Much Ado About Nightstands

Dear Reader,

You ever wonder how Emily always makes everything look SO good on TV and in photo shoots and, like, everywhere else? I used to wonder the same thing, until I started helping her style for photo shoots and TV shows. And now I’m about to reveal something shocking and potentially groundbreaking about tabletop styling. This information is so revolutionary, so riveting that even the new Pope is going to be like “Oh, MYGOD!” I am going to share with you the most coveted secret in the world of styling.

The secret to styling things perfectly is that you have to do it over and over and over and over until your hands bleed and your skin tries to crawl off your body to go to the nearest bar to get wasted because it’s SO tired of styling. Great stylists don’t just show up and throw a collection of junk together on a table and scream Ouala! Most of them play with props, books, candles, and grandma’s glasses until they come up with a composition that they find deliciously gorgeous.

With this in mind, I decided to give the Nightstand Styling Contest a whirl. But I knew it was going to be challenging. Mainly because whenever I style anything I have this sneaking suspicion that Emily is going to be all “Oh, that’s nice,” but really be thinking it’s the grossest thing she’s ever seen in her whole life.

So with some pluck and wealth of crappola I had lying around the apartment, I began styling my nightstand. With the help of our glamourous, gorgeous photographer Tessa Neustadt.

Option 1: Lazy Minimal


For this first try, I was all, “What if I go minimal and put very little on the bedside table?” Well, what happened was that it looked super boring and lame.

Option 2: Bright & Quirky


This is my second attempt, where I was all “Maybe I should make it cute and bright and playful.” I dunno. It’s definitely better than the first one but not quite there …


Option 3: Masculine (Kind of [ok not really])

I was like, “Maybe I should butch it up. I’ll add a wire horse.”


Option 4: Sumptuous Symmetry 


This option was the only one where I didn’t add art. That lamp is pretty large and in charge though, so I didn’t really miss it.


Option 5: Glamorous Greenhouse


The last option is probably the closest to what my nightstand looks like in real life. I have an overabundance of greenery in my bedroom. I like to be surrounded by life and oxygen, so having plants around makes me happy.



And now it’s time for you to take a stand. Which one do you like the best? Whichever one receives the best feedback is getting entered into the Nightstand Styling Contest (don’t worry, I can’t actually win because that would be, like, totally weird and I would probably rig the contest because I totally want those nightstands). Anyway, HELP ME! Tell me which option I should enter!

Okay, so to recap, the options are:

Option 1: Lazy Minimal

Option 2: Bright & Quirky

Option 3: Masculine (Kind of [not really])

Option 4: Sumptuous Symmetrical

Option 5: Glamorous Greenhouse

Leave a comment about which option I should enter. IF IT’S THE LAST THING YOU DO! (Please).







Contributing writer Orlando Soria,

  1. I really like 2, 3 and 5 but my vote is going for option 5 as it’s the least typical. It’s interesting and non traditional AND it’s you, as you say that’s probably closest to your own place. Good luck participating in a competition you can’t win. I wish you the ughm…best at not winning, but being so close that the only reason you don’t win is coworker nepotism or something.

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  3. Colleen

    I love the last one. If I could keep succulents alive, that’s the one I’d want in my room.

  4. jodi

    #2 – bright & quirky!

  5. Katie

    Oh, Orlando. I love when you post!! My vote is definitely for #5. So organic and refreshing!

  6. Martin

    OMG! If I am not mistaken, that’s Gore Vidal’s childhood friend/sweetheart that you’ve got in photo #2? Nice touch!

    • Emily

      Yes it is! I made that print. I’m obsessed with Jimmy Trimble and Gore Vidal’s fascination with him!

      • Meghan

        How oh how did you do it? I’m obsessed and would like to do this with my parents’ high school yearbook photos.

  7. I like 1 and 5 the most. But my final answer is 5 because I love green and plants and the art is gorgeous and unexpected because of the width.

    P.s. I love your nightstand! Have you considered making it a prize for the contest? ;)

  8. jen

    #5 is my fave. love the art and funky planters.

