Easy How to Build a Mid Century Modern Nightstand

February 28, 2024

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Let’s build a DIY modern nightstand. I’ll show you how easy it is with this simple tutorial.

So, the style of our master bedroom makeover, is more of a mid-century modern vibe. After completing my first ever bed-build, I knew I wanted MCM nightstands to match.

After perusing Pinterest, I combined some styles that I liked and came up with my own design. Onto, my first ever nightstand build…

Mid Century Modern nightstand stained and painted

Easy How To Build a DIY Mid Century Modern Nightstand

Note: The following plans are for one nightstand. If building a pair of these solid wood nightstands, please duplicate the material.

Overall project dimensions: 24″ wide; 16 1/2″ deep; 25 1/2″ tall

Materials List Needed for Modern Bedside Tables:

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Be sure to scroll down to the end of the post to see another gorgeous way to finish this simple DIY nightstand….using paint!!

Tools Needed:

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This modern DIY nightstand requires the use of a Kreg Jig. If you have never used a Kreg Jig before, here is a very easy to follow tutorial and video.

Step One: Cut the top and bottom panels

Using your table saw, cut the top to 22.5″ x 16.5″ and drill 3/4″ pocket holes in each end.

Using your table saw, cut the bottom to 22.5″ x 15 3/4″ and drill 3/4″ pocket holes in each end….

Piece of 3/4

Step Two: Cut the side pieces for nightstand

Using your table saw, cut the sides (2) to 16.5″ x 14 5/8″.

Step Three: Assemble

Using clamps to keep your boards square, attach each side board to the top board with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws….

Drawer box for a nightstand

Repeat this step to attach the bottom board.

Note: bottom board is slightly shorter in depth than top board. Make sure bottom board is flush to the back of the side boards; as shown below…

Drawer box shell made of 3/4

Step Four: Cut the back

Cut back to fit and drill 3/4″ pocket holes around the edges.

Back should fit tight inside the top, bottom and sides. Attach using 1 1/4″ p.h. screws….

Drawer box for nightstand

You now have the nightstand frame and are ready to move onto the drawer boxes.

Step Five: Cut and attach drawer slide supports

Making your own drawer slides, is actually quite simple.

To give you a visual, here’s a picture of what the drawer slide supports will look like when they’re all attached to the side panels….

Drawer box with drawer supports

Cuts needed:

Cut 8 strips of 3/4″ plywood to 14 1/4″ x 1 1/2″….these strips will be your drawer slides.

Now cut pieces of scrap wood to use as guides to install your drawer slides.

You’ll need:

Two strips cut at 10 1/4″ (width doesn’t matter) (using miter saw)

Two strips cut at 3 3/4″ (width doesn’t matter) (using miter saw)

One strip ripped to 13/16″ wide (using table saw). Length should be at least 15″ long.

Now you’re ready to install your drawer slides:

Place the two 10 1/4″ scrap pieces, standing up, on the bottom of the drawer box…

Guides for drawer supports inside drawer box

Place one of your 14 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ drawer slides on top of these scrap pieces….

Support guides for drawer supports for nightstand

Using wood glue and 1 1/2″ screws, attach the drawer slide to side of drawer box.

Take away scrap pieces.

Lay the box on its side (this will make it easier to line up and attach the drawer slides)

Place the 13/16″ wide scrap below your first attached drawer slide and attach another drawer slide right underneath this scrap, using wood glue and 1 1/4″ screws.

As shown in picture below…

Nightstand drawer box with supports

Remove 13/16″ wide scrap and now you’re ready to attach the bottom drawer slide.

Place the two 3 1/4″ scraps, standing up, on the bottom of the drawer box.

Then place a drawer slide on top of the two scraps. Attach the drawer slide using wood glue and 1 1/4″ screws.

Remove the 3 1/4″ scraps and place the 13/16″ wide scrap below the drawer slide and then attach your last drawer slide for this side of your drawer; using wood glue and 1 1/4″ screws.

Your drawer box should now look like this…

Nightstand supports in drawer box

Repeat these steps for the other side and it should look like this when you’re finished…

Nightstand box with supports

Step Six: Cut the legs for nightstand

The legs will look like this…

Feet for Nightstand

Cut four 1×3’s at 5″ each.

Set your miter saw to 22.5 degree angle…

Miter saw set to 22.5 degree mark

and cut the corner of one of your 5″ boards. (Caution: be extra careful of your fingers!!)….

