In a perfect world, you’d walk into a showroom and buy a complete bedroom set with matching nightstands and vanity. But life happens, and sometimes you must buy a bed separately from the nightstands for a wide range of reasons. When doing that, the first question you ask yourself is, how tall should a nightstand be?

A nightstand should be the same height as the top of your bed (mattress included) or 2-4 in taller. That’s the consensus among interior décor experts. This height allows you to reach your belongings on the nightstand without straining your arm or knocking things off accidentally.

When choosing a nightstand, you want to make sure it works both functionally and aesthetically with the rest of your furniture. In the following sections, I’ll take you through everything you need to know to select the perfect nightstand with the perfect height for your bedroom.

How to Pair Nightstands With a Bed

The most important factor to consider when choosing a nightstand is the height of your mattress. This is critical because you want your nightstand to sit at the same height as the top of your mattress or just a little higher. But since beds and mattresses come in different sizes, there is no standard height for a nightstand.

In general, a complete bed stands tall at 25 in, which would make the perfect nightstand about 24 to 28 in tall. However, we have seen beds as low as 18-20 in tall and others as high as 35 in off the ground. Your best bet is to take a tape measure and take the height of your bed from the floor to the mattress top.

Why is this height range so important?

Well, reaching up to pick something on your nightstand or switch off the lamp/alarm is easier and more comfortable than reaching down when you are sitting or lying. That doesn’t mean your nightstand should be significantly tall because that would be uncomfortable as well.

The second reason why your nightstand should be at the same level or taller is that there is a chance of you breaking things when you are trying to place them on a low-profile nightstand. With time you may get used to it being that low, but that would require you to get up just to place a clock on the nightstand.

A taller nightstand also ensures you don’t bend over when standing up and grabbing something from its surface. As mentioned, you generally want it to be 2-4 in higher than your bed or at least the same level.

Picking the Best Size for a Nightstand

A nightstand needs to be as aesthetically fit as it is functional. One way to ensure that is to align the nightstands to meet the bed’s headboard. How your headboard scales with the wall and with your nightstand are important considerations to keep in mind when picking a nightstand.

This process can get complicated when you have a huge bedroom, and the only thing you can think of to fill up some of that space is bigger nightstands. As good an idea as that may be, large nightstands that don’t go with the scale of your bed or the headboard will look funny and kill the aesthetic look of your room.

The solution to this may be to find something else like a sitting area to fill the excess space.

You want to consider the nightstand’s width, depth, and how its overall size compares to your bed and the size of your bedroom. For instance, if you have a king-size bed, you will be better off with a larger nightstand or even a bedside cabinet to complement the size of the bed. However, for those with twin beds, a slim nightstand or a stool will work better.

For twin size and queen beds, go for 18-22 in wide nightstands. The depth can be in the same range as well. For king beds, a 23-25 in width and depth will work best.

That said, you should avoid nightstands whose depth is larger than 24 in if you don’t want to be bumping your bare toes on it every time you’re going to bed. As many décor professionals would tell you, the perfect sized nightstand is H20xW20xD20, but height and width are subject to change.

And if you don’t have enough space for a nightstand, make sure you read this article.

When Can Nightstands Be Lower Than a Bed?

As we have established above, nightstands should be either the same height as the top of your mattress or a few inches higher. This height is comfortable if you need to reach for something on the side table, and it is also safe. That said, there are instances where a shorter nightstand is acceptable.

A nightstand can be lower than the bed if the nightstand looks complementary next to the bed and it goes well with the overall décor. Similarly, if you have two nightstands and only one is functional, the second one can be shorter than the bed.

These shorter nightstands also work if you’ve had them for a long time and are already used to the height, so you are comfortable using them.

In a situation where you buy a bedroom set complete with nightstands and dresser, you may decide to keep the nightstands even if they are shorter than the bed just because they are a perfect set. However, this will only work if the nightstands are not significantly shorter compared to the top of your mattress. If they’re only an inch or three shorter, you can work with it.

Can a Set of Nightstands Be Different Heights?

When buying a set of nightstands, you may decide to get a mismatched set. This could be because you and your partner have different tastes or simply because of the size of the room.

A set of nightstands can be of different heights. However, you should still follow the height rule whereby each nightstand is as tall as the bed or a couple inches taller. Both nightstands should be the same height or a little taller than the top of your mattress.

You may not get the exact height for both nightstands you buy, but try to follow the height rule.

