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How Far Should a Nightstand Be From The Bed? The Wall?

White bed with varnish colored wall.

Long story short: one to three inches. There are design and practical reasons for this distance. I never bothered with it, as long as my asthma inhaler, my phone, and a glass of water were within easy reach of my bed. They still are, to this very day.

So why this particular distance from the bed? Is there some designer formula we need to know about? Well, yes and no. Here’s the skinny on nightstands.

What Is The Proper Distance Of A Nightstand From A Bed?

Side view angle of a multi-colored bedroom.

If you type “complete bedroom suites” into Google and tap on Images, you’ll see nightstands jammed up against the beds. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not roll over in my sleep and knock my head against the nightstand. Ouch.

Designers describe the positioning of the bedside tables close to the bed as “the room looking cluttered” if the tables were equidistant from the bed. Since minimalism is the hashtag#keyword here, it’s all about less furniture and less clutter.

Alternatively, what if your bedroom isn’t on the cover of House Beautiful? Do you still need a nightstand to be one to three inches from the bed? Yes and no. How long are your arms? Can you lie in the middle of the bed and reach your bedside table without rolling over? There’s your answer.

How Far Should A Nightstand Be From The Wall?

Minimal bedroom with marble texture wall.

Most designers tell us to keep at least two feet of space around the bed. This is to ensure you have enough area to move around in while you make the bed. Keeping that in mind, then bedside tables should be two feet from the wall.

Of course, your bedroom might not be large enough to keep two feet of space between the bed and the walls. If this is the case, then the space should be about one foot. I make my bed just fine with one foot of space around it. And my bedside table is one foot from the wall.

The space around your bed and the distance of the nightstand from the wall depends on the size of your room, the size of your bed, and how much space you need in which to move around.

Should Nightstands Be Higher Or Lower Than A Bed?

White bedroom with white walls and white light lampshade.

The general rule goes that the top of the nightstand should match the top of your mattress. Some of today’s beds rest on wooden or steel platforms, thus making them lower than your average bed. Such beds should have bedside tables that are lower than the norm.

Then you have taller beds, such as a four-poster with quite some clearance from the floor. I’ve had one of those, and the nightstand that came with the bedroom suite was equal to the height of the mattress. These two examples illustrate the extremes in the height of bedside tables.

What about your preference? You might not care if the table matches the mattress, as long as your phone, your lamp, maybe a plant, and a glass of water are within easy reach. This might mean a table slightly lower than your mattress or one that’s a tot higher than your mattress. Whatever makes you comfortable, go with it.

Can A Bedroom Look Balanced With Only One Nightstand?

White wide bedroom with small nightsand beside the bed.

Absolutely. Remember that in a bedroom, the bed is the focal point. It’s the largest piece of furniture in the room, so the room is built around the bed. Large dressers or chests of drawers, easy chairs, and large plants balance a room with the bed as the focal point. Thus, one little nightstand doesn’t throw off the balance of the room.

However, if you look at a bedroom with only one bedside table and it seems a little off, then place a chair, a tall floor lamp, a medium-height or tall set of shelves for storage, or a large plant on the other side of the bed. You can always add another nightstand, especially if you have a partner.

Related: Should I Have Two Nightstands or is One Okay?

What Should Be On A Nightstand?

Sideview angle of a nightstand organizer.

We see pictures in glossy magazines of staged bedrooms with nightstands holding a pretty vase of flowers, an alarm clock, and sometimes a phone on a charger. That’s okay, but it’s not realistic. Your bedroom isn’t staged. What you put on your nightstand is what you’ll need during the night if something happens.

My bedside table holds my asthma inhaler, a bottle of water, and my respirator machine. Yours might hold your glasses, a lamp, the book you’re reading, the TV remote, and possibly the cat. It’s your life and your nightstand, so make of it what you will.

Nightstand Issues For Seniors

Sleeping old man with pills beside him.

Nightstands were made for the comfort and convenience of sleepers. What if the sleeper is elderly and having trouble reaching an item on their bedside table? As we age, we need our medications to be within easy reach.

Some seniors can’t move as nimbly as they did in their youth, so their medications need to be nearer them. That one to three inches between the table and bed becomes more and more vital to seniors.

The height of the nightstand is also an issue for the elderly. Many seniors can no longer get onto a bed low on the ground, such as platform beds. They might not be able to climb onto a four-poster bed like they used to.

When seniors find a bed upon which they can comfortably sit with their legs at a 90-degree angle, then their nightstand needs to be that same height.

Width is also an issue in nightstands for the elderly. If a nightstand is too narrow or not wide enough, then a senior’s medication along with a bottle of water might not fit. Add to that the need for a clock and a place to put their phone, and seniors will need a bigger nightstand.

The type of bedside table is also important for seniors. Some nightstands contain storage in the form of a cabinet at the bottom of the stand with a small drawer beneath the top of the table.

This type of bedside table is perfect for seniors. Their medications can go in the drawer, their bottle of water on top of the table, and their phone and charger on top of the table.

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