Best Ideas to Style Nightstands or a Small Bedside Table

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Get your bedroom reset for the next season by adding function and beauty with even a small bedside table or a perfect nightstand for your space.  Find easy decor tips + what to put on a bedside table.

Maybe I should be really honest right at the very beginning.  Coming up with ideas to decorate nightstands or even a small bedside table are a lot of effort for me!  Maybe that seems odd since I love to decorate so much, but it is just the truth!  In thinking through and planning this blog post, it occurred to me that styling a small bedside table can feel challenging because it is one of the last things we see before we go to sleep.

At the same time, it’s one of the first things we see in the morning.  Plus, it needs to function really well for us!  Even if you have a really pretty bedside table or nightstand you love, chances are it gets to feeling cluttered sometimes.

Today, we are going to tackle the big problem:  How to style nightstands or a small bedside table in a way that both functions well for the long term AND looks beautiful!  Plus, we will chat about how to even choose the right bedside tables for your space.

White nightstand styled with two white concrete vases with dried leaves and a small candle

What do you put on a bedside nightstand?

Really, isn’t that what we all want to know?  I mean, if someone wants to take the challenge away and just give me a list of what I should put on my small bedside table, that would be awesome, right?

Since we all have different needs for bedside solutions as well as different sizes at the side of the bed, there isn’t one formula that works for everyone.  That being said, there are some basics that you can almost always fall back on!  Later in this post, we will chat about some tips and ideas of how to actually to use them when you decorate your ideal nightstand.

Here is a list of basics you can get started with:

White vintage books, a small white clock, and a candle warmer sitting on a round wooden stool

How can I make my nightstand look nice?

To make the top of a nightstand look curated and styled, focus on these five tips:

  1. Choose the right nightstand for your own space.
  2. Take the “less is more” approach.
  3. Consider function first.
  4. Creatively find ways to combine function with style.
  5. Stick to one vignette on a nightstand (one larger statement piece or a grouping of 3 items with different heights.)
  6. Take a moment to tidy your nightstand each day.  Along with a habit of making your bed daily, your room will feel inviting and restful every day!

In this post, we are going to dive more deeply into each of these points.  You’ll be able to confidently style your nightstand for function, beauty, and daily maintenance!

Best Ideas to Style Nightstands or a Small Bedside Table

vignette styled with two white textured vases holding dried leaves, and a cozy candle on a wooden base

How to choose the right nightstands or small bedside table

If choosing the ideal nightstand is so important, especially in a small room, then we had better start with that!  No matter how pretty or unique or wonderful an end table may be, it must fit well in the space at the side of the bed that you have.

While there are many beautiful bedside table ideas, the most beautiful one will be the one that functions the best for you.  A functional piece of furniture is always my priority!

In fact, I am currently on the hunt for nightstand ideas for my husband’s side of the bed that have small shelves.  A bedside cabinet would be a more ideal nightstand than the traditional bedside table with drawers that he currently has.

When choosing your ideal nightstand, think through these important elements:

  • Size of the space you have at the side of the bed
  • Necessary function
  • Style of furniture
  • Budget
two small clocks styled in a vignette alongside a crock holding dried stems on top of a wooden board

How small can a bedside table be?

A bedside table can be as large or as small as you need it to be to fit the square footage of your room.  A small space can feel a bit more challenging.  However, there are a lot of creative options available for small bedside solutions!

If you have smaller spaces to work with that require a small nightstand, you can definitely find a narrow bedside table to fit at the side of your bed.  At the same time, there are so many clever storage solutions available for small bedroom design!

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Floating nightstand to fit a tight space
  • Floating bedside table attached or detached from bed frame (this is the perfect addition for a modern bedside table)
  • Narrow bedside table with slim legs (this takes less visual space as well as physical space and is perfect for a tight space)
  • Unconventional piece of furniture (we will chat about some “non-nightstand” nightstand ideas in this post too!)

What size is a narrow nightstand?

A typical narrow bedside table is going to be about 12-18″.  It could be a rectangle, square, or even a round nightstand.  Even in a narrow space, you can incorporate a lot of function.

In fact, with just the right nightstand, you may end up with as much function as a tradition bedside table with as much space for a beautiful look too!  Tiny space don’t have to be impractical and they can even be really beautiful!

Pair of sunglasses in a white bowl on a wooden stool

What should I put on my bedside table?

Before we get to the “pretty” stuff, let’s make sure we leave ample space for all of the necessities.  It can be helpful to really think through what you use and need on your bedside table.

While I do not keep all of these items on my own side of the bed, here are a few things to get you thinking through those functional items.  Also, keep in mind that there are actually some really pretty options available so that even the necessary items still have visual appeal too!

small rectangular baskets stacked on top of each other on a nightstand

How can I use my nightstand for clever storage solutions?

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to where everything goes in and on my nightstand, I am super particular.  After all, if you need chapstick in the night, you’ve got to be able to find it immediately without turning on the lights.  Right?!

Whether you have a larger traditional bedside table with ample storage space or a narrow bedside table with a single drawer or open storage with a shelf, you can come up with some creative storage solutions.  Your nightstand can be a helpful part of your morning and nighttime routines!

How to Use Drawer Space:

Having a large drawer is definitely a win for my own nightstand.  My bedside table drawers are not tall.  However, they are wide and provide plenty of storage space.  Even if you have a small nightstand, you can make the most of drawer space with some great organizers.

First of all, lay out the things that you’d ideally like to keep in your nightstand drawer.  Next, take careful measurements of the drawer itself, as well as an idea of the items you want to store.  This will help you know what kind of organizers to get.

