From the Vault: My Bedside Tables!

There are two pieces of furniture that are, without exception, always the most difficult for me to source and settle on. The first is coffee tables. The second is bedside tables. Either the prices are out of range, or the quality is too crappy, or the style is wrong, or the dimensions (height, especially!) don’t work with the couch or the bed. It’s a profound struggle! Exhausting! Simply untenable! Something must be done!

Back when I first put my bedroom back together a couple of years ago, I stuck a couple little vintage teak side tables next to the bed while I searched for better ones. I found these on Craigslist years ago, and they necessitated a very…interesting trip to a nursing home to procure. That’s neither here nor there.

On the plus side, they didn’t obscure the panel detail below the windows. But that’s about where the appeal started and ended, because I truly don’t understand how people don’t NEED storage next to their beds. HOW. I don’t know if it’s because I aspire to spend all my time in bed and have everything I need within reach, but I simply don’t understand where the stuff goes otherwise. I need pens and pencils next to my bed for late-night sketching and list-making! I need my crazy pills! Hand lotion! Pot! You see the challenge.

Eventually I got fed up and made my own weird but very versatile solution that I’ve come to really like, so I wanted to explain!

It’s an IKEA kitchen cabinet. This makes…4 IKEA kitchen cabinets in this house, none of which are in my kitchen? The other two are in the closet serving as the dresser.

You won’t see this particular arrangement online, but the amazing thing about IKEA kitchen cabinets is that everything is modular, and they now make the drawers in both the base cabinet depth (24″) and the upper cabinet depth (15″) if you’re more pressed for space. This has opened up a world of hackery options. The drawers come in 3 sizes—5″, 10″, and 15″—that you can arrange to your heart’s content. It’s all so smart.

So here’s alllll it is. The frame is a 15″ high x 15″ deep x 24″ wide cabinet, which is intended to hang on the wall. Like I said. It’s all modular. Choose your own adventure.

For these cabinet frames I got a 5″ drawer and a 10″ drawer. But you could do three 5″ drawers or one 15″ drawer…THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER.

Then I unscrewed the legs from the teak side tables and put the tops underneath the cabinet frame to keep them a bit off the floor. This was intended to be an entirely temporary solution, and then I forgot all about it.

For the tops, I just pried the little rubber feet things off the bottom of these Crate & Barrel marble pastry slabs and placed them on top. They’re heavy so they really don’t shift around, but the original intention was to double-stick velcro them to the cabinet’s top for a more secure (but easily reversible) assembly.

The handles I got years ago in Sweden! I have a ton of them but figured it was better to use 4 now than none at all until whatever project they get used for presents itself. Until then I’ll just hoard the rest, as I tend to do!

That’s it! Obviously you could customize this 10,000 different ways with different drawer fronts/hardware, wrapping the sides of the cabinet in wood or another material, doing something else on the top, adding feet or legs in whatever style you want—I don’t know your business! They could also be wider or narrower or taller, too, depending on your bed/sofa situation of course.

The great thing is that because these are really intended for kitchens, the quality of the drawers and glides is GREAT. IKEA also makes plenty of interior organizers so you can keep all your little bedside thingamabobs nice n’ orderly. I can’t stand chaotic drawers. I would show you the interiors but that feels oddly personal. Like, we’re friends and all, but I’m not sure I know you like that. I’m a very private person as you can plainly tell by my near-decade of blogging in detail about my living spaces.

BTW—how cute is my little macrame plant holder/pot/plant?! It was handcrafted by one of my favorite local makers, Lail Design. Brad’s work is so beautiful! The plant is from Lowe’s—it’s a Hoya Hindu Rope Plant which may or may not bloom someday, but it seems happy being generally neglected, which I appreciate in a house plant.

Other than that, not a lot has really changed in the bedroom since I installed the faux fireplace back in the spring! I futz around with stuff on the mantel sometimes. I picked up this H&M Home linen duvet cover during the Black Friday sale, which I love! I have one in the “light taupe” as well, and I’ve been really happy with the quality and how well they wash and dry. Ordering something in a color called “dark beige” was, for some reason, extremely exciting and funny to me. I LOVE LOVE the “dark yellow” color too, but this just isn’t the house/room for it as much as I wish it were.

