The anatomy of a mid-century nightstand

Updated: Oct 20

Almost ten thousand people search for the term ‘mid-century nightstand’ in Google in a single month, only in the US. But it’s also enough to take a look at pinterest, to realize the popularity of mid-century modern furniture. In this article, we focus on mid-century nightstands: how do they look and what makes them mid-century?


mid-century nightstand style

About the mid-century modern style


As its name tells us, mid-century (or mid-century modern*) style originates in the middle of the 20th century: it was the most popular between 1940 and 1970 in the US, with very typical style and pieces of furniture. Sometimes also referred to as retro, but it can be easily combined with current home trends as well.


Furniture made in this period usually have clean lines, gentle curves, and organic shapes. Mid-century furniture offer a good balance between practical functionality and aesthetics.


design styles timeline

* Though the two terms are used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. Mid-century modern is the newer phase of mid-century and it refers to the movement that became popular post World War Two in 1945, while the “classic” Mid-century was developed earlier, in the 1930s.


A mid-century nightstand: the 5 key attributes


In this article, we’ll focus on wooden nightstands only - but of course, there are a lot of other typical nightstands made in this era, including plastics, metal and other exciting materials.


Medium wood tones


Mid-century modern nightstands are typically made of medium-tone (sometimes darker) wood species, but most often of teak. Teak, thanks to its wide usage in that era, became almost synonymous with mid-century modern. It has a rich, medium-tone color, sometimes darker (as wood darkens over the time), usually with a lacquered finish. Teak was considered as a high-quality wood type in the era - a popular material of tables, desks and other furniture.


A lighter, but also popular wood type is oak - it is also a strong and durable species of hardwood. Sometimes stained to a darker color, it can appear in various tones. Similarly to oak, beech was also a popular choice back in the days.


The classic mid-century wood tone was the result of either solid wood material or veneers - both were used for making nightstands.



Simple design


As the art deco era ended, a new and more simplified style was introduced - what we call today mid-century (and later mid-century modern). This style excludes ornaments and focuses on simplicity. It is not rustic, neither elegant - it’s between the middle, creating a design that is timeless, can be matched with various other styles.


mid-century nightstand

Thin legs


And most importantly: the presence of legs.Mid-century nightstands almost always stand on legs, often on thin legs that are sometimes straight, sometimes angled. A cabinet with one or two drawers, standing on four legs is a typical mid-century modern nightstand design.


Besides wood furniture legs, hairpin legs were also a popular choice in mid-century furniture design and its popularity is still present - it can be found in many contemporary homes as well.


mid-century nightstand with thin legs

Built to function


The aim of mid-century modern furniture is rather the practical functionality than the brave design. These nightstands are made for bedside storage, with a design that does not want to show any more than what it is.


mid-century nightstand

Metallic hardware


Mid-century modern style often includes metallic materials like copper, gold, chrome surfaces - these usually appear on the drawer handles or drawer knobs, sometimes also the legs are made of metal (just like the mentioned hairpin legs).


mid-century nightstand metallic hardware

Why are mid-century nightstands still popular?


The popularity of mid-century nightstands lies in several advantages:

  • Mid-century nightstands have a simple and timeless design, so they can be easily matched with various other interiors, including contemporary styles as well (see a few examples below).

  • Wooden and neutral tones are trending today, which create space again for these kinds of nightstands.

  • From a woodworking point of view, this style is relatively easy to make and many woodworkers like to create such simple and functional projects.


To get further inspiration of mid-century nightstands, check out our pinterest board - and to make sure to subscribe so you can have all our new interior design-related contents delivered to your inbox.


12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All