I remember when we were choosing furniture for our current home I fell in love with these tiered side tables from Ballard Designs. We ultimately ended up purchasing them and used them for years as our nightstands. They looked substantial next to our oversized upholstered headboard and were a contrasting color to our other furniture in our Master Bedroom which I loved. So why did I feel the need to change them?
Sometimes function needs to outweigh form.
Nightstands are an important part of a bedroom’s design. After all, they’re one of the first things the eye will see when walking into a bedroom, but they’re also expensive.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good splurge item, but I try to reserve those for pieces like our sofa or dining room table.
So for my master bedroom, I decided to build them instead. This allowed me to design exactly what I was looking for and save a ton of money in the process.
This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you when you shop through my links.
Ideally, your nightstands should be the same height as your mattress or within 1-2″ of the top of your mattress. It’s natural to reach across versus down to grab something. The standard height of nightstands can range between 21-24″ tall but keep in mind you’ll want something taller if you have an elevated bed or a pillow top on your mattress.
The width seems to be the biggest hurdle when choosing the appropriate size nightstands for any bed. Most nightstands are approximately 24″ wide which is ideal for a Full or Queen-sized bed. If you have a Twin-sized bed, nightstands that are 21″ or less are better suited. However, if you have a King or California King-sized bed, you’ll want to use nightstands that are 29″ or wider. This is where you tend to see the price rise in nightstands. The wider the nightstand, the more expensive.
Color combinations are a great way to express your style. My general rule is to choose something contrasting to give balance. Gone are the days of matching bedroom furniture. Upholstered beds are my favorite to design around because they leave the door wide open. You can style painted or stained, light or dark, but my favorite is a dark stained nightstand with a neutral upholstered bed. For other styles, think opposites. If you have a wood frame bed, go with a painted nightstand. If you have a black bed frame, try a wood-tone nightstand to add warmth.
Lastly, place your nightstand 3-6″ from the edge of your bed to keep things within reach and allow for bedding.
How To Build A Nightstand
The nightstands that I built are 34″ wide by 30″ high by 19″ deep. However, these instructions will allow you to customize the size of the nightstand you need for your space. You can adjust the height or width of your nightstand by altering the leg length or the front/back rails and width of drawers/drawer fronts. These directions are for one nightstand.
MATERIALS + CUT LIST
4 – 2x2x3 Square edge unfinished poplar board (Cut to 30″) Will be the legs
3 – 1x4x6 Square Edge Unfinished Pine Board Premium Pine (Cut to 31″ for front rails, 16″ for drawer slide rails) Will be the front and back rails and the drawer slide support rails
1 – 1x16x6 Square Edge Unfinished Pine Board Premium Pine (Cut to 18.25″) Will be the sides
1 – 1/4″x8x4 Sanded Birch Plywood (Cut to 15″ x 31″ for back, 14″ x 29 7/8″ two times for two drawer bottoms, 7 5/8″ x 31 5/8″ two times for two drawer fronts) Will be the back panel, the drawer bottoms, and the drawer fronts
2 – 1x6x8 Square Edge Unfinished Pine Board Premium Pine (Cut to 28. 3/8″ four times and 14″ four times) Will be the drawers
2 – 1x6x8 Square Edge Unfinished Pine Board Premium Pine (Cut to 34″, one piece will need to be trimmed to 4.75″ width) Will be the top (You can choose to use a single solid project board here if you don’t want the look of the paneled top)
1 – 1x4x4 Square Edge Unfinished Pine Board Premium Pine (Cut to 34″) Will be the top
2 – 14″ Drawer Slide Sets (I prefer soft close)
1 1/4″ Kreg Pocket Hole Screws for Soft/Plywood (Course Thread)
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
Clamps (a MUST HAVE)
18 gauge Nail Gun
1 1/4″ nails and 1″ nails
120 + 220 Grit Sand Paper for leveling and sanding smooth
STEPS TO BUILD A NIGHTSTAND
- Cut 2×2 legs and the front and back rails according to the list above. Use your pocket hole jig to drill two pocket holes on the either end of the rails. Using clamps, align and attach with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws the top rails even with top of the legs. Then, measuring from the top down 18 1/4 inches, align and attach the bottom rail (the total height of the cabinet body from the top of the top rail to the bottom of the bottom rail should be 18.25″) using pocket hole screws. Be sure to sue clamps to keep the boards flush with the front of the legs. Repeat for the back of the cabinet legs and rails. You should now have the front of the cabinet frame and the back of the cabinet frame assembled.
