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Design Inspo

Tips on How To Decorate Nightstands

With TikTok bringing nightstand still life to a form of art, use these tips to create a stylish (and useful) nightstand that reflects who you are. 

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As you follow the trend of celebrities sharing photos of their nightstands, you may be asking, “What does my nightstand say about me?” It’s one of life’s big questions, and we are here to help you answer it. While these styling tips take good design principles and functionality into account, don’t let this intimate spot in your home become a source of design stress. 

Forget a picture-perfect vignette (unless that is really what you want), and use this last stop before bed as a way to share your personal style while embracing your nighttime rituals.

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Choose a Bedside Lamp of the Right Proportions

Before getting into the specifics of nightstand styling, check that your bedside table actually fits beside your bed. A nightstand that is too tall or squished between the headboard and another piece of furniture is visually jarring and not doing anything for your bedroom style.

Get the Height Right

Nightstands are usually 25 to 30 inches tall, but you don’t have to follow any specific rule or use a traditionally sized nightstand. Just keep your nightstand close in height to your mattress so you won’t have to reach up to put your reading glasses away or fall out of bed to turn off your alarm clock. 

Choose a Bedside Table That Is to Scale

While nightstand height may be the most important consideration, choosing a side table that works with the rest of the space is still crucial. First, ensure you have room for these bedside tables on each side of the bed. If you don’t have a bit of “breathing space” between them and other furnishings, they may be too big.

Then, review the rest of the room’s furniture and select nightstands that balance the weight of any desks or dressers across the bedroom. If that side of the room feels heavy, going with glass, wire, or lucite nightstands may be wise. Not sure if the pure marble nightstand you’ve been eyeing online will fit? Import that exact picture into your own room mockup with Spoak’s room visualization tool to see how it’ll look before you click add to cart. 

Go Unconventional

There’s no reason why your nightstand has to be a traditional piece of furniture. In fact, having an unconventional space, like many studio dwellers, may require an unconventional nightstand. We don’t make the rules!

Raid the Rest of the House 

You may not need to go shopping to find the perfect nightstand for your room. Chances are you already have plenty of pieces you love floating around your house. Now it’s time for these side characters to become the main characters in your bedroom decor. Consider using a less-traditional table, like a rustic paint-splattered step ladder, or a vintage bar cart from the living room as your nightstand. 

Fudge the Symmetry a Bit

When using non-traditional nightstands, it makes sense that they probably won’t be a matching pair. That’s okay and even preferable if you are trying to make an artistic statement in your bedroom. Just try to get their height to the same level for a sense of symmetry and ease of use without sacrificing the cool factor.

How To Group Things

We’ve waxed on and on about the rule of threes, and though it’s still applicable, don’t get too hung up on counting your items. It’s visually helpful to have odd numbers and variety, but most functional to try and pare it down to a minimum of clutter — this is the first thing you will gaze at each morning. 

Gather Things Together

The easiest way to reduce clutter is to get rid of unnecessary things, but if you’re like most of us and have quite a few last-minute steps to your nightly routine, you may want those pill bottles, earplugs, and glasses on hand.

Hiding odds and ends in an artisan ceramic bowl or in a decorative box keeps them handy without overwhelming your table. After all, it is much more pleasurable to set your nasal spray into a bronzed ceramic dish that you love rather than front and center on the tabletop.

When the sheer number of things gets out of hand, organizing trinkets and such in a bamboo tray can make them read as one whole rather than many bits and pieces. You now have one large item on your nightstand instead of six small ones. 

Vary Height of Items

While that tray is a low, horizontal shape on your tabletop, balance it out with items of varying heights. Try a tall table lamp and a couple of books stacked beside it. If you want to get particular, go for three or more odd-numbered items as long as they introduce depth and dimension. Collect images of all the furnishings and home decor you love in your Spoak mood board.

