How to Mismatch Nightstands

By Kate Riley January 23, 2014

A local friend is sprucing up her bedroom and the husband and wife have no nightstands. They’re going back and forth on a pair of nightstands for the bed, he wants storage for his reading material, she wants something pretty and leggy and I was sharing with them that it’s possible to have different bedside tables because nightstands need not match. 

There are other reasons for this design dilemma, sometimes a master bedroom doesn’t have the space for a matching set, or the preferences for the purpose to be served are different. Sometimes the room is simply in transition and the couple is temporarily working with what they’ve got while they shop for an ideal solution. In case you’re dealing with the same issue, I’ve rounded up a few ideas for my friend (and for you!)   

Partner Similar Styles.  A good strategy is to combine bedside tables that relate to each other in some way. Take a cue from the style of the space (traditional, elegant, cottage, etc.) and pair pieces that coordinate based on that style. Another option is to choose pieces from the same manufacturer or line of furniture and simply opt for different shapes.  

mismatched nightstands


mismatched traditional nightstands


stained wood mismatched nightstands


gold leaf nightstands lonny

better homes & gardens / jessica bennett / laird jackson  / lonny


Similar Size.  A pair of nightstands or dressers that are different styles but share the same height and visual weight can be a successful combination and one that serves the preferences of whomever sleeps on that side.

gray blue bedroom wood ceiling


mismatched dresser nightstands

similar weight mismatched nightstands

 dillon kyle architecture  / c california style magazine / marie claire via nicety


Coordinate by Color. This is the same technique we used in our own bedroom. Blend two different pieces that share the same painted or stained finish, even if they are different sizes or shapes.

elegant cottage bedroom


courtney bishop bedroom


mismatched nightstands savvy interiors


bedroom with paintings country living


rustic wood bedside tables


hgtv smart home orange and white textiles


dresser and nesting tables

cottage company / cortney bishop / savvy interior design / glenn layton homes / country livingthe lettered cottage / diego alejandro design


Balance with Accessories. Introduce symmetry by pairing the same or similar artwork, mirrors, lamps, and linens on the bed to downplay the differences between the nightstands.

shaun smith bedroom


laura martin mismatched nightstands


pale blue bedrooom mismatched nightstands

shaun smith / laura martin bovard / elizabeth newman 


Do Your Own Thing. There are no rules that state your bedside tables should or shouldn’t match. Anything goes so do what feels right for you and your lifestyle- these bedrooms do just that! 

house beautiful mismatched nightstands


mismatched nightstand jane lockhart


mismatched nightstands in bedroom


jacob snavely eclectic bedroom


corynne pless bedroom


colorful bedroom mismatched nightstands

house beautiful / jane lockhart / houzz / jacob snavely photography / corynne pless photography / rikki snyder photography

What’s the solution you’ve chosen for your master bedroom? Do your nightstands match or have you gone the mismatched route?  Got a picture? Feel free to link to it!


  1. I always took it to be a truth that nightstands had to match until I moved into my first apartment, and all I could afford were a few mismatched tables from Salvation Army. My love affair with “Eclectic” began!

  2. The two night stands in our master where bought from two different flea markets. One has been completed and the other is still in it’s original state. It’s on the to-do list, so hopefully we’ll do a blog post on it soon. We’ll tie the two together by painting them the same color and using the same hardware as well.

  3. Ha! I never knew there was matching nightstands rule. My husband has a narrow thrift shop nightstand with drawers to stash his odds and ends. I repainted and stenciled it. I have a small bed side table with three open shelves for my books and a few baskets. My husband is an avid reader, but he doesn’t read in bed like I do.

  4. This was the perfect post for me today. I have matching nightstands but they are too small for the space and I am looking for some new one’s to replace them, I was thinking about getting 2 different ones but didn’t know if that would look good or not.

  5. Our night stands don’t match. I like storage but our bedroom is small so we have one with storage and the other is round, glass, and leggy. Two big pieces would be too bulky. I’m in the market for new lamps, hopefully a pair will unify them!

    Beautiful photos!

  6. So I notice that in most of the photos, the nightstands are around bed height. I’ve found these really great glass-topped cube-shaped tables from Pottery Barn that I love, but they’re shorter than the bed. Do you think that looks awkward for nightstands?

