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What is a Nightstand Organizer?

A small table beside your bed

Where Did The Nightstand Come From?

Let’s begin at the beginning by defining a nightstand before we start to organize it.  A nightstand was initially a small cabinet placed next to a bed that held the chamber pot, the toilet substitute used for nighttime elimination needs.

Usually, a complete chamber set including the chamber pot and lid, a pitcher for water, a basin to use for washing and water disposal, a mug, a brush vase, a smaller pitcher for hot water, a soap dish with a cover and drainer, and the slop jar and lid for disposal of gray water.

Much of this would be stored in a commode or washstand, but the chamber pot usually lived in the nightstand where it was close at hand when needed.

Related: Dresser vs. Nightstand

How Do We Use It Now?

A wooden table with books

Given the universal presence of indoor plumbing and flush toilets, nightstands are no longer needed as a place to store the chamber pot.  But they are now used for bedside lighting, books, e-readers, phones, tablets, prescriptions, TV remotes, jewelry taken off at night, glasses or contacts,

How To Clear The Chaos

Start by deciding whether you want a nightstand or a bedside table.  A nightstand, reflecting its history of hiding things best unseen, usually has drawers or cupboards for your clutter.

A bedside table is usually just that, a table, although it may have a drawer. If you’re using floor space to place a piece of furniture next to your bed, it’s probably better to choose the most storage space, the nightstand.

Today’s nightstands are often part of a coordinated bedroom suite of furniture, but vintage and antique stands with storage drawers or cupboards will do equally well.

Start With a Blank Canvas

To begin organizing your nightstand, the best thing to do is empty everything and separate the items into necessary (need-it), desirable (want-it), and don’t-need-it piles.  Add any items you want to keep at your bedside and haven’t before to the appropriate pile.

Take this opportunity to clean the nightstand, polish it and wipe all the drawers and surfaces.  You won’t have another chance like this any time soon. Organize the stuff you have into the space you have.

Your nightstand has a top and probably has one or two drawers with potentially an open shelf.  Think about space as space and assign specific uses to it.

  • The top of the nightstand is best for frequently used items or items on your person during the day. It might also include your lamp, clock, a landline phone if you still remember what one is, your cellphone, tissues, and any decorative clutter you like to have around.
  • Middle drawers or open areas are great for items used daily or nearly daily.  Articles for this area could include an emergency flashlight with batteries, your remotes and chargers or docking stations, any medications you take every day, hand cream, lip balm, any other personal toiletries you want close at hand, and something to write with and on (which could be a tablet or small laptop).
  • Bottom drawers or open spaces are for things you don’t use often or won’t fit on the top or in the smaller drawers or shelves.  The bottom layer can hold your books, your laptop, more books, larger electronic devices, and anything else too big for the top or middle.

Take your need-it and want-it stacks and try to arrange them in your three areas in convenient and practical ways.  Your bedside lamp, for example, pretty much has to go on the top, while your glasses and e-reader can go on the top or in the middle area.

As someone who is virtually blind without my glasses, I keep them on the top and close to me; you, too, will make many placements based on how you live.  However, in the end, you will simply admit that you don’t have enough room and wonder what to do.

Organize Your Space

A bedside table with jewelry boxes.

There are two ways to organize your nightstand.  First, you can use your own attractive trays, baskets, dishes, or boxes to hold items.  A pretty container could hold the day’s jewelry you’ve removed and any other things you take off every day, such as a watch, fitness tracker, and wedding rings.

You can also use boxes or baskets of the same size and style for organizing your middle layer.  Group medications in one basket, toiletries in another, and so on.  Finally, you can use bookends, large baskets, or file bins to organize the more oversized items on the bottom shelf.

And when you’ve done all this, you will realize once again that you don’t have enough room.

Consider a Nightstand Organizer

Heir to the remote control holder, a nightstand organizer sits on the top of your nightstand and gives you neat, well-thought-out additional space to put your things in.  You can buy them almost anywhere that sells home goods, or if you’re into crafts, you can make your own from one of the many patterns available on the internet.

The organizer usually has an open place for jewelry, a home or docking station designed for your phone and its charger, small drawers or trays to hold your remotes, a coaster (attached or simply matching), a place to hang your watch and fitness tracker, a place to hang your glasses and headphones, and undesignated space for other small items.

Most nightstand organizers have an easel-style back standing behind the trays.  Most luxurious models can have a drawer under the trays, adding a significant chunk of private storage.  You can even buy handmade organizers with monograms and other luxury touches.

Chaos Conquered

Sideview angle of a nightstand organizer.

Given the amount of purpose-designed space in your nightstand organizer, you will find yourself with a lot of the traditional areas in your nightstand available now for things you might not have thought of needing.

Now you have room for cat treats and cat toys, for even more books, and whatever else you desperately need by your bed.  Whatever you need or want there, a nightstand organizer helps you find the space for each item and keep it all neat and accessible.

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