4 rules for nightstand decorating ideas to keep it pretty, functional, and clutter-free for all home decor styles.
It’s so fun to decorate. But I’m a firm believer that it’s important to focus on why you decorate.
To analyze how you and your family function in your daily life, not just make your home “pretty” but to make it really work for you.
There’s just something about waking up to a clean, well-functioning nightstand in the morning or going to bed beside one every night to help you feel a little less stressed before and after a long day.
I found these midcentury modern nightstands on Facebook Marketplace the other day to use in our guest bedroom, and I realized a resource for bedroom side table ideas might be helpful if you’re ever stumped.
Our surroundings matter.
If I have lots of pretty decor accents on my nightstand, but they’re not serving me, it’s just clutter. In the past, I found that to be so true, and it gave me constant anxiety without me even realizing it.
So now I have a few decorating rules that I swear by to make bedrooms peaceful in so many ways.
What should I put on my bedside table?
The decor items on our nightstands have to tick one of four boxes:
Always try to keep it to 5 items or less.
Seriously, that’s it. If it doesn’t end up in one of those four categories, if it doesn’t improve my personal well-being or my day-to-day functioning, it doesn’t deserve a spot on my nightstand.
Bed Side Table Decoration Ideas
- Lamp or sconce
- Picture frame
- Plant or vase of flowers
- Trinket bowl or tray (handy for placing jewelry in last minute before sleep)
- Small lidded box (great for storing the remote if you have a TV in the bedroom)
- Eyeglass holder
- Candle or diffuser
Bedside Reading Lamp
It’s always a good idea to use some kind of light source on a nightstand for bedtime reading. I love using these animal table lamps in kids’ bedrooms especially for a little personality.
The sweet spot size to choose for bedside reading lamps is 24 inches to 27 inches tall when considering the average height of nightstands is between 24 inches to 30 inches tall.
If you’re decorating a small nightstand with very little surface space and want to leave more room for decor and function on the bedside table top, consider hanging a wall sconce instead.
Small Plant or Vase of Flowers
To me, every nightstand feels more complete with a little bit of greenery, whether that’s a potted houseplant or a small vase of flowers (even if they’re faux).
Bonus points: Houseplants provide oxygen and help clean the air in your bedroom.
These are 8 of the best houseplants for bedrooms:
- snake plant
- aloe vera
- spider plant
- corn plant
- English ivy
- peace lily
Candle or Diffuser
I especially appreciate having an essential oil diffuser handy on the nightstand for diffusing aromatherapy sleep-promoting benefits. But a candle, whether real or flameless, can add a comforting feeling to a bedroom too.
These essential oils are best for promoting relaxation and sleep: (Not all are safe for pets or infants, so check their precautions before using in a diffuser.)
- ylang ylang
- clary sage
Clock and/or Radio
It’s a good idea for your mental health to keep your phone charging on a different surface than your nightstand (or even outside of the bedroom). But even if you choose to keep your mobile phone in arm’s reach of your bed, having a clock is helpful for better sleep.
Blue lights on phone screens can disrupt sleep if you use it to check the time when you wake up in the middle of the night. But a lighted clock (or a clock that lights up when you touch it) can help keep you in a sleepy state.
I especially love having a radio accessible on a nightstand for playing white noise, therapeutic sleep sounds, or music to enjoy in waking hours. (My older daughter loves her old fashioned style Bluetooth radio!)
It’s probably a total no-brainer, but nightstands are just better with a stack of books. If you find yourself not able to fall asleep, reading a book is the perfect remedy.
I love having pretty coffee table books, but sometimes you just need a good novel to lull you.
Because sometimes you just have junk you need to toss into a basket, right? Bedside tables just get cluttery sometimes, and that’s okay. Having a basket stored underneath is a great way to tame the chaos quickly.
If you have a small bedroom, every bit of storage space helps.
Trinket Dish or Lidded Box
It’s nice to have a small bowl, tray, dish, or box to stash your jewelry in when you inevitably forget to take it off before climbing into bed. Because who wants to climb out of bed to put away their earrings? Not me.
Having a dish nearby is nice to keep jewelry from falling onto the floor. Having a lidded box is also perfect for stashing a remove if you have a TV in the bedroom.
It’s always nice to have a sweet photo or a little piece of framed art for pops of color nearby.
In guest bedrooms, it’s helpful to put the WiFi username and password in a picture frame for guests to access the internet without having to ask.
Do you have any nightstand must-have decor pieces? Or your own decorating rule to keep the “aesthetically pleasing” factor in check so that it serves you and your family well?
More Bedroom Decorating Ideas
- 20 Small Bedside Table Ideas
- Whimsical Animal Lamps for Kids’ Bedrooms
- 18 Favorite Modern Vintage Beds for a Low Budget
- How to Make a Bed Like the Magazines
- Cool Bunk Bed Ideas for Small Rooms