Bedside tables don't have to be predictable matched sets of bedroom furniture, and they don't have to cost a lot. You can create a creative take on a nightstand from treasures scavenged from the back of your closet, cast-offs claimed from curbside on trash day, acquisitions from the local vintner, or clutter you magically transform into a sleek, useful platform for... more clutter. Stack, paint or angle an original nightstand next to your bed.
Step It Up
A decorative bamboo ladder turns into a chic and unexpected bedside parking spot for magazines and books folded over its rungs, a clamp-on lamp, twine-tied bunches of dried flowers, or a vase secured by a neck ring and an S hook. Paint a sturdy bamboo ladder a deeper shade of the matte paint on your walls -- charcoal against flat pewter wall paint, rose against matte petal pink. Then lean the ladder at a slight angle next to the bed and deck it out with your bedside necessities. If you'd rather make the arrangement more permanent, secure the ladder to the wall with two small hinges at the top of the side rails.
You could stack a few vintage suitcases next to your bed for a nightstand, but why opt for something so predictable? Put your own stamp on an old piece of luggage set on a re-purposed piano bench, small low table, or just a few screw-on turned legs. Prime the suitcase and the base and then faux-distress them with white milk paint, sanded at the edges where you would expect some wear over time. Milk paint will "chip" when applied according to directions for distressing the finish. You can swipe a bit of crackle glaze on parts of the base and the suitcase before applying the final coat of paint, which will craze into a web of fine lines just like old paint. A primitive pottery pitcher for wildflowers, a lamp and a Jane Austen novel complete the bedside tableau.
In Vino Veritas
Wood wine crates are DIY design staples that will support and store things in every room of your house. Select three excellent vintages for your nightstand and clear-lacquer them to let the wood and vineyard labels show through, or paint them to match your decor. Stand two crates on end and bolt them together, back-to-back, for a base that will hold two stacks of books. Bolt or screw the final crate to the top, open-side up, to securely hold bedside necessities -- tissues, a water carafe, a plant, timepiece, and notepad or reading device.
Simplest Nightstand Ever
Stack oversize academic tomes, hardcover art catalogs and coffee-table books as high as a nightstand next to your bed. Plunk your reading lamp and alarm clock on top of them, and you've created a twofer: You get out-of-the-way storage for books when you've run out of shelf space; and you now have a functioning nightstand. Time it takes: 5 minutes. Cost to you: 0. Can't beat that.
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