Miter saw cutting feet for nightstand

Then trace that angle cut onto your remaining 3 boards and make your cuts….

Miter saw cutting feet for nightstands

You should now have 4 tapered legs. Drill pocket holes on the 2 1/2″ side of the legs….

Nightstand leg with pocket holes

Step Seven: Cut leg braces

Rip the remaining 1x3x8 pine board to 1 1/2″ wide using your table saw.

Then cut into 9″ strips using your miter saw.

Drill one 3/4″ pocket hole on one end of each leg brace.

Then attach a tapered leg to the end of each leg brace, using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

(Note: Ignore the measurement in the background of this picture. Also, there is no need to angle cut the end of your 9″ strip–I was using scrap wood)….

2 legs for nightstand with braces attached

Attach the tapered leg/leg braces to the bottom of the drawer box as shown below.

(I didn’t really measure anything out for the placing of these…I just eyeballed them, knowing I wanted the feet to be visible and slightly turned when the nightstand is sitting upright)….

paint cans on top of wooden feet

Now you’re ready to make the drawers….

Step Eight: Cut all the pieces for the drawers

Cut 4 drawer box sides: Using 3/4″ plywood, rip 4 boards to the following dimensions: 5 1/2″ x 15 1/2″.

Cut a 5 degree angle on one end of each drawer side.

Then measure 14 3/4″ on the long end and cut (a regular 90 degree angle). See picture below for more clarity….

Drawer box with 5 degree angle pointed out

Cut 2 drawer box backs: Using 3/4″ plywood, rip 2 boards to the following dimensions: 5 1/2″ x 19 3/8″ .

Drill 3/4″ pocket holes on each end and attach to sides, using wood glue and 1 1/4″ p.h. screws….

Back and sides of nightstand

Cut 2 drawer box fronts: Using 3/4″ plywood, rip 2 boards to the same dimensions as the 2 drawer backs (5 1/2″ x 19 3/8″).

Drill 3/4″ p.h’s on each end and attach to sides, using wood glue and 1 1/4″ p.h. screws.

Your drawers should now look like the picture below (without the hardboard bottom–that’s our next step)….

drawer box with hardboard bottom

Cut hardboard to fit and attach to bottom of each drawer, using wood glue and a brad nailer or tiny nails….

Hardboard added to drawer box

Step Nine: Cut drawer slides for nightstand

Rip 3/4″ plywood to 11/16″ and cut at 15″. You’ll need 4 of these.

Attach these to the sides of your drawers with 1 1/4″ wood screws.

To find the right placement, use a scrap piece from your 1x3x6 pine board.

Set the drawer on your workspace and place a 1×3 scrap against the side of the drawer…

Drawer box with 1x3 next to it

Then place your 11/16″ x 15″ slide on top of the scrap 1×3.

Ensuring that the front of your drawer is flush with the end of the slide, attach using wood glue and 1 1/4″ screws.

(Note: some of the slide will stick out on the back. Don’t cut that off. This will ensure that your drawers don’t push into the drawer box further than they should).

Your drawer slide should look like this now….

Drawer box with support

Attach the other drawer slide to the other side of your drawer and it should now look like this from the front…

Drawer box

Repeat these steps for the second drawer and now you’re ready to insert the drawers into the nightstand drawer box….

Nightstand with drawers

Step Ten: Add drawer face

Now you’re ready for the drawer fronts (face).

Obviously, we want to cover up all of those rough front edges of our drawers, so we’re going to add drawer fronts.

Rip two 3/4″ plywood boards to 6 5/8″ wide and cut length to fit with a 1/8″ gap on both ends (for easy sliding).

Attach to drawer inner fronts, using 1 1/4″ screws….

Nightstand drawer set

Build the Nightstand Topper for a Mid-Century Modern Look

At this point, you could leave the nightstand how it is. This simple design looks great!

But I wanted a little more height and functionality, so I decided to add a middle open shelf. This allows me to store things I want quick access to.

For example, our tv remote, my eyeglasses, extra books, etc. I love how this simple addition really adds to the modern style I’m going for.

Adding the top piece also enabled me to raise the top of the nightstand. 

Step One: Cut the sides

Rip 3/4″ plywood to 5 1/2″ wide strips (2) and cut to fit the top side edges.

Drill 3/4″ pocket holes along one long edge and attach to nightstand top with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

Do this for both sides….

