Alternatives to a Traditional Nightstand

A bedroom with a drum nightstand
Photo courtesy of Design Sponge

No bedroom is complete without at least one nightstand beside the bed. You need a close-at-hand spot to hold a box of tissue, your alarm clock, your glasses, the book you are enjoying before turning out the lights for the night, and your bedside lamp. If you share your bed with a partner, ideally, you both have a nightstand. In all but the tiniest rooms, there should be space for a small bedside table on each side of the mattress. Those tables don’t need to match however, as long as they complement each other in size and design.

Having said all that, there is no rule stating that your nightstand has to be a traditional piece of furniture specifically designed for that purpose. There are lots of alternatives to the traditional nightstand–many of them very budget-friendly–and by mixing up your bedroom furniture a bit, you create a more interesting space.

Small end table: If you already have a small end table without a home, press it into service as a nightstand. Make it extra feminine with a lace topper, or give it a contemporary vibe with a mirrored top cut to fit. Stash your necessities in a small basket under the table.

Step stool: Do you have an old wooden step stool? For a rustic look, set the stepstool next to your bed, and top it with a large tray or a painted, distressed board. Keep your topper in place with a nail or two through the center. Use the steps to hold books or small items.

Suitcases: Show off your love of travel with a stack of antique suitcases instead of a traditional nightstand. Use suitcases with flat sides so your nightstand doesn’t topple over easily. Or spotlight one antique suitcase on a stand the appropriate height for your bed. As a plus, you can use the suitcases for extra storage.

Shelf: If floor space is at a premium in your tiny bedroom, go vertical. Who said nightstands have to be on the floor? Install a shelf or two by your bed instead, making sure they are positioned so you can reach your alarm clock and other items without a stretch.

Wagon: Is there a child’s red wagon gathering dust in your garage? No need to throw it out, or sell it at your next yard sale. Wheel the wagon right into your bedroom, and park it by the bed. Use it as-is, or set a board or tray over the top for extra height and a smooth surface. If the wagon is rusty, and you’re not a fan of the primitive look, give it a shiny new coat of spray paint before repurposing it in your room.

Teacart: These useful wheeled carts generally have a shelf or two, and many are very attractively designed. Instead of serving tea, let your cart serve as a nightstand.

Chair: The ultimate in a simple nightstand: position a chair next to the bed. A wooden kitchen chair works well for this, and can easily be painted to suit your bedroom décor. Give it a smooth and shiny coat of metallic silver or gold if you like a contemporary style, or paint it white and rub away the edges for a more shabby, distressed appearance.

Bookshelf: Slip a bookshelf into the spot beside your bed, and now you have enough space to store all sorts of things. Add a few pretty baskets or boxes to the mix, and you can store clothing accessories and jewelry, toiletry items, important papers, and all the various items that are difficult to house elsewhere. And of course, there's ample room for your book, box of tissues, and a glass of water.

While a good mattress is worth a splurge, there is no reason to go broke paying for expensive bedroom furniture. With so many alternatives to the traditional nightstand, you probably already have the perfect item in your home, just waiting to serve a new purpose in the bedroom.