Flat topped, square coffee tables double as game tables when they're painted to resemble chess or checkerboards. While black and white is the most obvious choice for a games-table top, other color combinations that also work include brown and cream, black and yellow, gold and silver, or whatever colors will complement your existing color scheme. Draw out the eight by eight grid of the games board on the table top before you begin to paint, and use masking tape to square off the sections and get the lines straight.
Choose a selection of complementary colors and paint bold blocks of color on the surface of the table. This design idea works equally well with square or rectangular tables. Choose a neutral color for the background of the table and then use the small sampler pots available in DIY stores to paint equally-sized blocks of matching colors across the table surface. Leave a gap between each block so the background color shows between the blocks like a border.
Paint tiger stripes in orange and black or zebra stripes in black and white for a wild and eye-catching paint effect on coffee table tops. For both kind of stripes, first paint the background color, whether it's orange or white. Make the stripes look more authentic by printing out an image of the stripes to use as a template. Enlarge the image either on your printer or a photocopier so the stripes are the size you need them for your table, then cut out the stripe sections, and arrange them on the table top until you find the layout you like. Draw around them to make the outlines and then fill in the outlines with black paint.
Cover the surface of the coffee table with overlapping squares and circles. Using plain paper, make one square template and one circle template. Judge the size you need by the size of your table and the effect you want to produce. Have either lots of small shapes or a few larger ones. Lay them on the table in the position you like and then draw around them to create an outline. Overlap some of the shapes so they look like they are behind each other.