- Cut the 1×16 panel board according to the above cut list. Turning the cut 1×16 boards so the width is 16″ and the height is 18.25″, drill pocket holes along the sides. I prefer to drill 4 holes evenly spaced here, keeping away from the top and bottom by at least 2 inches. Use clamps to align and attach your cabinet side panels with pocket hole screws even with the top of the legs. Again using clamps will ensure the panel is flush with the outside of the legs. Repeat for the other side of the cabinet. You should now have the entire frame (minus top) of the cabinet assembled.
- Cut the drawer slide rails 16″ in length. You’ll need four. For the top drawer, measure down 4.5″ and attach the 1×4 drawer slide rail using your nail gun. For the bottom drawer, measure up 3 3/8″ from the bottom of the side panel (not the bottom of the legs) and align the bottom of the 1×4 drawer slide rail, and attach with your nail gun.
- To mount the drawer slides, I find it much easier to actually mount the drawer portion of the slide first and THEN assemble the drawer! Cut the drawer pieces according to the list above. Using your speed square mark the center width of two of the 14″ pieces, and mark 1 13/16″ up from the bottom of two of the 14″ pieces (the altered slide height is the for the bottom drawer). Be sure to drawer a straight line with your speed square down the center of the side of the drawer. Align the drawer portion of the drawer slide on to the 14″ side and attach with given screws. Then, slide the cabinet portion of the drawer slide back onto the drawer side, hold this up to the drawer slide rails on the cabinet, centering it. Use your speed square to draw a straight line and attach the cabinet portion of the drawer slide. Repeat for all drawer slides.
- To assemble the drawers, use your Kreg Pocket Hole Jig, drill two pocket holes in either end of the front and back of the drawer box (the 28 3/8″ cut pieces). Using clamps align the front and back of the drawer box INSIDE the sides. Use 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws to attach. Cut the drawer bottoms from quarter inch plywood. Mount to the bottom of the drawer boxes using nail gun and extra drawer slide screws. Repeat for the bottom drawer. Insert the drawers. You should now have the nightstand assembled with drawers except for the missing drawer fronts and cabinet top.
- For the top of nightstand, cut the 1×6 and 1×4 pieces. One of the 1×6 pieces will need to be trimmed to a 4 3/4″ width. Align the boards along the top of the cabinet, altering the widths as 1×6, 1×4, 1×6, and then the trimmed 1×6. Use wood glue between each board and your nail gun to secure to the cabinet. You can alter this with a solid board if you don’t prefer the look of a paneled top.
- Drawer fronts can be customized. My design called for thin drawer fronts, but typically I would use something that is 3/4″ thick. Fro this build, cut the 1/4″ plywood to size listed above. Using a jigsaw round the top two corners of the top drawer, and the bottom two corners of the bottom drawer. This will leave the edges that meet in the middle together. Mark the center of the opening on both sides where the drawers are which should be 6 5/8″. Align the bottom of the top drawer front with the center line marked (The drawer front should overlap the legs. Be sure to allow for the same amount of overlap on either side) and using wood lgue and my nail gun with 1″ nails, secure the drawer front to the drawer. For the bottom drawer repeat the process, but align the top of the bottom drawer with the center line marked.
- Hardware is another area in which you can customize your design. I went with these Oblong Oval Cabinet Pulls in oil rubbed bronze, but swept Rub n’ Buff Gold Leaf paint over top for an antique brass look. For the top drawer, measuring 4″ up from the bottom side, and 6.5″ from the left and right, I drilled and attached my oval cabinet knobs. For the bottom drawer, I measured 4″ down from the top side and 6.5″ from left and right sides to place the oval knobs.
