We always see beautifully bedrooms replete with artfully styled bedside tables (nightstands to our American friends), but do you actually ever stop to deconstruct them and work out what makes them look so lovely and inspiring.
When it comes to styling your own bedside tables, do you even bother, or is yours a haphazard collection of the flotsam and jetsam that is an everyday life? I know mine is generally piled high with magazines, half read books, tissue boxes, a glass of water, my iPad, plus a collection of baby paraphernalia, kids’ toys, dirty tissues, lip balm et al. It hardly ever looks glamorous or tidy, but that’s a near impossible state to achieve in my life with three little kids.
I styled it in the photo below when I took the reveal shots for our master bedroom, but it hasn’t looked that good since. I picked the flowers out of our garden, the tissue box I made, and the rest is just stuff from around the bedroom. I added the mirrors to each side of the bed to fill in the gaps and because I couldn’t fit them above the bed. I would have liked to use artwork but didn’t have anything suitable.
However, on the days I have the time and inclination to make it look respectable I find I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and ideas for how to make our bedside tables look stylish and curated, but not contrived. So what are the secrets behind bedside table styling?
As with anything in decorating, it’s usually all about layering. Layering of texture, height, colour etc. So when you’re thinking about styling an area big or small, think about the following elements which I think are important and try to find a combination of some or all of them.
  • texture – the material something is made of whether it be fabric, glass, metal, natural fibre etc
  • height – vary the levels of the items from the smallest decorative object to the top of the lampshade
  • colour – make them complementary but interesting
  • shine/glimmer/sparkle – always have something that gives the space a lift, every space needs a “hero”
  • organic – something natural ie flowers, plant, shell, it’s nice to have something from nature surrounding you
  • shape – vary the shape of objects from hard, straight edges to soft and round
  • number – they say an odd number is best when styling a space, and in this case it’s more often true than not
  • display – the way you display them is obviously important, creating the right flow and depth to the arrangement in terms of both horizontal and vertical flow
An oldie but a good, this combination works every time and if you’ve got the time and inclination it’s so worth doing because it looks so lovely, uncluttered and effortless. A beautiful and simple small vase of fresh flowers, a lamp, a small pile of books. It ticks all the boxes in the list above.
I love adding mirrors behind a bedside table and lamp. Even better if you create symmetry with matching pairs on either side. If you haven’t got enough room in the space between the top of your bedhead and the ceiling, then adding something to the sides is a great alternative. It could be mirrors or artwork, either are equally as impressive.
These images below demonstrate that you don’t need a huge bedside table to have an attractive and stylish arrangement. Something as simple as a pile of books and a small vase of flowers is simple and readily available and has just as much impact. Particularly if combined with heroes like the statement chair and the nailhead trim on the bedhead.

A traditional bedside lamp is a beautiful and shapely addition to any bedside arrangement but a funky lamp or wall mounted sconce can add just as much design flair, particularly when combined with fabulous artwork and a graceful arrangement of objects.

