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How to organize a bedside table

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bedside table
This small piece of furniture can make a big difference in your nights
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Organize a bedside table to turn a bedroom mess into a functional space

So tell me what happened. Did you need to find a tissue, a pen or a flashlight, only to spend way too much time digging through an overstuffed drawer? Did you realize that there was no space on the top of your night stand for your water glass, book or eyeglasses?  Relax, you're not alone. 

For me, it was the day when I pushed a "few" things over to make space for a cup...only to have a cascade of books, papers, pens, chargers, and assorted other goodies fall off the other side of the table. The lamp almost followed, but I managed to grab that before it took a dive. 

I changed my ways that very night! The next morning, my bedside table was sorted, clean and finally useful. 

No matter what final straw brought you here, I promise these tips will help you organize a bedside table so it is an asset instead of a dumping ground. That way the things you really need will always within easy reach. 

It starts with the nightstand itself

Ideally, your bedside table should have at least one good sized drawer and one shelf or cabinet space below that. Most of the tips I'll give you are based on that kind of furniture. I will try to include ideas for smaller pieces, or table-only night stands, too.

Clean it out...and off!

Step one in organizing a bedside table is emptying it completely. Take everything out of it and everything off the top, too. Get a reusable cleaning cloth and use it to wipe out the drawer(s), cabinet and shelves. Wipe down the top, too. Toss the cloth in the laundry if it's're going to need it again later to keep everything dusted and clean. . 

While you're cleaning, take the time to fix any broken or missing parts of the table itself. If it's scratched or the color doesn't match your room, take care of repainting it before you go on to the next step. 

Think about what you need next to the bed

So many things end up in our drawers and cabinets that really don't belong there, so take the time to decide what really does work well for you in the nightstand. Here are some common items to consider. Your needs will, of course, vary. 

Comfort items:

Eye drops
Headache medication
Eye shades
Other urgent need medication

Reading and writing supplies:

Book light
Small notebook
Reading glasses

Personal care items:

Hair tie
Hand lotion
Small brush

Electronics (if you use them in bed):

Chargers for phone or tablet
Screen cleaning cloth
Headphones or earbuds


Emergency contact list
Extra flashlight batteries

On the top:

Table lamp or adjustable desk lamp


Water bottles
Reusable cleaning cloth Waste paper basket to keep next to the table

Now to assemble it!

  • If your cabinet has drawers or shelves, use small boxes, a set of drawer dividers or small baskets to organize your things by use. That way finding what you need in the middle of the night won't feel like a treasure hunt. 
  • If you can don't stack boxes in the drawers...a single layer is much easier to reach into in the dark.  
  • If you don't have drawers or shelves, look for stackable storage boxes or baskets to go underneath the table. 
  • Use a basket on the bottom shelf or under a table-only nightstand to hold a couple of water bottles. No more middle of the night stubbed toes on trips to the kitchen! You can replace used bottles the next day when it's bright and sunny. 
  • Keep the cleaning cloth accessible for regular dusting with no fuss. No one likes a dusty bedside table, but we often forget to head in to the bedroom to take care of that.   
  • Do make sure the table lamp you've chosen is tall enough to shed light on a book or notepad. 
Keep up with it

Make time once a month to sort out your bedside table. Remove any extras that may have ended up there, and restock any supplies that are low or used up. 

If you find that you have things in the cabinet that you don't use, go ahead and store them somewhere else. After all, this isn't about matching a's about making that small space next to your bed do a big job every night. 

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