A Brief History of the Bedside Table
The bedside table, known more traditionally as a nightstand or a bedside cabinet has been a part of the home as early as the 1800s. Before the days of indoor toilets and outhouses, the main function of a nightstand was in fact to host chamber pots. Although a fairly unglamourous origin, chamber pots instigated and inspired the first bedside table designs. Early antique bedside cabinets were commonly small with an upper drawer for general storage and a larger enclosed space below to hold the chamber pot.
French, Italian and Spanish vintage bedside tables were similar in design, however they were more often embellished with parquetry inlaid or a leaf finish. They surpassed the bedside table as more than just a functional storage space and adapted it into a stylish and considered part of the bedroom.
Thankfully plumbing progressed towards the end of the 19th century and chamber pots became obsolete. By this point, the bedside cabinet had impacted upon our day to day routine and proved itself to be a useful ally in terms of storage. With the pot gone, the original prototype of the night stand could now be challenged.
You’ll find that retro bedside tables particularly from the 1960s and 70s tend to be made from teak and wicker while Danish, mid century bedside tables tend to be more red in colour and made from materials like rosewood.
What makes for a decent bedside table?
Generally it’s whatever works best for your lifestyle and fits in with your style. Are you someone that always takes a glass of water to bed? Do you need space for your alarm clock or to keep your phone close by? Do you need drawers for added privacy and extra storage or are you contempt with shelving for quick and easy access?
The options and variations are unlimited. Buy a bedside table that you can dress minimally or that allows you to dump the entire contents of your pockets onto at the end of the day. They’re made to be functional whatever thats means to you.