Then, head to the storage container section of the store or shop some favorite organizers HERE!  The organizers that you’d typically get for home offices can work really well for a bedside table drawer too!  Even a small drawer that is well organized can have enough space for at least most of your essentials.

Most traditional bedside table options do not have open storage.  However, a more modern nightstand may have a shelf for open storage.  A basket can be a perfect solution to making that open storage both pretty AND functional.

If you have a beside table that has no drawer or shelf, you can still make it functional and add plenty of room for essentials!  Nesting boxes, like THESE, look gorgeous and can provide plenty of storage space.  An open area under even a small nightstand can be a great spot for a basket to help keep essential items within arm’s reach.

close up of woven baskets stacked on top of each other on a wooden board

What is a good alternative to a small bedside table?

​If you have a little room that simply just does not have enough room for a nightstand, that is okay too!  There are great alternatives that can be incorporated into any interior design and still work for tiny spaces!

First of all, a night table doesn’t have to be a table actually designed to go at the side of the bed.  Any kind of small piece of furniture can become a bedside table.  If you have limited space, try to think outside the box for small items with simple design that can still be functional and beautiful.

For example, a primitive stool is definitely a small piece of furniture!  However, it still has plenty of space to set a glass of water, a small vase of flowers, and even a favorite book or pair of reading glasses.

Stacked baskets are a great way to provide both enough space for storage and to put functional or pretty things beside the bed too.  Baskets are a great opportunity to add texture and character in smaller spaces.  At the same time, you still have easy access to items such as extra bedding, shoes, sweaters,  or other items that you need to store away.  The best part is they can truly become a design statement in your space!

round wooden stool with a vintage white book and ironstone bowl on top

What can you have instead of a bedside table?

Here are some other ideas you could use as inspiration to come up with a great piece for a creative nightstand:

overhead view of two textures vases holding dried stems styled alongside a cozy candle on a wooden base

Where can you find a small bedside table that makes a design statement?

Now that your brain is getting creative with ideas for the right bedside tables, the hunt begins!  There are actually so many great “new” options available online.  Over on my storefront, I rounded up some beautiful pieces and ideas that can hopefully be helpful.  You can shop that list HERE.

As we’ve discussed, however, there are so many bedside solutions besides the traditional night stands.  For example, in my girls room, a stack of baskets we gathered at the flea market and vintage shop make clever storage solutions.  Plus, the best part is they can still use the top of it to rest a book or decorative accessory.

Since they have a small bedroom design, the stack of baskets allows double duty.  Actually, we could consider it triple duty if you include the fact that they look so pretty!

Thrift stores, Facebook marketplace, antique shops, consignment stores, antique malls, vintage markets, and boutiques are all great places to keep an eye out for just the right bedside tables too!

Large baskets stacked on top of each other with smiley face slippers and a large pillow next to it

What kind of small bedside table do you need for a guest room?

While we are on the subject of bedrooms, don’t forget about the guest room!  A simple bedside table that offers function, storage, and looks pretty is a good choice for guest room furniture.

If you find a piece with a drawer or two for extra storage, that could be helpful to your guests, especially if there is limited closet space.  A table with an open shelf is perfect for a basket to hold extra essentials for items a guest may have forgotten.

Even if a room is on the smaller side, try to work in at least a simple bedside table for guests’ convenience.  Plus, a spot for a cozy lamp makes the entire room more inviting!

overhead view of small stacked baskets on a side table with a small white clock and golden candlesticks

How do you decorate and style a nightstand?

When it comes to what goes on top of that bedside table, you cannot go wrong with a “less is more” approach.  Even if you are decorating a gigantic nightstand, there is just only so much decor that can go on that much space without feeling overwhelming and looking cluttered.  I try to think about styling a nightstand from both a personal and interior design viewpoint.

Tip: Typically, for a nightstand, I will decorate with a vignette of 3 items with different heights OR a single item as a statement piece.

Personally, I want this space to be uncluttered and simple.  It feels great to have at least this one space that can be tidied up in no time.  At the same time, I want it to have a warm and inviting decor style with a simple color palette.  For me, I find that if I have more than about 3 things on my bedside table, it starts feeling like too much.  I’ve found the best formula to include these items:

  1. Lamp or lighting
  2. Plant or flowers
  3. Candle or diffuser
  4. Book
  5. Picture frame
  6. Basket or container to hold small, personal items (though I like to keep these in a drawer since my bedside table has that option.)

Once you’ve chose the decor items, you can focus on creating a single vignette.

For example, on this nightstand, I included a set of matching pottery in different sizes.  One holds seasonal stems and the other holds spare change.  Beside them is a wood base with my favorite candle.  Even though my nightstand is a little larger size, anymore than this one vignette would just be cluttered and overwhelming to the space.

Over on my husband’s nightstand, I still have just one vignette.  Some large vintage books from the thrift store make a great base for a pretty ironstone compote and plant.  I centered this vignette on the night table and it still allows space for a small leather dish for keys and change tucked at the side.

view of a nightstand styled with two white vases holding dried stems and a candle on a wooden base
White nightstand styled with a large neutral colored book with an ironstone piece holding a plant on top

Putting it all together in your space….

As you choose, decorate, style, and enjoy your bedroom nightstand, I hope it helps your room become a space that is a peaceful and restful haven to start and end each day!

Good for you for making the effort (and it does require effort) to choose the right piece.

Then, as you think through the function, create a landing spot that doesn’t just look pretty but also helps you.

Lastly, you’ve created a simple, pretty view to see when you wake up and before you go to sleep.  As odd as it may sound, I think that is a blessing to have!  Enjoy!

I’d love for you to follow me on social media!  You can find my home decor inspiration on Instagram, Pinterestand Facebook!  











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