  9. I love them all, but I think you should enter the last one, because it is really you. I believe you will come in a strong second. :D

  10. Christine

    I love you and your glam greenhouse!

  11. Michelle

    You’re the best, O! Glamorous Greenhouse, FTW!

  12. Audrey

    #5 for sure!

  13. I think 4 is awesome. I like 5 too, especially because of the art, but I think the scale of the black planter is off & things look a little too busy. So my vote goes for #4. Great options!

  14. Option 2, no question!! It has body and balance and life.

  15. mt

    love #1 & #5. #1 is pretty and practical. #5 is just pretty (perhaps less practical plus i don’t like bugs in my face whilst sleeping and am assuming plants = bugs). I don’t like the symmetry one because it may be hard to reach the lamp. :) BUT i think you should enter #5 (all things considered…including it is ‘you’). good luck!

  16. Chris


    it’s so fun. everyone needs something to brighten up early mornings.

  17. Emily

    I love 3 and 5. 3 is technically more ‘well composed’ but 5 looks like you, is super inviting and makes me want to get into that bed, with or without you, Landy.

  18. Jackie

    Option 3!

  19. I really like #5, Glamorous Greenhouse. Thanks for sharing the many reincarnations of your night stand styling. That said, the night stand alone is something I would love to have; styled or not.

  20. Kevin Orlin Johnson

    Never thought of styling the nightstandscape. Only have room for necessary things, like a little clock, a block of scratch paper, a pencil holder, and an inspirational photograph to glower at me first thing in the morning and guilt me into getting up and getting to work. Well, I can say that I choose these needments with an eye to their style. So that they do look as good as possible through the morning blur.

  21. Kimberly

    Option 2: Bright & Quirky – those last couple were too busy for me.

  22. I think #2 or #5, love them both. It’s kind of a gold pig versus greenery question.
    Good luck!

  23. Hannah Rose

    I like 2 and 5! The artwork is great in both! But, I do love the greenery in 5 very much.

  24. Stacy

    Option 5: Glamorous Greenhouse.
    THE best, by far!

  25. I love 5!!!!!! I love the elefant planter!!! I have something similar, but never though about using it as a planter.Can’t wait to try!

  26. Bryan

    I vote for option #2, Bright & Quirky. I like it because there’s greenery, handsome art, a gilded piggy and room on the nightstand for my phone and my coffee.

  27. BridgetG

    I’m all about the B & Q (option 2). Attractive AND functional (call me crazy).
    Plants, nice, but who wants to reach over for glasses or water (or whatever) in the night and lay a hand on a prickly plant?

  28. laura

    Wow I love Option 5: Glamorous Greenhouse it makes me think a fascinating creative person sleeps there.

  29. maribeth

    I have to go with #5 it’s funky and I love live greens in every room. But, I must say they are all pretty cool.

  30. lmg

    #2 is my pick!

  31. Carly

    Option 2 all the way. To me it’s the most balanced and the objects make the mos sense. A nightstand should have your books, journal, alarm clock and little else. Too much clutter would keep me up at night.

  32. Char

    Option 1

  33. ange

    #2 was my favorite because of the pig. Love it!

  34. Yvette

    Why am I in the minority in loving #3?! #5 is a close second, though.

  35. Emma

    5 for sure! I love the low (and cool) painting. And oxygen near the bed is essential. FIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVEFIVE

  36. Robyn

    Number 2 would be perfect for me, because I’m Bright and Quirky. But for you, I’d say #4…because you’re Sumptuous and Symmetrical?? Okay, that sounds odd, but it seems to suit you. :)

  37. Emily M

    Totally going with #2. The rest do nothing for me.

  38. Stephanie

    Glamorous Greenhouse. All. Day. Long.

  39. Ivana

    I like Option 3: Masculine the most.

    Best regards,

  40. Jamie

    The last one for sure!!

  41. Vickie

    #3 Please!!

