Can You Use Side Tables As Nightstands?

Can You Use Side Tables As Nightstands?

There is so much overlap between different furniture items in contemporary society that it can quickly become confusing as to what is what. Some items may seem identical to the untrained eye while having different names. There are no longer hard and fast rules for furniture, and many furniture items can be used interchangeably in different circumstances.

Side tables can easily be used as nightstands. The success of a side table as a nightstand will depend on the dimensions of the furniture item and other factors such as storage needs and capacity. The height of a side table can also influence its ability to be used as a nightstand.

There is very little difference between a nightstand and an end table. Most importantly, you understand the differences to determine what will work best for your space and appropriately serve your needs. 

Can You Use Side Tables As Nightstands?

Generally speaking, side tables and nightstands can be used interchangeably. While the two furniture items have some distinctive differences, many similarities in size and function allow you to choose based on your needs and preferences.

When choosing a furniture item – such as a nightstand – for your bedroom, you should base your choice on the space itself and the desired style instead of the label imposed on the furniture item by manufacturers.

You Use Side Tables As Nightstands?

Consider your storage needs, what you hope to gain from the piece of furniture, and what will serve you best. You may have certain needs and preferences for bedside features, including drawers, shelving, or accommodation for media devices.

Both furniture items have similar dimensions. If the design is relatively simple and versatile, a side table can easily be used as a nightstand. However, it’s important to note that nightstands are slightly higher than side tables/end tables.

However, the correct height of a nightstand will depend on the height of the bed itself. Generally speaking, the top of the nightstand should be level with the top of the mattress to ensure optimum functionality.

To determine the right size for you and your space, consider the overall size of the room as well as the available space on either side of the bed.

This means some end tables may be too low to use as a nightstand. This will naturally depend on the height of the bed. A low-side table will function perfectly if the bed is particularly low.

The dimensions of side tables and nightstands are generally similar despite the slight height difference. Both items come in various widths, and nightstands are generally less deep than end tables. 

Both nightstands and end tables feature a flat, smooth surface designed to host various items. They are both generally situated to help add lighting to a room and contain at least one drawer for storage.

The Main Differences Between Side Tables & Nightstands

The Main Differences Between Side Tables & Nightstands

Nightstands are generally found in the bedroom at a location near the bed. They store items used at night or in the morning, such as clocks, bedside lamps, and clocks. 

Nightstands are generally higher than side tables, with the ideal height at the top of the mattress. Nightstands are generally used for storage and feature several drawers to accommodate the needs of the bedroom.

Side tables, on the other hand, are placed next to sofas or chairs in spaces such as living rooms or family rooms. For this reason, they are slightly lower than nightstands. 

Besides their functional purpose, they generally serve a more decorative purpose. They often feature an open base or shelf at the bottom, allowing you to store additional décor items. Side tables also often boast a larger surface area when compared to nightstands.

Other Alternatives To Nightstands

Besides side tables, countless alternatives to traditional nightstands will serve the purpose just as well. In this instance, you are limited only by your imagination and willingness to try something slightly unexpected.

If you don’t have the budget to purchase a nightstand (or an end table to use as a nightstand), you can use several other items, some of which can be found around the house.

Using a chair with some character as your nightstand will lend an air of casual style to the bedroom. One of the simplest nightstand options is to use a dining chair. Provided the chair has a flat surface, it can easily serve as a nightstand.

In a bedroom with two single/twin beds, a console table will work extremely well as a nightstand for both beds. This is a better alternative to having two separate nightstands. 

An old bar cart is an equally good alternative to a traditional nightstand. Bar carts generally have plenty of storage space, are designed at the right height, and usually possess the good character to make for an appealing nightstand.

 If budgetary constraints prevent you from buying new furniture items, a simple pile of books can make a perfectly functional nightstand. This presents the opportunity to create an extremely creative nightstand by using books with interesting designs.

A floating shelf also makes for a good nightstand. This is especially useful in settings where space is limited. When a bedroom doesn’t have sufficient space for a nightstand, the windowsill can also serve as a nightstand. The success of this will depend on the placement of the bed.

Some other alternatives worth considering as a nightstand include a built-in niche, an ottoman, a stack of vintage suitcases, or a coffee table. A few more good options include using a desk, an artists’ pedestal, a step stool, a dresser, and a barstool.

Other Alternatives To Nightstands

Related: Nightstand vs. End Table: Do You Know the Difference?


Because side tables and nightstands are very similar in dimensions and features, the two furniture items are generally considered interchangeable. To find the ultimate nightstand for your space, consider your needs and how you plan to use your nightstand. Consider storage, surface size, and the height of the bed to the nightstand. 


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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