- Whether painting or staining, you can achieve a personalized look with oyur nightstands. I chose to recreate the Abisko Nightstands from Shoppe Amber Interiors, but any stain or paint would be beautiful. If you want to create an aged weathered look see my directions below!
My inspiration nightstands were $2100 for a single cabinet, but the materials needed for my nightstand build came to a total of $220. Keep in mind, I had the tools along with the nails, the screws, and paint already on hand. If you need to purchase those that would will be an added cost, but only an added $50 or so. Overall, building my own nightstands were cost efficient and allowed me to achieve the size of nightstands we desired without blowing our budget.
The Abisko Nightstand Replica
Since we have an upholsteered bed and hand hewn stained dressers in our Master Bedroom already, I wanted to create nigthstands that contrasted our neutral decor and added a vintage vibe. I fell in love with the Abisko Nightstands from Shoppe Amber Interiors which are also the Blatchford Nightstands from Pottery Barn. However, I couldn’t fathom spending upwards to $2,000 for a single nightstand.
After building the nigthstands to the above specifications, I needed to replicate the layers of old paint and stain that give my inspiration piece its character.
First, I sanded my entire unfinished nightstand down to create slightly rounded edges and smooth surfaces.
Then, I used a flex putty knife and drywall spackling to create the layers of chipped paint. Loading my putty with a bit of spackling, I drug the compoudn across the sides, top and drawer fronts of my nightstand. I didn’t want a completely covered surafce so I allowed for the spackling to flake off in some areas and didn’t worry too much about total coverage.
Once the spackling was dry, I took my sanding block (220 grit) and sanded the entire thing. I made sure to pull the spackling from the edges because in a true vintage piece, the corners would be the most worn. Be careful not to make your spackling completely smooth like you would on a wall. The idea is to knock off the rough areas and get it closer to the dept of the wood but still allow for divets in the compound. Wipe it down with a tack cloth to rmove dust and debris.
Then, using Valspar’s Dark Kettle Black in Interior Flat Paint, I painted the entire nightstand with one coat. Once dry, use your 220 sanding block and sand every edge. You want to expose the wood below the paint and some of the spackling as well in areas. On the corners, I took more off for a jagged edge appearance. Again wipe it down with a tack cloth.
Then, apply Minwax Provincial Stain with a rag over the entire piece. This includes the painted areas as well. This will create a warm black tone of the overall nightstand.
Finally, apply a flat clear top coat for protection!
For the textured and distressed look on the knobs, I took the oval knobs I ordered from Amazon out to my drive way and tapped them on the pavement. I was sure to hit stratight down while rotating my knob at different angles to distress the whole face of the knob. Then, I used a dry brush technique with Rub n’ Buff Gold Leaf over the oil rubbed bronze finish.
I can’t believe how good these turned out and I love the character they’ve brought to our netural bedroom. The large black nightstands are the perfect mix of form and function.
Hidden Outlet and Charging Station
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand cords. So, to make our nightstands even better, I installed compact in-drawer outlet charging stations in the top drawers. These after market outlets are so easy to install to make your nightstands or side tables even more functional!
If you decide to add the same to your nightstand and you are building them, I suggest installing them prior to adding the top of the nightstand. However, these concealed outlets can easily be added to existing drawers in your nightstands and side tables. too!
The Compact In-Drawer Outlet includes two outlets and two USB ports to easily charge any device! It comes with a cord managment arm already attached to keep the cord from being damaged by the drawer slides and allows the drawer to still be completed functional in mobility!
I couldn’t suggest this upgrade more!
My New Bedroom Look
Along with updating our nightstands in our Master Bedroom, I also added a beatuiful landscape over our bed, swapped out our old rug for the Billie Rug in Tobacco/Rust, and layered a gorgeous handmade block print quilt along with vintage Kilim pillows for a cozy fall bedroom look!
Shop the Look
Not ready to start building? Pin this idea for later!
If building isn’t you’re thing, I’ve rounded up some amazing nightstands that are high quality and a substanial size. See my favorites below!
I hope this inspires you to create your inspiration piece!