31 Things You Can Use Instead of a Nightstand

Instead of a Nightstand

Having something at your bedside is essential to keeping anything you need at hand, but this does not have to be a nightstand. You can use anything that fits the space and accomplishes the task, and you might even find that some things work better than a nightstand.

Here is a compiled list of 31 things you can try by your bed instead of a nightstand to inspire you. Everything on this list will serve the same basic function, and you may even find them preferable to the look and function of a traditional nightstand. Keep reading to learn about 31 things you can use instead of a nightstand!

What Do You Do If You Don’t Have a Room for a Nightstand?

The most obvious reason for needing a nightstand alternative is a lack of space. There are plenty of ways to bypass this, including rearranging your room and using the space more creatively.

Instead of using a nightstand when you do not have room for one, you can get creative and use other types of furniture in your room. 

Use a Sofa Table Behind the Bed

Sofa tables are much thinner than other tables as they are designed to fit well behind a sofa. Choose one that matches the width and height of your bed, or consider one that sits up higher if you tend to lead back while in bed. You can even use risers to accomplish this look.

If you are lucky, you will find one that fits the space well. It may even have built-in USB ports to bypass the need to run power strips up onto the table. Either way, as long as the table can hold what you need, it will be getting the job done.

Position Bed by a Windowsill

Bed by a Windowsill
Bed by a Windowsill

If you are short on space, consider placing your bed near a window to take advantage of the windowsill. Of course, this will not work in all situations (be wary of nosy people), but in the right conditions, it can create a whimsical look while maximizing space.

If your windowsill still is not wide enough, you might consider adding onto it or rethinking what you need by your bed. An upright phone charger may be a solution, as well as mounting your phone on the window while it charges.

If you are worried about privacy, you can use vinyl cling to obstruct anyone’s view into your room

Mount Shelves

Mount Shelves
Mount Shelves

Mounting shelves above or off to the side of your bed utilizes wall space without sacrificing any floor space.

  • If you mouth the shelves above the bed, make sure they are secure and easy to reach from the bed
  • Consider ones that span across the entire width of the bed 
  • You can use a box or jar to keep any accessories organized, especially since they will be more at eye level than they were before

Mount lighting as well, even if your shelves are to the side of the bed. This creates a cohesive image and prevents stress on any one thing mounted to your wall. If the shelves are above the bed, you can even get away with an LED strip across the bottom of them.

Use Lamps with Shelves

Speaking of lamps with shelves, finding a skinny floor lamp that has ample shelving can make better use of your space than a nightstand would. These generally do not take up much space at all, and the shelving provides you with more storage than you would have with just the table.

Create a Bookshelf Headboard

A more unconventional approach to this issue is to use bookcases at the head of your bed to make up for the lost space. This way you have ample shelving and get to merge two spaces together.

This only works well if you need the bookshelves in your room to begin with, but it creates a fantastic focal point that also says a lot about you. You do not even need to use them for books only; you can put all sorts of decor and items on the shelving.

The one thing to keep in mind is shelving. In most cases, the bookshelves should not extend much farther than the width of your bed, and you will want to look for ones that are less deep.

Hand a Pegboard Behind the Bed

Another great option for making the space at the head of your bed useful is installing a pegboard there. This creates a versatile space that is easy to modify as your tastes and needs change. Adding baskets will keep everything organized, but the sky is the limit when it comes to customization.

The same look can be achieved with a metal wall grid. The main difference between the two is aesthetic appeal, but they accomplish a look that is both functional and visually appealing.


If you have a great lack of available space, cannot install anything permanently, or are in a lofted style bed then this BedShelfie will cover your functional needs.

There are four styles:

  • Minimalist
  • Original
  • Plus
  • Slide

The last one is specially designed for box springs or platform beds, but none of the options require tools to install. They are also backed with a lifetime warranty, so you do not need to worry if your BedShelfie breaks or not. 

Bedside Caddy

If you need something slimmer than the BedShelfie, you should consider a bedside caddy.

This Night Caddy Deluxe is hard framed and features both a drink holder and a USB charger power cord.

If the hard plastic is not appealing, there are also cloth variations, but they are not as durable and have fewer fancy features. Regardless, they get the job done and help you keep phones and books at hand.


Stool is a bit of an encompassing term. You can use any kind of stool, including:

  • Garden stools
  • Barstools
  • Step stools

Each has its own visual appeal and distinguishing features, so finding one that fits in your space is just as essential as picking the perfect non-conventional item for your bedside.

A garden stool may suit a room that has more natural decor or plenty of plant life. There is plenty of vibrancy surrounding a garden stool on its own accord, so make sure it does not clash with the room.

Barstools are great for taller people, and they can be easily painted or finished to match the feel of the room.

Step stools can be done up the same way, and they provide multiple tiers for storage.

Side Table

A smaller side table can provide the same service as a nightstand without the same general look.

Side tables are less space-consuming than most nightstands, and they are also easier to find if you are thrifting or shopping second-hand. This can be a great use for a side table you found that did not quite fit your living room decor.