  42. Nicole M.

    I would have to vote for #3 because of the nice balance and fantastic wire horse. I just wish you would have pulled some of the greenery from #5 into the composition. #5 is a close second though because I do love all the green (my favorite color!).

  43. Jessica

    Bright and quirky!

  44. Lisa

    Bright and Quirky is best! Love the dresser as a nightstand.

  45. #5 Glamorous Greenhouse – I like Bright & Quirky too but #5 was just beautiful!

  46. Amanda

    #2 Bright & Quirky!

  47. Jennifer

    Option 3!

    It seems the most balanced to me, and I love the mirror – it’s gorgeous!

    Option 5 is a close second, though: I love the plants, and I am totally on board with your more plants/ life/ oxygen in the bedroom, but I think it’s a bit overwhelming to have them all grouped right next to your head while you sleep…

  48. Kim Alex Jackson

    Option 5 for being calming and opulent at the same time. Plus the elephant has a nice little smile.

  49. Option 3! My favorite. Not too cluttered with a little bit of quirk.

  50. Torie

    i’m loving me some option #3. it’s simple but calming and not necessarily masculine at all. i would love it by my bed and i’m a gurly girl. runner up – option #4.

  51. Nancy

    #3 definitely! Love the horse, love the mirror, love the lamp. I’d go with #2 next. #5 seems a little too busy/messy with all of those plants.

  52. Ashbsmiley


  53. Tara

    Well, from an amateur perspective I’d say #5 however, the big black pot and plant has to go…too big, too black. I’d also replace the picture with the round mirror.
    Seriously, though, what do I know. They are all better than I could do :)

  54. I love the weekly Orlando posts! Also…what’s up with you and Presidents? I’m voting for nightstand #2. But mostly because I think the pig bookends are super hysterical.

  55. Meredith

    #5 – love it!

  56. AJ

    I like bitsof all of them, especially the art, but I think I like the masculine #3 best.

  57. Laura

    Option 2 is the only logical choice for me…..most of the other options have the light source too far away from the actual bedside to be practical. I love the romance and lushness of option 5, but there is a lot going on there. I love elements of ALL of them….the wire horse is fantastic! But option 2 looks fun, clean and well balanced while adding humor and still has space to set a glass of water.

  58. Kelly

    I really responded to 2 and 5. I like the use of color and life. It makes me happy…and I want as many reasons to be happy in the bedroom as possible.

  59. Becky

    Hi Orlando! I love nightstand #2. #1 is very similar to my entry, Musty old-man chic : ) You and Emily are the best!!

  60. Wendy

    #5 Glamorous Greenhouse!

  61. Krystle

    #1. Love.

  62. Elizabeth

    2 and 5 as runner-up

  63. MargotTenenbaum

    Another vote for numbers 2 and 5. The glam greenhouse is pretty badass, wonderfully unique and so full of oxygen! You win already for healthiest nightstand :)

  64. PR

    Option 5

  65. Faireden

    Option 3: Masculine (Kind of [not really]) of course! Love, love love the horse, I wish it had a bit more visual weight though. I wonder if you leaned a colorful abstract (Mark Rothko ‘like’) just off center behind if it would stand out more? I am like Emily, I didn’t know other people were like that too! I thought it was just me, actually relieved.

  66. #5 is my fav. A close second is #1. I don’t think it’s boring at all. Simple and perfect.

  67. Whitney

    option #2 was my fave! um, so i couldn’t stop laughing when you “butched” it up with a lit candle… between you and emily, you guys just always brighten my day and make me laugh!

  68. Bridget

    and the winner is THREE, TRES, 3 – For SURE! It’s livable, not too cluttered so your head is clear at night and when you wake and leaves enough room to put stuff on, like when you’re sick and need to put your tissue box and used tissues and medicine everywhere on it. Wow, that’s kinda gross, but totally happens, right?

  69. Lauren

    bright & quirky gets my vote!

