How To Style a Coffee Table That Starts Conversations

You know how I like to change things up.  Fairly frequently.

yellow vintage sofa

I’ve already changed it since my “Fall House Tour” featured on the Eclectically Fall blogger tour last week.  I actually took those photos a couple of weeks ago, so it was time for a few changes, ha ha!  I bought the gold shell lamps  at HomeGoods about six months ago, prior to a professional photo shoot of my house for a national magazine (no word yet as to when that may be published, but you know I’ll let you know when I do).  I moved the lamps from another spot to a sofa table behind my yellow loveseat.  I need more light as my eyesight continues to dull now that I hit forty-five last month . . .

decorologist living room


And I just love how the lamps now frame the entry to the enclosed sleeping porch beyond. There’s a lot of vintage going on in here, naturally.  The tufted yellow loveseat was from last year’s Bella Rustica Barn Sale in Lebanon, TN.  (Head’s up:  this year’s Bella Rustica is Oct 11-12, 2014 in Franklin, TN.  Don’t miss it – I’ll definitely be there on the 11th.)  I like to freshen up my vintage vibe with fun finds from Home Goods, like the gold shell lamps, yellow chevron pillows, white horse head bookends, and two of the trays on my coffee table.

homegoods lamps and pillows



I lurve my square coffee table that I bought for next to nothing at a yard sale.  It’s so fun styling it and changing up what’s on it to keep in interesting. I snagged that gold ashtray from Make & Model, which is totally cool.  Even though I don’t smoke.  Ashtrays feel like a strangely nostalgic throw-back, don’t you think?

coffee table styling


You’ll see I have a really funky tole light fixture with yellow roses?  Yes, it’s a light fixture!  That was a gift from Paula, a blog follower and a recent graduate of my Expert Psychological Stager™ training course.  It’s actually a flush mount vintage light fixture, but I think it looks perfectly perfect right here!  The gold turtle?  I found that at a yard sale and painted it with this gold paint.

oyster shell decor


The vintage brass tray holds something very special.  You know how I sometimes choose unconventional items for decor, right? Last Friday night, the inaugural EPS™ class went to Nashville’s Urban Grub for dinner.  Paula (again, Paula!) ordered a huge dish of fresh oysters.  I asked the waiter for a doggie bag for the shells, and he gave me a look I won’t soon forget (he totally thought I was crazy).  I took them home, and they actually sat on my front porch in the doggie bag for 4 days. And yes, they were covered in bugs and other creepy organisms by that point. My family was disgusted, of course. I finally soaked them in Clorox bleach overnight.



I posted the picture above on The Decorologist Facebook page, and most people thought it was beer.  Nope, Clorox.  Anywho, this is the resulting coffee table decor:

oyster shells


The shells are beautiful, and would have been tossed in the garbage otherwise.  And it’s a great memory.  I smile every time I walk by this table. Oh, and did you notice anything else? That lovely book, maybe?

psychological staging book


It’s true.  The Psychological Staging book is DONE.  I ordered the first twenty-five for the Expert Psychological Stager™ course, but some stuff got screwed up and they weren’t going to be ready until the following week.  Happily, they showed up early – like a gift dropped from heaven – just in time to place one in the hands of all of the EPS™ graduates! We’ve got a couple of details to take care of before we are ready to offer it in both e-book and printed version on this site.  But it’s really nice to see it sitting on my coffee table, just like an honest-to-goodness coffee table book!

decorologist book


What’s your favorite thing on my coffee table?  Answer quickly, before I’m compelled to move things around again . . .


  1. Janet Voltaggio

    I love the combination of the three trays! The round blue, silver rectangle and the gilded handle one holding the beautiful shells! Never would’ve thought to put these together – thanks for the inspiration yet again!

  2. Kathy

    I think it is nice to use objects that have meaning and happy memories for you. And I’m impressed by how nice the painted turtle and the Clorox oyster shells look.

    • Kristie Barnett

      I was not sure about the oyster shells before I got them cleaned up, but I think they are beautiful now! Thanks 🙂

  3. Cathy Gibson

    Kristi my favorite thing is your new book! I can’t wait to order one. I love your blog so I know I will love it. Thank you for all of the great ideas and photos you share with us.