Nightstands with sides added for topper

Step Two: Cut the nightstand top

Rip 3/4″ plywood to fit on top of the sides you just attached above. Attach to sides using 1 1/4″ GRK screws.

Nightstand with topper added

Nightstand Finish Work–Make them Pretty

Once again, we could just leave them as is. Sand and add paint or wood stain and marvel at how well they turned out.

But we still have all of those exposed plywood edges. And they’re just not pretty.

I prefer to give them a more finished look by adding edge banding.

Note: Before adding edge banding, sand your entire nightstand with 220-grit sandpaper using an orbital sander.

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How to add edge banding:

Very easy!

  • Simply cut each strip to fit the edge of the plywood you’re needing to cover.
  • Attach it to the rough edge by running a hot iron over it a few times.
  • Next, slide a block of scrap wood over the edge banding to seal it into place.
  • Use an exact-o knife to trim off any of the edge banding not attached to the wood.

Now you’re ready for stain or paint.

For the nightstand above, I chose Tricorn black paint for the shell of the nightstand and Golden Oak Stain for the drawers….

2 pups sitting in front of a nightstand next to a bed

I also went back and forth on which drawer pulls to go with. Gold or Black???….

Drawer box with black and gold handles

In the end, I chose black hardware….

Nightstands next to bed

They look so good on each side of our bed.

I recently built two of these nightstands for my daughter’s new bedroom makeover.

She chose a painted finish for hers. So, I painted the entire nightstand white.

Then I added thin lines to the drawers, using painters tape…

Newly built nightstand with painters tape on drawers

Next I filled in the lines with Sherwin Williams Shade Grown. Which is kind of a green-black color.

I love how they turned out!

2 nightstands in a family room for pictures

And the beautiful Champagne Bronze hardware we chose for them…PERFECT!!

As you can see, I attached gold legs to this nightstand. I love the different texture it adds.

Mid century modern nightstand in a girls bedroom with pink accent wall

So many different ways to finish this modern nightstand. So many different colors of paint or stain you could use. 

I love how much room the large drawers provide. 

Next time I would like to build one with these hairpin legs. Wouldn’t that look amazing!!

FAQ’s: DIY Modern Nightstand

Can I use different types of wood for this project?

Yes, you can use different wood types, but keep in mind the strength, weight, and cost variations.

The tutorial uses plywood and pine for a balance of durability and affordability.

What if I don’t have a table saw?

If you don’t have a table saw, you can use a jigsaw or a circular saw, though you may need to be more careful to ensure straight cuts.

Is it necessary to use a Kreg Jig?

Yes, for this project, a Kreg Jig is essential for creating pocket holes. If you’re unfamiliar with how to use it, check out the linked tutorial.

Can I customize the size of the nightstand?

Absolutely! Feel free to adjust the dimensions to fit your space, but remember to proportionally adjust all related measurements.

What type of paint and stain do you recommend?

In the tutorial, Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black paint and Varathane Golden Oak stain are used. Choose similar quality products for best results.

How long does it take to complete this project?

The completion time can vary based on skill level and working pace, but typically, it might take a weekend to complete.

Can I add more drawers or shelves?

Yes, the design can be modified to include more storage, but this will require additional materials and adjustments to the cut list and assembly steps.

Do I need to use edge banding?

While not mandatory, edge banding gives a more finished look by covering the plywood edges. It’s a recommended step for aesthetic purposes.

What if I have trouble aligning the drawers?

Drawer alignment can be tricky. Take your time and ensure your measurements are accurate. You may need to adjust the drawer slides or sand the edges for a smoother fit.

Can this design be adapted for other furniture pieces?

Yes, the basic design can be adapted for other pieces like a larger dresser or an end table.

Just adjust the dimensions and ensure structural stability for larger items.

With its clean lines and beautiful design, I hope you’ve found this Mid-Century Modern Nightstand post to be very helpful and informative.

Are you ready to go build your own nightstand? Who says it has to be a nightstand?

These step-by-step instructions could be used as an end table in the living room too!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions. I love helping you turn these building plans into something tangible.

You never know what you’re capable of until you try! You’ve got this! I hope you’ll give this building project a try.

Mid Century Modern nightstand stained and painted

 Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Hop over to Instagram to see all of the RL behind the scenes. What am I working on now?….come check it out!

SOURCES: (Affiliate Links Included)

Gold Arc Table lamp

Pampas Grass

Black Hardware

Gold Hardware

Champagne Bronze Hardware

Loloi Rug

Gold Legs

Hairpin Legs

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