How To Decorate The Top Of A Nightstand Or Bedside Table? [7 Suggestions]

Our nightstands are often the first and last thing we interact with every day. Almost all beds and room arrangements sport a pair of nightstands, and everyone has their own. This may leave you wondering how to decorate such a classic piece of furniture. With so many options and not that much space, it can be challenging to make up your mind. We researched the most popular methods to help you create a standout look in your bedroom.

How you decorate your nightstand impacts your day, and you should always choose things that will bring you the most joy. Lighting, reading, and personal objects are the three main categories of nightstand decorations that most designers agree are essential. The most common nightstand decorations are

  • Table Lamp
  • Selected books
  • Photos / Art
  • Alarm Clocks / Radios
  • Charging Docks
  • Potted Plants
  • Candles

With so many choices, it can be hard to land on the right nightstand accessories. We're here with some useful tips and inspirational ideas for you in this article!

Bedroom interior with pink sheets on a bed standing near wooden bedside table, How To Decorate The Top Of A Nightstand Or Bedside Table? [7 Suggestions]

A Proper Bedside Companion

There are so many ways to personalize your nightstand; we will go through the most common accessories and how to use them.


Most bedside tables or nightstands have some form of lighting. They allow you to keep a small amount of light available to you in bed while allowing you to turn them off without getting up. The lamp or light source is also another opportunity to maintain the room's overall style. 


Physical books help calm you down before bed and are a perfect nightstand companion. Bedtime reading reduces stress, helps create a nighttime routine, and boosts your overall cognitive function. Books also have colorful covers and designs that can help visually personalize your nightstand. You can cascade books on top of each other or pile them on in an aesthetically pleasing way.


Personal Objects

A picture frame of a family vacation, a unique bracelet, and a family heirloom watch are all perfect examples of personal nightstand decorations. Most people like to keep a cherished trinket or memento close at hand when they sleep. Waking up and going to bed thinking about the things that make you happy are great reasons to keep these on your nightstand. 

Useful Things

Most of us also keep more practical things on our nightstands like alarm clocks or phone charging cables. A nightstand is a perfect place to keep handy things like catch-all trays, wallets, jewelry. Medicine, headphones, or other things you have to remind yourself to grab in the morning are also great contenders for your limited tabletop space. 


Should your Nightstands Match?

Generally, your nightstands should match one another, and the overall set of furniture in the bedroom. If the bed has a nightstand on both sides, keeping them in the same style would create some pleasant symmetry. Most bedrooms maintain the same materials and finish colors for all of the larger furniture pieces. There may be cases when one side has a uniquely styled nightstand, but this is not the usual case. 

This set of nightstands matches nicely and comes in a pair.

You can find them here on Amazon.

One instance where you might want mismatched nightstands is if the couple that shares the bed has very different needs for bedside storage. Perhaps one side needs plenty of book storage for nighttime reading, while the person on the other side prefers minimal clutter and a smaller nightstand. Keeping some elements like wood color, general style, or metal finish the same would help maintain a cohesive room style. Wondering if you should even have two nightstands? We wrote an article to help you out there too!

How Tall Should Lamps be on a Nightstand?

Nightstand lamps should be about the same height as the nightstand itself. Nightstands are generally as tall as the bed at around 24 inches. Table lamps are often 24 to 27 inches in height. There are also other considerations to think about, like how high up the light switch is. The switch should be at a comfortable arm height and not too far from your arm to make turning the switch off and on easy. 

The lamp height should not be too high, or there may be a tipping danger. Nightstands are prone to get bumped into or pushed by accident. If the lamp height greatly exceeds the height of the nightstand, then the chance of tipping is increased. 

This nightstand lamp has touch-operated dimmable lights, phone charging USB ports, and is 17" inches tall. 

You can find it here on Amazon.

What Color Should a Nightstand be?

The color of your nightstands is essential because it frames your bed. The color should primarily try to fit in with the other furniture elements in the room. You can use a complimentary color to the bed to make the bed stand out. As we mentioned before, it is common for nightstands to match each other in color. 

Material choice is also important when decorating your nightstand. It's common to have wooden nightstands, so some natural accessories like plants or carvings would work well. Metal nightstands suit a modern minimalist style with fewer decorations. The material of your nightstand will also affect the type of lamp you put on it.

Some people choose to have their nightstands in a contrasting color. This can help them to stand out and be spotted immediately. Bright colors can help boost your mood and start your day positively. Conversely, dark nightstands can help you to relax and get into a sleeping mood. Want some nightstand color and style inspirations? We have a perfect article for you.

What Can I Use Instead of a Nightstand?

There are many great alternative options to a nightstand. Floating shelves offer the same amount of surface area for decoration while leaving the floor open. They can also have multiple tiers or drawers to hold even more personal belongings. You can also use something unexpected like a small bookshelf or a chair in place of a nightstand. They add visual interest because they're unexpected while still offering some storage space handy near the bed. 

Another nightstand alternative is an end table or similar piece of furniture. These can be smaller and generally taller than the average nightstand but are very stylish. This can work in a room that is focused more on form and beauty. It is also a good option for those who don't need as much space for things on their nightstand.  

Make it Personal

Few furniture items are as personally decorated as our nightstands. We all have our own, and it should help us live our best day. A nicely lit cozy stand with your favorite books and personal possessions will help you end every day with a smile. Likewise, a minimal surface with a phone charger and your daily take-along objects will help you get up and going smoothly every morning. There isn't much room on top of most nightstands, so fill yours with things that matter to you!

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