Brilliant bedside tables (... and what we keep in them)

St Claude weathered oak bedside table
With its stylish looks and ample storage, our Bletchley bedside table is the perfect bedside partner.

Like most items of furniture, your choice of bedside table says a lot about your sense of style. But what you keep on it – or in it – is even more revealing… 

 A bedside table may be small in stature but it can make a huge difference to the way your bedroom looks. Depending on the size and shape of your room, you might want a single bedside unit, a matching pair or any combination – such as a chest on one side of the bed and a table the other side.

What’s important is that the tables and bed look cohesive and work together visually – if they’re clashing with each other this won’t be conducive to the sense of calm and tranquillity you want to create in a bedroom.

The advantages of a matching pair of bedside tables are that they anchor the bed so that it doesn’t look as if it’s floating in the room and create symmetry, which evokes a feeling of calm and order – helpful for promoting a good night’s sleep at the end of a hectic day. 

 

Historical convenience to modern necessity

Prior to the advent of indoor plumbing, nightstands (or commodes as they were sometimes called) were used by wealthier Victorian households who didn’t want to have to visit the outhouse at night.

They had special compartments for chamber pots, which would have been emptied and cleaned with carbolic soap in the morning. The less well-off didn’t have the luxury of nightstands and simply kept their pots under the bed.

Over the years, bedside tables have become intrinsic to bedroom design – second only to the bed itself, which is the main consideration when designing a bedroom. Low and slouchy, high and firm, sleigh or upholstered, whichever you prefer, the bed is the centrepiece of the room.

The size and style of the bed will to a large extent dictate the style and size of the bedside tables that sit next to it… but are there any rules to follow? Should bedside tables be the same height as the bed – or not? And does it really matter whether they match? Should all your bedroom furniture be coordinated – or is this a trend that’s now passé?

 

Height

There are no hard and fast rules governing the height of a bedside table but, practically and aesthetically, the ideal height is roughly even with the top of the mattress. This makes it easy for you to reach the table as well as providing a clean line of vision across the bed. A bedside table that is too high, towering above you when lying in bed will not only look wrong but will also make it trickier to reach your glass of water or whatever you might need during the night.

A bedside table that's slightly lower than your bed is visually preferable to one that’s higher, although if it’s too low, grabbing anything you might need from the comfort your bed might be awkward.

Blenheim Rectangular Bedside Table in Black Oak
With its unique black finish, our handcrafted solid oak Blenheim table will make an impression in any bedroom. It has a handy drawer with beautiful dovetail joints and decorative handle.

If you have a bed with a headboard, a chest of drawers can work well as the headboard allows for a higher surface next to the bed.

You also want to be able to reach your bedside lighting easily, so bear in mind that a cord switch is likely to be nearer than one on the lamp itself. To give you the best light when sitting up in bed, for example when reading, the bottom of the lamp should be at roughly the same height as your chin.

Keep lamps in proportion with your nightstands, and make sure you have room for your other bits and pieces. If you are pushed for space or prefer a minimal look, wall-mounted lamps can add a boutique hotel-style vibe to a bedroom as well as freeing up space on your bedside table for a decorative object, such as a photo frame, or two. 

St Claude four-drawer chest of drawers in weathered oak
If you have a bed with a headboard, a higher chest of drawers next to it won't look out of place.

Depth and width

Again, this is down to personal preference but bear in mind that you probably won’t want the depth of your table to be much more than about 60cm (24in) or it could prove difficult to get in and out of bed.

You should be aiming for a good visual scale between your bed and bedside tables, so nothing that looks too big and lumpy next to the bed, or too small and insignificant. As a rough guide, for a king size bed, bedside tables between 50cm (20in) and 100cm (40in) wide are a good fit. 

To match – or not?

If you’re of a certain age, you’ve probably bought a matching bedroom furniture set in the past – they first became popular in the Sixties, along with flatpack furniture. The idea of using matching furniture in the bedroom is to calm the chaos and create a more relaxed ambience and, of course, they’re still an option for those who want to create a streamlined, perfectly polished look.

However, as we move towards more individual and eclectic home décor, identical furniture and matching sets are often seen as rather dull and unimaginative because they don’t showcase personal style.

Instead of coordinating all your bedroom furniture or buying a complete set from a showroom, consider selecting non-matching pieces with complementary colours or designs.

Storage

How much storage do you need? Do you prefer something like a chest of drawers or a piece with doors to tuck away things you don’t want to see, or are you leaning towards open shelving that allows you to display items artfully?

Are you the kind of person who likes to keep anything and everything by your bed, or a clutter-free devotee who needs only the bare necessities? If you’re the former, drawers are probably essential; for the latter, less so.

Brompton bedside table in weathered oak
If you don't need storage and like a clutter-free look, our Brompton side table in weathered oak also makes a beautiful bedside companion. Just add a book, a coaster for your water glass, and a bedside lamp.

Of course, what we do keep in – or on – our bedside tables says much more about us than the style of cabinet we choose. In fact, one Twitter user sparked a storm earlier this year by taking a picture of her bedside table (neat and aesthetically appealing with a hand cream, plant and book) and her boyfriend’s bedside, which was very different and interestingly telling.

Celebrities who have shared what they’ve kept at their bedside include musician Lenny Kravitz (“My iPhone, my Bible and whatever rings I had on my fingers) and US media personality Kourtney Kardashian (“Bottle of water, phone, book, pad and a pen”).

Recommended bedside essentials range from an alarm clock to lip balm, eye mask, ear plugs and tissues (... and, erm, yes a few more that we don't need to mention here).

Among the items our team here at La Residence Interiors have on their bedside tables are: lavender pillow spray (co-founder Sarah); glass of water and a book on rifles and shotguns (co-founder Dan); Kindle, alarm clock, reading glasses (marketing exec Mandy); family photo, crystal, hand cream and book – currently ‘The Secret’ (sales exec Sara) and jewellery box, heart-shaped coaster, ipad and water (sales exec Sue).

Whatever you choose to keep in, or on, your bedside table, make sure you do it in style with La Residence Interiors’ collection!

Browse our bedside tables here

 

 
May 05, 2021 by Mandy Lebentz
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