The coffee table is going to be a fairly prominent piece in whatever space it is placed in. This is due often to its size, but also to the inherent prominence of the piece, which tends to stand out and dominate a space. It is also an interactive piece, an accessory which can define a room and give it function and purpose above and beyond what it might otherwise be capable of.
This idea of function is one which is a key to the philosophy of the coffee table. This is a piece which is designed to facilitate. What it facilitates is up to the nature of the space, and the preference of the people living there. Think about it, playing a board game, reading a book, having a conversation, even drinking a cup of coffee, the signature accessory of the piece, is all facilitated by the existence of this table.
Now decoration is a picky point for many people. In general the less clutter you have on the piece, the more use you will get out of it. Leaving a coffee table completely bare is not out of the question. However you have to understand that the piece itself will look empty, and so even a small accent can bring the surface of these tables to life.
Certain items can increase the functionality of these pieces. Coasters are great because they can serve a dual purpose, accessorizing the tables top while also giving it a much needed splash of color. Candle holders are also nice because they allow you to set a quiet, intimate atmosphere in the space easily.
Probably the most common coffee table decoration is a magazine, or a series of publications, or even a couple of scattered books. This is a great way to show off your personality and also, expose some people to the thoughts, ideas, and concepts that you are passionate about.
The coffee table is an important part of the architecture of a space. It not only provides form to the room, but it is also functional, adding purpose and use to an area that might otherwise be lacking. How you choose to decorate this accessory can become an important part of the definition of the entire room.