How To Choose A Nightstand

Although they don’t store much, nightstands are a surprisingly important piece of bedroom furniture. Many people put small lamps and clocks on them, and some use them to store glasses and contacts for easy access in the morning.

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Nightstands should be both functional and attractive, and there are a nearly endless number of options to choose from. Here’s what to look for when shopping for a nightstand.

How wide and tall should a nightstand Be?

Nightstands should be roughly even with the top of the bed. The tops of most mattresses end up around 24” off the ground, so a nightstand between 22” and 26” is best.

The width and depth of a nightstand can vary as well, but most nightstands are around 12”-18” wide and 12” deep on top. Nightstands that are larger than this may be hard to reach while lying in bed.

Which shape is best for a nightstand?

Occasionally, nightstands will be available with unusual top shapes, like hearts or triangles. However, most are made with square, rectangular, or round tops. Bedrooms with lots of round or flowing accents should have a circular nightstand, while square or rectangular nightstands will match a room with harder angles in the rest of the furniture.

Round tops are a very safe choice for families since they have no corners for young children to hit their head on. Square or rectangular nightstands sometimes have rounded corners that are also safe for children. Even if you’re shopping for the master bedroom, consider getting a nightstand with rounded corners or a round top for safety.

Which Materials are Best?

To a certain extent, materials are a matter of preference. However, there are definite pros and cons to each one. Buyers should consider whether they expect the nightstand to last for decades, or whether they will likely sell it at some point. Children and teens, in particular, may want to replace their nightstand as their sense of style changes.

Some nightstands use a combination of materials. It’s especially common for modern nightstands to have metal legs with another material for the top and drawers. This provides a sleek appearance with all the benefits of each material.

  • Wood.

Wood gives a beautiful, classic look and can last for years. Wood nightstands can even be passed down as heirlooms if they are cared for properly. Care must be taken to protect wood nightstand from water and other damage, but as a general rule, they can hold up to daily use and occasional spills.

Solid wood stands add a touch of opulence to your bedroom. Place nightstands in dark wood such as mahogany, walnut, or golden oak in traditionally styled rooms with plush textured bed linen and style with a classic Tiffany lamp.

Light-colored wood such as pine or distressed wood complement shabby chic and country-style rooms. Choose a nightstand with a light wood finish and antique hardware to create a stunning contrast.

Gray Traditional Maple Drawer Nightstand
Brown Traditional Wooden Drawer Nightstand
White Classic Wooden Drawer Nightstand
White Traditional Wooden Drawer Nightstand
Blue Traditional Wooden Nightstand
Brown Traditional Oak Drawer Nightstand
  • Wood Composite.

Chipboard and other wood composites are commonly used in cheaper nightstands. Chipboard can last for years, but it requires a little more protection from spills and cup rings.

As composite is not as durable as solid wood, it makes a suitable addition to a guest bedroom or any room that is not used often. Composite comes in a range of finishes to match your décor. Pair your composite nightstand with luxe accent pieces such as metallic lamps and scented candles to elevate the style of the piece.

Black Simple Composite Wood Nightstand
Gray Classic Manufactured Wood Nightstand
White 2 Drawer Composite Wood Nightstand
Blue Traditional Composite Wood Nightstand
  • Plastic.

Plastic is unusual and is typically only used in children’s furniture. It can be a safe choice for children or elderly individuals who are prone to falling.

Plastic nightstands can be molded into a variety of different shapes to create novelty nightstands that can make a dramatic statement in your bedroom. Ideally suited to the eclectic and mod-style bedroom, pair with understated accessories and lighting to let the design of the nightstand shine.

White 3 Drawer Plastic Nightstand
White Simple Plastic Nightstand
Transparent Classic Plastic Nightstand
Black 2 Drawer Plastic Nightstand
White 2 Drawer Plastic Nightstand
White Brown Plastic Composite Wood Nightstand
  • Metal.

Aluminum and steel nightstands are uncommon, but they can provide a more modern touch. They can be surprisingly lightweight, especially if they are made with hollow supports.

Try choosing a metal frame nightstand with a wooden top. This balances the cool tones of metal with warm wood to create a harmonious space. Ornate wrought iron nightstands coordinate well with country, shabby chic, and transitional spaces, while metal stands with clean lines work well in industrial bedrooms.

Brown Round Metal Nightstand
Golden Metal Glass Nightstand
White Modern Metal Nightstand
Gray Brown Metal Composite Wood Round Nightstand
Black Modern Metal Nightstand
Black Stylish Metal Glass Round Nightstand
  • Wicker and Rattan

Wicker nightstands add an earthy touch to any room. They are a little more fragile and less water-resistant than other materials but can still last for decades. Despite their appearance, they can still hold substantial weight, including books.

Use a wicker or rattan nightstands to add texture and contrast to Scandinavian or contemporary styled bedrooms. Greenery and displays of books make excellent accessories, and the natural fibers in the stands complement and tone down boldly patterned bed linen.

Brown Classic Wicker Nightstand
Brown Traditional Rattan Nightstand
White Stylish Wicker Nightstand
Brown Classic Rattan Nightstand

How much storage do I need?

Most nightstands have at least one drawer. Multiple drawers make it easier to store medication, tissues, or other items that would otherwise need to be stored in the bathroom. However, avid readers may prefer a built-in shelf that makes it easy to access books.

Some nightstands even have cabinet doors that swing open. This can help store private items, especially if two or more people are using the nightstand.

What color nightstands should I choose?

Nightstands are available in a nearly limitless array of colors and designs. Some will have a contrasting drawer or top colors, but many are all one color.

Nightstands can be used to provide a pop of color to a neutral bedroom, but often, lamps or other furniture already provide this contrast. Plus, since nightstands sit below eye level, they are usually not the most apparent source of contrast.

Neutral colors or subtle, muted colors are popular for nightstands. Look for a nightstand that matches the bedframe or coordinates well with the bedding. For example, consider a slate blue nightstand to go with pale blue bedding.

Quick Tips:

  • Look for a nightstand that is between 22” and 26” high and 12” deep. The width can vary, but 12”-18” is best for accessibility.
  • The shape is largely a matter of preference, but you should avoid sharp corners in homes that have small children.
  • Wood and wood composite can both last a long time. Plastic, metal, and wicker are uncommon but can be durable options. Many nightstands use a combination of materials.
  • Look for nightstands with ample storage, especially if the nightstand will be used by two people. Drawers, open shelving, and small cabinets can all be helpful.
  • Try coordinating your nightstand with existing furniture or bedding. A subtle pop of color can be nice but may be overlooked since nightstands are small and below eye level.