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Nightstands Buying Guide


Take a Stand: Choosing Nightstands to Complement Your Décor


If you don't want to keep jumping out of bed to turn out the light just before drifting off to sleep, a nightstand is a convenient piece of furniture to have by your bedside. Not only handy places for a lamp, nightstands can provide storage solutions that add functionality to your bedroom. But once you have decided to add them to your room, how will you know you're buying the right one? To help you take the guesswork out of purchasing nightstands and to decide how and what to choose, here are a few ideas.

Before You Begin

Aside from the obvious purpose of the convenience of keeping things like a glass of water or an alarm clock close by the bed, nightstands complement a room's décor by adding balance. Take measurements; you don’t want to end up with a nightstand that’s either too big or too small for the intended space.

When measuring, also include the height from the top of the mattress to the floor. This will give you an idea of how high the nightstand should be so that you can use it comfortably while sitting in or on the bed. Ideally, it should stand at a proportional height to the bed and be no higher than the mattress by six inches.

Determine the features you would like the nightstand to have. If you’re an avid reader, you might want someplace to put your current reading materials, as well as drawers for storing other items and accessories.

Nightstands are available in a variety of styles and configurations. They can be comprised of all drawers or a combination of drawers and shelves. Are you in the habit of snacking while in bed? For added functionality, select a nightstand that has a pullout shelf.

How many nightstands do you want? Typically, especially when two people are sharing a room, there are two nightstands, one on each side of the bed.

When you are adding night stands to an already furnished room, select ones that are the same scale as your current bedroom furniture pieces. For example, if the dresser is oversized, then the nightstands should be too.

It's Made of Wood but is it Real?

Durability and functionality largely depend on how it’s made and what it is made of. Considered to be the most durable material for furniture, genuine wood nightstands are constructed from timber. Cut from the trunks of trees like pine, mahogany or oak, the timber is graded and then used to make products. Timber can be produced from hardwood or softwood trees, referring to whether or not the tree is deciduous (sheds its leaves) or coniferous (doesn’t shed its leaves/needles). It is not specifically an indication of the strength of the wood. Furniture made from real wood tends to be more expensive than engineered wood products.

Asian hardwoods, also referred to as parawoods, rubberwoods or tropical hardwoods are from Southeast Asia. Furniture made from these hardwoods is considered to be ecologically friendly because before the tree is harvested, it was used to produce rubber for approximately 30 years. Properly cured and treated, Asian hardwood is just as strong and durable as other hardwoods. Often, a nightstand will be made of some type of composite wood but the legs, tabletop and drawer fronts will be crafted from rubberwood.

Engineered woods, also known as composite woods, are made from recycled wood products. These materials are mixed together then processed by using heat and pressure to glue the wood fibers together. Medium density fiberboard or MDF is a commonly used engineered wood for furniture because of its strength and versatility. Since it is made from recycled materials, MDF is more affordable than genuine woods, while being just as strong and durable. Furniture made from an engineered wood like MDF that has a veneer finish, will have the appearance and feel of a real hardwood.

Laminates are typically used as a type of finish and can be a solid color, patterned or have a simulated wood grain pattern. They are produced by pressing layers of materials, such as wood and plastic, together. The surface of the laminate is sealed with a thermosetting resin. The sheet of laminate is then applied to the piece of furniture, usually made of some kind of engineered wood. Laminates are a popular material as a finish for furniture because it is easy to care for and stain-resistant.

Wood veneers are created by removing cross-sections of wood from a tree in thin slices. The slices are then glued to the piece of furniture, typically constructed of engineered woods, using heat and pressure. Since the veneer can be applied to any smooth, flat surface, it is an economical way to make furniture and gives it the texture and appearance of genuine solid woods.

Finished Off

The word "finish" is typically used as a term that encompasses any chemical when applied to furniture. Chemical applications can be divided into three main categories: stains, paints and finishes.

A stain contains pigments. When applied to the surface of the piece of furniture, the pigments tint the wood.

Paint, containing colored pigments, do not permeate the surface, but rather sits on top of the wood and forms a protective coating.

A finish is generally a clear, sealant that either sits on top of the surface or permeates the wood surface. Six common types of finish are oil, varnish, polyurethane, shellac, lacquer and water-based finishes. Any one of these six kinds of finish can also contain color pigments for added texture.

Furniture Styles

You will want to select a style for the nightstands you choose, or if you are decorating a room from scratch, the entire bedroom set. The style you choose for the night stand and the other furniture pieces in your home, defines the room, giving it its character and expression.

Traditional style has its roots in fashions, trends and social customs of the past. It is instantly recognizable by stylized motifs, intricate carvings, lustrous finishes, flowing lines and ornate, architectural features such as moldings and carved pilasters. A traditional nightstand typically has a formal or stately appearance.

Contemporary style is an expression of current fashion trends. Contemporary furnishings have smooth, clean lines and use geometric forms in unique ways. Another hallmark of contemporary styling is the use of different materials to create visual interest and texture. A contemporary nightstand will give a room a calming, uncluttered appearance, with its relaxed lines and restrained decorative elements.

Modern and contemporary are often used interchangeably, but they are distinctly different. Modern design emerged in the second half of the twentieth century and reflected the new technologies, materials and philosophies of the Machine Age. Furniture is used to define interior space by employing geometric form and neutral palettes.  Furnishings, often asymmetrical, with sleek and polished surfaces, emphasize function and are stripped of all decorative detail unless it is an inherent part of the design. Metal and glass are common construction materials.

Transitional style bridges the gap between the traditional and the contemporary. It contrasts austere lines with intricate curves. While a transitional style night stand can possess the look and feel of a traditional piece of furniture, it is less formal and traditional decorative accents are pared down and are somewhat more relaxed. A transitional nightstand will have an understated appearance while being sophisticated at the same time.

Country style combines more formal traditional stylings with a casual charm, and are noted for looking relaxed and casual. They contain a distinctive period flavor based on their original country or region of origin, such as French Country, English Country or Provencal. Country style nightstands are typically made of wood, with light to medium finishes. Some subcategories of country style combine woods and metals for a cottage or rustic look.


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