    • Hi Nicky, I think it just depends. I prefer a height that’s within a few inches of the mattress, not too much taller, not too much shorter, for that convenience of reaching over for your glass of water, glasses, or to turn out the lamp, etc. Since bed/mattress heights vary, I think it’s best to get the height of your nightstands as close to that if possible, but as you can see from some of the examples, it’s not written in stone.

    • You’re so smart Hayley, I love how you worked with what you have to suit your space!

  7. you know, this is such a great post! obviously i dont have the mismatched nightstand issue anylonger now that I have a fabulous pair of black & gold nightstands ;) but i always had it in my head that mismatched nightstands are a faux pas. I’m just happy to know that it really doesn’t matter! or that there are many ways you can make it work. Thanks for this!

  8. So thrilled to see this post! I just bought a new nightstand today that needs a partner….but it won’t be matching!

  9. This is great! I hate matchy matchy and LoVe BiG/unique/not meant to be night stands!! Great examples :) I’m still looking for one for my husband that goes with but doesn’t match mine!

  10. I haven’t been this excited over a post in a long time – this post has been bookmarked and shared with my husband because we are purchasing/thrifting/hoping to find new bedroom furniture for us (11 years of using the set his mother purchased for him when he went off to college, yuck!) and I don’t have a clue where to start! I do know I DON’T want perfectly matched pieces and I want to mix fabric-covered headboard with a wooden desk with some metal and or glass nightstands. I have ideas! I just needed the validation (from you today, thank you!) that my ideas could turn into great possibilities. Love it. Thanks!

  11. HI Nicky

    I am all about eclectic style, and I really appreciated the fact that my sister-in-law, didn’t have matching nightstands. She did it out of space constraints, but it looks perfectly fine. I am working on a plan for my master bedroom where my husband enjoys reading in bed, so I will have something that would fit is needs. For myself I would get something that would hold just the small essentials that I need by my bedside. Love the idea.

    While browsing, I came across a really beautiful room with beautiful console tables used as night stands where there was more than one surface to keep the essentials.

  12. Of course, it depends on what look you’re going for, though I’ve personally always preferred mis-matched bedside tables. Ours are tied together by a similar colour and matching lamps. Great round-up Kate.

  13. My side is a simple desk with chair. His side is TWO matching night stands pushed together, forming something like a console. Finish, height and length of the two (three?) are similar–balances room. I love the double duty of having a desk/vanity for bedside table.

  14. All my adult life (in my 60’s now) I’ve never had matching nightstands nor matching lamps and the design police have not arrested me. While I like symmetry in things, this works for me and I love being able to have what I’m drawn to rather than worry about being matchy. Good post!!

  15. This was so inspiring. I currently have matching stands, but from a bedroom set bought from the previous homeowner. Some day when I am ready for new furniture – or maybe just want to change up the nightstands, I will take this into consideration. I like how using the same type artwork, mirrors or lamps makes it all becomes balanced. A few years ago, my in-laws decided to change just their nightstands while keeping the rest of their furniture. They opted for two Bombay chests because they wanted the extra storage (each had 3 large drawers). Although they were matching, it was just such a different option to the traditional night stand and really looked nice. And their “headboard” is a piece actually made by my father-in-law to look like a white picket fence with flowers going through it. We don’t all have to conform! Many thanks for the lovely photographs and inspiration post. Happy Friday!

  16. Thank you for all of this inspiration! I’m on the hunt for nightstands and it’s refreshing to know that they don’t have to match, which makes sense because my husband and I are very different people. It would be nice to have a bit of our personalities mixed in.

  17. Our bedside tables are mismatched. We have a smaller bedroom so for space reasons one side has my husbands dresser as a nightstand and the other has a small round table. We the look together with matching lamps. I love the symmetry that matching night stands and lamps at the bedside brings… One day when our room is laid out differently I’d like to try that look too now, I like to think of my bedroom as more eclectic with the non-confirming night stands!

  18. Our hardwood floors have tracks marking the routes of oft-uprooted nightstands over the years. Small dressers, desks, wine crates, barstools and inverted wastebaskets all have had the opportunity to perform in the coveted role. As long as there is a place for the Kleenex box, the water bottles, the bookmarked tomes and dog-eared design mags, the hair clips, the earrings, the thrift store lamp, the Vicks Vapo-rub (just in case) and the forgotten rosary beads, we’re good to go. Most successful are the pieces that stand high enough to avoid having a tossed-away pillow take out the entire collection in the still of the night, water and all. Very nice post!

