Perfectly Style Your Nightstand Using HGTV Star Emily Henderson's Expert Tips

Despite their small size, nightstands can be difficult to style. Using too many items can make the surfaces appear cluttered, while an empty design may leave your bedroom looking lackluster and not well thought out. A properly-decorated nightstand can tie the look and feel of your entire bedroom together and add a lot of character to the space. Because everyone's styling preferences are different and not all nightstands are the same size, what's right for your space may be different than what's ideal for someone else's. With that being said, there are several key elements that are universally important when it comes to styling any nightstand — something interior designer Emily Henderson from HGTV's "Secrets from a Stylist" knows very well.

Henderson recommends following the framework of incorporating vertical lighting, adding a horizontal piece such as a tray, and including a quirky, sculptural piece for visual interest. She also says that she always likes to incorporate something that smells good, such as a candle or fresh flowers. Regardless of the specific items you choose to top your nightstand with, Henderson notes the importance of keeping a cohesive color palette to help bring the whole design together.

Fill the vertical space with lighting

When styling your nightstand, it's usually easiest to start with some type of bedside lighting, as Emily Henderson says this is the most important detail. "The only thing that's really crucial that you have to have on your nightstand is lighting," she says (via YouTube). Not only is this a key piece of styling and a great way to incorporate your personality into the space, it's also important for convenience, as you won't have to get out of bed every time you want to turn your light on and off. Bedside lighting also makes possible the simple and cozy pleasure of reading your favorite book before bed.

In addition to illuminating your bedroom, a bedside light fixture is typically a necessary styling tool that fills the vertical space above your nightstand and serves as a visual focal point. This is most commonly achieved through the use of a tall lamp, but this is not the only way. Henderson reveals that she also loves to use a long, vertical pendant lamp next to her bed for a similar effect. If your bedside lighting is not tall enough to fill the vertical space, Henderson recommends closing the gap with a tall potted plant or a vase of fresh flowers, keeping in mind to match the pot or the vase to the rest of your color scheme.

Incorporate a horizontal feature such as a tray

To ground your tall bedside lamp or other vertical piece of decor, Emily Henderson always recommends adding a horizontal piece. This horizontal feature can be a tray, which is great for holding your jewelry. Henderson also recommends using smaller trays within the larger tray to hold tiny pieces of jewelry like earrings and rings. In addition to acting as a stylish and convenient place to store loose odds and ends, a bedside tray can also double as a coaster and protect your nightstand from water rings, spills, and other damage. If you don't have a proper tray for your nightstand, Henderson says on Instagram that a decorative plate can serve the same purpose. Opting for one that has a unique design can help you put some pattern in your decor and add more visual interest.

Henderson also often uses books to achieve a similar effect to that of a tray. Laying one book or a small stack horizontally can help to balance the arrangement. If your nightstand is big enough, you can incorporate both books and a tray for jewelry to help break up the space even further. Just be careful not to make the surface look too cluttered, and be mindful of proportions.

Add something sculptural for visual interest

Emily Henderson also suggests adding a decorative, sculptural piece to your nightstand to add an additional layer of visual interest and help visually break up the surface. These pieces are also a good chance to infuse more of your fun or quirky personality into your bedroom's design scheme. However, Henderson also notes that a vase of fresh flowers can serve this purpose as well. Because she recommends always having something that smells nice on your nightstand such as a candle, a bouquet of flowers, or even both, you can make the most of your limited space by using flowers to add a fresh scent while also serving as a sculptural element. This checks off two recommendations with just one piece of decor, which is perfect for those with limited space on their nightstand.

When it comes to choosing the perfect sculptural piece for your nightstand, Henderson recommends utilizing something that looks visually interesting but also has a practical use. This can help you save space and limit the number of things sitting on your nightstand, which will help you avoid a cluttered look. For instance, you could use a decorative tree with branches designed to hold necklaces and bracelets.