Sarah recently wrote in asking for some design help in her master bedroom, “We recently got a new bed, that I love, but I’m clueless on finding nightstands and lighting to coordinate. I feel like the ones we have currently just don’t work – both the color and size. There is a door to our bathroom on one side of the bed so I am concerned about using wider nightstands but I think we have at least a little bit of wiggle room. Help me figure out what to do with the space! ”
Trouble selecting nightstands is a fairly common theme in terms of bedroom design dilemmas. Sourcing nightstands that coordinate well with your bed can get a little tricky.
How Tall Should a Nightstand Be?
Before we talk style, we have to hit up the basics. Nightstands need to do more than look pretty. They need to function well. Optimum height for a bedside table is even with the top of the mattress, give or take a couple of inches either way. Generally, you’re better off erring on the tall side than the short, as short nightstands can get lost in a bedroom visually.
Do They Have to Match?
Nightstands don’t have to come as a matching pair. You can absolutely use two different tables on either side of the bed. If you go with different styles, as a general guideline you will want to select two that are about the same height and width and that share at least one design element, like material or color.
Here the bedside tables are different widths, but they’re connected by height and color.
Just as nightstands don’t need to match each other, they don’t need to match the bed either. In fact, opposites tend to attract. Consider mixing wood tones, pairing lacquered and mirrored finishes with traditional wood beds, or distressed wood finishes with upholstered beds. I can see why Sarah isn’t crazy about the grey nightstands paired with her new dark wood bed. They don’t really pop against the dark wood. Something with a little more of a contrast would probably work a little better.
Sarah’s Bedside Options
In Sarah’s case, it really all comes down to the overall look she’s wanting to achieve in her master bedroom. I do however think that shifting the bed to the right toward the opening to the bathroom would help a great deal in giving the room a more balanced look. The room feels a little left-side heavy right now with the left nightstand up against the wall and so much wall space left open on the right. Scooting the bed even just 6 inches to the right will get the bed almost center on the wall while still leaving ample room to pass through to the bathroom. This will also allow her to bring in a pair of wider bedside tables. Whenever you have to place a bed off center on a wall, I think using a matching pair of nightstands helps to visually trick the eye into making things look more symmetrical.
All three options above bring a totally different vibe to the space:
- The mirrored nightstands bring in a more polished, glamorous look to the whole space. While they’re the most affordable of the three options, they’ll also be the most high maintenance. Mirrored furniture is kind of a beast to keep clean, but they would be beautiful making them worth the extra cleaning effort.
- The campaign style tables are a nice width that would really fill out the headboard wall quite nicely. This sleek style is a nice juxtaposition to the classic, traditional wood bed. Their heftier size would really balance out the heft of the bed nicely.
- The vintage style trunk nightstands are probably my personal favorite look of the three. I like the casual vibe they bring to the space. While they’re not too much larger than the current nightstands they are more substantial looking and definitely more interesting.
The DIY Option
I’m a big believer in only having things in your home that you truly love. However, I think sometimes making little tweaks to the pieces you’re not crazy about can actually make you fall in love with them. While Sarah isn’t crazy about the color of her current nightstands there’s a simple remedy for that – paint! In terms of adding height, some vintage-style castors could be just the thing to add a couple of inches while simultaneously adding in some really cool character. And last but not least, a simple hardware change could be a total game changer. This is clearly the least expensive option and one that is definitely worth exploring.
I love the idea of a white nightstand with just a few touches of antique brass. It feels simple, fresh and classic. Bringing in bedside table lamps will help to complete the desired look. Going all white leaves Sarah’s options open for playing with color. White lamps on white nightstands will make a bolder visual statement and really add more weight to either side of the bed.
So which option would you choose? Or would you recommend something entirely different?
If you have a design dilemma and you’d like some help brainstorming ideas, email me at Carmel@OurFifthHouse.com with “design dilemma” in the subject line.