  70. I like Bright & Quirky, mostly because of the interplay between the portrait and the lamp—chunky, yet svelte.

  71. Kathy

    I do like #5 but I think #2 is my fave. You are so talented Orlando, love to see what you do.

  72. Bright & Quirky! It’s got the height which my other favourite Glamorous Greenhouse doesn’t… :)

  73. Alex

    Option #2!

  74. I like #5 the best – I think if you moved the large potted plant on the right all the way out of the frame (three plants seems overwhelming), it would be absolutely perfect.

    I don’t want to be negative, but if I might offer one point: I think by “Ouala” you meant “Voila.” (It means, “See there.”) I think a lot of Americans have heard someone make that “noise” and not realized that it is not onomatopoeia (OUCH! BAM! ZAP! WHAM!) but an actual word, in another language (French). Obviously one thing that sets American writing and culture apart is its casualness, but I hold dear to my heart the hope that those who write for a living will demonstrate that they are casual for style reasons – even though they have mastered formal, correct language as well.

  75. number 2 and 5 are both super rad!

  76. Bright and Quirky by far has the best composition and balance. The only thing I would change or play with is that I can’t see the pig’s butt. We should be able to see that better, right? :) Can’t hide the butt.

    Other than that I think that is pretty awesome!

  77. #2! Can’t go wrong with a gold pig.

  78. Shama

    Love the simplicity of #1.
    PS: what is the paint color on your walls?

  79. Jay

    Definitely, Bright & Quirky!

  80. Karen

    #2 is the best overall. love that horse sculpture in #3!

  81. Stacy T.

    “Masculine (Kind of [ok not really])” is my favorite. I think it has the best composition and balance of both line and color. The curved lines of the clock and horse are a perfect counterbalance to the straight lines of the lamp and books. And, the masculine color of the candle balances it’s feminine touch. My only change is a personal preference in artwork. I would re-frame the blue portrait from “Bright & Quirky” in black, and replace the mirror. It would pick up the color in the book spines, and work as lovely accent to the bedding and wallcolor.

  82. Nancy M.

    #3 masculine

    I’d add a plant to it, though. You’re right, plants in bedrooms are great!

  83. Nicole

    #1, but with two more items on it (wire horse, plant, spikey thing?)

  84. Lynn

    The last one. It looked the most inviting and interesting. I love plants too.

  85. tess

    #5 the gorgeous green tableau,

    enjoyed all your do overs,
    hope your hands aren’t all raw and worn from your efforts,
    (( ))

  86. Sam

    Tough decision. I like option #2, 3 & 5. And the winner of my vote is … Option #3.

  87. Chris

    So just like Natalia Imbruglia, I’m torn. My initial thought was that as a unit, I prefer Option 2: Bright & Quirky. That being said, I enjoy the horse in Option 3: Masculine (Kind of [not really]), the silver tray in Option 4: Sumptuous Symmetrical, and the elephant/plants in Option 5: Glamorous Greenhouse.

  88. Paula

    I love the “masculine”! I was also considering the “Bright” one, but in the end I think its a little too light for the darker table…its a bit bottom heavy. But they are all pretty awesome. a HELL of a lot better than I can do!

  89. Cheryl

    I love #3. It is practical, stylish. The candle really helps the lamp pop and the mirror ties it all together. I see my bits and bobs in that bowl already.

  90. Tracey

    All awesome, however I vote for #1 & #2. Number 1 because of the simplicity and it feels like you can breath. Personally I don’t like clutter around me when I sleep even if it’s stunningly styled! Number to still has breathing space – but has an edge.

    Good luck – I hope you win!

  91. Diana

    I like 2 & 5! Mostly 2 though so maybe add some succulents to that one.

  92. jen

    I love #5 (that litlte elephant planter!) but I have to go with Masculine.

  93. SallyJane

    I like #3 best of all, but I would happily live with any of these, and enjoy them. I love Orlando, too!