The height is not the only thing you need to worry about when picking a mismatched set, though. Ask yourself:

  • Are the two nightstands complementing each other? They may be different in size and shape, but the two must have some things in common. This could be the material, color, design, or all three.
  • Are the pieces making sense in the room? Sometimes, one nightstand holds more space because it comes with storage space. You can shake things up a little bit by using a smaller nightstand on the other side, so the entire room doesn’t look like it’s made of nightstands. The two may not match, but they will make sense together if they have a few things in common.

The perfect nightstand setup doesn’t always mean two identical nightstands that match the bed. If you adhere to the height rule, you can get creative and go with a mismatched set to bring out the character of your room.

What to Do When Your Nightstand Is Too Low

What do you do when you’ve already bought the nightstands only to realize they are too short for your bed when you get home? If you bought the stands at a physical shop, you can take them back and exchange them with taller ones. This, however, is not always possible, especially if you ordered the set online or had it custom-made.

Here are a few ways to make the nightstands taller:

Add Something on top to Make the Nightstand Higher

If you want to raise a nightstand, the easiest solution is to add something on top. A drawer topper, for example, will add the height you need without doing any permanent alterations.

You can use this Sorbus Bamboo Desk Organizer on Amazon and just place it on top of your nightstand. It is sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about it falling off, and it’ll provide the extra storage you need. It also has a minimalist design, which will add to your room aesthetics.

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Place Furniture Risers on the Bottom

The next best thing would be to add furniture risers underneath your nightstand.

Furniture risers are plastic, wooden, or metal objects that you place under something to make it taller. However, it’s important to ensure they’re the right size and somehow match the nightstand.

There’s a wide range of styles to choose from when it comes to furniture risers, and you can even get adjustable ones to get the height just right.

A popular favorite are these FASONLA Bed Risers on Amazon that come in a set of 8 stackable pieces made of solid natural wood. Each riser adds an inch, but the best part about these is you can stack two or three if you want your nightstand to be taller.

The SHANOER 4PCS Furniture Risers are also a great choice. These have great stability because they are big and blocky, and you can get them in any color.

If your nightstand has legs, you can attach bun feet or PVC pipes at the bottom of the legs to make it taller. Check out this video that demonstrates how effective PVC pipes can be:

Get a Carpenter to Raise the Nightstand

If looking for a more long-term solution, go to a carpenter and have them build longer legs onto your nightstand. This option can be costlier, but it will be more aesthetically pleasing and longer-lasting than the rest.

If your nightstands had legs already, the carpenter will take them off and replace them with longer ones or something more suitable.

But before you try out any of these tips, check if you can adjust your bed first. Some modern beds have adjustable height, so you can raise or lower them as you please. If that is an option, it can be much easier, not to mention cheaper, to adjust the bed’s height instead of raising the nightstands.

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Nightstands

Style of Your Room

The style of your room plays a crucial role when picking out a nightstand because you want every piece to go together. For example, if the rest of your room, including the bed, is modern and contemporary, a vintage, antique-looking nightstand may not work so well. Choose a theme or a style for your room, and then pick out pieces that go with that style.

The style, in this case, will also involve the colors you choose, the designs, and the material of your furniture. Modern-styled rooms do well with bright or calming colors, straight lines, glossy finishes, or luxurious fabrics. On the other hand, you want to go with dark colors like browns as well as patterns and sculpting on your furniture if your room’s style is vintage.

Visual Weight

Visual weight is another important aspect to remember when pairing nightstands with a bed. If you have a bulkier bed, match it with something simple like a wall-mounted nightstand or a light option with skinny legs.

In contrast, if your bed is visually lighter with a thin board and nothing too flashy, you can pair it with solid nightstands or bold bedside tables to make the set pop. You can also balance the visual weight by choosing a mismatched set in which one piece is big and bold while the other one is smaller, especially if space is an issue.

Storage Requirements

If your room is small or you don’t have the space for a dresser, storage may be a consideration when purchasing a nightstand.

In this case, get a nightstand that has a few drawers for socks, innerwear, and any other items you need easy access to. A bedside table may look nice in your room, but it’s not functional, so you should choose a bedside chest or cabinet.

Surface Area

Last but not least, you want to consider the surface area of your nightstand in relation to what you place on top of it. 

Some people like a nightstand with enough space to place a lamp, some flowers, a water bottle, a book, and some self-care items, not to mention an oil diffuser and phone.

Others will prefer a smaller stand because they prefer not to place too many items on their nightstand. Whatever your preference is, choose an option that meets those requirements in terms of space.

Final Thoughts

All said and done, remember your room is a reflection of your personality and style. You need to pick furniture pieces that speak of that style and that you feel comfortable with.

The height, depth, and harmony rules are simply guidelines to help you style a bedroom in a way that’s appealing to the eye and functional as well.

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