Use Complementary Colors

Along with watching the shape and size of your bedside table decor, you may want to consider the color of the items you use. Is it in keeping with the rest of your room’s decor? Your nightstand is the perfect place to add a pop of color with a sculptural piece of pottery and dried or fresh flowers. Or maybe you want to include a framed photo from a family vacation that has all the hues of the ocean. 

When In Doubt, Add a Plant

If you feel like your nightstand is missing that key component of color, go for greenery. Plants read as nature’s perfect neutral for any decor. It’s a safe choice that goes beyond the decorative.

Potted plants complement the angular lines of a table and bed and have a calming effect on the mind. If your walls are greener than your thumb, succulents are your best bet. For those with more of a botanist bend (and with side tables in indirect light), try orchids. 

Bohemian bedroom design with checkerboard rug
Designed by Virginia Bennice

Get More From a Small Nightstand

Nightstands present a problem for very small bedrooms, especially if you know you want one for each side of the bed. A little creative thinking and a screwdriver may be all you need to solve your tiny space dilemma.

Substitute Floating Shelves

Hanging a floating shelf immediately makes the space seem roomier since more of the floor is exposed. However, a very tight space may require a DIY floating nightstand of simple live edge wood construction. Consider using a short wall shelf as your floating nightstand or a slim picture ledge with enough space for glasses and a phone. Bam: instant focal point! 

Use Wall Sconces

To keep your tabletop uncluttered, move the table lamp to another part of the house and hang wall sconces above your smaller profile nightstand. Make it a mid-century retracting sconce that swivels, and you’ve increased the functionality of your space and indulged your love of all things sleek, functional, and cool.  

Get Even More From a Large Nightstand

Big bedside tables can mean bigger decorative items. There’s no rule that says minimalists have to fill every square inch of a tabletop (though TikTok may feel differently). You can have a little more negative space on your large nightstand and still make room for larger items. Consider all of the decorating tips we mentioned about the variety of colors, heights, and shapes of your decor. It all applies here, only you can probably use more. 

Bring In More Luxuries

Owners of an average to large-sized nightstand can actually afford the space to bring their evening glass of water to bed with them. (Not to mention that evening glass of wine.) Take advantage of this makeover to put that pandemic-era focus on all things homey to good use and use a drink coaster that delights you or is from your favorite childhood restaurant. 

Bring In the Book Collection

While some of us may struggle to keep one book teetering on the edge of a tiny nightstand, a full-sized table can accommodate the whole series. Consider keeping a few reads stacked neatly on the bottom shelf of your nightstand. If you have a few books that mean a great deal to you, this may be the best way to showcase them and encourage a feeling of coziness in your space.’

If you have the space, one or two coffee table books add a pop of color. Place these books on a bedroom nightstand in a guest bedroom to give visiting friends and family something to skim through at the end of the day. 

Add Pieces of Art

Where a small nightstand can only accommodate a small framed family photo or two, a big bedside table can hold larger pieces. Rest print or canvas that you love art directly on your nightstand, or layering a lamp or stack of books in front of it can add depth to your space. 

If you have wall sconces hanging beside the bed, rest your art on the table under the light for a museum-like lighting design. 

Let the First and Last Thing You See Be a Well-Styled Nightstand

Are you already dreaming up interesting pieces to use as a new nightstand? Let the nightstand selfie trend inspire you to express yourself in an authentic way that is actually useful. Why not let the first thing you see as you fall asleep and as you wake to be effortlessly stylish? 

Photo Credit: (Left) Pure Joy Home


From Elon Musk to Drake, Celebrity Nightstand Photos Are Causing a Stir | WSJ

The History Of The Drink Coaster | Grunge

Here’s Why Women Are Showing Off Their Bedside Tables on TikTok | Life

Rule of three – 10 ways interior designers use this magic number | House and Gardens

What science tells us about the mood-boosting effects of indoor plants | Washington Post

What Is Midcentury Modern Style? Here's What You Should Know | The Spruce

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Date Posted
June 19, 2023



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