  4. Christine

    Love the shells! Went to Wellfleet cape cod last summer and got a bunch right on the beach. Just packed them till next summer!

  5. Joanne G

    I will definitely be ordering this book. I have been following your blog for a long time so looking forward to it!

  6. Peggy Wilcox

    While I love everything, I am partial to the crystal doorknobs! I have them throughout my house and absolutely love them!

  7. Melissa

    I love your brass turtle!

  8. Michelle L.

    Your book, of course! Yay you!!!

  9. Paula Van Hoogen

    HAHA! I thought FOR SURE you would have painted that light fixture by now, Kristie!!!
    Only you could make that thing look good 🙂 No, it’s not my favorite thing there either,
    but I got a kick out of that and…… those yummy oysters! Good thing you saved those shells…
    the price of those things was outrageous! No wonder they keep the lights low at restaurants.(Ha!)
    O well, let the buyer be (more) wary! Don’t tell Neil,okay?
    That whole class was such a happy , fun and really great learning experience for me! I’ve already recommended it to a friend here who will be a realtor soon. And, Oh, did I mention what
    A BEAUTIFUL SETTING the class was in ? WOW….I loved that room next to the indoor fountain.
    This was truly almost like a vacation for me. So refreshing!!! It was the the Bomb, Kristie!
    PS: Almost done with your book! I am amazed that you said you tackled a whole wood floor refurbishing by yourself—you really impress me. Seriously. xo,Paula.

  10. Paula Van Hoogen

    PS: on your post about Fall arriving and you NOT being happy about it—me neither!
    Everything you said about cool weather (except when I’m having a hot flash!) and
    loving summer the best….I’m with you 100%
    Heads down, we’ll just plow through ’til next summer…..
    Don’t EVEN talk about Christmas.

  11. karen savage

    Happy belated birthday…..and the pics are marvelous dawling!

  12. Kath Barry

    I like the whole look. Pretty cool. The book is the best thing I see and I like the ashtray

  13. Jil Sonia Interiors

    I’m so thrilled to know that your book is out – yippeeeeeee!
    You are such a rockstar – can’t wait to buy my copy!!!!

  14. Gina

    The book looks fantastic, for sure! You bet it will be on MY coffee table. I have the crystal doorknobs throughout my 1920’s home. Always a work in progress….

    I’m glad everything went well with your EPS class! I’m ready to take the plunge for January, but the possibility of sitting on a plane in Pennsylvania while “de-icing” is causing a bit of anxiety. Will you have another class next summer or is it too soon to plan? Maybe Santa will bring me some big girl panties for Christmas!!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Put on your big-girl panties and get yourself down south this January!!! I’m not sure when the next course offering will be, or if it will be in Nashville. I promise you it will be worth it if you come 😉

  15. Kelly Gabrovic

    I love the way the lamps look. But where do you plug them in when they’re not near a wall?

    • Kristie Barnett

      The cords run beneath the couch to the left, then under the corner of the rug about three inches, then beneath the side table next to my blue sofa to the plug behind there!

  16. Donna Frasca

    OH that looks so much better then the feet that are usually on my coffee table (bad Husband!) I love your sofa Krisite, it looks so comfortable. I’m in the process of getting new furniture and have no idea where to look. I want something different.

  17. Carol

    I love the oyster shells, also the story behind them. I live in South Carolina and they are everywhere I collect them at the beach and have made my son a lamp out of them for his new house as a rememberence, he lives in Virginia now. I also use them as a walkway for my garden. But my favorite thing on your coffee table is…the glass doorknobs!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Yay, everyone seems to love those glass doorknobs!

  18. kelly

    I love the glass doorknobs and the shells and your book of course! So happy for you. All kinds of conversation starters on that table. My table is the same using items that mean something special. xo

  19. Maya

    Wooow! looking very informative and updates, Thanks a lot Kristie Barnett for sharing that type of content..

  20. Karin Hensley

    My favorite things: the oyster shells AND your new book!! By the way…I had the turquoise round tray in my cart but decided against it!! Guess I just knew you needed it!! 🙂


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