3 Tips for Styling a Nightstand

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Styling a Nightstand 101

Styling a nightstand should be easy right? You have seen them again in your favorite home decor magazine: beautifully styled nightstands and bedside tables. Have you ever wanted to try that look? Let me guess, you’ve poured over a million Pinterest boards and think you’ve got the formula figured out and then #pinterestfail #sadfaceemoji.
Whether done in traditional or minimalist style, a beautifully styled nightstand can make a real impact on the look of your bedroom. You might be surprised to know the ‘why’ of styling is much more important than the ‘what’. A traditional bedside table or nightstand has a lamp, books, small accessories, maybe a small floral arrangement, and perhaps a piece of art hung on the wall or placed on the surface. A minimalist nightstand may only have a simple lamp and a clock, but they all have a few things in common…
You need some type of task lighting at your bedside. We perform variety of activities in our beds and most of them require some lighting.  Colorful, uniquely shaped lighting can really pack a punch when it comes to style. If you’re on a budget, a table lamp would be the least expensive. Another option, if you want something more permanent,  is a wall sconce. A hard wired sconce is less budget friendly because it will require the work of an electrician, but the look can be beautiful and frees up space on your bedside table! You’ll want to make sure you place the lamp within arms reach of the bed. I usually make it the closest item to the bed. If you put it too far away you will have to reach over other items and you will risk pushing items, including the lamp, into the floor.
Scale & Proportion

When selecting a bedside table and the items to be placed on it, make sure to choose a nightstand or table that is in proportion to your bed. Then select Items that are scaled to the size of the nightstand. For instance, if you have a king sized bed that has a tall headboard, you will want to select a nightstand substantial enough to hold a taller, more substantial lamp. Then, the art and accessories should be scaled to the nightstand and lamp.

If you’re scratching your head a little and wondering “how do I know it’s the right scale?” You’re in luck, I was just getting to that! There’s an ancient design “rule”. Seriously. We’re talking Ancient Rome. Roman architects found there were naturally occurring proportions. This number translates to somewhere around 2/3 or 3/5. So, a lamp would ideally take up about 1/3 the width of your nightstand and maybe be 2/3 it’s height. Then, your art might take up about 2/3 the space left and could be Placed on the wall so that it was 30% higher on the wall than the lamp. Each accessory could then be scaled from there.

This leads me to the final tip…


I’m going to talk about shape in two ways -the overall shape of the arrangement and the shapes of the objects used in the design. You want the overall shape of the vignette to lead the eye over the arrangement in a way that makes sense. The most popular and easiest shape to manage is a pyramid shape. This would include any art over the bed, the headboard of the bed, and the objects on the nightstand. The art over the bed being the highest point and each subsequent object leading the eye lower. This gives the overall vignette a more visually dynamic look. Another popular shape is a rectangle. This works well if you want the eye to rest at a particular height. In this shape, you would hang the art level with top of the bed and lamp. You can see in. The pictures below how the two shapes create a different feeling.

An Example of pyramid shape.

An example of rectangular shape.

The second part of shape. If you’re going for a minimalist look, select a lamp that has an interesting shape to add some visual interest. The shape of the base or the shade can provide this. For a maximalist look, using a several shapes for the selected accessories will create variety and help move the eye across the arrangement.

Minimalist nightstand with furniture by Moe’s and lamp by Kenroy Home

The nightstand in this vignette has a variety of shapes and textures.

What are some ways that you can use lighting, scale, and shape to make a beautiful bedside vignette?

If you think you still need help with styling or just want to freshen up your look, give Paradigm Interiors a call!


2 thoughts on “3 Tips for Styling a Nightstand”

  1. Nancy Stokely says:

    Never thought about how much impact styling your bedside table could have. Thank you for the suggestions.

    1. julielampe says:

      Bedside tables are one of my favorite areas to style. I know when mine looks pretty I tend to keep it neat and clean! And I want to make my bed more often, too!

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