I am without a beside table. Have been for quite some time. In fact if you follow me on Instagram then you’ll remember this photo from weeks ago – it’s of one of my Ercol vintage kitchen chairs being used as a makeshift book-and-vase stand. Rather more attractive than the empty mattress box that was there previously, but not at all ideal, especially because the seat is curved and I can’t safely stand my pint glass of water on it!
I really struggle with finding good bedside tables. I didn’t even find any for my old house, after we’d renovated it – I stuck with the trusty old Malm units from IKEA that we’d used in the house before that one because I had failed to find anything new.
And the thing is, I do actually like having a bedside table. I like to have drawers so that I can sweep all of my crap into them, things like old tissues and spent batteries and loyalty cards for shops I’m never going to visit again. I like to keep my drawers stocked with things I’ll never need and make sure that all of the important things – painkillers, new tissues, lip balms, hairbands, a torch – are kept in far-flung places around the house. It makes life interesting.
Seriously, though: I do find at least one drawer to be invaluable. Things that I need at night (including ear plugs and scraps of paper to write ideas on) tend to be the sorts of things that I don’t particularly want on display. Never mind the fact that if I leave jewellery out then the human magpies of the house will vanish it away within around three minutes and I’ll have to spend a panicked hour checking that my treasured necklace hasn’t been fed to the dog/flushed down the loo/poked through the hole in the floorboards.
So drawers are good, but they do tend to make the tables look a bit square and ugly. Like two stocky blocks sitting either side of the bed, making it seem dowdy and clumsy even if it’s actually rather elegant and chic.
When I read Kate Watson-Smyth’s book, Mad About The House*, there was a whole section on bedside tables and how difficult it was to find stylish ones and it really made me start to think about the alternatives. Maybe I could have some sort of shelf, fixed to the wall? I love shelves and alcoves that are built into the bed head, but I already have the bed, so that’s not an option… Or could I perhaps use tall, brass-legged occasional tables that would more traditionally be seen in a living room? Or stools? I even liked the idea of bar trolleys, but one either side of the bed would be overkill, I think, and I’m not sure I could deal with a lack of symmetry if I didn’t have a pair. (Actually, I could, but I read about how to Feng Shui your bedroom and it said that in no circumstances should you have mismatched bedside tables! Bloody hell.)
Here’s my little collection of alternatives – some aren’t really suitable for my particular bedroom, but I love the idea of them nonetheless. A little bit quirky and a hell of a lot less boring than your typical “matchy matchy” sort of tables that come in the same style as the dresser and wardrobe.
String Pocket Shelves: £122 at Skandium here. Iconic shelving brand String now has a smaller standalone unit with the same iconic styling. It comes in loads of different colours so that you can almost match it to your walls, if you want to, and the fact that it’s wall-mounted means that you keep your floor-space clear.
Artek Stool, £170 from John Lewis here*. I thought that this stool was so attractive – the colours are pretty but the shape is completely modern and pared-back. Great if you want something quite feminine but you don’t like fuss – this would be enough to rest your lamp on along with a glass of water and it’s nicely portable if you frequently chop and change your bedroom around!
Green Marble & Metallic Side Table, £169 from Swoon Editions here*. Green seems have become a theme in this selection – completely coincidental, because all of the products I’ve shown so far come in other colours – but I love the deep emerald marble top on this occasional table. Which would have an elevated status next to your bed, because it would be an everyday (or night) table, rather than an occasional one. Like the stool, the long legs on this table mean that the floor space is kept relatively clear and looks less cluttered. Very appealing, especially in a smaller room..
Black Wall Cabinet with Botanical Lining, £179 from Rockett St George here. I’m thinking of getting the large sized one of these distressed cabinets for my downstairs loo, to showcase all of my weird and wonderful perfume bottles and beauty finds, but the baby version shown here would make a gorgeous bedside cabinet in the right sort of space. Very quirky, doesn’t take up any floorspace and there’s enough room inside to store books, essential toiletries and your collection of semi-burned Diptyque candles.
Terrace Bedside Table, £299 from West Elm here*. I say that I find it hard to choose bedside tables, but actually, if I had known about West Elm in my previous two houses I’d have not had any problem whatsoever. Because they do a really good selection of vintage/retro-inspired tables and have a few “outside the box” options thrown in as well. This Terrace table has the drinks trolley vibe I love so much, minus the wheels, which might look a bit mad in a bedroom, and minus the bulky size. The antique brass frame is elegant, the glass shelving chic – I’m almost tempted to go for these, but I need to procrastinate a while longer before taking the plunge. I had my heart set on something rosewood to warm things up a bit…