The above image shows a clever arrangement of artwork in a gallery style arrangement. The bedside table is relatively simple in its styling and the mirrored bedside table provides the shiny reflective surface, with only a lamp and fresh flowers as decorative touches, but the interest is added with the clever arrangement of the artwork which balances brilliantly with the lampshade.
If you don’t want to create symmetry by repeating the image on both sides of your bed, then create some interest and counter point with different concepts either side. You can use different side tables, or different lamps, vary the artwork or the arrangement. As long as there is a common thread that links the two sides in some way, it will work.  In the images above and below, the common tread is the lamps while everything else is a variation. Note the mirror on one side and the artwork on the other, plus the different side tables.
In this quaint county cottage bedroom, the bedside tables differ but the lamps are the unifying element.
Sometimes symmetry is all that is needed and works beautifully. Here, in this Phoebe Howard designed bedroom the lamps and bedside tables are perfectly paired. The trio of botanical prints creates more symmetry and balance, as does the pillow arrangement on the bed. The items in this bedroom that add interest are the chair and orchid.
I love the idea of a chair at the bedside table, although in reality I think it’s probably a completely ridiculous concept. Perhaps in a guest room it might work, when you are limited with space and want to provide both a bedside table and a desk space, but really, who wants to have a chair by their bed on any given day of the week?
This bedroom below shows that if you have a “hero” piece as fabulous as this bedhead it really doesn’t matter what the heck you do with the rest, nobody will notice!
And this statement bedhead leaves little else required…..
Sometimes simplicity is all that is called for. In the image below, the grasscloth wallpaper is offset beautifully by the intricate details of the bedside table, so the lamp is very simple and all that is needed is the organic beauty of a vase of hydrangeas.
Similarly, the statement piece or hero in this image is the intricate pattern on the nailhead side table, although interest has been added with the green glass lampbase and the geometric rug.
The image below shows the interest juxtaposition of height and shape with the placement of the lamp, the artwork and the quatrefoil chair.
The image below demonstrates the effect of layering, literally. This arrangement has created layers of every kind on both levels of the table and achieved a wonderful and balanced display with height, texture, colour, shine, organics, shape, number and so on. As pretty as it is, it wouldn’t work in my house or stay like that for five minutes, but it’s nice to look are here.
All images from my Pinterest board Bedrooms – check for sources.
Hopefully you’ve found some ideas and inspiration for styling your own bedside table or any other space in your house. If you’d like to read more on the process of creating a vignette, my friend and fellow blogger Kathysue wrote an informative post on her blog Good Life of Design, check it out here.

16 Responses to Styling your Bedside Table

  1. Bookmarking this post! I need to study them. I need all the help I can get with bedsides!

  2. These all look stunning, Mel! Mine is hapharzd most of the time too. Although I feel so clean & today when it’s clutter-free. I love the bedsides that have flowers, but have to admit it would create more work for me – those dropped petals & stinky flower water! I’ll just look at the pretty pics instead Fi x

  3. leah says:

    Your blog is always beautiful! Great ideas.

  4. Flowers look like a must. Fabulous inspiration. I have seen some great bedside tables made out of something as simple as a pile of books or an old chair with character. Loving your gorgeous bedside table too.

  5. I am bookmarking this! So many great ideas and such good inspiration. I have a hard time keeping it that way:) I tend to keep a lot of my nightstand which does not always mean it looks so great, I love the idea of flowers and a piece of art, as some of them show. Beautiful ideas Mel!

  6. Great advice and ideas! Will refer to it a number of times in the future….I know I will!

  7. Monica says:

    Wonderful post this summer my mission is to finally pay attention to the Master Bedroom. Married 22 years and never bothered with it since 4 kids and my kitchen and other bathrooms took all my energy. I have to say the tissue box wrapped in fabric with flowers is something I want to do for each room. Thank you for the great post lots of tips to help me.

  8. Kathysue says:

    Beautifully written and researched post, so many lovely examples. You always do such beautiful post, I can always pin away on your post,
    Happy Wednesday,

  9. Leslie says:

    Wonderful post and I will be saving this as my side table arrangement is in the process of a re do. I think I’ve ordered similar ( or the same) mirrors! My tufted beige headboard doesn’t allow for much above it so I’m using the mirrors above the side table to balance everything out. I had to laugh when you described the way your side table usually looks;) mine is usually pillef high as well .. minus all the little kid stuff;)

  10. Julia Berry says:

    Hmm … What a shame my husband doesn’t read design blogs !

  11. I could see this post coming by the photos you were pinning the other day. Nearly all the magazine pictures have fresh flowers on the bedside which is lovely but hard to maintain on a daily basis. I need an endless supply of cut flowers in the garden.

  12. Daryl Wark says:

    wonerful, wonderful post must have taken days to collect all those photos. Everyone inspiring.
    Forgot how great your blog was. In the days of instagram and a quick fix, quality blogs still have there place.
    Warm wishes,
    Daryl x

  13. The height makes them easily accessible from the bed with tops wide enough to hold lamps and other objects. Although they are large they do not look large because of the mirrored surface, a great addition to any decor.

  14. Leah says:

    Thank you.

  15. Brooke says:

    Where do you suggest I look for bedside tables like your – particularly your own white 3 drawer

  16. Agungf says:

    i was fascinating with mirrored bedside table on picture

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