  94. Glamourous Greenhouse! I love putting plants wherever there’s room for them!

  95. Jenny

    I could live with any of them! Also wanted to let you know that I saw you in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Recognized you immediately from your “appearances” on this blog! :)

  96. tiffany

    No doubt about it: Option 2 Bright & Quirky, but maybe add the succulent elephant onto it. More green, the better!

  97. Lynette

    I like no 3, and I totally dislike plants in a bedroom. Don’t mind flowers but plants are naff.

  98. Colleen

    the last one. for sho! playful, lively, fun. Love it.

  99. Jenny

    My vote is for #3; the balance is sublime (height, hue, texture) and I like using blank wall to enhance art (the backdrop for see-through mr. horse)… it makes him pop.

    (#5 is nifty but my practical side can’t shake the feeling that, come morning, my clumsy hand is gonna send elephant succulent flying while searching for my glasses.)

  100. Jolene

    I definitely love the masculine one with the horse. I like how all the darks “speak” to each other. It’s got the right amount of stuff – not too sparse, not too cluttered. And it still has style. Fun post!

  101. julie

    I like 1,3, and 5. 1 for being practical, 3 for the balance, and 5 for the elephant planter that is soooo cute but it’s a little too much stuff for me so I’d probably enter #3!!!

  102. Kira

    I love Options # 2 & 5. Option #2 seems more “me”. Have to have the books and quirk. I also really love the look of Option #5, all the plants really are beautiful, and I agree with having all that extra lovely oxygen. I thoroughly enjoy them both, but my official vote is for: Option #5.

  103. sherry dudeck

    option 5 is really interesting. i vote option 5

  104. Jessica

    Option 5: Glamorous Greenhouse absolutely!! Love love it.

  105. #1 and #3…I guess I’m more of a minimalist. Just FYI…it’s ‘voila!’…but I do like Ouala….I’ve seen it written ‘viola’ (small violin) on more than a few blogs and that cracks me up. :)

  106. Cheman

    #4. Why? The Yoshitomo Nara alarm clock. However, the spiked urchin and brass crocodile make me uneasy. I generally avoid sleeping next to objects that could mame and/or bludgeon me to death. Untimely demise by tripping and falling on an urchin in the dark? How unglamourous.

  107. Robin B.

    Ha! I actually really liked #1. #2 is great, too, though. #3 feels a little TOO perfect. And #4 and #5 are (to me) a bit cluttered. But then, I’m a lazy minimalist.

  108. S.

    I vote for 2. I think it would be Emily’s favorite because of the brass pig.

  109. Lindsay

    #3 for sure!!! But I would really like to get my hands on those PIG bookends!!!

  110. Hi Orlando!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love #2, closely followed by #5. I’m a total plant geek too, but for me, #5 was a little bit too cluttered! Really love all your wonderful posts on Emily’s blog, and your blog too!

  111. michele double you

    Torn between #3 and #5. If #3 had something orgasmic, I’d choose that hands-down. #5, though…there’s something about that art that takes it to a new level–plus, I love a long, lean look.

    • michele double you

      ORGANIC, not orgasmic! Holy shizz. This is why we proof before we hit “submit.”

      I may just stick to lurking and not commenting for a while.

  112. #3 tres! like how it blends with the nightstand
    I like 5 minus something…not quite sure what tho

  113. riye

    #3–because of the wire horse and the word “butch” in the description. :-)

  114. Ginnie

    The last one!

  115. Amy

    Glam Greenhouse! It’s beautiful

  116. Huldra

    Oh, I really love No. 5 (the best things are often No. 5, like Chanels famous parfume). And the dramatic seapainting? I admire it, it is simply gorgeous and if you ever want to get rid of it, I’ll be waiting …
    No. 2 is my second favourite, but actually just because of the golden pig bookends. They are darn cute.

  117. Christie

    Love the last one!

  118. Dixie

    Option 2. Bright and quirky.

  119. ketti

    numero cinco – Glamorous Greenhouse.
    It’s abundant and lived in and I would like my nightstand to look like that.

  120. Laura

    I just want your nightstand. Period. Where did it come from? It’s like the nighstand of my dreams ran away into your bedroom. I’d like it back please.

