Bedside table ideas - how to make a big difference with this small item

The right bedside table will improve the comfort of your bedroom more than you realise

Grey bedroom with white bedding and black bedside table
(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

Bedside table ideas may not seem like a big deal when you're planning a bedroom refurb. Yet this small piece of furniture can make a big difference to the enjoyment of your space.

The right bedside table will provide enough surface space for you to place a lamp, a best seller, a glass of water, pillow spray, phone or anything else you need within reach before bedtime. These small details may not seem much, but they equal comfort, less stress and more relaxed bedroom ideas.

The wrong bedside table could mean excess clutter, inaccessible divan drawers or surfaces that are too small or uncomfortable to reach. Over time these minor irritations will mount up and make your bedroom feel less restful. 

See the various ways you can make the right choice of bedside table for your bedroom.

Bedside table ideas

'A bedside table is a truly multipurpose piece of furniture,' says Sam Baldry, head of design at Swoon. 'As well as its practical benefits, a bedside table can make a bedroom look ‘finished’, providing a calming sense of symmetry in a room when placed either side of the bed.'

1. Opt for a slimline drawer unit

white bedside table

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

In a small bedroom a slimline set of drawers either side of the bed provides extra valuable bedroom storage space. A set like this that could just as easily sit under a desk would work well in a narrow spot.  

Store your PJs in the deepest drawer, and keep a book, phone, journal or a notepad and pen (to jot down any late night ideas or things you need to remember) in the others. 

2. Choose a small chest of drawers

chest of drawers as bedside table

(Image credit: Future)

In larger bedrooms with a generous width to the side of the bed, a small chest of drawers makes a good alternative to a bedside table, as it provides more storage space. 

Choose one that's at a height that suits the bed frame if you're seated or leaning back. It needs to be easily accessible, so you can reach to turn off a table lamp or pick up a glass of water comfortably. 

3. Improvise with a wooden stool

wooden stool as bedside table

(Image credit: Future)

If you have ample wardrobe, shelf and drawer space, or storage is less of an issue in your bedroom, a simple wooden stool can double up as a cute bedside table. 

A rustic style will add character and charm to your room and would work well for those able to live minimally and who like a pared-back look.

4. Blend with your colour scheme

blue bedside table

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

Choosing a bedside table in a colour that blends with the bedroom paint ideas behind it, will make the furniture 'disappear'. In this scheme that allows the beautiful headboard to stand out and take centre stage.

‘It is well known that colour can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a space, and there are many theories surrounding the types of emotion each shade can conjure up,' explains Martin Waller, founder of global design brand Andrew Martin

'Consider your own emotional response to different colours; your favourite colours may not be the ones that make you feel most safe and secure when painted across your walls. Many people feel more relaxed when surrounded by light and soft neutral tones, but for some, surrounding themselves with bold and bright shades makes them feel more at ease.’ 

5. Introduce a pop of colour

colourful bedside table

(Image credit: Future / Tim Young)

Alternatively, in a calm, neutral space, the bedside tables can be used to add a splash of colour. If you're nervous about committing to a colour on your walls, this is a great way to introduce it. If you don't want to buy a whole new bedside table you can copy this smart IKEA hack and use bright colours to paint over a wooden set of drawers.

Ensure that the colour is used elsewhere too, such as bed linen, rugs, cushions or curtains and blinds, to keep your bedroom scheme cohesive.

6. Bring high school style to a kid's room

locker as bedside table

(Image credit: Future)

A locker style bedside cabinet will add a fun touch to a kid's bedroom. Choosing one with a lockable door will enable them to stash a phone, ipad or other items they want to keep away from younger siblings too. 

7. Maximise space with floating bedside drawers

floating bedside table

(Image credit: Future)

Floating drawers and cabinets are popular in bathrooms as they give the illusion of more space. This idea works just as well in a bedroom too. Not only that, but if you do have divan drawers under your bed, floating bedside tables will allow you to open the drawers unobstructed. 

Urbansize founder Sallie King says: 'Our bedside tables have been designed to maximise storage whilst taking up a small footprint, while the floating bedside tables maintain a feeling of space even in the smallest bedrooms.'

8. Utilise an alcove with fitted pieces

fitted bedside table

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

Fitted storage is a great way to maximise space in a small bedroom and alcoves either side of a chimney breast are a great place to utilise for this purpose.

It's easy to forget that as well as wardrobe space for clothes, shoes and accessories, we need storage for bed linen, towels and throws too. 

With the bedside tables and cupboards inset into the alcoves this bedroom has ample storage for all of that too. As a result the room looks un-cluttered and inviting.

9. Coordinate with a chest of drawers

chevron bedside table in a pink bedroo

(Image credit: Future)

The typical placement for a bedside table is either side of the bed, but if your bedroom layout is not symmetrical, coordinate different pieces of furniture in the space.

'A well-designed bedroom should include furniture that complements the style of the bed,' says Lou Petersen, creative director, Dwell. 'Bedside tables provide a perfect place to store essentials and you can opt for anything from classic marble-top designs to modern linear options. These can then be coordinated with a matching chest of drawers or shelves to place decorative pieces for a personal touch.'

10. Opt for a statement side table in a guest room

Grey bedroom with white bedding and black bedside table

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

When planning guest bedroom ideas if you don't have a double bed you can consider making a statement with just one bedside table. If it's not part of a matching set you can afford to go a little bolder with colour and texture especially when working with neutral bedroom ideas. 

In this room sage green and grey have been paired with an on-trend black rattan bedside table cabinet. It instantly drawers you eye, but it doesn't make such a statement that it overwhelms the space. It speaks to the rest of the room through black accents in the cushions and the texture of the woven baskets.

What should I put on my bedside table?

A reading light or table lamp is essential if you don't have them fitted on the wall. An alarm clock is worthwhile too, as it's better to have smartphones switched off at night, so as not to disturb your sleep. 

Dried grasses in a vase are a good option as a decorative touch. Traditionally living plants and flowers have been kept out of bedrooms as they release carbon dioxide and absorb oxygen at night. 


Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.