Good furniture is the "meat and potatoes" of any room's design. Your furniture’s style will set the tone for the room, and without furniture, you need not worry about designing a room in the first place!
While the majority of my furniture collection represents solid, quality pieces that I've had for years—and will last me for years to come—I found myself in need of two items within the past year: a bookcase and a bedside table. After sinking a pretty penny into a classy, sturdy bookcase, I didn't feel like spending much on a pair of bedside tables—yet I couldn't do without—so I got creative.
Amongst the smaller pieces of furniture my parents had in storage, I found an old piano bench. It was just the right height for my bed, and its dark wood stain just so happened to match the other pieces in my bedroom. A storage basket underneath the bench keeps books close at hand, while the fold-up seat allows me to store other less-often-used items.
If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a new bedside table, get creative and repurpose items you find around your house or at thrift stores into unconventional nightstands. Here are a few ideas—besides the piano bench—to get you started!
Matching storage trunks make excellent bedside tables. Photo By coco+kelley/Courtesy Flickr.
Reclaimed wood apple crates: Turn a wooden crate on its side, and voila!—you have a cheap, easy nightstand with a built-in shelf. To make the apple crate more discreet, or to hide the storage area, cover the crate with a piece of fabric like you would a tablecloth. If one crate on its side isn't tall enough to create a bedside table, stack several crates together. You can combine two or three crates in a variety of ways for a more unique look, too.
Desk: A desk makes a practical nightstand, especially for small spaces where you might not have room for both a desk and a bedside table. With plenty of tabletop room, you'll have enough space for an alarm clock, books and anything else you like to keep at your bedside. Doubling your desk as a nightstand will also save you on lighting—you'll only need one lamp between the two!
Antique or vintage school desks also make unique and decorative bedside tables. The desk sits at just the right height to access from bed, while the seat provides room to stack pillows, blankets and books.
Bar stool: If your bed stands a little farther off the ground, a bar stool might make the perfect nightstand for you. This option works best for the minimalist bedroom, as the stool's seat provides little room for placing items.
Corrugated cardboard: For a truly unique look, make your own nightstand out of cardboard. (And no, I don't mean turning a cardboard box on its side.) Cut pieces of cardboard into similar heights and bind them together with a nontoxic adhesive. With this project, you can tailor your nightstand's height and width to whatever suits your needs. (For inspiration, look here.)
Vintage suitcases: For a room with a classic or antique look, gather old, vintage suitcases and stack them on their sides. The suitcases' wide sides provide ample tabletop room for a lamp, clock and books, and you can store less-often-used items in the top suitcase. If you're worried about the suitcases tipping over, bypass the stacked luggage and opt instead for a single storage or steamer trunk. Sitting normally, a storage trunk is tall enough for lower beds. This idea also provides the perfect place to store blankets or decorative pillows when not in use.
Stacked books: Using the same idea as the vintage suitcases, gather old, unused books and stack them on their side. Large books work best as they'll provide more room for items once turned on their side.
If you have any other ideas for turning odd items into creative nightstands, please share!