Just make sure the side table you choose is not too large for your bedside space. Though they are less commanding, they can take up more unnecessary space in the area. You also do not want a large tabletop you will fall out of bed reaching across.

Tree Stump

Tree Stump
Tree Stump Stand

Going back to natural appeal, a tree stump provides the perfect amount of surface area for holding everything you need at your bedside.

You can also find them in varying circumferences, so you can almost always find one to fit your available space. There are also fewer qualms about chopping up a tree stump to match an area than cutting up already finished furniture, so you can always make the tree stump fit the area.

If you are sourcing a tree stump on your own, make sure it is free of critters before putting it by your bed. You might also consider sealing at least the top to protect the surface from wear and tear.

Small Ottoman

Small Ottoman
Small Ottoman

Smaller ottomans fit the space by your bed well and provide a sound surface for housing your necessary items.

  • If the ottoman you choose has a soft top, you should look into something firm to place drinks on, like coasters or even just a slab of wood
  • This will protect the fabric from commendation and spills

If the ottoman opens up for storage, you may need to mount your lamp on the wall. It depends on how often you picture yourself opening up the ottoman and how bothered you would be by moving the lamp or other items every single time.

Short Ladder

Small Ladder
Small Ladder

A short ladder provides a layered way of storing your items. You can even put hoods on the side of the ladder to hang things like cords or jewelry.

A ladder gives you vertical storage, but the “shelving” space is not much. Consider hanging extra blankets on the ladder and reserving one step for essentials. Lower steps can hold items like slippers that do not need to be at reach but should still be at the bedside.

Upcycled Crates

Upcycled Crates
Upcycled Crates

Using an antique crate can add to a kitschy put-together room. These can be anything from wooden wine crates to plastic milk crates, and they can be painted and modified to fit your specific style and mood.

If you need more storage space, you can stack the crates to create shelving at your bedside. Just make sure you secure them properly, or you might end up with everything falling over in the middle of the night.

To create an even more tired look, consider stacking them haphazardly. This can piece together a room that already has a “thrown together” appeal.

Accent Chair

When going with an accent chair for your space, you should try to find one that meets the following criteria:

  • Flat surface
  • Armless
  • Lacking cushions

A chair with these specifications will serve you well as a bedside surface, but you can always modify them to fit your specific needs. Maybe you do not care that the chair is armless, or you would still like it to have a bit of cushioning.

Just make sure that the chair works to hold your necessities. The back of the chair can be used to drape robes or hand jewelry off of, and the flat surface gives enough space to hold a stack of books and a charging phone.

This is a great opportunity to find something cheap and upcycle it to fit your needs. While older wooden chairs may not provide the necessary support for seating, they can still handle a light load. Have the chair repainted, or even add an upholstered seat to match your bed.

Vintage Suitcases

Vintage Suitcases
Vintage Suitcases

A pile of hard-shelled vintage suitcases at your bedside serves three main purposes.

The suitcases automatically increase the vintage appeal of your room, and they may look less out of place than a table or any other structure would. 

The space on the inside of the suitcase is usually much larger than you would expect, and you can find a long-term storage solution for items that you want to keep on hand but not necessarily on display.

You can stack them to the height you need, and you can also make sure that the suitcase serving as your table space is adequate to house all your belongings, including books, devices, eyewear, and lamps.

A benefit of using suitcases is that you will always have them on hand if you need to travel.


On that same note, a trunk provides ample room for long-term storage. This means you will have enough space to hold all the extra blankets and pillows you buy, even though you know you do not need them.

You can find vintage trunks to fit your style, but there are also many modern options that come in a variety of colors to fit your space.

In a financial pinch, you can accomplish the same thing by using a plastic storage tote. These cost much less and are much more versatile should you change your mind about what you want at the side of your bed.

Wall Hooks

If you would like to forego a nightstand altogether, you can still keep things managed with a set of wall hooks. Use them to hang things like robes, hats, or jewelry that need a home in your living space.

Wall hooks are also a great choice because there are so many options. 

  • You can choose refined knobs of brushed nickel or classic wooden hardware, but there are also fun choices like this gorgeous elephant head that can tie a room together
  • They pair well with eclectic artwork thrown in the mix, but the possibilities when it comes to wall decor are infinite

If you find yourself still needing a storage surface, you can add a basket on the floor beside your bed. This ensures that the effect is not visually overpowering, but it still gets the job done.

Miniature Bookshelf

Small Bookcase Bedroom
Small Bookcase Bedroom

Along the lines of the bookshelf headboard mentioned before, you can put a shorter bookshelf at your bedside to give you enough room to store all your necessities. This is also a great place to store any comfort reads that you commonly turn to before bed or an ever-growing list of books you wish to read.

Bookshelves are not just for books either. Add a spillover plant like ivy to the far side of the table to keep it balanced and prevent bareness. If you are not much of a reader, you can stack books horizontally and use the rest of the space for decor. You can even add baskets to fill out space and reduce clutter.


Old toolboxes can easily be upcycled to meet the criteria of a bedside table. They tend to have ample storage space, and they can fit a room with an industrial look or feel.

