When it comes to the interior design of your bedroom, a bed is, of course, one of the most important aspects. It’s what anchors your space and—on a very practical level—it’s the most-needed piece of furniture in the space. But coming in second in the realm of bedroom essentials are good nightstands. It’s necessary to have a surface on which to set your phone and a glass of water, place a table lamp, and stash other essentials. We’ve touched on nightstand styling ideas in the past—but what about the nightstands themselves?

When sifting through bedroom design ideas and choosing a pair of bedside tables to sit on either side of your bed, there are a few things to consider. First, think about the scale and height of nightstands in relation to the bed. First and foremost, a nightstand is meant to partner with your bed—so its direct relationship with the bed, size-wise, is crucial in the use of the space. If a nightstand is too tall for a bed it will be uncomfortable to use and will make reaching for objects when in bed difficult. Too low and it will seem like an afterthought.

The next thing to think about is style. You’ll want to choose nightstands that jive with the overall style of your space and look good next to your bed. (Check out our full guide to nightstand styles here.) And, while many people opt for matching nightstands, that’s not absolutely necessary. That’s the traditional approach, yes—but as with all design traditions, rules are meant to be broken! So you can definitely have two nightstands of differing sizes, shapes, finishes and even heights.

However, there is an art to mismatched nightstands. You want to make sure your bedroom’s composition still feels balanced and considered—which can be easier said than done. So, we’re breaking down our best mismatched nightstand tips, plus unpacking some nightstand alternatives that you can mix and match with a nightstand.

1. Vary Shapes, But Find a Common Thread

If you want to try mismatched nightstands without veering too eclectic, consider playing with bedside tables of different shapes but that have a common thread that ties them together. Choosing two nightstands of the same material is a great option, and wood is an especially great material to play with for this approach. Just make sure you keep both in a similar finish or color family—so a pair of tables in either lighter wood or darker wood, rather than one of each. This helps keep your space looking polished and intentional!

Here, we went for two tables with light wood finishes. They’re also about the same height and visual weight, which gives this mismatched pair a more cohesive look.

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mismatched nightstands

2. Mix Up Materials

For something a bit more playful, you can also completely mix materials (and shapes). Your space doesn’t have to be completely boho eclectic to achieve this look, either. You can keep it refined while still mixing different materials together.

Here, the natural materials of wood and seagrass play off of one another. While they’re different shapes, sizes and textures, they still feel like a natural pair. They’re neither too similar or too different. And since they’re similar colors, despite their different finishes, the look is more refined than eclectic. They also offer lovely contrast to the sleek, dark metal bed frame.

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mismatched nightstands

3. Focus on Interesting Details

If you like a more eclectic look, consider mixing shapes, materials, and styles when choosing your two nightstands. Here, both nightstands are quite different—one being a more petite pedestal side table with a glam vibe, the other being a substantial chest with four drawers in a raffia finish, which has more of a coastal vibe. Both finishes bring something special to the space—the textural consideration of the raffia and the gilded finish and faceted edges of the pedestal table. These details make the stark differences between the two tables feel quite intentional.

Stylist Tip: In an eclectic space, you can be more bold and daring when mixing materials, shapes, and table styles. While there isn’t that visual balance between the two that we mentioned earlier, this works due to the eclectic nature of this space.

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mismatched nightstands

4. Go Asymmetrical, But Prioritize Storage

Sometimes mismatched nightstands are less of an aesthetic choice, and more done out of necessity. Here, the primary reason for mismatched nightstands is space. Because the bed is tucked into a corner, we needed a table that would be smaller for that area—something that a lot of Modsy customers encounter.

With this approach, we went for a more traditional bedside table on the left, but on the right we went for a nightstand that pops a bit. It has a sculptural shape and dark finish—making that small corner into more of a “moment.” Choosing a smaller nightstand that pops makes sure this smaller piece of furniture doesn’t feel out of place or under-thought. However, smaller nightstands tend to lack storage. So, make sure to balance a smaller, more artistic nightstand with something that offers the practicality of enough bedside storage.

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5. Skip the Second Nightstand

Another option? Utilizing only one nightstand on one side of the bed, and skipping the second one! This is great if it’s just you and you don’t need two nightstands, or if you want a more minimalist approach to your bedroom. In this room, the emphasis is on the negative space, and a single nightstand supports this approach. However, to balance the composition of the space and keep it from feeling empty, we placed a large floor mirror on the other side of the bed, along with a bulb lamp on the floor, which acts as a small floor lamp.

Stylist Tip: Only take the single nightstand approach with low-profile bed frames—otherwise you may have a space that feels really unbalanced or unintentional.

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6. Pair a Nightstand With a Bookcase

Whether you’re short on space and want to make sure to include a bookcase in your bedroom, or you simply like the look, a bookcase is a great option for a second nightstand. It offers additional storage and is a nice place to show off some of your special or collected objects. It can also serve as a home for baskets to house (and hide) clutter!

Bookcases add height to a space, so balancing them within the rest of the composition of your space is key. Consider the other side of the bed and the “weight” on that side. You may want to choose a bulkier nightstand, or hang a piece of wall art to supplement the height given by the bookcase on the opposite side.

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7. Use a Dresser as a Nightstand Alternative

If you don’t need a second nightstand, a dresser is a great alternative. Even if you go for a taller style, they lend themselves to storing surface items like a clock, vase of flowers, or books. But you do have to be conscious of balance when going this route. So, if your dresser is on the “heavier” side, consider “weighing down” the other side with bedside table decorations like a larger lamp, mirror, or sculptural object to make the space feel balanced.

Other fun nightstand alternatives? Stools, chairs, or even a giant stack of books for the look of a second nightstand. What you choose simply depends on your style and how you want to use your nightstands.

Stylist Tip: If you go for a taller dresser next to your bed, opt for a slightly taller bed as well. Lower profile beds would pair better with a lower dresser.

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