Bedside tables were originally where people hid their chamber pots, and although plumbing has arrived and the chamber pots have vanished, the bedside table still remains. In fact, the Victorian term for a bedside table was commode, which comes from the French word for ‘convenient’ – something that is still true of modern bedside tables. A bedside table (or nightstand) is somewhere to store everything you need to use last thing at night or first thing in the morning. It was the teasmade in the 1970s, and digital alarm clock radios in the 1990s, but what weird and wonderful objects do the bedside tables of today hold? We ran a survey on our website in May asking OKA customers these questions, and the responses were in their hundreds, so let’s be nosy and have a look at what people keep on their bedside table.
For many people, what starts as a childhood bedtime ritual continues long into adulthood, with 67% of people surveyed saying they read a book before they go to sleep. It seems that even in the age of modern technology, people still like to unplug and unwind at the end of the day with a trusty dog-eared paperback. This is actually good for your health – studies have proven that the blue light emitted from smartphones, TVs and laptops plays havoc with the sleep hormone melatonin, which in turn has negative repercussions on the quality and quantity of your sleep.
According to a 2009 study carried out by the University of Sussex, just six minutes of reading lowers stress levels by 68%, so if you’re not already tucking into the latest thriller or autobiography of an evening, it might be time to start. The avid readers we surveyed have an average of three books on their bedside table at any given time, and the most was almost a library at 15, which means a good-sized bedside table is needed to fit them all on. Our Low Stack Shelves, Stack Side Table or Radnor Sofa Side Table would all work well as you can easily squeeze lots of books onto the two ample shelves below.
The right lighting is so important in a bedroom. It needs to be dim enough to make the room look inviting and feel cosy, but also bright enough to wake you up efficiently. Experts suggest using different types of bedroom lighting throughout the day – when you’re getting up in the morning, a brighter ceiling light is best to help you feel more alert (and to avoid that ‘dressed in the dark’ look!), whereas in the evening, it’s advisable to switch to low lighting such as bedside table lamps for at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
Interestingly, 14% of people surveyed still admitted to sleeping with a light on. It doesn’t matter if you’re included in that group or in the 86% who aren’t afraid of the dark, you’ll still want your bedside lamp to look stylish whether it’s turned on or off. To make your lamp the focus of your bedside table, go for one with a big base that takes up most of the table top, or choose a colourful or unusual design to draw the eye. If your lamp is purely for practical purposes, a narrow metal column lamp will do the job and works well in any bedroom scheme.
When you’re feeling under the weather, all you want to do is stay in bed, so it makes sense to have everything you could possibly need close to hand. In fact, 80% of people keep tissues by their bed when they have a cold, although it does leave us slightly concerned at what the other 20% blow their nose on! Don’t just stop at tissues – your nightstand basically becomes a medicine cabinet when you’re ill, so include cough medicine, throat lozenges, vapour rub, paracetamol and, of course, lots of fluids too. (And if you’re wondering, a hot honey and lemon would be our remedy of choice.)
We know tissue boxes are not the prettiest of objects, so hide them with one of our smart tissue box covers. You’re also going to need a wastepaper bin nearby for all those used tissues, so why not match it to your tissue box cover (and stay stylish even when you’re sick).
Whilst people try to keep their bedside tables as minimal as possible, sometimes it can’t help but become a place on which to decant your possessions at the end of the day. Simple organisation is key when decluttering your bedside table - a small, shallow tray or dish can be used to hold rings, necklaces and a watch, or it could work as somewhere to rest your mobile phone or a glass of water. If your bedside table has open shelves, then use small storage boxes or stylish rattan baskets to hide objects away – you can even go for a lockable box if you especially want to keep something out of sight!
For a decorative bedside table, stick to pieces in the same colour scheme to ensure your table looks more curated than chaotic. Photo frames, a bunch of flowers or a plant, a piece of artwork, a scented candle, a clock, something unusual – these are all things that can help to add character to your bedroom. Why not take a look at our tips on how to style your side table for some ideas?
When choosing a bedside table for your bedroom, consider not only the style and size, but also what you’re going to use it for. If all you have is a lamp and a water glass, then a small side table will work just fine, but if you have a lot of items you need for your nightly routine, then perhaps choose a large bedside table with drawers or shelves. Maybe next time we should look at what people keep inside their bedside tables – we think that would be very interesting indeed…