The Difference Between Nightstands and Bedside Tables

Everyone can agree that having a surface next to the bed is a must. Books, reading glasses, pens, notebooks, and other small items need a place to rest as you settle down for the night. Most people put one table or nightstand on each side of the bed, but if you are single one surface is sufficient.

Most people think of “nightstands” and “bedside tables” as interchangeable, but in reality there are some distinct differences. Which you choose depends on your unique needs and what you will use the surface for while in bed. Here are the differences between the two.

Overall dimensions and available surfaces

As a general rule, bedside tables are much smaller than nightstands. A nightstand with drawers will be about the same height as the mattress, while a bedside table can be shorter. Accent tables also have a slimmer profile, which can be very helpful if you are decorating a smaller bedroom.

As for actual surface space, bedside tables will be more important for those who don’t need additional drawer storage. Bedside tables usually have at least one additional shelf, but nightstands can sometimes offer additional shelves as well.

Functionality and features

How do you plan to utilize your bedside surface? Most people place a small lamp on each bedside, leaving ample space for a cup of water, a pair of glasses, a book, a pad and pen, or other items used while winding down for the night. Both nightstands and bedside tables suit this purpose.

But you may need your bedside table to do much more for your bedroom storage. You have a lot of options when it comes to bedside tables and nightstands. Here are the most common:

  • Bedside tables with one or two additional shelves for more space
  • Corner bedside tables that take up less space in smaller bedrooms
  • Nightstands with one drawer and one shelf
  • Nightstands with one drawer and one cabinet with one or two shelves
  • Nightstands with two drawers

You might also consider other features that you need in a nightstand. If you typically charge your devices at your bedside while you sleep, you might consider nightstands that incorporate tech features. These can include cord management tools or built-in charging compartments.

If you primarily hang your clothing and need drawers space only for your intimates and night clothes, a nightstand with two to three drawers can be highly beneficial.


The bedside surface option you choose won’t be horribly expensive regardless of the option you choose. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when looking for affordable bedroom furniture. Since bedside tables are smaller and require fewer materials, they are often cheaper than nightstands. Nightstands with fewer features or only one drawer are also relatively inexpensive.


The best online stores carry only high quality furniture, but that doesn’t mean it is invincible. Bedside tables are slimmer, smaller, and very lightweight. It makes them easy to move around, but not very durable. These small tables can last for years, but they won’t stand up well to abuse. As such, they really aren’t appropriate for children’s rooms.

On the other hand, nightstands with drawers are very solid. Cheaply made drawers can be easily repaired and/or reinforced, allowing nightstands of any quality to last through decades of use.