There was a time when we didn’t even have a nightstand. We were young and in love, and a nightstand seemed far from necessary. (Really, we were stretching our dollars and making do with a little bedside stool, but wow, was it an upgrade when we finally scored two nightstands for the price of $25!) Over the years, we’ve upgraded to the nightstands we have today, and they are working overtime in our bedroom.
Of course, it’s incredibly handy to have some easy-access bedside storage, but from a design perspective, nightstands can bring some balance and height into the bedroom. Speaking of height, I prefer the height of my nightstand to be either mattress level or higher. We’ve had lower nightstands, and while it works, for me, it’s not ideal ergonomically–much more natural for me to reach slightly up to grab my nighttime drink of water than reach down.
Now let’s talk about the fun stuff!–Styling your nightstand. I like the surface of my nightstand to look tidy but also used and somehow effortless. It’s a fine balance, and over the years, I’ve tweaked and adjusted my nightstand surface so much that I feel like I’ve got it down to a science. Here are 3 ways you can style your nightstand surface from a design perspective.
One way to do it is to make the lamp the focal point! I like having a large lamp for the ultimate ambiance mood lighting, balanced with some greenery in a vase and a little sculptural catchall. If I were to tweak one thing about this styling, it would be to either remove the candle or group the candle with the jewelry box and corral them together in a try. When in doubt, stick to having 3 things (or groups of things), and vary them in height, size, material, and/or color.
Modern Cottage Bedroom Sources
Here’s the same nightstand in our last house, and I stuck to a similar rule of three!
Lowe’s Bedroom Project Sources
Another option is to have the lighting source mounted on the wall or hung from the ceiling like this pendant. Not only does this free up some precious surface area, but it allows for the perfect opportunity to display some art or a sentimental photo. Still sticking with my rule of three, I placed a cute little vase with some botanicals, a nice stack of vintage books with a catchall box on top, and a beautiful abstract sketch.
The third option (and something I wish I had a better example of) is to swap out the nightstand altogether and use a taller dresser instead. I embraced this a bit in Greta’s room, and while it’s still technically a nightstand, I love that it lends itself as a dresser. In this case, I kept the surface simple and went with an oversized lamp. Alternatively, you could pair a smaller lamp with a vase of flowers, and a nice framed photo.
While hunting for nightstands to share, I was reminded of a fourth option that is specific to a specific (but common) nightstand shape. It’s the same kind that we have in the guest house, and I think it’s a great example of how to style your nightstand.
If you have this open shelf nightstand, keep the surface simple, and make a vertical stack within the shelf. It really grounds nightstand and elongates the visual interest.
Regardless of how you style your nightstand, my biggest tip for keeping your surface tidy and fresh is to keep a little catchall or decorative box atop to store all those little things. I’m all about combining function and beauty. Here are some pretty ones I wouln’t mind keeping out on display at all times.
And here are some beautiful nightstand options at every price point and in every size, shape, color, and style!
1. Dawson Trail $115
2. Wrentham Beadboard $160
3. Eden Gray $147
4. Elmira $200
5. Wellington $239
6. Jodie $244
7. Scalloped $349
8. Washed Wood $498
9. Cameo Curved $499
10. Arbor $559
11. Farmhouse 2-Drawer $599
12. Crillo Modern $999
13. Oxford 2-Drawer $1025
14. Wilkins Laurel $1250
I lucked into a huge stone top nightstand with 2 deep drawers and a smaller electronics drawer that houses an outlet for charging cords. I love it so much but I have never found a mate for the other side of the bed (the downfall of resale). I am terrible about cluttering the top. These visuals are so helpful with ways to arrange everything when I dust the corgi glitter off the top! :)
I have this one with the extra charging station and LOVE IT!! Two regular outlets and two USB outlets mean my kindle and phone cords are hidden until I need them. Only weird thing is you can’t pull the drawers out all the way. https://www.westelm.com/products/mid-century-nightstand-acorn-g968/?pkey=cnightstands
I love #2
We got #8 – not well made at all!
Great post as usual. Thank you for the design inspiration. I’m seriously considering going from our table lamps to wall lamps as you suggested as a way to free up nightstand real estate. Thanks again.
I like the fact that you include very affordable options. I have to furnish a coastal 3 bedroom, 3 1/2 bathroom house plus loft that we are building and don’t have a huge budget. I like your style plus Serena and lily and
I enjoyed this. Thank You for sharing a variety of styles and prices.
Love these tips. I need a refresh and am glad I clicked on your post!
Goals. This is nightstand goals. I think I store too much out on top, and I probably need more lidded storage.
Perfectly timed as I’m about to pick out new night stands. I’ll be getting rid of a big bulky dresser and you gave me the idea to get a small dresser for each side of the bed for clothes storage. Thanks!
Flowers and a stack of books are pretty – but that’s not real life for many of us.
We have a small bedroom – which means small nightstands on either side of a double bed. I’m not willing to find even smaller nightstands so we can have a queen sized bed! Lighting is wall mounted, all the “stuff” has a home in the drawer and the alarm clock is small with huge numbers – everything is pared down to essentials and mostly under control.
But do you have any ideas about dealing with the medically necessary CPAP machine? It’s too awkward to store elsewhere and bring to the nightstand every time I sleep (assuming I even had somewhere convenient to stash it). Not much can be done about the big and ugly but the mask & tubing are an awkward mess during the day.
A nightstand with one drawer and then an open shelf underneath might work well to store the CPAP underneath? Like number 1, 3 or 11? That’s what I have and stored my pump and pumping materials in a big basket in the open part which worked well
Cici, I have seen the c-pap essentials stored in a basket beside the bed, much like one would store an extra throw or blanket.
I found this post very helpful. I realized that I need a lidded box for all the little junk that seems to gather on my nightstand! I have a cute wooden bowl but it still looks like a bowl of junk without a lid 😆
I loved seeing the same nightstand in both houses. A good traditional piece like that works anywhere!
I’m sorry Sharon is having a hard day but don’t let it bother you. 99% of us appreciate the hard work you put into giving us free advice and eye candy every day! Thank you and keep it up 🙂
I love a pretty clutter free nightstand. But I’d love to see more ideas for real life styling, like hiding/working with CPAP machines, charging stations, tissues.
I recently got some tissue box covers and I’m obsessed! It looks so much more out together and chic.
Hi Chris & Julia, as a regular blog reader of yours, I’m genuinely wondering: why is your content so inarguably boring lately? What’s going on?
Omg! That’s so rude. I wonder if you’d be able to say this in person as well? Lack of etiquette in internet are whole different thing.
It’s actually really helpful and interesting to many of us!
Hey Sharon- you don’t need to respond to everything you find dull. Maybe just move on? Where are your manners?
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