How To Decorate A Nightstand

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Nightstands are valuable pieces of your bedroom’s design, adding both form and function to the space. However, since they typically have a smaller surface area, it’s essential to style them well to avoid looking overly cluttered. When you consider how to decorate a nightstand, you want to keep essentials at hand but make it look good too.

When decorating your nightstand, start with essentials, like a lamp, glasses, and a place for books. If you have a larger space, you can add a decorative item, whether a vase of flowers or framed photo. Keeping smaller things on a tray can help gather tiny items and add visual appeal. Aim to leave at least 25% of the surface clear.

Nightstands come in many sizes and shapes, so knowing the basics can help you create a stylish bedside table. Your top priority should be keeping your nightstand as clutter-free as possible so that your bedroom remains a restful retreat.

Start With Must-Have Items When Decorating A Nightstand

The whole point of a bedside table is to keep things within reach when you’re comfortable in bed. You don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to find your glasses or turn on a lamp. So, starting with your must-have items is best when considering how to decorate a nightstand.

1. Lamp

A lamp is a must on a nightstand. You can have light for reading or if you need to get up when it’s still dark outside. Choose a design that works with the scale of your nightstand. For example, if you have a larger surface, you can get a larger lamp.

But, if your nightstand is small, opt for a sleeker lamp design. You don’t want the lamp to take over the table. No matter the size, make sure the lamp has some height. Not only does a taller lamp make it easier for you to read, it adds height to the design.

If you’re working with a tiny nightstand, consider using a wall sconce or a floor lamp positioned behind the table instead. You can also find lamps that mount to your bed’s headboard.

In addition to a lamp, it pays to keep a small flashlight in your nightstand drawer in case of a power outage. If there’s no drawer, consider installing a small cup hook on the back of your nightstand to hang your flashlight.

2. Medications And Self-Care Items

Keeping medicine, hand lotion, lip balm, and similar items nearby when you’re in bed is convenient. But if you have all these little things lying about, it can get cluttered quickly.

If your nightstand has a drawer, these items are best inside it. If there isn’t a drawer, consider getting a decorative basket or box where you can gather all of these items.

3. A Place For Glasses And Accessories

When you get in bed, you likely take off your glasses, remove jewelry, hair ties, etc. You also want to keep important items, like your glasses, easily accessible at all times. Place a small decorative tray on your nightstand to help these small items stay safe in one spot.

4. A Spot For Books

Many people read before bed, so a place for books on your nightstand becomes essential. Have a spot for your current reading material.

If you bounce between several books at once, keep them in a neat stack, angled on the corner of your nightstand. But try to limit it to no more than three at a time to keep clutter under control. If you don’t have room to stack them, stand them vertically between the lamp and another item on your nightstand.

5. Clear Surface Area

Once you have all the essentials, ensure you still have some surface area remaining. If you can manage 25% free space, this is ideal for keeping things visually appealing. It also gives you a place to keep a glass of water or cup of tea.

How To Decorate A Nightstand With Accessories

With all of your essentials in place, you can assess how much space you have leftover. If your nightstand still has room to spare, place a decorative item, like a framed photo, potted plant, or flowers.

You might also choose to place a small clock on your nightstand. Many people might assume a clock should be an essential item, but nowadays, not so much.

A lot of people simply check their phones or smartwatches. Or you can hang a wall clock in a location that’s easy to see from your bed. Therefore, no need to take up valuable surface space on your nightstand with a clock unless you want to.

Decorating A Small Nightstand

If your nightstand’s size limits your decorative space, you can still add some elements in other ways. For example, you can hang a picture frame on the wall directly above the nightstand. It adds an accessory without taking up surface space.

Alternatively, you can prop larger frames or artwork against the wall so they take up minimal space. Then layer your essentials and smaller items in front of it. Another option for a smaller surface is to place an LED candle or small flower vase on top of a stack of books.

You can also make your essentials double as your decorative items. For example, if you store smaller items in decorative boxes, stack smaller boxes on larger ones to add levels and more storage space.

A Final Look At How To Decorate A Nightstand

Staging your nightstand is a big part of decorating your bedroom. The best way to decorate a nightstand is to start with the essentials, like a lamp, a place for self-care items, and books.

Contain small items in a decorative box, basket, or tray to keep clutter in check. Once you’ve covered the must-haves, you can layer in more decorative accessories if space allows.

You could place a potted plant or framed photo at an angle or hang pictures on the wall above the nightstand. You could also put a candle or small vase on top of a stack of books.

If your nightstand has a drawer, keep items like lotions and medications inside to free up surface area for more visually appealing things. Ultimately, leave at least 25% clear once you’ve styled your nightstand to avoid a cluttered look. This free space also gives you a spot for a cup of tea or water glass.

A well-styled nightstand looks beautiful and functions well. It keeps your essentials close at hand when you’re in bed without looking cluttered or too utilitarian. Make sure whichever items you use don’t overpower your nightstand but instead work well with the scale.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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