful decor and layouts to try, but also some clever ideas for how to create a set-up for your console table with storage, lighting, seating and more.
1. Include somewhere to keep your keys
Having said a console table doesn’t have much practical use, there is one important function it serves.
‘A console does a few things for a space,’ says interior designer Greg Natale (opens in new tab). ‘It fills a wall in a usually narrow space, and is also a practical place to put your keys.’
Making a console the first place you look when searching for your keys makes sense thanks to their placement in entryways, hallways and in open-plan spaces, so including a small, beautiful bowl or catchall for keys is worth considering when it comes to console table decor.
2. Play with heights, textures and shapes
Considering height and layering is the trick to styling almost any space, whether you’re decorating bookshelves or a console.
‘Mixing textures, heights, and shapes is key,’ explain Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini, founders and principals of House of Nomad (opens in new tab). ‘We love to have a mix of textures – think natural materials combined with marble and stone.’
‘Establish 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. Think about the space under the console too
While the key principles are varying heights, put items on books to stack higher, varying textures, and varying form, negative space is just as important as the space that they fill,’ explain interior designers Tanya Selway and Benjamin Stelly of Stelly Selway (opens in new tab). This means thinking about empty space as its own device to be used.
One space in particular you should think about in terms of negative space is under the console table itself. Console tables often have proportions with large voids underneath, something you may want to consider dressing too.
In the dining room of this Seattle home designed by interior designer Lisa Staton (opens in new tab), a relaxed, eclectic look has been created for the top of the console. ‘We started with the client’s own collections and then added hand-made combinations of candlesticks to make a harmonious and pleasing backdrop,’ explains Lisa Staton. Underneath, a large bison skull nods to the home’s Californian desert inspiration.
4. Create balance with symmetry
Symmetry can be a useful tool when it comes to choosing decor for a console for an elevated, luxe look. It’s a brilliantly easy way to create balance if you’re less confident you have the pieces to complement each other in asymmetry.
In decorating an apartment in New South Wales, interior designer Greg Natale pushed the idea of symmetry not across a single console, but with two tables, styled almost identically.
‘With this extra-long hallway, I felt that it was more balanced and symmetrical to repeat the same console, lamps and accessories,’ Greg explains. ‘The hall lights add nice atmospheric light at night time.’
5. Go attention-grabbing with your choices
Console tables are a space to be creative and have fun with your design, so why not embrace bold, interesting pieces to style it?
‘A little cheekiness goes a long way in creating a unique and authentic vibe,’ 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 art around the console since it’s the first thing one sees upon entry.’
In this project in LA designed by Ghislaine, the entryway is a space filled with character, but still the console table draws focus despite being idled up against an impressive staircase.
‘You can take many different approaches to create an activated focal point,’ Ghislaine says. ‘Here, the combination of a breathtaking marble console with the amorphic, green stainless steel mirror creates a dynamic attention grabber.’
6. Add casual seating to a console
Let’s circle back to this idea of choosing decor to fill the void beneath a console table. This design by interior designers House of Nomad sees two ottomans placed under the console.
‘Depending on the leg style of the console, it can feel like a lot of dead space underneath,’ explains House of Nomad founders Berkeley and Kelley. ‘Stools or small ottomans are a great way to add depth, texture, and tie in another color from the rest of the home.’ In this entryway, the patterned fabric picks up design details from the mirror, and even harks back to the Crittall-style doors of the entrance.
‘Outside of a visual factor it’s a great space-saving trick,’ Berkeley adds, ‘with easy and practical bonus seating to pull out for entertaining.’
7. Turn a console table into a part-time desk
Talking of adding seating to a console, if you choose a table with enough depth, you might find it can double up as a desk idea. In the design of this large New York apartment, Michael K. Chen of MKCA (opens in new tab) has used a clever trick, combining a console table with a vintage perspex chair, ensuring that the console reads as a console from afar, but provides a desk to sit at without moving a chair.
‘This is a formal room, but one where people live and children play, and our clients have a commitment to make sure every space in the project is utilized,’ Michael told livingetc‘so, the elements in it are designed to serve the double purpose of visual formality and a high level of functionality.’
‘The console is a very resolved object – deep enough to be a desk, but rounded and comfortable to approach and use. It’s visually commanding enough to mark the entry to the room, but accessible, flexible, and playful,’ he adds.
8. Style up a sofa table for functionality
‘Consoles work well to break up an open plan space visually, because who wants to look at a back of a large long sofa?’ says interior designer Greg Natale. However, dressing a sofa table is a little bit different than your standard console.
To start, decor on the top of the console needs to look good from all angles. Living room lighting is also a nice addition to a sofa console, and with more (and more stylish) wireless lamps on the market, you don’t have to worry about trailing wires too.
Lastly, a sofa table will act more like a side table than your standard console too, so design a stack of chic coasters into your set-up to make this space a more functional part of your space.
What do you put on the wall above a console table?
‘I like to add a mirror above and decorative sconces for both useful and aesthetic
reasons,’ says interior designer Greg Natale. If your console is in an entryway, a mirror seems like a sensible idea, offering you a spot to check yourself over before heading out the door.
However, in the mirror vs art debate for over a console table, there’s 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 for art.
Wall sconces can also be included as part of your wall decor. If you’re having lighting added in, it allows you to perfectly position this lighting for your console vignette – if you’re working with pre-existing wall sconces and it’s not quite right, getting an electrician to move them slightly might not be a big, or expensive, job, so is worth considering.