Style: Design inspiration for your bedside table

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

Great bedrooms are made up of lots of design elements that work together to create a sensational look that is all your own. One important but often overlooked piece of the pretty puzzle is your bedside table. Think of them as bookends for your beautiful bed, practical and pretty all in one. Not sure how to make your nightstands shine? Here are three looks to inspire you.

Soft and soothing

We started a dreamy display with soft, soothing bedding that adds a touch of country charm. The floral fabrics are paired with a simple ticking stripe to keep this feminine-leaning look from being too girly. Next came the all-important bedside table. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when selecting tables by their bed is to pick pieces that are postage-stamp-sized, far too small for their beds. Not only does this mismatch throw off the proportion on the space, it leaves you with next-to-no room on top for all your gotta-have stuff. This painted blue table is an ideal pick for this bed, with the soft colors, feminine curve and bottom shelf that allows you to store things like magazines and books.

At the top of my list of bed table essentials is a lamp that’s bright enough to read by. This perfect white lamp, with its gold detailing, fits the bill just right. Fragrance is a mood-maker, so we finished out our display with a bouquet of fresh roses and a scented candle. I love the little box, just right to hold your treasures overnight, like a watch or earrings.

Celebrating the season

If your bedroom is done in neutrals, you have the freedom to take your bedside table in lots of different directions, pulling in the colors and accents of the season. We started with bedding in soft whites, a mix of tantalizing textures. Then, we squeezed in lots of summer citrus through this glorious piece of artwork, kicky bed pillows and simple but stunning tabletop accents. A bedside table is divine, dark and rich with bamboo detailing. I’m also a huge fan of using small desks as nightstands because they give you so much surface space to load up with goodies. We used a boxy white lamp that’s tall enough to give you lots of clearance on top of the table for a vase filled with seasonal flowers, pottery or a stack of books.

So often, we are wonderful about spoiling our house guests with things like a fresh pitcher of water on the nightstand. But we rarely treat ourselves to these simple pleasures. So, we took an everyday glass pitcher and filled it with ice cold water and fresh sliced lemons for a refreshing nighttime drink. It’s so important to stay hydrated, and this is just the invitation you need.

Variations on a palette

When you are looking for inspiration for your tabletop display, pick one or two colors from your bedding or room to build upon. In the summertime, I adore a clear red, white and blue palette. We showcased this famous trio in a fresh way, pulling together modern patterns and saturated colors. On our side table, though, it was all about blue and white, my longtime color crush. We started with this sensational marble top table. Using a stone surface for your bedside table makes for easy cleanups and protects you from problems like water rings.

You’ll see a reoccurring theme in these displays: books. I always have a stack of books and magazines next to my bed. So, why not use them as a design element while they are waiting to be read? We also have used little boxes and trays in several of the displays. Trays are perfect picks for bedside tables, to corral things like your reading glasses, and a notepad and a pen, at the ready in case you have a middle-of-the-night inspiration you can’t wait until morning to jot down.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at