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10 Tips for Nightstand Styling

Your nightstand or bedside table is a vital piece of your bedroom décor. But nightstand styling can be a challenge.

When a piece is ultra-functional, like the bedside table, it often becomes a catchall. Books, paperwork, a journal, your jewelry—it all stacks up on the nightstand, creating clutter and a less-than-restful space.

If you’re ready to reclaim your nightstand, follow these 10 tips for nightstand styling. You’ll create a bedside table that’s both stylish and functional.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

1. Explore Your Nighttime Needs

When you style a nightstand, the first and foremost issue is to ensure you have what you need on your nightstand. If you need personal items like glasses, a reading light, or an alarm clock, those should incorporate into your final design. Most of us don’t have tons of needs while we rest at night, but there are a few go-to items that you might want to keep nearby.

Some people like to keep a beautiful carafe and glass of water on the nightstand in case they get thirsty at night (don't forget a coaster as well). Other people prefer to keep their nightstand needs tucked away in a drawer. It's all about what's most convenient and applicable to your lifestyle.

2. Start with Lighting

Lighting is a significant consideration for almost any spot you style, and of course, styling a nightstand is no exception. You'll likely need something to light your way when you go to bed at night. Therefore, it's essential to consider both the space on the nightstand and your needs when choosing a light fixture.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

A table lamp can take up a lot of bedside table space—especially if a larger nightstand isn’t an option. A wall sconce may better fit your needs (and space) but should blend with the look and feel of the room. You’ll also want to keep lighting in the bedroom soft and diffused whenever possible. As you prepare for sleep, the lighting scheme should create a restful state of mind and induce a sense of peace and relaxation.

3. Include Storage

If your nightstand has drawers, you have some built-in storage at the ready. Consider the entire nightstand—top and bottom. You may want to include a catchall for small trinkets and items. For example, if you remove your jewelry at the end of the day, you may want to keep a beautiful jewelry tray next to the bed.

Do you wear glasses? Your nightstand should harbor a spot to put your glasses within arm’s reach (particularly if you can't see well without them). Remember, though, that there's a big difference between practical bedside storage and clutter. The key to nightstand styling is simplicity—only use your bedside to store the items you need during dream time. You should store other items elsewhere (like in the bathroom, linen closet, or a dresser drawer).

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

4. Consider the Piece (and the Room Style)

A sleek, modern nightstand or a solid piece without drawers will have very different styling requirements than a nightstand with drawers. Some stands are open with a top surface and bottom storage. Others have several drawers or even a cabinet. Do you prefer a small nightstand for a minimalist look or a larger, more open nightstand for more storage and decor?

Functionality is essential when choosing a bedside piece, but so is style. Make sure you select a nightstand that complements the design style of the rest of the room and blends well with your bedroom furniture. As previously mentioned, it's modern and fresh to combine different pieces—gone are the days when “sets” needed to match within an inch of their lives. Find a nightstand you love and then style it to suit your aesthetic.

5. Get Time on Your Side

One of the mainstays of the bedroom nightstand is often a timepiece. Your timekeeper doesn't need to be the standard hotel-style digital alarm clock. Many gorgeous clocks can blend seamlessly with your décor as accents and even focal points.

It’s not uncommon for people to use their cell phone or Apple watch as a timekeeper. However, if you want the most restful sleep, it can be better to put your phone and other electronic devices elsewhere while you snooze. The blue light emanating from these electronics can disrupt our circadian rhythms and cause sleep disturbances. So instead of grabbing your phone, consider investing in a stylish bedside clock.

6. Add Natural Accents

I always like to include nature in my designs. When styling a nightstand, a vase of faux or fresh flowers, potted houseplant, or another natural element (like a sculptural piece of driftwood) can bring in a sense of peace. There's something healthy and soothing about connecting with nature, which can feel particularly relevant in our place of rest.

Photography: Jennifer Lavelle

A simple bud vase is a nice touch. You can change it out with a fresh bloom each week and add a touch of color to the room. I find that orchids are also a beautiful option. They are so elegant and surprisingly easy to care for. Other houseplants like night-blooming jasmine can be an appropriate choice for bedside decor.

7. Include Art

Many people like to keep some artwork near their bed. If you have a large piece of art above the bed, that may be all you need in the room. But I’ve found that many of us also enjoy keeping a photo of a loved one or a favorite memory or piece of artwork near the bed.

No matter what type of artwork you choose for the bedroom—photography, sculpture, or painting—select something soft and peaceful. Our bedrooms should be where we go to escape from the cares of the world. So, choose images that evoke the mood you want to capture in the room. Remember that picture frames can be a critical component of visual art too.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

8. Add an Interesting Touch

When styling a nightstand, a corner table, or any area, I like to include something unexpected and unusual. Antique items are always visually interesting and can create a unique vibe in a room. Handcrafted items are also a great way to add a bespoke element.

Include an item you picked up on your travels or something meaningful to you. A little touch of whimsey and personalization brings joy to a space. It can make you smile and help you feel connected and in tune with the room. Creating these feelings in a room as intensely personal as the bedroom is especially important.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

9. Balance is Key

When styling a nightstand, the key to making it feel uncluttered, functional, and beautiful is to focus on bringing about a sense of balance. Heavier, larger items (like a stack of books) should on the bottom of the nightstand. You don't need to store too much or turn your nightstand into a catchall for anything you discard from the day (especially if you don't have a large nightstand to work with).

Instead, try to keep it simple and light. Style your nightstand so that it's clutter-free and clean. It will help you cultivate a more relaxing space for sleep and rest. A few simple elements are really all you need for a perfectly styled night table.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

10. Make it Calming

The other theme for styling a nightstand is peace. "Keep it calm" should be the mantra and vision for any space where you sleep or rest. If there's too much going on and the space feels chaotic, it's hard to unwind and feel at peace.

Imagine getting into bed with a simple nightstand perfectly aligned with your needs. There's a soft light, a beautiful memory, and a bit of nature to help you feel grounded. I believe that how we style our homes is particularly connected to our mental and physical health. Your nightstand is more than a piece of furniture at the side of the bed to hold a pile of books and your phone while you sleep. It can be a place for final meditation of the day before you drift off to dream. It can be the perfect spot to keep your journal, hold items you'll need for a peaceful sleep, and more.

I’d love to hear what’s most important to you when it comes to bedside styling. What are your nightstand must-haves? Let me know in the comments.

X Lauren


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