I got the linen bathrobe at the same time, also in dark beige, and much to my delight it’s the exact same fabric as the duvet cover. Which means when I wear it in bed, I just look like a floating head with a coupla hands.

I maybe need more adventure in my life.

I dunno. Still gotta paint that door to the nursery. I put up that tiny oval mirror recently. I found that art above the radiator at our local consignment shop for like $20 and I dig it. Still keeping my eye out for a rug…I do miss having a rug in the bedroom particularly in the winter. It appalls me that I have so many rugs and none of them fit/work in this room. It feels like it should not be possible.

Mekko continues to be the most beautiful woman on the planet, perfect in every way. This is not up for debate.

Bungee is an absolute menace and I adore him. I’m thrilled to report that he’s FINALLY coming around to enjoying an extremely close cuddle. He’s super soft and has a lot of loose skin, so I’m glad to see his priorities are aligning better with my own. A huge relief, honestly. I will continue to work on it and keep you updated on our progress.


67 Comments

  1. I have so many Hoya plants – they’re tolerant of my low light apartment and non-toxic to my plant chewing cat. But my hindu rope is my favorite. Such an interesting looking plant. I also happily neglect mine, and I was sure they weren’t getting the light the internet said they would want to bloom, but mine bloom constantly. And yes, the flowers smell gross, just like the internet told me. It’s like a weird chocolaty smell mixed with stink bugs? But I only notice it if I’m like sticking my face in the bloom, so, ya know, just don’t do that and it’s fine.

    I’m still absolutely in love with that fireplace you added. Probably in my top ten of your DIYs.

    • Haha, I had no idea the blooms were stinky like that! Maybe I’m glad mine hasn’t bloomed, haha. (and thank you!)

  2. You are spoiling us with all the updates. I’ve followed a long time and read all your archives- such a pleasure reading your voice. Just wanted to say thanks.

  3. I have an HM linen robe and the duvet that matches too . Both on sale! Mine is white with a black grid pattern. It’s great linen for the price.

    • Niceeeee! I miss being able to have white linens on the bed, haha. I love my dogs more but they also cover my life in filth!

  4. How creative and stylish! I love a good hack, and these look so much more expensive than they are. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Ahhh, I do so enjoy/envy your bedroom. The light is fantastic and that whole fake fireplace situation continues to be magical. I also enjoy how most of your horizontal spaces are behind closed doors because I have a serious problem with losing mine under piles of unfolded laundry/assorted crap. Doesn’t exactly make for a relaxing space!

    Anyway, I enjoy this side table hack. Will probably steal it at some point because I also feel your pain about side tables & desperately need storage. I also have that pastry board to use as a pastry board, and I can confirm that it’s super heavy and great quality. (I also have that linen robe that I got on super sale when they were discontinuing colors, but I was dumb and got a L/XL thinking I could shrink it and I really needed the smallest size. I do love me some linen, though!)

    P.S. I meant to comment on your last post but was stoned off my ass on cold meds, but just wanted to say that I am excited that you’re gonna tackle the hallway. It’s gonna be a real PITA to get there, but I think it’ll be a huge mood booster to see it done!

    • Thank you, Lori! (YOU DID COMMENT HAHAHAHA) (it was a response to another comment but still counts) (I hope you’re feeling much better!!)

  6. You are a genius, Daniel. Wish I had your eye for innovation.

  7. It all looks fabulous as always. I 10000% agree that bedside tables and coffee tables are the worst. What else would go with this bed, aside from matchy matchy wood bedside tables I don’t really love the idea of? https://www.westelm.com/m/products/mid-century-bedframe-acorn-h001/ Can you free us from bedside tableless misery?! Decision has not been made for waay too long.

    • Tricky!! Depending on what else is in the room and your storage needs, I’d look for something contrasting—like white, metal, or black? The nice thing about that bed is that it’s so versatile…I feel so limited by mine because introducing another metal just feels like too much! CB2 has some really nice options right now…the Archer would look good with it I think!