Before you pass this idea off, consider the wonders that a new paint job can do to a piece of furniture. Toolboxes are sturdy to begin with, and if you can reclaim them with a fresh coat of paint, you may find it to be the favorite piece in your room.

You also are not limited to the traditional idea of a toolbox here. It does not need to be something from your dad’s garage. A vintage wooden sewing organizer is just as much of a toolbox as anything else, and it has a superb sense of quaint appeal. 

Plant Stand

Plant Stand
Plant Stand

You can use this as a table, sure, but we have something more traditional in mind.

Adding a plant to your bedside is a great way to improve the quality of your sleep. Plants add oxygen to the air that helps you to relax, unwind, and even heal. Having one nearby while you slumber can do wonders to help you wake refreshed.

Plants to consider include:

  • Lavender
  • Valerian
  • Spider plant
  • Aloe vera

If you do choose a plant that smells, make sure the scent will not bother you for extended periods of time.

Console Table

A console table serves as a great nightstand between two beds. It helps to keep them connected without leaving a bare area in between two smaller tables. The console table helps keep things streamlined without adding too many freestanding bodies to the area.

The key to using a console table as a nightstand is to limit the clutter you allow on top of it. Because the space is so large it can easily be overrun with things like clothing, cups, or books. This is not usually a problem with smaller tables, but the length of the console table would lead to an overwhelming number of items if cleanliness is not key.


If you have a bigger bedroom, you might be able to put a dresser by your bed instead of a nightstand. This will give you enough space to store more items or keep them at hand, and you can easily transition from waking to dressing if the two seem like completely separate tasks.

  • Even if your bedroom is not larger, putting the dresser by the bed can save your valuable space
  • Dressers usually do not hold much on their surface, so allowing them to double-dip in available work takes advantage of the piece of furniture in the best way

You can reserve a few of those drawers closer to the bedside for items that are not clothing, like books or tissues, to reduce clutter on top of that is something that will bother you long term.


In the same way, putting your desk at the side of your bed allows it to serve two purposes. You will just need to make sure your sleeping items do not interfere with your work or school items, so make use of desk organizers to keep everything corralled.

You should also take care to not put anything major right by your bed. It would certainly be a bad start to your day if you woke up and found out you had knocked your computer off the desk in the middle of the night. 

Any drinks should be kept in a sealable container if they are around electronics, or you might consider a clip-on cupholder to keep them separate.

Rolling Cart

A rolling cart gives the room a great industrial feel and provides secure shelving to house all your items. This can also be a great choice if you are prone to knocking things off your table. The raised edges mean you will not have to dive off your bed in search of your glasses again.

Rolling carts are also easy to move, so they create a relaxation station that can be relocated as needed. This means that you will have everything that you need nearby should you decide to unwind in a chair, and you can even move the whole thing to a completely different room.

Stack of Books

Stack of Books
Stack of Books

For a low-profile surface consider stacking books at your bedside.

The stack of books can be functional if they are a pile of titles you want to read in the near future, but this can also be accomplished if you do not have such books available.

  • Head to a local thrift store and grab hardcover copies of larger books that you can pile up to the desired height
  • You may receive a bit of criticism if these books are not something you are otherwise interested in, but you can always cover the covers of the books with fabric or paint to transition them to more of a furniture item

Make sure you use coasters on top of them, regardless of whether they are treasured titles or not. Condensation can easily render them useless in a short period of time.

Folding Table/TV Tray

If you want a choice for a nightstand that can be stowed away easily, consider a folding TV stand to serve you. These are low-cost, and you can usually find one second-hand that still has plenty of life left.

They fold away quickly and slimy, so TV stands are a great choice if you only need a bedside surface every so often.


If you do not need a lot of area for holding your items, you can add a pedestal to your bedside to round out the look of the room. These are great for taller beds because they do not increase the bulk by tagging on equally bulky items in the surrounding area.

Because pedestals are tall and slim, you might need to reconsider what you keep at hand. They are usually only wide enough for a lamp or a plant and your mobile phone, but you may have luck with a small stack of books.

Small Coffee Table

Alternatively, small coffee tables are a great choice if you need something that has a lower profile. With taller beds, a small coffee table can provide enough contrast in height to achieve a tiered look in your room and bring the bed back down to Earth.

Even small coffee tables generally have more surface area, so this works well if you need more space to hold all your nighttime clutter.

Custom Platform Bed

If it is in your budget, a custom platform bed creates a functional piece of furniture that has no problem tying everything together.

  • The idea of a custom frame has exploded thanks to both the minimalism movement and the DIY movement
  • A bed with built-in nightstands is much more streamlined, so you do not need to handle multiple pieces of furniture to get the benefits

Having a bed frame made custom can be pricey, but it will pay off in terms of style and function. If you do not have a budget that can handle custom work then building a custom frame with built-in nightstands is not much more work than the frame itself.

Built-in Nook

As long as you are committed to your space (and you have the freedom to modify the room in major ways) you can carve out a nook in the wall to serve as a bedside storage area.

A built-in nook is great for not adding anything to the original area of the room. You can also add lighting to the top to rain down on your bed and fill it in with artwork or plants.


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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