Not a nightstand - but it can be

Every nightstand I own has a story.

I paid $25 at a secondhand store in midtown Manhattan for a wooden nightstand that now holds some of my favorite books. Originally, it functioned as a living room end table in a large loft apartment that I shared with a cast of single women in New York. Years later, in Miami, that table has a second life in the master bedroom.

Rearranging my furniture has taught me this lesson: Affordable, attractive and unique nightstands and other bedroom furniture can be used in every room of the house.

Melissa Tosetti, editor of Budget Savvy, an online magazine (www.budgetsavvymag.com), found her bedroom nightstand in the bath department.

"My husband and I were looking for a nightstand for our Bali-themed bedroom," Tosetti says. "I wasn't willing to spend $150 to $300. We stumbled across the perfect item at Target for just $60. The piece is actually a bathroom cabinet."

Even the gardening section of Home Depot can offer outdoor fixtures, shelves and units that provide storage space and decorative touches in bedrooms, Tosetti said.

"Keeping your eyes and mind open while shopping will help you net unique items and save big bucks," she says.

Storage magazine, published by Better Homes and Gardens, featured "unconventional bedside tables" in its fall/winter issue. The article suggested that office furniture such as file cabinets and computer printer stands can be used to hold books, magazines, tea cups and other items stored on traditional nightstands. A coffee table and a matching storage cube from a den or living room can be tucked into a bedroom and used to hold reading lamps, papers and other accessories.

In my home, my husband has repainted and recycled low bookcases and small odd tables as bedroom furniture.

Even the kitchen can supply unusual storage pieces for the bedroom. Storage magazine recommended wooden vegetable bins sold at cabinet or container stores or on eBay. Refinished and relocated into the bedroom, those bins - especially the taller, multilevel ones - can serve as a nightstand or as cubbies in children's bedrooms.

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