    • You can’t pick bedside tables just based on the look of the bed. I agree that with this wood, contrast would be best, so while I agree with Daniel on metal or a color (not necessarily only white or black), you first need to figure out the height of your mattress (and any box spring or other mattress support) first, so that you know what height beside table you are looking for. I like mine to be just the height of my mattress, for the sake of function, neither taller nor lower works for me. (But don’t ask me, after more than a decade of sort-of looking after I bought my bedframe, I gave up and had mine custom made out of the same wood as my bed – pricy, but really nice, and they feel permanent, not something for now.)

  8. Daniel. These our legit beautiful. I always enjoy your voice and thoroughly creative ideas. Keep sharing. Even the little things. Especially the little things. You’re the best.

  9. Love those and they are so similar to what I paid a small fortune for to have actual storage next to our bed. But, I’m not getting where those could or even might be used in a kitchen? They are too short to be either base or top cabinets. Is that like 1/2 of a base cabinet? So you’d add another on top of it? I’m confused. Maybe I just need to embrace more hackery in my life.

    • They’d be upper cabinets, generally! The 30″ or 36″ version could hang above a fridge or range, or you could use these as a more horizontal line of uppers, or above a row of taller uppers (like we did in John’s kitchen) orrrrrr you could wall-mount them lower, fauxdenza-style. The old kitchen cabinet line didn’t have drawers for the upper cabinet depth (which was also not as deep…but Americans love huge plates), but that changed with the new SEKTION collection.

  10. Nursery?! Do tell. Isn’t that the laundry?! I’d actually love to see you do a child’s room. I appreciate your make it functional, make it beautiful, don’t need no stinking theme design approach and would love to see more children’s spaces done that way.

    • Haha, no, the laundry room is on the other side of the wall with the (faux) fireplace! The nursery is a little room right over the entryway behind that door next to the big armoire. Apparently I haven’t talked about it forrrrrrrr….almost 7 years, but here it is!. It’s basically just a chair graveyard at the moment. (I just call it the nursery bc I assume that was the original purpose…no plans for kids, haha!)

      • You could call it “the annex”, which sounds fancy and slightly mysterious. :)

      • Who can look at anything in that link but Linus? RIP, little man with the large heart.

      • Okay if that door next to the armoire leads to a closed in room, please take the door off and put the armoire in front of it and let it be your wardrobe to Narnia or whatever place strikes your fancy– a lounge, a chair graveyard, a blacklight room, an artist’s studio (that’s you, you know– you’re an artist- through and through), etc…. A hidden door to special someplace…. ahh ..

  11. My new bedroom is long and narrow, and my bed fits with a little walkway past the footboard but as my nightstands, I used… dining benches. It gives me enough space for all of my tchotchkes and then a bunch of plants. But then I had to order new dining room chairs, ha!

  12. Fantastic! I’ll say it again – you need your own HGTV show.

  13. Always happy to see Mekko & Bungee. Your bedroom looks so relaxing! Great hack.

  14. I wish you would write a book. Your “voice” is perfect : serious yet funny. Your site is always filled with information and new design. Thank you

  15. Oh I feel your pain. What gives with tables – of the living & bedroom type?? I am currently suffering from a very very bad livingroom table and NO bedside table at all. None! Rien! I fear my dogs will eat my sleeping pills as they lay there on the floor beside the bed. So I may just have to try Ikea. Who would’ve thought to look at the kitchen stuff. Not I, of small and weak imagination. Thanks for that hack, and for one of the best written interior design blog I get. Wow, those blogs are dull dull dull, even when the interiors are wow. But yours is so entertaining, and the dog content, well, bonus. Do more!

  16. What’s the very cute alarm clock by the bed? Beautiful room as always

  17. You envision yourself looking like a floating head with hands while wearing your robe in bed with the matching linens …I think you may have had a little toke of the pot in your bedside table love love love the side table Ikea hack!

  18. How can you have linen and dogs? And dogs on linen. Please elaborate.

    • Which part? It’s great! It’s just a duvet cover so I change it out every few days to a week or so, and just throw it in the washer and dryer. I treat them like any other cotton and so far, so good!