  121. Suemi

    Bright & Quirky!

  122. decorbuddy

    #2 Bright & Quirky as first choice; #5 Glamorous Greenhouse second. If truth be told, I really like #5 best because it is less predictable with the large artwork and very ecclectic, something I am attracted to. Something soothing about #5 also. Want to curl up in the pic and relax…..

  123. emily jane zarov

    Aloha Orlando! I think you should enter #2 Bright & Quirky (though I have a crush on that oh-so-charming elaphant planter -and maybe, a little bit, on you too…) but maybe add a plant -to make it more like you..? Love your posts!
    Sincerely, emily jane

  124. Betsy

    Glamorous greenouse!

  125. Karrie

    I a fan of 1 & 2, but I’d go bright and quirky. your writing cracks me up, thanks for the laughs!

  126. Cynthia Waide

    You have wonderful accessories! I like all of the nightstands, but think number 2 strikes just the right balance between practicality and fun. Love the gold pig! … And the photo! I prefer the looks with art on the wall tying the items together. Number 5 is fun, but a little too crowded; I feel like I’m going to knock something over just by looking. Still, they’re all great!

  127. Katie

    Option 2 makes me smile.

  128. Mr Fox

    Number 5 really pops out! I enjoyed all of them though and think it is a pity you can’t enter. Emily is a big ole meany that way some times! lol <3 to Emily.

  129. Tara Denison

    Definitely option #2!!

  130. Mary Duffy

    Orlando, you’re a hoot. They’re all great, but I love the brass pig bookends so I’m voting for #2, bright & quirky.

  131. Lauren

    Def. #2 or #5 … though 5 is so pretty, it makes me want to crawl into the bed.

  132. Liz


  133. The Glamorous Greenhouse! So eclectic and beautifully chaotic. I wish I had a green thumb and that painting!

  134. Kat

    Like most of the comments above, I vote #5. There are aspects I love about 2 & 3, but #5 is my fave. Also, you’re adorable and I love your blog.

  135. Erin

    #5 all the way.

  136. Elise

    Number 2 . Because most people describe me as bright and quirky. Or at least I think that’s what they mean when they tell me I’m an idiot. Right? But anyway I just prefer the balance of that one – or maybe it’s the portrait that puts it over the edge. I do love the wire horse in number 3 though. A lot. Well done on all of them! You would TOTALLY win the contest if you weren’t sadly disqualified.

  137. Whitney

    Am I wrong for loving lazy minimal (#1)? I really thought it was the best. Sometimes, you just get it right the first time!

  138. amber

    Option 2 and 5 are my favorites.

  139. #5 has a few too many plants in the frame. I love the simplicity of the last photo – and LOVE the elephant planter.

  140. Barb

    Love #5! Awesome!

  141. F*CK. You totally stole my animal bookends, portrait, AND even my _Art in Theory_ book! Oh well. I might do it anyway. Fools.

  142. Steph

    #5 glamourous greenhouse hands down!

  143. Its a tie for me of #2 Bright and Quirky and #5 the greenhouse :)

  144. JEN

    so fun. My favorite is #5 and second favorite is #2. Love this

  145. T

    Bright and Quirky, or Masculine..
    and somewhat separately, I love your blog, definitely check it a few times a week!

  146. Eliza

    Glamorous Greenhouse!

  147. Love #5 the best! It’s so calming.

  148. Liz

    You always crack me up with your writing! I like the Bright and Quirky the best.

  149. Pingback: My Elephant Obsession Continues… | 3 Prince Street

  150. Tori

    Hands down #5! loving the greens. Nice job !! :)

  151. Pingback: HomeGoods | Decorating with Indoor Plants

  152. Dawn

    Option 2: Bright & Quirky.
    Picture is slightly too large, but nice.

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  154. Pingback: Decorating with Indoor Plants - Live and Inspire, by Lauretta Marie Pierce

  155. lrD21b A big thank you for your article.Really thank you! Want more.

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