5 items not to store on your nightstand, according to designers

Interior designers say these 5 things should be banished from our bedside tables

bedroom with blue and white bedding
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Our nightstands are the first thing we reach for when we wake up and where we place down belongings while half asleep. So they easily descend into clutter chaos piled hight with notebooks, earplugs, pillow sprays, and to-be-reads. 

A curated and stylish bedside table will improve the overall aesthetic of the space and make your bedroom feel calmer.

We turned to interior designers and professional home organizers to find out which items not to store on your nightstand, so you can avoid common nightstand mistakes and make your bedroom into a serene and inviting place to rest your head.

Items not to store on your nightstand

Professional organizer Kim Jones, from Lock and Key Home, says that the only things we should keep on our nightstands are items that make us happy and items that help us sleep better. 'Anything that doesn't fall into that bucket should be kicked out immediately!' she says.

blue and pink bedroom with yellow lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC)

1. Clutter of any kind

Even if we're not conscious of it, our things talk to us. Clutter can be an unhelpful reminder of jobs we need to do, which we certainly don't need right before bedtime. Kellie Burke, an interior designer, says nightstands should be simple and clean. 

'Clutter causes chaos,' she says, 'and when you are finally ready to settle into your bed to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body from the day, you should not be wrought with reminders of tasks to be done.' She recommends decluttering your nightstand and adding a few essentials: a beautiful lamp (with a plug-in dimmer, at Amazon) a lavender-scented candle or aroma, and a tray to hold your glasses and if necessary your cell phone.

interior designer kellie burke
Kellie Burke

Kellie Burke is a luxury interior designer serving Connecticut, Boston, Palm Beach, Rhode Island, and Malibu for over 26 years. Using a blend of contemporary features and classic elements, Kellie and her team at Kellie Burke Interiors deliver a unique style that brings back the importance and reverence for the ‘estate’ and expresses their clients’ personal style and story.

2. Your cell phone

bedroom with double bed and pillows

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We all know that blue light affects our ability to sleep, and if you often end up scrolling late at night, we'd recommend investing in a sunrise alarm clock, at Amazon, so there's no need to keep a phone handy. If you prefer to keep your phone nearby in case of an emergency, find bedside furniture that will conceal it.

Jennifer Carter, the lead designer at Studio Envie says 'if you must keep your phone in the room, find one of the nightstands with an outlet in the drawer so you can charge it and keep it out of sight.' Like Kellie, Jennifer also feels bedrooms should be sanctuaries that promote true relaxation, so if things are feeling cluttered, consider if you could rework your current bedroom storage ideas so less is left out on surfaces.

Jennifer says nightstands should be kept as simple as possible and suggests displaying fresh or dried lavender, a small live plant, or other greenery.

jennifer carter interior designer
Jennifer Carter

Jennifer is the principal and lead designer at Studio Envie and has over a decade of experience in design. She studied Interior Design at Parsons, The New School, and leads Studio Envie’s offices from New Jersey.

3. Food

Breakfast in bed sounds nice, but can get a little messy, says Denise Clifford a professional organizer at Dee-cluttered. 'Try to avoid the crumbs by keeping food out of your bedroom, off of your nightstand, and in the kitchen where it belongs. Eating before bed also contributes to poor sleep, indigestion, and slowing your metabolism.'

Charlie Victor, a Destin-based interior designer and decorator agrees: 'aside from the fact that spills can happen (and nobody wants to wake up to a sticky mess), it's not the most hygienic place to store edibles. Keep snacks and drinks in the kitchen or dining area where they belong.'

4. Your laptop and other electronics

bedroom with wooden bedside unit and blue wood panelling

(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

Designers advise against keeping electronics beside you while you sleep, so try placing your laptop in another room. This will discourage you from late-night browsing or watching a series and keeps ugly chargers out of the way.

'Not only can the blue light emitted from these devices interfere with your sleep quality, but it's also not the most aesthetically pleasing sight to wake up to,' says Charlie Victor, a Destin-based interior designer and decorator. 'Instead, try charging your devices in a separate room or invest in a charging station, at Amazon that you can keep in a drawer.'

Keeping electronics out of our bedrooms is one of the best ways to help you get to sleep fast.

5. Paperwork

Kim Jones from Lock and Key Home recalls seeing clients' nightstands covered with bills and other paperwork. 'This is usually one of the last areas you see before dozing off and I am not sure if anyone can have a peaceful sleep knowing there are bills stacked up next to them,' she comments. 'So eliminate anything stressful in your bedroom at all.'


What should you keep in your nightstand?

Style a nightstand so it's stylish and functional, with items you'll likely need when heading to bed and waking up. Professional organizer Amy Trager suggests an alarm clock, a lamp, a book, and some last-minute bedtime beauty products such as hand lotion or lip balm.

You may also like to keep a notebook by your bed to clear your mind before bed, as well as a pillow spray and a mask to block out light.

A rule of thumb to follow is to clear out anything that you don't use while in bed. Professional organizer Amy Trager makes the point that for many of us, settling into bed and waking up in the morning can be a difficult process for all kinds of reasons. 

What we can do is make it as pleasant as possible. 'If some of the items that have collected bedside over time really have nowhere else to go, consider storing them elsewhere in the bedroom,' she says, 'like a multipurpose drawer in a dresser or basket in the closet. Otherwise, relegate to where those items usually are used.'

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. She has been in the world of digital journalism for six years, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team two years ago, working across a range of homes brands. Millie formerly worked as Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles that help and inspire people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces. Millie has a degree in French and Italian and lives in North London.