My original goal just had been cohesion. While mirror images look pulled together and often classy, there are plenty of practical reasons to have different things on each side of the bed. First are space constraints, which can leave one side empty (Image 10) or can be helped by dressers and desks pulling double-duty bed-side (Images 3 and 5). Second, asymmetry can save time and money. In my experience, if I'm looking on Craigslist or in antique and thrift shops, it's a lot easier to find a single lamp or side table than a pair. Finally, if two people are sharing that bed, it makes sense for each to have something that fits his needs, habits, and taste — even if it's just different lamps (Images 2, 6, 7, and 8).
Thoughtfully asymmetrical bedside areas look effortlessly good, but how do you pull it off? In Image 7, the lamps are different styles but two colors that clearly fit into the room's color scheme. Similarly, Image 6 shows a table lamp and a reading light that are cohesive because they go with the room's muted palette. In Image 1, the two prints give balance, and your eye is drawn from the floor lamp to the art to the hanging organizer. The similar heights of the different styles of tables in Images 2, 4, and 8 mean that both sides have a comparable visual weight, and the off-center art in Image 8 balances out the painted architectural details.
Images: 1. Domino via SFgirlbybay 2. Milk Magazine 3. Lizzy's Lovely Little Dollhouse 4. Emmas Designblogg 5. Lonny 6. Elle Decor 7. Design*Sponge 8. West Elm 9. Desire to Inspire 10. Stephen and Todd's Fantastic Mr. Farmhouse