Phoebe Howard decorates a coffee table for Southern Living

Heaven, Sky & Earth, An Easy Approach to Decorating

During staging school we were taught the Heaven, Sky & Earth principle of arranging table tops. This concept was so simple it stuck with me. You’ve heard the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle before, right… case in point. Heaven, Sky & Earth¬†simply means you need three heights to your arrangement; the tallest item is Heaven, middle is Sky and the lowest object is Earth. Odd numbers of groupings work well together.

Arranging Accessories

In this example, the lamp is Heaven, the bunny picture is Sky, and the basket with books is Earth.



Heaven, Sky & Earth translates into Lamp, Flowers & Books, presented by Kerry Hanson Design. The dogs don’t count, but they are beautiful.


Coffee table with flowers

Books are my standard go-to item. Arrange them in stacks of 2 or more. Largest on the bottom. Top them off with something decorative.


Decorating coffee table

Keep heights low enough so you can talk with friends across the table.

Of course, a larger coffee table can handle more items. Sometimes I use a grid system dividing the table into four sections. A very simple approach is to add groups of books to each of the four grids. Trays make a good base layer to define a large horizontal space and corral the accessories. This is where an odd number of groupings usually looks best.

Coffee table with books and a tray.

Books and a tray, voila, you’re done.


The third and final element is texture which often translates into adding something from nature. It’s fun to make seasonal swap outs. In the summer you may enjoy fresh flowers, shells, or coral; whereas, Christmas balls or greenery would be more appropriate during the winter months. Another option would be something vintage or unique to start a conversation.

decorating a coffee table with flowers and books

Hydrangeas are blooming. It must be spring!


Succulents are an excellent option if you’d rather not deal with fresh flowers.

Heaven, Sky  & Earth

It’s pretty simple.


tiffany-eastman- labeled

The perfect combination of all three elements

And the most important tip of all… don’t forget to leave room for feet. Or beverages, preferably not at the same time.

B Staged does restyling. Let us create the perfect tabletop for you!



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