Styling a bedside table can get complicated. On the one hand, the surface of the table offers an opportunity to decorate with personal treasures, artwork, flowers and sentimental photographs. On the other hand, there are practical concerns, such as reading light and storage needs that have to be taken into account.
In the most recent House Beautiful, their "Send us a Picture" column featured designers' nightstands, with accompanying quotes. It was revealing to say the least, and the sentiment in terms of styling a nightstand ranged from a "more is more" mentality, to clean, organized and functional approach.
For some, sleeping near cherished items is important. Such is the case for designer Rodman Primack, who was quoted saying: "Our bedside tables are mini-shrines to things we love. My side is filled with little animals and trinkets that my niece has given me." There's an entirely different camp of people, who need a clutter-free environment. Designer Amanda Nisbet said this about the issue: "Clients always seem to want tables with lots of storage, but I prefer mine to be clean and uncluttered."
Obviously there's a happy medium. The first step in achieving a stylishly decorated bedside table that functions according to your needs is deciding what your needs are. Oftentimes, essentials include:
• Storage for books, day-planners, journals, periodicals, and other reading materials.
• Space to hold a glass of water or carafe.
• An adequate source of light.
• A container to hold small items such as jewelry, watches, glasses, and accessories you take off before sleeping.
• Space for candles or a container to hold fresh flowers.
Here are some ways to achieve a functioning nightstand without sacrificing on aesthetics:
• If having space to arrange cherished trinkets, artworks, framed photographs or vessels for flowers is a must, consider attaching a swing-arm lamp to the wall (images 1, 2). Table lamps usually take up a lot of surface area. By eliminating this element, you're left with plenty of surface area to put books and pretty objects of sentiment.
• Use a table with multiple levels, and possibly a drawer (images 3, 4). Store the more practical things on the second level or in a basket, leaving the tabletop clear to artfully arrange your favorite decorative accessories.
• Choose things that you personally appreciate and never get sick of. After all, you're the one doing the actual living in the room. There can sometimes be a tendency to decorate with trendy, ultra-hip wares to make a statement. While decorating like this probably looks cool, if you yourself don't find it aesthetically pleasing, it will be hard to live with. This is why people stick to sentimental trinkets, framed photographs, and flora (image 5).
• If space is an issue, turn your nightstand into a desk or vanity (images 6, 7, 8). Style the desk to suit whatever needs the surface will provide: cups of pens if it's a place to write a letter, makeup stored in an pretty container if you'll be using it as a vanity, always leaving adequate surface space. The chair can be moved to the side at night when you're in bed if it's distracting.
• Hiding your personal items behind a skirted table is a great solution for those who don't like their necessities exposed (image 10). Both a rounded table-skirt (a bit more old fashioned) or a rectangular, more tailored skirt are viable options. If you gravitate towards clean and minimalistic, choose a solid simple linen; for a bolder look, try a floral or chintz! In the latter case, the skirt becomes a statement, so arranging a minimal amount of accessories on the tabletop is ideal.
(Images: As credited above)