Once upon a time, if you wanted to furnish a bedroom, you bought a Bedroom Set (with a capital “B” and “S” because…so formal). The bedroom furniture set came with everything you needed: headboard, dresser, nightstands, the works. In the bedroom set days, it was easy to be sure that your dresser and nightstand paired well together because they were basically mirror images of each other with the exception of function and size. Same finish, same silhouette, some hardware. But all that matchy-matchiness could also wind up looking a bit…bland and straight of the box (or straight out of the big box…store).
Here at EHD, we prefer a more eclectic look. There’s a special magic that happens when you bring together two pieces that weren’t born together but somehow make a perfect pair. Like any good Power Couple, these nightstand/dresser combos have a lot in common (whether it’s a similar silhouette, hardware finish, design era), but they also balance one another out in a beautiful, harmonious way that doesn’t feel super expected.
Before we get to the shopping portion of this post, let’s take a look at some examples of dresser and nightstand pairs in situ that work…and why:
First, anyone remember this bedroom from five years ago? It’s in the home of Bruno and Alicia from Curbly. Here, this dresser/nightstand combo features similar shapes (in that they are both quite boxy) but in different colors and metallic finishes, which sets up a pleasing contrast between the two. It’s okay for your nightstand and dresser not to overtly match (here, the dresser is mid-century and the nightstand is campaign-style)—try pairing contrasting finishes, like white and birch or black and walnut. As long as the pieces have some common element (like their shape, or style, or maybe the color of the hardware), they’ll still make a lovely pair.
The dressers and nightstands in this master bedroom (you don’t see both dressers in this shot, but there is a wider dresser in front of the vintage theater seats that’s a big metal industrial piece) are both working an antiqued, textured vibe, but the nightstands, sitting delicately on tall legs, create a lovely contrast with the more solid form of the dresser. Both feel “period piece-y” and Old World. The lighter finish on the nightstands tones down the heavier darker tones of the larger highboy and dresser.
This dresser and nightstand from last year’s Griffith Park bedroom reveal (designed by Ginny, assisted by Mel) might feel a bit unexpected together at first glance, but turns out, both are rooted in the ’30s. The vintage burlwood dresser is Hollywood Regency inspired (which saw its heyday in the ’30s) and the nightstand (which was purchased new from Made Goods) has a “machine-age” look, also popular in that decade. Now, if you’re not a design scholar, you might not know this information, but there are some other takeaways here. The leather and wood both have a medium tan/camel color, so they work together tonally. The bright lacquered brass kickplate of the dresser is tempered by the antiqued brass of the hardware and legs of the nightstand, while still speaking to each other.
Earlier this year, we did a bedroom refresh with Target and this room is a great example of what to look for when buying furniture that is cohesive without it feeling like you’re having a #twinning moment. This dresser and nightstand both have a very traditional vibe and matching darker metal hardware but the contrasting finishes add a little interest and texture to the space—and avoid giving off that dreaded furniture-store vibe.
Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. These two pieces have very little in common, but together, somehow, they’re just perfect. The green dresser is 100% the standout statement piece of the room, and while the nightstand doesn’t “match” it, it does pick up on the warm wood tones of the other pieces in the room (Cherner chair, mirror, bed).
The dresser and nightstand in this bedroom are a perfect example. The styles and shapes are similar, but the finishes are different, so they complement one another nicely without being too matchy-matchy.
Okay, now that we’ve established some visual cues, let’s dig a little deeper into some actual guidelines for buying both dressers and nightstands, shall we?
Here are a few things to consider when picking out a nightstand:
- A nightstand should be anywhere from 24 inches to 27 inches tall, or within 5 inches above or below the top of your mattress. (You don’t want to be reaching too far when grabbing for your phone, or a glass of water, in the middle of the night.)
- Consider the size of your bed. The average size for a nightstand is about 20 inches wide, but it all depends on the bed it’s paired up with. A big bed could dwarf a really small nightstand, and an oversized nightstand might look a little silly next to say, a twin-sized bed, so plan accordingly. Keep it in scale with your bed.
- When deciding between nightstands with open and closed storage, ask yourself: how much stuff do you keep in your nightstand? This is a very personal question, and there’s no right answer. If you tend to wind up with a lot of stuff stashed in that spot, you’ll probably want at least one drawer to keep your bedside clutter-free. If you’re more of a minimalist and only need a lamp and a book or two, then feel free to choose from open or closed options.
What should you think about when picking out a dresser?
- The most important thing is: What’s going to go in there? Think about how you like to organize your clothes. Do you need a separate drawer for shirts and pants? A smaller one for jewelry? Are there other non-clothes items that you’ll want to make room for in the dresser?
- Once you have an idea of how many drawers you need, you can start thinking about size. A dresser should fit comfortably into the space available, ideally with at least a few inches on either side. If the space you have is narrow, this may mean a taller dresser (like a highboy) to maximize storage.
- If you’re planning on placing a television on top of your dresser, make sure the dresser is the right height for you to comfortably see the TV from wherever you’re thinking of watching (probably the bed?).
Feeling inspired? We’ve rounded up 22 dresser/nightstand combos that have that certain something. Which is your favorite?
1. Bjorksnas / Vito Stacking Stool / Striped Basket | 2. Loring Dresser / Hensely Nightstand | 3. Metalwork Dresser / Lempi Nightstand | 4. Reclaimed Wood + Lacquer Dresser / Vikhammer | 5. Kambino Dresser / Aalto Wall Drawer | 6. Peek Dresser / Flatiron Wrought Industrial Nightstand | 7. Rosanna Ceravolo Dresser / Curved Terrace Nightstand / Burl Wood Large Storage Box | 8. Renwick Dresser / Geo-Marquetry Side Table / Large Gold Storage Dome | 9. Amelia Dresser / Juliette End Table / Faux Leather Storage Bin | 10. Industrial Storage Dresser / Morris Nightstand / Woven Lidded Basket | 11. Nash Dresser / Metal Nightstand | 12. Bethany Chest / Torsion Side Table | 13. Laminate Dresser / Nati Tati Nightstand / Gale Geometric Box | 14. Clad Dresser / Aubrey Nightstand | 15. Ikat Inlay Dresser / Tannehill Display Side Table / Storage Box | 16. Broadridge Double Dresser / Alves Nightstand | 17. Siegel Chest / Knarrevik / Fabric Bin | 18. Audrey Dresser / Olivia Nightstand / White Marble Box | 19. Walnut Dresser / Tux Marble Top Nightstand | 20. Mid-Century Dresser / Sayer End Table | 21. Kinton Dresser / Hafley Table | 22. Morris Dresser / Min Bedside Table With Shelf