I’m a strong believer that the best way to decorate is to start with a base of simple, neutral colors and then accessorize to personalize. Major purchases – whether it’s a kitchen counter or a sofa – should be the canvas not the decoration, simply because these items are the most difficult to replace as trends change. Opting for a neutral color scheme means your basic furniture will always look great, no matter how wild you get with your other accessories. Best of all, when you start with a neutral backdrop, just a little pop of color – like a vibrant accent table – will make the space sing.
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In a very neutral colored space, just a little bit of color will instantly draw the eye. The effect of putting a bright, colorful accent table in a neutral-on-neutral living room is twofold. First, it’s a large enough piece to add a decent amount of color to the space, and will stand out like a punctuation mark. Bold colors demand attention, and when the rest of the color scheme is neutral, a single instance of a bright color will make the eye see the rest of the space differently. Every additional instance of that color – no matter how small – will guide the eye through the room, creating an assertive “color scheme” out of just a few colorful items.
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Now, I’m not saying you should rely solely on a single accent table to carry the color scheme of your whole space, but a really vibrantly colored, visually arresting piece can definitely tie the room together. Changing out your curtains, buying a new rug, adding a vase of cut flowers or a live plant, and swapping to different colored throw pillows are all great ways to scatter color throughout the room, but because it’s a piece of furniture, an accent table has a slightly more permanent feel that visually anchors all those smaller pieces.
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The flip side is that unlike your sofa and recliner, or even your coffee table or TV stand, accent tables are relatively inexpensive. They aren’t as cheap as a new afghan, of course, but in the grand scheme of the living room as a whole, adding or replacing an accent table is one of the biggest changes you can make on a limited budget. Though buying a new table won’t actually cost as much as buying a new sofa, replacing an actual piece of furniture rather than just an accessory can really change the appearance and energy of the space.
Plus, accent tables come in all sizes and shapes, but are generally petite enough to go just about anywhere, and are very easy to move or exchange. There are few places in a living room where adding some kind of small table, chest, or cabinet wouldn’t be appropriate, which makes an accent table not only a great way to add color, but also the perfect way to change up the layout of the space, even if there isn’t a ton of room to move the larger pieces.
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A really great accent table isn’t just colorful, it’s also visually interesting. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the thing you use as an accent table doesn’t necessarily have to be a table, per se. This red ceramic “table” is actually a garden stool meant for use outside, but the glazed finish and gorgeous ornamental perforations will automatically draw the eye, giving the space a subtle far eastern flair. Because it’s about the right size and shape and has a flat surface on the top, it’s perfectly functional as a table, but has a little more style than a table that’s colorful but purely functional.
By extension, it’s sometimes worth the time and energy to look first for a piece that’s interesting rather than one that’s necessarily colorful (or even necessarily a table). There are plenty of cool options out there for purchase, but for those who are a little more crafty, often the real gems are mixed in among cast-offs, at second hand stores or flea markets. With a little searching, you can easily find an interesting, flat-topped object for cheap, take it home, clean it up, and stick some legs on it or paint it any color you choose (a sample can or two will probably suffice!) for an instant and completely personalized accent that will leave your own signature mark on even the simplest neutral decor.
What type of accent table are you looking for, and what color would you like to add to your living room? Let me know in the comments!