Pink & blue bedroom with white washed nightstands

How To Pick The Right Bedroom Nightstand

Shopping for a nightstand for me is like picking shoes and selecting bedding is like shopping for clothes. It’s so much fun to pick out the bedding with bright patterns and incredibly soft textiles. On the other hand, nightstands seem hard to pick because they can either make or break the outfit just like shoes do.

I find this a common occurrence for many other people as well. I’ve seen many homeowners find these beautiful nightstands and bring home their new purchase only to realize it doesn’t really fit in their space. It’s like trying on an outfit you envisioned in your mind and the shoes just don’t work how you expected with the outfit.


Need Nightstand Help?

Brightly colored bedding and accents with white nightstand with gold hardware

There are a few considerations you need to think about when selecting your bedroom nightstand. Each of the principles listed below will help guide you into finding the perfect bedside table. One that will perform all the necessary functions you need, while being both stylish and appropriately sized. Keep reading to learn more.

Sizing Comes First

Dark grey accent wall, with light linen colors and wooden dressers as nightstands on either side of the bed

Before getting your hopes up over that stunning nightstand you saw at Restoration Hardware, you need to consider what size nightstand will fit best in your space. Sizing boils down to three main considerations: height, width, and surface area. Each of these three fundamental metrics can completely throw off the aesthetic of the space if it’s wrong.

Let’s start with height, because who wants to have to lean down or reach way up to flick on their lamp. For comfort purposes, your nightstand should be the same height as the top of your mattress. There is a three-inch margin that you can work with, but the recommendation is to keep the heights as similar as possible for both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Luckily, modern farmhouses tend to have taller beds so your nightstand options are a little more open. However, if you do find yourself in love with a low-profile bed like me, there are some great options for these if you can’t find the right bedside table. Go the path less traveled and try an alternative such as a stool or small ottoman.

White bedside table that looks like a desk with modern and industrial accents on top against a blue patterned wallpaper

Width is a little trickier because there is more leniency in the standards and therefore more room for interpretation as it’s based on both the size of your room and the size of your bed. Nightstand width should be based on the size of the bed and placed approximately three to six inches from either side to ensure plenty of room for bedding.

The more space you have on either side of the bed, the wider your nightstand can be. For general guidelines, please consider the following:

  • Twin Beds: Select narrow nightstands, which are 21″ wide or less
  • Queen Beds: Choose an average nightstand that’s between 21″ – 28″
  • King Beds: Pick a nightstand that’s larger than 29″
Blue water carafe on yellow tray, surrounded by other bright accents on nightstand

Next, think about the surface area of your bedside table. How much stuff do you need easily accessible? What do you like having at your bedside? Do you need a water carafe to drink from or your favorite book to read?

Your bedside needs will dictate the size and shape of your nightstand. If you’re looking to save some space on a nightstand with a smaller surface area, try taking your bedside lighting to the wall. Add a wall sconce and save your precious surface area for your jewelry holder and lotion.

Nightstand Material Matters

Gold metal nightstand with wooden top in pale pink and blue themed bedroom with leather headboard

As I’ve said numerous times, stray far away from matching bedroom sets. If your bed frame matches the nightstands, which in turn match your vanity & dresser, your room will lack any sort of visual intrigue. The space may even feel clunky and cluttered. Instead of the matching set, mix up your side table with something new.

This is why I say material matters. Even if you swap the matching set for another nightstand made of the same material as your frame, you aren’t going to achieve the high-end designer look you’re going for. Instead, find a new material within the color scheme of the room and create some variation. If you have a thick leather headboard and a smaller room, perhaps a thinner metal nightstand will complement the space well.

If you’re struggling with deciding on a good combination, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Fabric bed frame, wooden nightstand
  • Leather bed frame, metal nightstand
  • Wooden bed frame, metal or dissimilar wooden nightstand
  • Iron bed frame, wooden nightstand

Style & Storage

White nightstand next to iron bed frame with fun blue, white and grey accents

The marriage of style and function is imperative when designing a space. I know I write about this often, but I genuinely feel like it is a pivotal consideration in creating both a beautiful and realistic design in your home. If you have a beautiful space with nowhere to store your things or uncomfy furniture, you’re not going to enjoy living there.

Combining style and function applies to every piece in your home, including your nightstand. What do you use it for? Storing your lotions, electric cords, and other necessities? Do you simply need a place to rest your carafe for a morning sip of water?

Depending on your answers here, you may need to reconsider the nightstand you choose. If you lack other storage in your space, one with drawers or full coverage may be better. Only need to throw a couple of things in there? Opt for one closed shelf and one open. There are a plethora of options in nightstands and you can easily find one that fits your needs and style.

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