If you’re anything like me—and for your sake, I hope you aren’t—you’ve occasionally looked at a photo of some beautiful Apartment Therapy or design*sponge or other inspiration site bedroom and gone daaaaaamn, check out those nightstands! Unlike my own (which are covered in a carefully-curated blend of mugs I forgot to take back downstairs, whatever beat-up paperback I’m reading, electronics chargers, and the occasional Kleenex), these people style their bedside spaces. They choose tasteful artwork and little tchotchkes, arranging things neatly by height and texture, looking thoughtful and lovely but never-too-perfect—the accent-furniture equivalent of Sunday brunch with ladyfriends. They, like the ladies I see all dolled up at brunch as I sit shoveling down fried potatoes with a scarf over my gross hair, are clearly superior people. They have Got It Together.


via Emily Henderson, a lady who has Got It Together.

In my neverending attempt to Sort Myself Out, I am hoping to put a little more effort into the contents of my nightstands this time around. Jimmy and I were lucky enough to be given a full mint-condition midcentury modern bedroom set by a family friend last year. While a matching set usually isn’t my taste, these pieces are beautiful. I’m glad we finally have a bedroom large enough to actually display them, instead of just wedging them in around our bed. I, of course, am not nearly put-together enough to have a photo of the whole set for you, but I’ll show you as the bedroom slowly comes together. Suffice to say, they are gorgeous, with angled legs and black-and-brass hardware. The nightstands have one drawer and a bunch of lower space, which is really nice for corralling stuff out of sight, so I think that gives me some leeway to style the tops a bit.

We’ve chosen a deep, slightly greeny navy for our walls, and I’m hoping to paint in the next few weeks. Accent colors are punchy and, for the most part, warm; this Modest Mouse gig poster is one of the biggest pieces on the wall, and I’m sort of taking cues from that, though it’s not strict by any means:


So we’re incorporating lots of crisp white, bright yellows and oranges, and some royal blue for a tonal effect. I’m trying to embrace imperfection (which, to the naked eye, you’d think I had already accomplished given the piles of laundry all over the place) and not just repeat the same three colors all over the room. Trying to get a little more complex, a little more flavorful. A little more spicy. (I’m eating curry while I write this. I apologize for all the food adjectives.)

I don’t like a ton of symmetry in a room; I feel like the nightstands should have good balance, but not be the same. We’re installing bronze eyeball sconces from UO over the nightstands, so there’s no need for a lamp on the tables themselves. This leaves space for some art and other things nice to look at while chilling in bed. I’ve been playing around with layouts and picking things that I think would work for each of our styles. Without further ado:


Starting with Jimmy’s: I found that print on society6 a few weeks ago and immediately bookmarked it. I have never known anyone quite so devoted to being comfy as my husband. Within seconds of getting home from work/social occasions/anywhere else, he will disappear into the bedroom and reemerge with a happy sigh and sweatpants or gym shorts. Typically he still has his business shirt on, making for a hilarious news-anchor-behind-the-desk sort of look. Once or twice, when I’ve wanted to go do something later in the evening, he’s whined “But I already took my pants off.” This print was made for him. It’s shown here in the trusty old RIBBA frame, with which I’m pretty much convinced you can’t go wrong. If they would just start making a brassy option, so I wouldn’t have to leaf them myself (though here I plan to stick with white), that would be greeeeat.

Jimmy likes plants as long as they’re useful, so I think an aloe would be a good choice here—plus I’m told they do well in low/indirect light, which is what we have in the bedroom. The book is Barnes & Noble’s fancy edition of Plato’s Republic, which he is reading right now (albeit in e-book form). The tray is a vintage wood valet, which Jimmy has wanted for a while to hold his wallet/Pebble watch/etc. while not wearing them. And the brass bear is there because a) I love animal figurines and b) bears are sort of Jimmy’s spirit animal/Patronus. Also it’s eating a fish and he loves sushi. Win-win!

On my side: the print is a 1961 patent application drawing of Lego bricks. I love art that harkens back to my geeky side and never-quite-outgrown love of video games/toys/etc., and bonus points if it does it without being painfully obvious. The book is a pipe dream of mine, because that thing is crazy beautiful, but I also don’t have $150 to drop on an amazing coffee table book right now. However, my birthday is coming up, should you beautiful readers want to pool together and purchase it for me. Just a thought. The plant is a Peperomia puteolata, another low-light plant that stays relatively small. I think its shape is beautiful and it has lovely striped leaves. I’ve got it in a brass cachepot here, to tie into Jimmy’s bear across the way. The tiny figurine is a little brass duckling my Aunt Kathy used to own, but passed on to me a couple of years ago. As a kid, I loved playing with that little guy, and I’d like to give him a more prominent spot in my life. The alarm clock is a vintage one from Etsy—I haven’t bought one yet, but I hope to switch from using my phone to one of the old-school clanging-bell models soon. And the blue hobnail glass in the back is there because I get thirsty at night, but always bring up glasses from the kitchen and forget to bring them back down. Solution? Keep a dedicated glass upstairs. Rocket science!

Hopefully soon I’ll have a finished mood board to show you for the rest of the bedroom. The bedding will be simple and white, with a headboard upholstered in yellow velvet. Then, all the pillows, and the fluffiest, heaviest, most ludicrously overstuffed duvet I can find (that isn’t stuffed with bird). Wish me luck! Now tell me, readers: what’s on your nightstand? Is it immaculately styled down to the last brass animal? Or is it mostly a place to set half-empty tea mugs and your Invisalign case? Inquiring minds want to know!