  19. We have matching nightstands that came with the bedroom set Jim bought before we met. I have been searching for something mismatched, because I hate the look of a matching suite of bedroom furniture. Also, our furniture is just too large. The nightstands have to face in towards the bed in order to fit in the room!

    You’ve given me some great ideas. Now I just have to find what I’m looking for!

  20. I prefer mismatched nightstands, on one condition: they have to be the same height, so that lamps top out at the same eye level, or lights have to be wall-mounted so the difference in table heights isn’t emphasized by lopsided lamps. If that’s dealt with, I don’t care if they’re of similar styles or even hues; in fact, sometimes I like them better if they’re not (as long as the rest of the room is fairly restful). Thanks for introducing the topic, Kate.

  21. You have given me so much inspiration. The reason I’ve been so Ho Hum decorating our home first of all is because we downsized and nothing seems to work. Secondly I didn’t find my inspiration style. I really liked all the decorating that I saw but it wasn’t “me”. I have found what I want and now it’s a matter of making it work. You are really great with the ideas and how you find good photos. Do you have a special technique?

  22. Kate, another great post.
    The older (Wiser? nah!) I get, the more allergic I am to matchy anything.
    I wish I had learned this years ago. Scale and proportion are so much more important.
    Also, love your new fabrics. Congrats.

  23. Fun post! My late husband and I had non-matching nightstands. He found a small 3-drawer chest with marble top which worked great for him while I used an old drum table he had that didn’t fit anywhere but looked great with a romantic tablecloth and had room for my stuff. Now on my own, I still have the chest/table arrangement which works for each side of the large bed wall.

    Nicky, if not too troublesome, try one of the Pottery Barn tables or something the same height to see if it works for you and your husband before you commit. What looks good doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I find shorter nightstands to be uncomfortable for me and actually prefer them to be at or even slightly higher than the bed, but that’s me. And, as CensationalGirl says, mattresses are different heights so that has to be considered as well.

  24. Ours don’t match, mainly because when we first moved in together years ago, I was the only one who wanted a night stand. The Hubster insisted that he “didn’t need one” and piled all of his crap on the floor. Eventually, I just came home with a thrifted table and put it on his side. He loved it. Hahaha.

  25. Your post is timely , as I have been on the hunt for the perfect side tables and chest to coordinate with the linen headboard I bought from Restoration Hardware. I didn’t want to get the ones that were shown in the store, since I didn’t want to have the room to have the matchy look. But it’s been 2 years and I still haven’t found anything within a reasonable price . So, I opted for the round skirted table from Ballards Design for my sided the bed . I’m still looking for my husbands side. I do like both end tables to be the same height and have matching lamps. I prefer some symmetry to the room.

  26. I had never thought of having mismatched nightstands but I like it. You have a ton of great inspiration for it, thanks!

  27. Love this! My husband and I actually just bought a pair of matching nightstands, although we were planning on mismatched! Turns out we both fell in love with the same one ;) So now our dilemma is this: we have this amazing vintage lamp that works perfectly on hubby’s nightstand…but no match for mine. How do we coordinate lamps now that our bed/nightstands/windows are very symmetrical??

    • I think you should find one that works for YOU Lauran since your nightstands are the same, reverse the logic and purchase a lamp that you love!

  28. Very cool ideas and great visuals on your blog! I always start with the headboard because it’s typically the largest piece in the bedroom, but having mismatched nightstands really helps break the room up and makes it a lot more interesting.

  29. Kate, don’t know if you’ll read this but thanks again for this post on mismatched bedside tables. I really do like what I have but I’ve also realized that a round table with tablecloth is romantic and looks quite nice with all the other squared items in the room but there’s no place to store anything. It’s a 32″ round top – perfect size for corner (wall space almost 4′ to right of bed and 3-1/2′ to window) and easily accommodates everything I need at night. But everything ends up getting piled on top of the table and looks cluttered, and when I try to straighten up, I don’t have a place to “sweep” stuff. So thinking about plan B – maybe a slightly different use for that fairly large corner that would serve as both a bedside table but dresser or desk of some kind with drawers. Have already found some ideas and inspirations from your pix above. Should be fun since no rush.

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