  19. We made a bathroom vanity out of three 15” ikea uppers as we couldn’t find a narrow long vanity with closed storage. The two ends have 5 drawers and the middle a door and shelf. It’s working great

  20. Beautiful and relaxing!! Good luck on that rug hunt!

  21. I have had a lot of luck with AuctionNinja.com. It is a conglomeration of lots of websites that place estate sales for auction. They last for several days to a week. You have to pick up the items at the address of the seller. I have seen tons of tables and chests that are good for night tables, lots of coffee tables, and there are scores of Stark carpets, and oriental rugs. No one seems to want rugs and large boxy furniture anymore, so they are going for pennies. These sales are perfect for people that don’t have time for garage sales and don’t want to use Craigslist. Check it out. I live in Fairfield County CT Everyone is downsizing and getting rid of the Best Stuff.

  22. You are a genius and your posts make me so happy!

  23. I love the marble tops. So good for spills. All of it, so clever!

  24. Looong time reader, first time commenter. I just need to acknowledge your incredibly correct statement that the perfect bedside tables are a pain in the ass to find. I feel so seen.

  25. Love a good IKEA hack!

    Looks great!

  26. The bedside lamps are so cute! Where did you get them and do they provide enough lighting for reading prints?

    • They’re both vintage thrift finds! Just some weird amateur studio pottery from the 70s. They’re bright enough for me, but it just depends on the bulb! I think I have 25W bulbs in them. :)

  27. This was such a pleasure to read. I LOLed. Out loud. Thanks for sharing!!

  28. I have to comment again cause I just realized…THIS is what I miss about blogs. DIY hacks, not taking life too seriously, and not shoving links and mood boards and other such things down my throat. I feel like you’re a real person with a real voice and not some ad. and I appreciate that bloggers need to make money but you just do it so well! Hopefully that came across well

  29. Absolutely beautiful in every way!! Love how you designed the bedside tables. Love all the beautiful mouldings. The fireplace is stunning; I loved the post on how you built it. Your posts make me happy.

  30. I had two huge bedside tables that I bought to Paris which had drawers and held all the things I find myself needing when reading in bed or watching tv like nail file, eye drops, kleenex, etc. My very fashionable designer daughter in law was helping us decorate and renovate our apartment and hated the tables and talked me into getting rid of them. Now I have two dinky bedside tables that don’t match and no lamps. I am not a diy person but your tables look fabulous. I will have to get my energy up and see what I can do to find something like yours. Thanks for posting this.

  31. Hi Daniel,
    Love your creative bedside tables. So clever using the marble slabs. I see you bedcover is wrinkled. I know you are ocd like me and I found out the other day that hotel staff give the bedcover a light spray with water after it has been made to get the wrinkles out. Haven’t tried it yet but intend to. Love Mekong still miss Linus.

    • Thanks Maureen! It’s linen, so wrinkle-free might be a losing battle!! I’ve kinda decided life is too short to worry about wrinkled sheets…as long as they’re clean, I’m a happy camper!

  32. So, what’s that thing on the floor under the hanging plant? The thing that looks like a dog bed. Only without a dog.

    :)

  33. This is perfect timing for me as we bought a new low bed and searching for nightstands wtih good storage is turning up… not very much. Do you have a good rule of thumb for how high the nightstand should be in relation to the mattress?

  34. This dog update is really important. Thank you.

    Been reading for maybe 10(?) years. Might be my first comment. Cheers!

  35. Wow, thanks for the tip on the Ikea cabinets! Good to know. For keeping your table tops in place: I recommend Quake Hold Putty. It’s really secure for this type of thing and is way easier to remove than adhesive from velcro. I even used it to secure a small sink on a vanity! (I meant to glue the sink once I was sure I could commit to the placement, but it worked so well I just left it. for years.)

  36. I’m sensing great energy in your New Year posts! I love it, always love reading the updates, and I wish you lots of continue to energy for positive change in 2020

  37. This is a brilliant solution! I get all the stuff bedside! Tissues, Tiger Balm, remotes, AirPods on and on it goes!

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