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rustic bedside table with indoor plant and stack of books with oversized headboard

How to Style Bedside Tables like a Professional

I recently hosted a decorating masterclass where I took attendees through how to style bedside tables. Now, I’ve not got tickets on myself, but I reckon the content was life changing.

I mean, once your bedsides are styled to perfection, every other facet of your life just falls into place. I joke, of course, but decorating bedside tables can be a legitimate issue for people. It seems there are so many potential areas to get stuck on. How many items do I put on top? Do they need to match? How do I get them to look curated? What size should things be?

Well, wonder no more, decorating junkies, because I’m going to take you through how to style bedside tables at your place so they look amazing. And, of course, so they look wonderfully reflective of you!

lorraine lea nook white bedding in all white room with coastal bedside table lamp

1. Bedside Tables Should be Sisters, not Twins

This is the most crucial rule of the lot, which is why I’ve put it first. When styling bedside tables, so many people feel compelled to make them mirror images of one another. But honestly, your bedsides should be sisters, not twins. You want them to be styled in a way that they are connected, and look similar, but not exactly the same.

Image above via Metricon.


2. Let the Lamp be your Uniting Element

Now that we know we’re going to style the bedside tables as sisters, not twins, we have to choose a decor piece that links them. The lamp is an obvious choice. I find that bedside tables with different lamps on them just look odd. So choose sizeable table lamps for each bedside and let them be the moment that connects the two tables visually.

Image above via Snooze.

coastal bungalow bedside drawers with coastal styling on top

3. Style the Bedsides with a Theme in Mind

When you’re figuring out how to style bedside tables around your chosen lamps, keep your home’s theme in mind (click here if you’re not sure what yours is). The decor you choose to pop on the bedside tables should reflect the overarching style you have going on at home. It’s visually jarring if your interior is a Hamptons style, with gorgeous whites and blues, and then your bedsides have a random bright red cat ornament on them.

Image above via Metricon.

coco republic bedside table styling with square lampshade and luxe styling

4. Style the Bedside Tables with Three ‘Moments’

It’s hard to know when to stop with the decor you style your bedsides with. How many items can you put on the surface of your table without it feeling cluttered? The rule is three. The lamp is your first one, now you have two other decor moments to sit on the top of the table. Now, keep in mind, you can stack things. A stack of books with an ornament on top is one ‘moment’ (as there’s only one thing touching the surface of the table). The lamp is your other ‘moment’. Now, you have room for one more moment. A floral arrangement or plant is always a nice idea.

Image above via Coco Republic.

hamptons master bedroom with white bedside tables and blue and grey bedding

5. The Bigger the Bedside, the Bigger the Decor

If you’re lucky enough to have a big bedroom with large bedside tables, the lamps and decor need to reflect that scale. When I teach my clients how to style bedside tables I always show them small objects on large tables. And you can see right away how dwarfed they look. Of course, the same goes for large objects on small bedsides. If you can only fit one lamp on your bedside and not much else, the lamp base is probably too big.

organic bedside table styling with green lamp and ball of twine

6. A Mix of Materials, Shapes and Colours is Essential

When styling bedside tables, you have to keep variety in mind. If the base of your lamp is cylindrical, go for decor that has clean lines. Pop a jewellery box beside the lamp, for example. Or sit a square photo frame bedside it. That way you have the circle and the square. Then your remaining moment could be something with a fluid shape, like the organic nature of a plant, or an ornament like coral. Something to break up the potential monotony.

Image above via Limited Abode.

marz design lamp bedside table styling with watch

7. Lastly, Personalise the Bedside Tables

The last rule on how to style bedside tables is to keep you in mind. This is your bedroom, after all. Even if it’s a guest room, it should still reflect your personality. Nobody wants to sleep in a guest bedroom that feels like a hotel. So on your bedside tables, showcase some personalised mementoes from your travels. Rock a keepsake that’s been handed down to you. Sit a watch you got from a loved one on top of some books. The options are endless, but you need to be reflected in the styling!

Image above via Marz Designs.

bedside table styling on dark brown side table with flowers and black wall sconce

Hang On: But What if I have Pendant Lights or Sconces?

Ah, very good question. If you’re styling bedside tables and don’t need a lamp on the table, this will change how you approach things. In this instance, I would replace the table lamp (the largest piece on the table) with something of equal height. A plant, large vase of flowers or a large vase/vessel is your best bet. Too often I see a gorgeous pendant hanging over a bedside, and the table has really small items on it. The gap between tabletop and pendant is just too large. A tall ‘moment’ is the best solution here.

Image above via Metricon.

Happy decorating at your place, and drop me a comment below if you have any questions!

This post includes images and/or videos of Metricon display homes and events, reproduced with permission.  © Metricon Homes Pty Ltd 2016.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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14 Responses

  1. Hi Chris, I love reading your blogs. I’ve read your blog regarding pendant & it helps me a lot, now this is my struggle . Choosing the right bedside table .. I’ve bought a pendant already but haven’t installed yet because I don’t have my bedside table yet, just temporary . If you could please give me an advise what to match on my bed that would be great. Thank you!

    1. Hey Janneth, thanks for your kind words. Don’t buy from a package (same as bed) for starters. You also need to consider the floor, you don’t want wood-toned bedsides clashing with floorboard, they need to contrast nicely. If you bed has metal legs it can be easy to carry that material choice into the bedside legs, that’s a simple way to tie things together.

  2. That is tge BEST article I have read about styling bedside tables. Extremely informative & useful.

  3. Hi Chris, Thanks for the great tips and photos. Do you have any suggestions on how to manage bedside digital clutter- the chargers for phones, iPads etc. We all know they shouldn’t be bedside but they usually are.

  4. Thanks for the info Chris. I’m currently styling a guest bedroom in a pared-down British Colonial style. Will upload a photo to your private FB as soon as I have all my major pieces!

  5. Bravo for referencing the source of your images – thank you Chris. Any tips on the size of the sconce/wall light for ideal scale proportions? I have a king bed against a 3.2m wall.

    1. Hey Jenny. The first image is from a gorgeous Metricon display home. Sadly I’m not sure where that industrial style bedside is from. They hire out a lot of their furniture so it might not even be from a retail store.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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