The shape, size and styling of your coffee table all depend on how you are planning on using your table. Once you figure out how you plan on using your table, here are a couple of coffee table shape and styling options for the various ways you use your table.
'Formal' Coffee Table
This styling is for the coffee table in a sitting room or formal living room. It's for a room where your coffee table isn't used very often, but you still want it to be admired and bring you joy. If your coffee table is used like this, where it's just for aesthetics, I would recommend some beautiful coffee table books, a vase with long stems or flowers and some smaller decor on top of a circular table. The coffee table books elevate the room and make it feel polished and put together. The vase and stems will add height to the center of the room and the smaller decor helps balance out the height of the stems or branches. I would recommend a circular or elliptical table for a more formal setting to create a nice and welcoming flow into the room especially if this is one of the first rooms your guests see when they enter your home.
'Eat At' Coffee Table
My fiance and I definitely fall into this category for coffee tables. Every night we eat at our coffee table for dinner, so our coffee table styling is nothing too cluttered. If you are in this same boat, where you might as well call your coffee table your dining table, stick to a rectangular table with sparse decor. If multiple people are eating at the coffee table on most nights, a rectangular table gives each person the same amount of room. If eating is the main thing you use your coffee table for, might I suggest a lift-top table. This design keeps you from hunching over while sitting on the couch and eating and also provides storage in the base of the table. When it comes to decor for this function, coasters are key. Lastly, if you want to spruce up the look of the table (so it doesn't look like you use the table for eating), try a simple tray with various candle heights to not clutter the table too much, but adds a put-together look.
'Game Night' Coffee Table
This table is definitely for the competitive couple. You know the ones who host game nights at their house every weekend. They're basically the couple from the movie Game Night. So, if your coffee table is mainly used for games and activities ,a square table with minimal decor is for you. If you have a serious game of spoons going, with a square table, no one can complain about having a bad angle. Minimal tabletop decor, makes it easy to clear off for game night or family get-togethers. What also helps accommodate more people is having ottomans that can be stored under the table when not in use.
'Drinking' Coffee Table
This configuration is for the sophisticated men and women out there who use their coffee table for socializing with cocktails and wine. Really, any table shape would do for this use, but a smaller table helps people congregate closer together and have more intimate conversations. I love nesting coffee tables if you're planning on using your table for casual drinks. Nesting tables have varying heights creating intrigue. Combine this table type with decor that has a story or meaning such as photos or a piece of art. These relics serve as conversation starters while also decorating your coffee table. Add some height with tapered candles and you've got a styled table that enhances your intimate conversations.
Coffee tables are high on the list of being one of the most used tables in your home, so it needs to suit your lifestyle. Let me know if there are other uses you use your coffee table that I missed in the comments.