American Drew NightstandAmerican Drew Nightstand

Take your time. Great design takes a while and usually requires refining before you come up with the perfect plan for your lifestyle. Don't rush through the design — it's worth taking a little extra time up front to make sure you have a more efficient and functional plan in the end. The truth is great design doesn't necessarily mean a space that's overly complex and expensive to build. A space that functions better costs less to build is more efficient to run and is easier to maintain can be an outstanding example of great design.

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Cherry NightstandCherry Nightstand

The nightstand next to your bed is one of the most essential surfaces in your bedroom. It provides a home for books photo frames and sleepy-time necessities like eye masks and earplugs. Most of us opt for the classic version: a small square table with a drawer and a matching counterpart on the other side of the bed. But this functional area doesn't have to be so well square. Swapping out that classic nightstand for a piece of non-bedroom furniture can add personality as well as function to your bedroom. Here are unique alternatives to the classic nightstand. The best part about these options? They are common enough pieces that you may already have them on hand. If not you'll be able to pick them up for a reasonable price at a garage sale or flea market.

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Oval NightstandOval Nightstand

Not all table lamps are created equal for reading. Ideally the base of the shade should sit level with your eyes when you're propped up in bed and the shade should direct light toward you rather than channeling it up or down. Floor lamps also are an option but they compete for space with nightstands so it can be harder to make them work.

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Bathtub Slip StickersBathtub Slip Stickers

The nature lover. If your dream vacation involves photographing wildlife camping on a remote beach surrounded by the sound of crashing waves and the spectacle of swooping birds — but the rest of the family would rather head to a five-star island resort with a swim-up bar — could this bathroom soothe your soul?

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Steel NightstandSteel Nightstand

Boho glam. Pick a classic decorator favorite (like the upholstered bed with nailhead trim shown here) to build the room around then mix and match accessories at whim. Bamboo blinds and colorful printed bedding paired with a glass-top table and a fun framed print add up to a laid-back yet glamorous look.

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Round White NightstandRound White Nightstand

A console table is a versatile piece of furniture that can be useful in many rooms of the house. It's slim in profile and airy in design and can provide a small drawer for storage of personal items. In the bedroom a console table can pull double duty as a nightstand and desk or a nightstand and vanity thanks to the open space that allows you to place a stool ottoman or chair underneath. Console tables seen here frame a bed nicely when the same or similar style is placed on either side of the bed. Tip: If you aren't pairing matching tables be sure the other night table is at least the height of the bed and of a similar width as the console table.

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Toddler Bathtub SeatToddler Bathtub Seat

Freestanding racks. If you'd rather hang art on your bathroom walls than towels a freestanding towel rack might be right for you. With the ability to move the rack wherever you want you can position it closer to the shower or the bathtub depending on your bathing preference.

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Shaker Style NightstandShaker Style Nightstand

Simple circulation. Try to keep your circulation on one side of the room. Hotels do a great job of this. There's a reason 90 percent of hotels have the same floor plan: because it's simple and it works. Circulation plans become a little more challenging with en suite rooms (bedrooms with bathrooms attached) or bedrooms that have doors to the outside. To save on space pay attention to where you locate the bathroom and closet in your bedroom. Rooms that have bathroom or closet access before the sleeping area require a longer hall (see the left-hand plan). If you organize the circulation so the bathroom and closet are accessed through the sleeping area (right-hand plan) you don't need a separate hall and you can add the circulation space into the room to make it feel larger too.

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