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Nightstands: A Quiet Witness to History

Types of Furniture | 09.02.23 | Derek Brewster
Nightstands: A Quiet Witness to History

As you retire after a long day, have you ever considered the silent companion next to your bed, the humble nightstand? Inconspicuous yet indispensable, the nightstand has been a part of our bedrooms for centuries, serving both practical and aesthetic purposes. Let’s explore this unassuming furniture’s rich history and evolution.

The Origins of the Nightstand

The history of nightstands, or bedside tables as they’re commonly known, traces back to the medieval era in Europe. Known as a ‘commode,’ the earliest forms were not small tables but compact cabinets with doors and storage space. These original commodes were utilitarian and used to house chamber pots or washbasins, essential items in an era before indoor plumbing.

The Evolution of Nightstands

Moving into the 17th and 18th centuries, as plumbing evolved and the use of chamber pots and washbasins declined, the design and function of nightstands shifted accordingly. Artisans started incorporating the aesthetic sensibilities of the era into their designs. Nightstands of the period were often highly ornate, made from precious woods, and featured intricate carvings and decorations.

During the Victorian era, nightstands became increasingly popular, commonly found in most middle- and upper-class households. The Victorian nightstand often came as part of a matching bedroom set. It often included drawers for storing books, spectacles, and candles – the precursor to our modern night reading essentials.

The Rise of Modern Nightstands

The dawn of the 20th century marked a period of rapid development and innovation in furniture design, influenced heavily by broader societal changes. The advent of electricity changed the function of nightstands once more, with spaces designed to accommodate lamps and, later, alarm clocks. The Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 1930s led to a more streamlined and simplified aesthetic, with geometric forms and exotic materials defining the designs of the era.

In the post-WWII period, the Scandinavian and Mid-Century Modern design movements introduced a minimalist aesthetic and functional approach to nightstands. Crafted from light-colored woods and embodying clean lines, these designs emphasized simplicity and practicality. During this era, we saw the advent of integrated features such as built-in reading lamps and radio alarm clocks.

The Nightstands of Today

Today, the design of nightstands is as varied as our tastes. From classic to contemporary, rustic to industrial, there’s a design to suit every decor style. Modern nightstands serve as a spot for our books, lamps, and alarm clocks and often house charging docks for our digital devices. Functionality and aesthetics remain at the heart of their design, reflecting our changing lifestyles and needs.

Though often overlooked, the humble nightstand is a quiet testament to the evolution of interior design and societal change. As it has morphed through different styles and functionalities over the centuries, it has consistently mirrored the times. The nightstand serves as a perfect reminder that even the most ordinary objects have a rich history, reflecting society’s changing needs and tastes.

The nightstand, far from being just a piece of furniture, carries a fascinating legacy and continues to be an integral part of our daily lives. So, the next time you place your book on your bedside table, spare a thought for its intriguing past – a history that has evolved beside us.

Why Should I Invest in High-Quality Nightstands?

Investing in high-quality nightstands may initially seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of your home decor, but the choice carries more weight than you might think. For several reasons, splurging on a high-end nightstand can be a wise investment.

Durability and Longevity:

High-quality nightstands are typically constructed from superior materials and with a higher degree of craftsmanship. This leads to a more durable piece of furniture that can withstand daily use over a more extended period. While the upfront cost may be higher, the lifespan of a well-made nightstand can make it more cost-effective in the long run.

Timeless Design:

Higher quality pieces often lean into classic, timeless designs that can adapt to changing trends in home decor. As tastes and styles evolve, a high-quality nightstand can seamlessly transition with your set, providing an anchor piece that remains consistent amid changing aesthetics.

Enhanced Functionality:

High-quality nightstands often have additional features and functionalities that cheaper alternatives might not offer. This could include more drawers, built-in charging stations, better hardware like smooth-gliding drawer slides, or even built-in lighting. These features can significantly enhance the convenience and utility of the piece.

Resale Value:

If you ever decide to sell or trade in your furniture, high-quality pieces retain their value better than cheaper alternatives. Even used, a well-made, well-cared-for piece can command a decent price on the resale market.

Environmental Considerations:

Investing in a high-quality nightstand is also a more sustainable choice. Because these pieces last longer, they help reduce the cycle of consumption and waste associated with lower-quality, disposable furniture. Moreover, high-end manufacturers often prioritize more sustainable sourcing and production methods.


Last but not least, high-quality nightstands look better. They add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your bedroom, creating a serene and stylish environment. The attention to detail, the wood’s finish, and the drawers’ feel – all these aspects contribute to a superior aesthetic experience.

All these reasons underline why investing in a high-quality nightstand is wise. While it might be tempting to save a few bucks and opt for a cheaper alternative, the long-term benefits of a high-end nightstand far outweigh the initial cost saving.

Versatile Use of Nightstands in Modern Homes

Like a nightstand, the beauty of a good piece of furniture lies in its versatility. Here are some unique and innovative ways to use a nightstand beyond the bedroom:

As a Side Table:

A nightstand can efficiently function as a side table in your living room. Use it to hold a lamp, books, coasters, or a decorative piece. If it has drawers or shelves, you can also store remotes, magazines, and other small items that often get lost on the sofa.

In the Entryway:

A nightstand can provide an elegant solution for a narrow entryway or hallway. It can hold keys, mail, and umbrellas or act as a display for a vase or photo frame. Some nightstands even have a lower shelf that could be used for shoe storage.

In the Bathroom:

If your bathroom lacks storage space, a nightstand can rescue you. Opt for one that’s got drawers and shelves for maximum functionality. It can be a perfect place to store towels, toiletries, and other bathroom essentials.

As a Mini Home Office:

A more oversized nightstand can serve as a small desk for a laptop, perfect for tight spaces. This could be particularly handy if you often work from home and don’t have a dedicated office space.

In the Kitchen:

A nightstand in the kitchen or dining area can serve as additional storage. Use it to store table linens, cookbooks, or even a coffee station.

In the Nursery:

A nightstand can be a perfect addition to a nursery. It can hold supplies like diapers, baby wipes, creams, and toys, making late-night changes easier.

As a Plant Stand:

A nightstand can be a great plant stand. Display your indoor plants on it and use any drawers or shelves for storing gardening supplies.

Craft Room or Studio:

A nightstand can hold your supplies if you’re into crafting, painting, or any DIY project. It’s a great way to keep your crafting area organized.

Remember, these are just suggestions, and the possibilities are truly endless. When choosing a nightstand for alternative uses, consider the style, size, and storage options to ensure it will suit your needs. The key is to think creatively and use your furniture to enhance your space and lifestyle best.

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